Wednesday, August 24, 2011

book club, part two

While we're on the subject, I was just reading this little guy about religion and morality in the Times. Just in the first two paragraphs it highlights and interesting conflict for most theists: are they really worshipping God, or some moral code that is in fact above God? This tension was on full display in the book mentioned in the post below this one. The most hard-core believers, the fanatics, tend to heed God's word (however they interpret it) with no moral filter, which is what leads to anti-social and seemingly immoral acts on the part of the true believers. Indeed, most doctrines and holy books tend to put God ahead of any moral code; thus the all sorts of gruesome things that God orders in the Old Testament, or the belief that you can only be saved if you believe Christ is your savior, etc. etc.

But for most rank-and-file religious folk, the hierarchy is switched (or so it seems to me). They don't think it's right to murder in the name of God, but see religion as a gateway or a path to a moral life (and so would say God would never have such a desire anyway). They tend not to think it's critical to believe in the one true faith that they adhere to. But then what's the point of religious faith if God answers to some higher moral calling anyway? Isn't that moral framework then, like, the whole point?


  1. You clearly need to read this article right away!

    He does a great job delineating the paradox here -- if you believe morality stems from the presence of a higher being, then aren't God's rules all just kind of random and whimsical, and don't they therefore have no greater significance at all? On the other hand, if you believe that God just enforces or reinforces codes of morality, then we're back to the where do those precepts come from problem again.

  2. hmmm clearly i would've read that article already had my new yorker from last week or this (which one is it in?) come yet. WHERE IS IT