PostHeaderIcon Morality Without Religion

 

Periodically in discussions here and elsewhere, I have expressed my disdain for the doctrine of altruism, which underpins the morality of both the Politically Correct activists on the Left and the Piously Correct activists on the Right, who (lamentably) manage to frame and control the debate in American politics, too often to the exclusion of far weightier issues than those that animate them. I have claimed adherence to a moral code superior to either, which I have fashioned for myself to be in accordance with my own nature, negating any need to ever feel guilty for a purposeful act.

This, of course, has elicited sputtering incredulity and rage from the ubiquitous bible thumpers, who reckon the very notion of morality can only come from their God, as recorded in their Good Book, and to suggest otherwise is evidence of the work of their Devil. To them, all human activity proscribed as sinful in their ancient scroll, is by definition immoral, even if it is benign, harmless, and/or perhaps beneficial to others.

In their myopia, lost on them is the very purpose of morality, that consciously or not we all have one, or that coexistence and civilization would be impossible without it. They may disagree with our codes, or question whence they came; but they err to deny the possibility of extra-biblical morality, or conflate their notion of sin against their God with immorality.

I have mentioned that I am an objectivist; but since the reason-based and life-affirming philosophy of Ayn Rand is little understood, more often I simply refer to myself as a small (L) libertarian, which is close enough. When under fire for my worldview, I have often wished I could explain the nuances of objectivism in simple terms for the reader; but that is an arduous task, which is simply impossible in a comment section discussion.

Today, I have stumbled across an article by one Craig Biddle, which does an exemplary job of it. Expanded from a talk he regularly gives to college students, it is clear, concise, and should be thought provoking to anyone open-minded enough to be capable of independent thought. Give yourself a break from the frustration of politics, temporarily set aside any philosophical prejudices you may have, limber up your thinking tool, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and give it a read. It is located at:

Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s Morality of Egoism

I would enjoy discussing it, if you care to comment. ◄Dave►

 

4 Responses to “Morality Without Religion”

  • Dave Shea says:

    That was a good read. Could there be a higher praise? 😀

    • ◄Dave► says:

      Agreed, Dave. I have actually done it twice now, and will probably do it again. I want to own some of his techniques, for future debate with altruists. If I didn’t already have a stack of books I haven’t found time to read, I would order his. Perhaps I will anyway. ◄Dave►

  • Troy says:

    Dave, elsewhere in this Blog, I have argued the point that, with the possible exception of parents protecting their young, there really is no such thing as altruism. Even those things that we do that have no immediate payback are, nevertheless, done without altruism. Instead, they are usually done with the mindset that, were the situation reversed, we would be the beneficiary. In other words, most of what passes for altruism is little more than an enlightened investment in helping to create the sort of world one wishes to live in.

    That said, the progressives have become expert in manipulating this urge into a guilt trip, making perfectly good citizens feel as if they are falling short in some unexplainable way.

    For instance How can you enjoy your prosperity while so many poor people languish around you? Isn’t it only right that you share with them? After all, it is only luck that separates you from the poor.

    Sadly, far too many among us swallow this crap, and swallow it whole. And, I blame religious belief for most of it because they tend to teach the same crap.

    As for the relationship between morality/ethics and religion, it is a relationship that no longer really works. Maybe somewhat for the older folk but the younger among us just aren’t affected as much by it. How can they be when they live in a world of space travel, miniature computers and constant connectivity? (I have also written on this subject elsewhere in this Blog.)

    We are members of a local (that is to say, rural southern) TEA Party and most of the members are somewhat evangelical. Most of these are convinced that the current level of corruption, immorality and lack of ethics in our republic is because the courts ordered organized prayer out of the school rooms. I try to tell them that this is not the case and that the real problem is that our young are not being taught critical thinking — reasoning if you prefer. And, further, as religion continues to lose its power over the young, this will only get worse. I agree with them that religion was once a powerful driver of morality and ethics, but rational thought is an ever better driver and the only one available to us in the future. Alas, I have yet to get through to anyone. Thankfully, they do tolerate us quite well (perhaps we are amusing?).

    Lastly, it is past time to convert to big L Libertarianism. Governor Johnson needs you vote. It is still not too late to register for that Libertarian (Reason Magazine) sponsored cruise in August.

    Troy

    • ◄Dave► says:

      I understand your point, Troy, and it is really just a semantic distinction; but altruism exists. It exists as an evil doctrine that advocates selflessness. It is the selfless or altruistic act that is impossible, for, among others, the reasons you cite.

      Just remember to refer to yourself as a ‘godless heathen,’ instead of a dreadful ‘athiest,’ and it is easy to get on with the good ol’ boys. Harmless heathens they understand – they probably have a few among their kin; it is those athiest devils that they can’t abide.

      Oh, Johnson already has my vote. I have been registered as a Libertarian for years; I just have no time for their squabbling over doctrine, and their meetings seem to be dominated by the druggies, who give them such a bad name. Ironically, even though I have no use whatever for mind altering drugs, I sincerely wish they weren’t illegal.

      Were it not for that contentious issue, which irrationally scares the crap out of most conservatives, we would probably have a viable Libertarian Party, and perhaps even a Libertarian POTUS by now. Take drugs off the table, and I can convert most nominal conservatives into a libertarian in one sitting, unless they are among the insufferable Piously Correct activists. ◄Dave►

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