Ethics and Solutions (15-16; November 14)

I don’t like the Santa Claus thing.  It raised my hackles right up.

I am, of course, talking about the fact that Avalos argues that furthering the belief in Santa Claus is unethical because we are asking a child to give us a tangible service (behaving) in return for a nonexistent reward (Santa Claus’ existence and his benefits).  Firstly, and yes, I know, Chuck, and I’m terribly sorry to nitpick yet again at something that’s not terribly important, but I just have to get this out (this is already a terrible sentence), Santa Claus encourages the imagination.  Second of all, it eases children into behaving well.  It’s a device.  Thirdly, I certainly reaped benefits from Santa Claus–even during the bad years when i was younger.  There was definitely an existent reward.

Okay, moving on to something that’s actually relevant to the chapter–the immorality of religious violence.  I’m not convinced that nonreligious violence is less immoral than religious violence.  Yes, you need food to live, but people believe that a life without their spirituality isn’t a life at all.  How is one to make the determination of truth?  And isn’t morality personal?  I certainly had always considered it to be so.  I went ahead and looked it up and it said “of or relating to principles of right and wrong behavior.”  Oh, thanks Oxford.  Like that helps us.

I seriously doubt that by Jiminy Cricket and your Jiminy Cricket have the exact same personality–indeed, our morality is cultivated through our lifestyle much like our personality.  I don’t believe the idea that nonreligious violence is more moral; sorry, Avalos.

Avalos presents two obvious logical choices for solving religious violence, if religious violence is always immoral.  First, that we retain religion, but modify it so that scarcities are not created and second, that we remove religion from human life.  He goes on right after outlining these to state, “Each of these choices has advantages and disadvantages.” 

It was hear that I got a glimpse of the dictator in Avalos.  Okay, that’s unfair and not completely true–but it is a little bit.  Both of those suggestions interfere prominently with the notion of freedom of religion–which is in our Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In fact, it’s Article 18:  “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

We can’t enact either of his so-called solutions.  And even if we could, would we really want to?  Think of the ramifications, man!  Would we want to lose the side benefits that come with religion?  Think of Martin Luther King, Jr.  He used his faith as his primary motivation for his activism in the civil rights movement–whose to say what the movement would have looked like had he not had that faith.

I’m an AI member and I’m also not a fan of the death penalty.  And I liken the argument I use against that, for the argument I use against Avalos–yeah, some person may deserve to die, but who deserves to make that determination?  Who are we–who is Avalos–to declare religion should be eradicated?

In these chapters, he also talks about unverifiable information.  I must admit, I lit up a little there in…well, passionate interest, maybe?  Isn’t faith an extension of unverifiable information?  And what does one do when presented with so-called “verifiable” information?  What about people speaking in tongues, or miracles as answers to prayer, or text?  I never know what to say when one of my overly zealous Christian friends talk about people speaking tongues–that’s a hard one for me to answer.  It seems awfully rude to come out and say, “Bullshit.  Faker.”  But, back to the matter at hand, I suppose you could say that those things can’t be verified for everyone. 

You could compare the faith people show in those things to the faith people hold in anything and everything–think of cult theorists.  There are people who believe in UFOs (well, of course people believe in UFOs, but I mean the alien variety) and Roswell and the Joshua Tree and crop circles. 

Faith is faith.


~ by spim on November 17, 2008.

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