Massacre of Valentine’s Day

condomheart

I take it that there is general acknowledgement that the modern observance of Valentine’s Day is as commercialized as Christmas. Notwithstanding, most people still indulge in this celebration of love as a necessary distraction from the hum-drum of daily life.

But there are those who wish to tarnish and discredit this old tradition.

Anwar Abbas, head of education (yeah right!) at the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars thinks that Valentine’s Day is “incompatible with his nation’s culture and religious tenets.” This self-appointed moral policeman expressed his indignation after discovering that retailers were selling Valentine’s Day chocolate gift packs that included condoms which he claims “glorified promiscuity.”

What an idiot? The provision of free condoms is a public service. Religion should never be allowed to come between consenting sex organs. (Yes, I’m referring to the multitude of sexual partnerships, not just heterosexuality). This is the 21st century for Odin’s sake. People love to bonk because it gives them pleasure. There is nothing immoral in sexual pleasure.

It used to be that Abbas’s irrational and irresponsible adjudication was the forte of the Catholic Church. And he’s not alone. Abbas has cohorts in every religion under Sol. It is now apparent that it is endemic in religious ideology in general. Ideologues have for time immemorial been using morality as a pretext to impose their narrow-mindedness on the uncritical masses. It has nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with religious bigotry and the power that having a priestly position entails.

Fuck all religious naysayers. No wait, don’t, not in that way. Ignore all fundamentalist religious idiots and have a banging Valentine’s Day tomorrow, but for Odin’s sake use a fucking condom.

The Rape of Morality

And so I got this perplexing question on my Contacts Page from someone by the name of Samuel who prefers to call himself Ghastly:

God Is real how could you not look at something and not see the miracles inside of it? So you are basically saying you can rape someone and be fine because in the end it doesn’t matter.

I’m simply astounded at how he jumped to the conclusion that I’d find rape acceptable because I don’t believe in one of the gods. Why he chose rape instead of one of the other no-no’s like murder or infanticide is not important. What is of concern is the perpetuation of the myth amongst believers, that without some arbitrary god’s absolute standard, there is no basis for good moral judgement and action.

If you examine the logic of Samuel’s belief, he’s basically saying that if there was no god, then he would find it acceptable to rape or act amorally in some other way. That’s totally absurd.

By his reasoning all non-believers are either rapists or potential rapists. He’s intimating that all non-believers are just hanging around waiting for the opportunity to rape someone, and that believers are all saints. That is a patently laughable insinuation where it not so serious and off the mark.

Frans de Waal a primatologist and biology professor at Emory University has conducted extensive research on the behaviour of Bonobo apes and concludes that they have some grasp of morality. While he’s not saying that apes are conclusively moral beings, his research indicates that they have the “basic building blocks” for morality. Professor de Waal also doesn’t reveal if he’s observed any apes worshipping the gods. Have you?

Morality comes from within, not above.

Does Science Contribute to Sound Moral Judgement and Behaviour?

Commandments

On this blog I am frequently confronted by people who post comments that seem to indicate that science has no contributing effect on good moral judgement and behaviour. Indeed science is portrayed as an enemy of religion by most fundamentalists, while religion is claimed as the sole harbinger of morality.

In the religious world it is generally taken for granted that morality would be totally absent were it not for the foundations laid by theology. Subsequently science and religion has been pitted against each other in nearly all social debate as competing forces, which they are not.

Science was never meant to replace religion and I think just about all scientists will agree. It’s unfortunate that religious folk continue to foster the belief that science is “out to get religion.”

I was therefore intrigued when I came across this scientific study published by Christine Ma-Kellams and Jim Blascovich in Plos One, which demonstrates a correlation between the exposure to science and sound morality. Here is an introduction, but the methods, procedure and conclusions are available through the link above:

Science has stood as a powerful force in shaping human civilization and behavior. As both an ideological system and a method for acquiring information about the world, it offers explanations for the origins of the physical universe and answers to a variety of other fundamental questions and concerns. Past research has noted that personal values influence both the questions that are asked and the methods used in arriving at the answers; as such, scientists have often been concerned with the moral and social ramifications of their scientific endeavors. Not surprisingly, the general consensus is that science is value-laden. However, no studies to date have directly investigated the link between exposure to science and moral or prosocial behaviors. Here, we empirically examined the effects of thinking about science on moral judgments and behavior.

It is important to note that “science” is multi-faceted construct that takes on distinct forms. On the one hand, the scientific style of thinking employed by scientists is unusual, difficult, and uncommon. Although science can serve as a belief system, it is distinct from other belief systems (e.g., religion) insofar as its counterintuitive nature and the degree to which it does not rely on universal, automatic, unconscious cognitive systems; as a consequence, relative to other belief systems like religion, science has few explicit “followers”. On the other hand, apart from the model of the scientific method of acquiring information about the world, we contend that there is a lay image or notion of “science” that is associated with concepts of rationality, impartiality, fairness, technological progress, and ultimately, the idea that we are to use these rational tools for the mutual benefit of all people in society. Philosophers and historians have noted that scientific inquiry began to flourish when Western society moved from one centered on religious notions of God’s will to one in which the rational mind served as the primary means to understand and improve our existence. As such, the notion of science contains in it the broader moral vision of a society in which rationality is used for the mutual benefit of all.

We predict that this notion of science as part of a broader moral vision of society facilitates moral and prosocial judgments and behaviors. Consistent with the notion that science plays a key role in the moral vision of a society of mutual benefit, scholars have long argued that science’s systematic approach to studying causes and consequences allows for more informed opinions about questions of good and evil, and many have argued that the classic scientific ethos stands as an ethically neutral, but morally normative, set of principles that guides scientific inquiry. We contend that the same scientific ethos that serves to guide empirical inquiries also facilitates the enforcement of moral norms more broadly.

Notwithstanding the adage that correlation does not prove causation, this work is invaluable as it was the first time that an empirical attempt was made to find a link between science and morality.

It would be interesting to see if further studies are done and if the results remain consistent with the initial findings.

What’s a nice Atheist boy supposed to do…

Religious symbols from the top nine organised ...
Image via Wikipedia

…when he comes across a nice Christian girl asking what’s she’s supposed to do, on one of her online newspaper columns.

Well, he wouldn’t have done much had he not read one of nice Christian girl’s responses to a comment from a reader.

Thami, let’s put it this was: would you date a girl who was terribly racist? No? Because I assume you despise racism as an intrinsic value in your life and would not be able to align yourself with someone whose values clash so much with your own. I don’t think this is “childishly discriminatory” but wise. You’re avoiding unnecessary conflict and heart ache. That’s how it is for me: I prefer to be with someone who shares the values I hold most deeply.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning.

Verashni Pillay, wrote an article in the Mail & Guardian Online, in which she claims to be a “Christian Christian.” Not knowing exactly what that means, I’ll just assume that she believes that she’s a better Christian than most. Verashni also believes that her kind of Christianity imbues her with a special set of morals and values which presumably ordinary Christians do not possess…and other faiths fail dismally to attain.

She will not align herself with anyone who is off a different faith to her own because Verashni believes fallaciously that religion is responsible for shaping a persons morals and values, and that somehow the religion she adopted or was born into, does it better than the rest. Yes, it’s always the case that Christianity somehow comes out on top every time someone compares morality. And she’s quite adamant because she was:

…all the while growing in the most inexplicably beautiful and satisfying relationship I’ve ever known — knowing God

Verashni finds it hard to believe that someone who kneels before a different idol, could possibly have the same values as her own. I greatly respect and admire her political beliefs, but while she harbours this much distrust towards those of competing faiths, I can only imagine the ire she reserves for those of no faith.

So what’s a nice Christian girl supposed to do?

How about abandoning archaic religious ideologies that divide, and start having relationships with beings that really matter.

A fool says in his heart…

Yet again, I was reminded today by a commenter on one of my posts, of the biblical passage from Psalm 14:1

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God…”

And once again, I have to remind these bible-thumping ignoramus’ that I DO NOT USE MY HEART TO THINK WITH. Please get it into your heads (or hearts if you prefer to use that organ for cognition) that I just use my heart to pump blood to my brain which does all the thinking.

And that’s not all. Yet again they fail to complete the context in which it is quoted:

The fool says in his heart,
       “There is no God.”
       They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
       there is no one who does good.

Now according to one source I bothered to look up (there are of course others which seem to concur), this passage actually means something else:

Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Some take these verses to indicate that atheists are stupid, i.e., lacking intelligence. However, that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal which refers more to a “moral fool,” e.g., someone without morals. The meaning of the text is not “unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “immoral people do not believe in God.”

So other people think I’m immoral. Morality is subjective, so I can live with that. What I can’t live with is, fools thinking I say things in my heart…