Friday, 30 November 2007

Religion-free morality

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Time magazine's latest cover story tackles the question of what makes humans moral – and refreshingly there's not a religious explanation in sight. The piece, by Time senior writer Jeffrey Kluger, looks for answers in biology, anthropology and sociology to the question of why humans adhere to, or in many cases break, moral codes.

The only appearance from religion is in reference to the practice of shunning in order to enforce group morals: "Religious believers as diverse as Roman Catholics, Mennonites and Jehovah's Witnesses have practiced their own forms of shunning—though the banishments may go by names like excommunication or disfellowshipping".

It's an excellent article that doesn't even bother wasting time on the notion that we may have gained our morality from supernatural sources, or for that matter the idea that the only reason humans have acted morally throughout history is because they were told to do so by priests, Popes, clerics, holy books and so on.

Of course, it's not an article that would please religious readers. The GetReligion blog (slogan: "The press... just doesn't get religion") can't believe that a reputable publication like Time would cover morality without resorting to religious explanations: "To think that science ever could explain the why speaks of a curious certainty that science can solve life’s deepest mysteries through chemistry and brain waves and sociobiology. To publish an article that not only makes such triumphalist claims for science, but fails even to acknowledge millennia of religious thinking about these mysteries, is one of the most ridiculous stunts in journalism this year".


chaplain said...

Kudos to Time. I'll have to buy that issue. Suck it, theists!

Danny Haszard said...

Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
No TOLERANCE,the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult because they try to cut you off from others who do not have the same beliefs, including family. Yes,you can ‘check out anytime you want but you can never leave’,because they can and will hold your family hostage. Danny Haszard

Anonymous said...

I agree Chaplain. Makes a change for mainstream publications to leave religion out of serious matters. Even the most secular of writers usually thinks they'd better mention religion. Well done Time.

Slucid said...

Spot on Danny.

I was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah's Witnesses many years ago and am subject to the hateful shunning technique.

The old saying holds very true for the JWs:
"With or without relgion you would have good people doing good things and bad people doing bad things...but it takes religion for good people to do bad"