...it is imperative that the American people, even if they do not agree with the teachings of Islam, do not wrongly blame Islam for everything done in its name.
Religion [the belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe] is a man-made institution; a meme (see this video by Dan Dennet for a great presentation on memes) that offers humanity, like many man-made things, a two-edged sword.
The first edge has been used to create a more harmonious and prosperous society when individual rights conflict:
- Don't like the way a neighbor's cattle keeps eating your crops...Thou Shalt not kill him.
- You're already married but you think your neighbor looks kind of cute...Thou shalt not commit adultery, etc.
It can be argued that the 'Golden Rule', a foundational principle of many religions, is the chicken to the egg of cooperation as an evolutionary survival strategy .
The second edge of the sword has historically been used as a justification for violence and subjugation. Examples include the Inquisition, Taliban's brutality to women and the Islamic theocracy in Iran. Humanity's challenge today is the terroism justified by religion; more specifically, by Isalmic Facist.
- Religion is a man-made institution [Before arguing this point, first take on in your mind a belief in a 'God' you currently don't believe in - like Amun, Akua, Centeotl, Zeus or The Flying Spaghetti Monster and make your best argument against that entity. Then use that same argument against any belief in 'God' you may have];
- Logic leads us to the Golden Rule without having to resort to religious doctrine;
- Religion is used to justify acts of inhumanity;
Humanity should move beyond religion.
At one time in man's history we accurately used the stars to navigate even though we believed they revolved around the Earth. Religion was even used to subjugate anyone that questioned an Earth-centric philosophy.
Logic enlightened us beyond this misnotion. Humanity, through either nostalgia or custom, holds on to religion at its peril.
An attempt to post a reply (and email) to Brain Shavings' post was unsuccessful (server error) and is provided here in the spirit of continuing the discussion:
- 'Racking up a body count' by definition goes against the Golden Rule. The historic facts of man's inhumanity to his fellow man are indeed facts, but not an argument for an transcendent Lawgiver.
- With regards to: "There is one question that can never be answered by any evolutionary assessment of ethics. The question is this: Why ought I be moral tomorrow?"
We ought to be 'moral' (treat others as we want to be treated) because it maximizes the outcomes (ala Game Theory) for all individuals involved as noted in the study referred to at: Generous players: game theory explores the Golden Rule's place in biology.
- As to the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA)...for arguments sake let's accept that it is a 'logical' argument which concludes that the Universe must have a 'creator'.
The 'argument' itself then falls apart when its very methodology is then applied to the 'creator' KCA concludes within its argument. Or put more simply, what process created the 'creator'?
If you're in for a dime with the KCA argument you have to be in for a dollar as well; i.e., applying the KCA 'search algorithm' to the question of the 'creator' itself.