Reason, not faith, defines humanity

About Al Stefanelli
Al Stefanelli is the Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc. He is the author of "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth," and is also a freelance writer and journalist (circa 1985). His work is widely published on the Internet and in print. His blog can be found on Freethought Blogs. Visit his website at www.alstefanelli.com
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The basis of any religious moral code centers around the superstitious and imaginary dream world of those who have devised the code. This dream world cannot be verified by facts or observation, but must be accepted on faith alone.

The basis of a secular moral code is human need. The understanding that what is good supports basic human rights and anything that threatens it is bad. We do not need a supernatural deity or an ancient holy book to determine this.

If we stay the course of what religion interprets as morality then the mysticism of the cult-du-jour will completely prevail over logic and reason and we will retrogress into barbarism where the death penalty is the required punishment for adulterers, homosexuals, disobedient children and countless other people. There are sitting US Senators that already believe these characteristics should be punishable by death.
In spite of our societies being steeped in religion, every advancement we have made toward a tolerant society has come about through our use of reason. Reason is what defines humanity and insisting upon using faith to acquire knowledge flies in the face of everything that we have achieved as a race because doing so requires us to accept the imaginary as tangible, which is nothing more than an escape from reality.

This is known as delusion, and it is, for lack of a better definition, mental illness. It should come as no surprise when a religious person draws a completely different conclusion about reality than someone who uses logic and reason as their tools. The indoctrinated bases their world view on the arbitrary and the subjective, and encompasses their perceptions based on what they understand to be the desire and will of their deity. This process is almost completely emotional.

Reliance is not based on objectivity, but unquestionable intuition that is not to be examined on a deeper level unless it does not veer from their scripture. The end result is the believer being devoid of objective standards and each person of faith interpreting truth and morality in their own way. Subjective morality is problematic because it requires definition solely on the prejudices of their religious organization, leaving them without a discernible ability to determine right from wrong, rendering morality meaningless. This is irony at its zenith, because most fundamentalists preach against moral relativity. The cause of society’s moral collapse is religion, itself.

When a society removes moral responsibility by belief that the acquisition of knowledge comes from an unknown and mysterious venue, it loses its ability for rational conceptualization of values because they are stripped from the reality of this life and placed in an imaginary next life, which is a recipe for disaster. As we have seen, separate and subjective moral value systems are not conducive to conflict resolution in any way other than ultimately using force.

The history of religion is a history of war. Another problem with rejecting reason as the foundation for morality is that anything that is contradictory to the religionist’s world view is rejected purely by emotion. Thus, we have a very well documented anti-intellectual attitude at the core of most religions, and this is promoted in their holy books, as well. Eve’s sin of eating from the tree of knowledge is a perfect example.

Plainly, there is nothing mysterious about morality. All we need is healthy self-esteem, the desire to learn and compassion for each other and we have won most of the fight to becoming a moral person. Christianity promotes the belief that humanity is born into the world already depraved and compares us as filthy rags in the sight of God’s eyes. Reason or logic doesn’t even come into the picture, but they cling to the belief that only the bible, with its primitive system of rewards and punishments, can hold society together. What they fail to understand is that much of the decay of modern society is due to the unquestioning acceptance of religious dogma and doctrine.

Religious morality is harmful and benefits no one. There is nothing inherently positive about pursuing a “higher” morality. It is detrimental to the health of the individual and to society when a literal acceptance of any “holy” book is adopted. It results in a false view of reality, destroys self-esteem and causes division on many different levels.

If our species is to survive, we must remove ourselves from the self-induced mental torture chamber that is religion.

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Posted by on April 24, 2012. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION,HERESY. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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12 Responses to Reason, not faith, defines humanity

  1. Carroll T Cooper Reply

    April 24, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I am a child of Faith and God will protect me from the illness of this world and the negative people in it.
    I no nothing about religion but I do have the Faith that as wonderful as this life can be there is a better place for me.

    With respect for your opinion I do not agree with your thought’s.

    CTC

    • trog69 Reply

      April 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

      My, CTC, aren’t you the precious princess! Yes, God will protect you from “illness of this world”, but it’s so busy protecting you that it can’t be bothered to feed and care for hundreds and thousands of desperately poor and ill children on the planet. You are sooo special to get this shield from harm. Of course, you’re mistaken in thinking that your God will protect you from “the negative people in it” since I’m here telling you to go (expletive deleted by editor) yourself. Can’t get much more “negative” than my contempt for your addle-pated thinking.

      • Erin Nanasi Reply

        April 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm

        That is uncalled for. No matter what you believe, you do not get to insult and swear and demean another person for their beliefs. You have no idea what Mrs. Cooper has been through, or her family.

        • trog69 Reply

          April 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

          Um, I just did, so unless you’re going to delete my comment, I stand by everything I said. I’ll also add that “faith and reason” are complete opposites, and to hold both as ways to seek truth about reality is merely compartmentalized thinking, and not using reason at all.

          • Erin Nanasi Reply

            April 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

            We don’t delete comments here. On an up note, Mrs. Cooper and her family are much more tolerant of your hate than you are of their faith. How truly ironic.

  2. Erin Nanasi Reply

    April 24, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Not big on religion. Big on spirituality and peace and kindness and yes, faith. I have faith in many things-science, my friends, my family, and a higher power. (I think it’s Aslan) You can have deep belief in faith and reason; the two need not cancel one another out.

    • anne Reply

      May 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      It’s easy to be disrespectful of others when you accept no accountability in your life, trog.

  3. Butch Reply

    April 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Sadly I must disagree that the history of religion is war. The pursuit of power is the cause of war, not religion. Although religion has been strongly present during times of great conflict, it is seldom the primary motivation for war. The pursuit of the things others posses it usually the primary cause of conflict.

    I also believe that rational thought dictates that the strong must dominate the weak. Civil rights, human rights, humanity to others is not necessarily the outcome of “rational conceptualization of values”.

    The history of conflict and war more often show a distinct absence of moral values and are justified as the logical and rational action.

    • Dave The Sandman Reply

      April 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Ah yes….the hedging around argument that conveniently (but inaccurately) thus excludes the religious wars.

      So…lets do some correction:

      Islamic Expansion Period conquests – religious warfare
      Albergensian Crusade – religious warfare
      Papal Crusades 1, 2, 3 & 4 – religious warfare
      Tokugawa Shogunate Christianity Surpressions – religious warfare
      Shimabara Rebellion – religious warfare
      Ottoman Conquests – religious warfare
      European Wars of Religion – religious warfare
      Holy League war – religious warfare
      Jacobite Rebellion – religious warfare
      Timur The Great’s campaigns – religious warfare
      Sunni vs Shiite conflicts – religious warfare
      Irish Surpressions (particularly Cromwellian Protectorate Period) – religious warfare
      Boxer Rebellion – arguably religiously fuelled warfare
      Armenian Surpressions – religious aspects to genocidal actions
      Post Yugoslavian Collapse Balkans Conflicts – religiously fuelled warfare

      those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head….but of course applying your non-logic most of those are excluded.

      And of course the grand guignol of WW2 and the Nazi anti-semitism…but of course all those references to “god” in Mein Kampf and on the Wermarcht belt buckles were just a smokescreen eh?

  4. dr.Erniepaul Izereckt Reply

    April 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    May U Rest-in-pieces U lost MOFOS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    a believer
    is a NON-ACHIEVER INDEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Jason Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 9:02 am

    An interesting article. I do agree that religion has been a primary influence in most wars (with money and power very, very close seconds), and I do agree that science, reason and understanding is the way to go forward. I don’t agree that one needs to insult or belittle a person for believing in go however. Sure, when we run into the fundies who act like morons and make claims like gravity is the devil or other stupid things, it is fine to insult the forrest gumps for their lack of a brain. We can not forget that some rational people do still have faith, misguided as we may see it, they still have a right to it. So long as science, reason and real morals are not forgotten, then the faith issue is not a frontline issue. Extremists and fundies are the problem with all religions, and it is making that point clear that will help bring more people out of the dark ages, not in drawing a hard line in the sand and saying choose reason or die. One day, it may have to come to that, but until then, we should try not to be like the peole we hate. It does us no good for promoting science and reason over faith.

  6. Sherwood Milazzo Reply

    May 19, 2013 at 9:08 am

    The classics, in the Western academic tradition, refer to cultures of classical antiquity, namely the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. The study of the classics is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities; however, its popularity declined during the 20th century. Nevertheless, the influence of classical ideas in many humanities disciplines, such as philosophy and literature, remains strong; for example, the Gilgamesh Epic from Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Vedas and Upanishads in India and various writings attributed to Confucius, Lao-tse and Chuang-tzu in China.

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