Sunday, 8 November 2009


To teach a child to believe in God is to teach them to believe in the irrational. It is to teach them to value attachment to an invisible, unknowable mythical being over reasoning. It teaches that belief is more important than evidence. Not learning to assess the evidence in moral questions can be deeply damaging.

Theistic religions teach that things are wrong simply because God says so. This is very different from saying that something is wrong because it is harmful. which is an intelligent way of assessing the morality of any action.

The "Because God says so" principle of morality is highly arbitrary. "Thou shalt not kill" does not prevent Christians from believing in the death penalty or going to war. Instead of being a set of laws, the commandments become conveniently re-interpreted to meet the political stance of those who preach them. How can that which is supposedly inspired by a divine being be subject to political considerations? Is is not simply a case of religious leaders using religion to booster a political agenda?

Using the claims of the Bible or other holy books oversimplifies often complex questions and in many places continues to provide a justification for the persecution of gay people or others who don't conform to a "revealed" laws. It can and does lead to direct harm towards the powerless in societies, such as women and children.

Theism, therefore hampers proper moral development and sadly in may cases leads to violent behaviour by not teaching children to ask if what they are doing is harmful and take responsibility for it. The point is that a religious approach in in many ways permissive. It give a moral justification for harmful acts. For some it is a moral reason to ignore the deep harm Humanity is doing to the planet, for many, many in history it has justified war.

Intelligent morality is not about imposed laws but about the often difficult questions of assessing the balance between rights and duties, and freedoms and limitations. More than anything it is about seeking to objectively avoid harm. That does not arise from divine decrees or religious laws but through intelligent discourse in a free society. It arises from a recognition that as humans we have a responsibility to each other and the planet.

Following an imagine deity, whose words are open to widely differing interpretation is a dangerous distraction from our needs to address the problems of the world we live in. To feed such a diet to children is deeply harmful to their moral welfare.

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