Monday, February 13, 2012

Richard Dawkins on Absolute Morality

In this YouTube video Richard Dawkins -a famous proponent of atheism- is asked the question of how secular morality fits in atheistic worldview. Very interesting video, highly recommended.

Many people claim that religion is an authority on morality, and hence provides absolute morality. However, reality is that religion is not the source of morality. If we are willing to give religion the benefit of the doubt, then the best way to describe the morality that is being provided in religion, is that it is no more than a set of moral codes of the people who designed those religions. It is the morality of some of the people that lived at the time that those religions were established (arguably, good people of their time).

In that perspective, religion should not be taken more seriously than an outdated moral codes that were quite revolutionary at their time, but are nonetheless part of a greater work in progress in the field of morality. If we make an analogy with the scientific field, it is no better than the discovery of atoms for example. It was revolutionary at it's time, but it is outdated for our time.


Qwaider قويدر said...

Prophet Mohammad said,
انّما بعثت لاتمم مكارم الأخلاق
Loose translation, "I was sent to complement good morals"

In this specific case, it's clear how little Dawkins knows about Islam or even the mandate to kind and gentle to Animals and nature. Even if we are to slaughter these Animals, it shouldn't be in vain or for recreation. But for a need, and even then, it needs to happen in the most humane of ways.

When the prophet himself attests to the fact that Morals existed before Islam and outside of religion. It's something noteworthy.

Let's not confuse two important things, morality and religion. The two might cross each other, but they're certainly not the same thing.

Now there are the laws in a religion, which are not there to preserve Morality, but to be fair. A quality of morality but not the whole thing.

Devil's Mind said...

But even laws are subject to revision. So I am not entirely sure what the significance of that distinction is.

I would have to agree that Dawkins does not necessarily know a lot a about Islam and Islamic teachings. But this again refers back to the argument that Dawkins provided. It is your personal view that animals should be treated with dignity that motivates you consider that particular Islamic teaching as graceful.

We have certain views about what's good and what's evil, and we use our own judgement to give credit to those religions.

I know that you will probably disagree, but religions are designed by other humans like you and me. And it is certainly not surprising that those laws and moral codes are perceived as being good, because they were made by people who had their own views about morality and justice, and those senses of morality and justice are shared by numerous people.

So the great similarity between humans from all walks of life is why such scriptures make sense to millions of people around the globe. However, the problem arises when we stop thinking about and refining our moral views and laws, and choose to abide by moral views that might very well be good, but are deficient in certain areas nonetheless.

Qwaider قويدر said...

There is no institution that is immune to abuse, and religion is an example of an institution that can be abused by people.

Now I don’t want to argue on where the religion came from, god or other humans. Because I don’t think this is the crux of the problem here.

With that said, I find myself more in agreement with what you said, religions might not be accepting for a lot of change. However the laws should always be. Including those stemming from religious guidelines. In fact, this is a regular thing and should happen all the time. That’s why the door of Fatwa is always open.

I mentioned fatwa this late because I believe this system has been abused by people almost redered it useless. However it should be enacted and reformed to allow for change to be considered in light of what we learn more as we mature more [as humans].

These changes are not new, Omar ibin Al Khattab, abolished the capital punishment for stealing. Now this was just a few years after the prophet has passed away and Omar is one of the most important figures after the Prophet. So this precedent proves that Islam is accepting, and welcoming of change.

It’s sad to see the state of clergy these days. It’s worse to hear about fatwas and and how everything is becoming Haram, and everyone is turning to a Kafer for really nothing more than the ridgity of the “system” as it is today. I believe it really needs to be rebooted and many areas to be discussed and newer, more modern, more relivant “shariah” law to be layed in light of modern day social life and breakthroughs of science.

Sorry for the long lecture, the bottom line is that I find my self more in agreement with you, and feel that reform is the only way to get things back on track. Because the bottome line principles are there. It’s just the implementation that has gone astray

Devil's Mind said...

I have to agree that a system of Fatwa can resolve some of the problems attributed to religion, if -and that's the important part- such a system is properly conducted and does allow for restructuring religion to accommodate it to modern day and age. Fundamentalist views to religion oppose such progress, but if fundamentalism is abolished in religious philosophy, then it would indeed make those religions adaptable.

Qwaider قويدر said...

Fundamentalists hijacked religion, and made it into their own image. Rigid, hard and full of hate.

When it should be nothing like that

Anti Money Laundering said...

I have always maintained that society has no business dictating morality.