Why religious people can’t be objective: Part 2

I’ve obviously already covered objective morality, and the claims from the religious that you need a higher power for morals to be objective, and I stated that it’s flawed for two obvious reasons, and that morality can only ever be subjective.

1: Objective, in its simplest terms is an unbiased fact. The existence of a god has never been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, either using a strict adherence to the codes applied in a court of law, or by using the scientific method. Some may argue that neither have ever proved the non-existence of any god, but that’s irrelevant to the matter at hand.

2: If somehow, a divine creator was proven, or they stepped forward and proved their existence, which can’t exactly be difficult as they’re a god, then they have to prove that what they define as moral is fact, and without bias. Yet the god of the Bible clearly has preferences, like a sabbath should be spent worshipping. Sabbath is a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, which is Friday evening to Saturday evening in Judaism, and Sunday for Christianity. In the Bible, a man was discovered collecting wood on a sabbath, and god ordered his execution, as he defined it as work, and work is a sin on a sabbath day. A sin, is a personal attack against god, and followers believe it’s a moral sin. Is not worshipping a god on a specific day immoral, or is it pandering to a childlike ego, who wants to be noticed and respected on a certain day? I’d suggest quite confidently that it’s the latter of the two choices.

To put the difference between objective, and subjective as simply as possible, is objective is factual, and devoid of feelings or emotion, and subjective is the exact opposite. Most things in life are subjective as they are open for interpretation. What’s suitable for one, might not be suitable for another, and this is why the golden rule can be considered flawed. If something is objective it can be proven, and is impossible to deny. The people who claim objective morality is drawn from their religion, often believe that being LBGTQ is an immoral sin. But why? Because a collection of books that were written a few thousand years ago, by random anonymous authors, who claimed that the morals were provided by god himself says so. If someone is homosexual, has a consensual relationship with another, and live their lives as upstanding citizens, who work hard, pay their taxes and get involved in the community, how are they immoral? In the Torah, the 613 mitzvah list the things expected, and the things not expected for the followers of Judaism. Every form of incest is considered wrong, ie: sleeping with mother, uncle, sister, brother etc, and every form of homosexuality is wrong, ie: a man sharing a bed with another man, or a male relative, but there’s absolutely no mention of two women sleeping together. So how can it be considered immoral for two men to engage, but not immoral for two women?

If objective is devoid of emotion, how can it genuinely apply to morality? If someone was in distress, normally a person’s emotions take over, as they feel compassion, or empathy, and they help that person because it’s their duty, as it’s the right thing to do. As to what level of help you give that person is open to interpretation, so it’s subjective. If something is objective, it’s universally accepted. ie: a tree is a tree, so it’s objective, as it’s a fact. A painting of a tree, isn’t a tree. It’s an artistic interpretation, and more than likely isn’t identical to the tree they’ve observed to create the painting. So the painting of the tree is subjective, as a different person would paint it a different way. Another example is Christianity isn’t just one strain, there are many variants of the disease. Some are more infectious than another, and some are more powerful and influential, but none of them 100% share the same views or opinions. So how could Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox both claim objective morality, when despite having the same god, they have distinct differences, be them geographical, political, and/or cultural differences, and this is especially noticeable when the great schism of 1054 happened which completely split eastern and western Christianity in half. The west’s theology continued to work mainly using Roman law, where the east had its roots firmly based in the Greek philosophies, so both grew as complete opposites and have completely different views on the gospels, and interpretations of the Bible. So, they both have to be subjective in the field of morality, and it’s impossible to claim objective morality if the doctrines aren’t universal. I used these two examples as Roman Catholicism is the largest denomination of Christianity with over a billion followers worldwide, and Eastern Orthodox is the second largest with over quarter of a billion followers.

Moral responsibility vs moral ignorance

Every day, without fail, there are narrow minded religious apologists claiming that their god provides morality, and some argue even further and claim that their god provides objective morality, or absolute morality, and quite frankly it’s embarrassing and a tiresome debate as they simply refuse to accept that morality is evolutionary and a social construct. Morality is knowledge, and it’s knowledge about recognising the difference between right and wrong. Doing something right is about promoting happiness, good will and treating others with respect. Doing something wrong is promoting distress, lack of compassion, understanding and empathy. As a social species we gain knowledge through experience and through the senses. We have emotions like a conscience that informs us when we’ve done something wrong, and with that usually comes remorse and regret. In future we tend to avoid the same actions as our conscience can haunt us and make us feel awful, even if the action was unintentional.

Everyone must have heard a religious apologist asking how a non-believer can make the claim that Hitler was objectively evil, or how torturing a baby is wrong. You really have to ponder the mental reasoning that they are devoid of to contemplate questions like that, and even provided with evidence that morality can be acquired, studied and observed through various philosophies and ways of life, they either claim that without god you’ve no moral framework, or if they are being backed into a corner, they suggest that we borrow the morality that was given by YHWH through Jesus, or Muslims claim through Muhammed and Allah. If they truly believe that their gods supply them with a moral framework then by all means let them live their lives the way they see fit, but don’t claim a moral superiority because you believe that an non-theist by default is nihilistic, narcissistic and a sociopath.

Moral ignorance is simply not understanding whether something is moral or not, and this is why theists, especially of the Abrahamic flavours, make the claim that you need god. But who’s to say that the opinions of the said god that’s written down in scripture is factually moral? Their argument usually comes in the form of god is perfect, he has perfect thoughts, so his morals are perfect. But is there any proof of this claim? First off, the burden of proof lies with them, as they make the claim that without god’s absolutes a moral framework can’t be established, but they not only have to prove beyond doubt that their god exists, but that what he claims are morals are actually morals, and not just commands that he wishes for. Wanting something because you are a megalomaniac who will kill if you don’t worship him, or dare to worship false idols, isn’t what I’d consider an appropriate agent for supplying a moral foundation, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Moral ignorance, as an example is your neighbour is grooming children, but you don’t inform the correct authorities as you’re unaware what’s going on, so this is no fault of yours; but, what if you know that they are grooming children, but you’re unaware that it’s morally wrong? Do any of the religious scriptures suggest that it’s morally wrong to groom children? At a guess, I’d suggest not, but as a human being, who’s educated in social groups, we are inherently aware that it’s wrong in a number of ways. The first is it’s a child, so straight away a law has been broken as they are underage, and without the ability to understand what consensual means. Secondly, you are taking advantage of their naivety, and innocence and they more than likely aren’t even aware of what’s truly happening, and thirdly you are inflicting abuse against their rights as a human being, and will no doubt make them a future victim who will be left scarred from their tormentor.

Are we expected to adhere to moral standards? I’d argue that it’s our moral responsibility, and as ethical agents, we are obliged to apply good will to every decision we make that may affect, or influence another person. This is where consideration, and another person’s well being comes into play. If you witnessed someone have a seizure and inevitably begin convulsing, and despite knowing the recovery position, you just idly stand by watching, are you complicit in allowing that person’s death, and displaying an example of a moral failure? Of course you are, humans are hardwired by emotions, and upon seeing this you may panic, lose your calm and become flustered, but it’s natural to feel these emotions as you’re instinctive primary concern will be to try and save that person, even if they mean nothing to you. You do it because you’re expected through good will, regardless of the hope of reward, like Emmanuel Kant discusses in the Kantian theory.

“David Hume, 18th century Scottish philosopher, argues that actually our emotions can play a role in our moral makeup (as opposed to the Greco ideology of sole reason). For Confucius, benevolence — acts of kindness — is the prime virtue. Additionally, Confucian protégé, Mencius, in one of his books, utters, “Benevolence is the heart of man, and rightness his road” – Source

There are many theories, and philosophies surrounded ethics, morality and living a virtuous life.

Buddhism focuses on the ‘Four Noble Truths‘, which are;

• The Truth of Suffering;

• The Truth of the Cause of Suffering;

• The Truth of the End of Suffering;

• The Truth of the Path that Leads to the End of Suffering.

The Four Noble Truths are reached through the ‘Noble Eightfold Path‘, which are;

• Right Understanding;

• Right Thought;

• Right Speech,

• Right Action;

• Right Livelihood;

• Right Effort;

• Right Mindfulness;

• Right Concentration.

Stoicism isn’t too dissimilar to Buddhism, as it too is about reaching a virtuous, noble life, and they follow the ‘Four Cardinal Virtues‘, which are;

• Wisdom : Includes excellent deliberation, good judgment, perspective, good sense.

• Justice : Includes good-heartedness, benevolence, public service, fair dealing.

• Courage : Includes bravery, perseverance, authenticity, confidence.

• Temperance: Includes orderliness, self-control, forgiveness, humility.

Stoics primarily focused on what is virtuous, and not concerning yourself with what’s beyond your control, and having the ability to distinguish between good, bad, and indifference. The good being the Cardinal Virtues, and the bad being the direct opposite of them, foolishness, injustice, cowardice, and excessiveness.

Aretaic ethics, (virtuous) is an area of philosophy that many of the wise of Ancient Greece discussed, which focused around the areas of;

• Honesty;

• Courage;

• Compassion;

• Generosity;

• Loyalty;

• Fidelity;

• Fairness;

• Restraint;

• Wisdom;

• Principles;

• Ethics;

• Nobel;

• Righteousness

These were all the things that they considered to be essential to successfully function within a social community.

“Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.” – Aristotle

Liberalism is perhaps one of the most important social and political philosophies, as it covers the area of equality, and since many religions are oppressive, and disregard equality, then they stumble in their delusional world that they somehow have the moral high ground. Liberalism obviously focuses on liberty, and freedom, but also covers areas like;

Individual rights: human and civil rights;

Freedom of religion;

Freedom from religion;

• Secularism;

Democracy;

Gender, sexual and racial equality

These are social foundations that heavily influence the humanistic philosophical approach, where the focus is on the agency and value of humans as individuals and as a whole, using reason and empathy towards all sentient life. In the U.K humanism is a recognised, registered charity and are involved in many areas of reform which include;

Education

• Human rights: blasphemy laws; gender mutilation; forced marriage; freedom of speech; and pro-choice: abortion rights and assisted dying.

Animal cruelty

Secularism

Scientific method

Progressivism: morality; economic reform; efficiency and social welfare

Climate change and global warming

All the above examples are all adhering to a system of values and principles of conduct that’s expected for a society to flourish for the overall greater good, and I’d say the virtuous source of morality that comes from the Ancient Greek schools of thought are probably the most influential, particularly the Aristotelian views:

‪The ultimate end of human action is happiness. 
Happiness consists in acting in accordance with reason. 
Acting in accordance with reason is the distinguishing feature of all the traditional virtues.‬Source

‪Ultimately it seems that most philosophies are enforced by the use of reason, and reason is the ability to think, and form judgements using logical and rational understanding. I’ve already mentioned the Kantian theory, but at its basic level it amounts to this simple process:‬

‪You ought to do your duty (simply because it is your duty). 
Reason guides you to this conclusion.” ‬Source

What is Life?

To put it as simply as I can, life is what distinguishes organic matter from nonorganic matter, and there are five kingdoms of life on Earth, and they are:

• Prokaryotae – (unicellular ie: Bacteria)

• Protoctista – (eukaryotic ie: Algae)

• Fungi – (Multicellular ie: mould)

• Plantae – (photosynthetic ie: flowers)

• Animalia -(Multicellular ie: vertebrates and invertebrates

A wider way of describing life is cell based matter that’s capable of adapting to its environment, thus evolving, the ability to reproduce, a metabolism, response to stimuli, and growth. Yet biochemist ‘Gerald Joyce‘ who works for NASA in their astrobiology department suggests that life can be defined as; ‘self-sustaining‘. All organisms are comprised of cells that carry DNA, which is genetic material that maps out functions and is passed on through reproduction to future generations.

There are two families of cells, humans and all other mammals, birds, plants, insects and reptiles are eukaryote, which contain an outer membrane with a nucleus within, and the other family is prokaryote, which is unicellular like bacteria. Everything that has what we determine as life, will do anything it can to preserve itself. Life is purely about survival, and being able to continue the species.

Earlier today I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a religious individual who claimed a foetus was alive. A foetus that’s younger than 21 weeks cannot survive if taken away from the womb, and even at 21 weeks, survival is extremely unlikely, yet not impossible. Even with the wonders of modern medical science, it’s a difficult task to replicate a mother and provide a foetus with the nutrients it needs. To put it bluntly, a foetus is essentially a parasite who lives of its host, and if taken away from its host, it’s survival isn’t guaranteed. A foetus cannot self sustain, is without true consciousness, and isn’t affected by stimuli until quite far into the pregnancy.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” – Genesis 2.7

Correct me if I’m wrong, but does Genesis 2.7 say that upon the first breath, man becomes a living soul? So does the Bible suggest that life begins after birth when the baby takes its first breath? It sure seems that way to me, but I’m sure a Christian would accuse me of taking it out of context for the purpose of confirmation bias.

So what would you say defined life?