10. What do you think the role of religion is in determining human morality?
I think it is generally an unhelpful one. Religious ideas about good and evil tend to focus on how to achieve well-being in the next life, and this makes them terrible guides to securing it in this one. Of course, there are a few gems to be found in every religious tradition, but insofar as these precepts are wise and useful they are not, in principle, religious. You do not need to believe that the Bible was dictated by the Creator of the Universe, or that Jesus Christ was his son, to see the wisdom and utility of following the Golden Rule.
The problem with religious morality is that it often causes people to care about the wrong things, leading them to make choices that needlessly perpetuate human suffering. Consider the Catholic Church: This is an institution that excommunicates women who want to become priests, but it does not excommunicate male priests who rape children. The Church is more concerned about stopping contraception than stopping genocide. It is more worried about gay marriage than about nuclear proliferation. When we realize that morality relates to questions of human and animal well-being, we can see that the Catholic Church is as confused about morality as it is about cosmology. It is not offering an alternative moral framework; it is offering a false one.
11. So people don’t need religion to live an ethical life?
No. And a glance at the lives of most atheists, and at the most atheistic societies on earth — Denmark, Sweden, etc. — proves that this is so. Even the faithful can’t really get their deepest moral principles from religion — because books like the Bible and the Qur’an are full of barbaric injunctions that all decent and sane people must now reinterpret or ignore. How is it that most Jews, Christians, and Muslims are opposed to slavery? You don’t get this moral insight from scripture, because the God of Abraham expects us to keep slaves. Consequently, even religious fundamentalists draw many of their moral positions from a wider conversation about human values that is not, in principle, religious. We are the guarantors of the wisdom we find in scripture, such as it is. And we are the ones who must ignore God when he tells us to kill people for working on the Sabbath.
Harris makes one of those observations that is so obvious that few take pause to note it. Much of human progress – equal rights and protections for women, the minority in any society, objective evaluation of guilt and innocence, adoption of life and labor saving technology have all come about by the secularization of organized religions.
Nothing new, but Nick Gillespie is quite convinced that libertarians have been the unseen driving force behind modern politics: “The real impact of a libertarian sensibility is building a mind-set that privileges autonomy and individual choice, voluntarism, and openness over top-down, coercive systems that force everyone to go along to get along. … [I]t reflects all the best trends in commerce and culture of the past 40 years. … That mind-set has already shaken the world in ways big and small and will continue to do so.”
Gillespie shares a common libertarian tendency to have not a child-like view of history, but a fictional child in an old children’s book in which the sun shines, picnics with juicy apple, all the children are free to do whatever they want and lives happily ever. As a rule we like people – especially leaders in politics and business to have something that approaches that hollow populists attitude toward people. Most of us think we’re good and we don’t want those leaders telling us we’re inconsistent at best. We do not want them having something like a Vonnegut view of humanity – we are simultaneously capable of great evil and great good. That safeguards must be in place to protect us from torturing people who believe the earth revolves around the sun. I would love to trust my neighbors completely, but realistically I know they’ll dump their toxic waste in a river we share because they either do not understand the science of toxicity or don’t care. Gillespie, Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute have this comical lack of self awareness whenever they post this crap about widening choices in autonomy as they push the publish button on a technology reliant on tax payer funded DARPA research. It’s great that libertarians know how to spell coercive, it is way past time to look up the meaning and its political context. If lending laws allowed banks would engage in usury – they and retailers like Sears – nearly do already. Such usury is coercive. While the odds are low any of us will move beyond the economic class of our parents economic mobility becomes even more difficult when banks operate as they please – see Pottersville. That is coercion bundled up with cruelty. Like the Taliban, the Christian right in the U.S. and the Italian fascist of the forties, these banks, oil companies, insurance companies, libertarians… would all believe they are acting in the best interests of society. Well, people believe lots of stuff. We don’t need a laboratory to see if Nicks libertarian dystopia works – the U.S. had the early 1800s and the Gilded Age around the turn of the 20th century. No environmental protection, no student loans, minimum wage or no labor laws and 11 million out of the entire nation’s 12 million families lived in poverty. But hey they had the kind of volunteerism and lack of coercion that lurks behind Gillespie’s code words. Pop culture and comic book junkies know with great power comes great responsibility, well that responsibility comes with the choices we make too.
take a picture. The old photos on this post are just swell – as they would say in the 1930s, When women dressed to impress on the beach: 1930s fashion in Deauville
Scientists may have found Elvis or the place where your missing socks go, Mars’s mysterious elongated crater
Orcus Patera is an enigmatic elliptical depression near Mars’s equator, in the eastern hemisphere of the planet. Located between the volcanoes of Elysium Mons and Olympus Mons, its formation remains a mystery.
Often overlooked, this well-defined depression extends approximately 380 km by 140 km in a NNE–SSW direction. It has a rim that rises up to 1800 m above the surrounding plains, while the floor of the depression lies 400–600 m below the surroundings.
The term ‘patera’ is used for deep, complex or irregularly shaped volcanic craters such as the Hadriaca Patera and Tyrrhena Patera at the north-eastern margin of the Hellas impact basin. However, despite its name and the fact that it is positioned near volcanoes, the actual origin of Orcus Patera remains unclear…
“Remains unclear”…don’t miss this opportunity to fill in the missing gaps of information with the newest neural bubblegum.