Friday, September 16, 2011

Thought for the Day

This from PZ Meyer's blog Pharyngula, when he responds to a religious apologist's complaints about "New Atheists" and their lack of belief in objective morality.  I acknowledge that the handful of readers of this blog are no doubt already subscribers to Meyer's writings, but as the saying goes, this bears repeating:

Let’s assume that Stephens is right, and there actually is a god who somehow is the source of all good. One of the unfortunate qualities of this god, however, is that he’s unknowable: we have many religions on earth claiming knowledge of god’s desires and plans, but we have no way of determining which, if any of them, is right. Perhaps the congregation of some odd sect in a small town in Saskatchewan are getting clear instructions beamed right into their heads by the one true god, but we have no way of telling, and they look just as random as the Mormons or Buddhists or Jews or Muslims, who are just as adamant that they have the truth. Maybe we atheists are poor unfortunates who have our god-antennas broken off, so we don’t hear the celestial transmissions everyone else is getting.

What should we do?

I think it’s clear that one thing we broken receivers should not do is blindly accept an absolutist morality based on the authority of a religious source — that would be irresponsible, and given that there is absolutely no consensus on which one is right, and that there are so damned many of them, most likely to be wrong. We should, instead, do as we have been doing, and use reason and evidence to assess beliefs and choose to follow the ones that make objective sense and help us get the business of living done. That does kind of rule out Stephens’ penis-obsessed genocidal racist deity who believes in proxy sacrifices and magic chanting, though.

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