“Reason for Living: The good life without God” is a convoluted essay by Christopher R. Beha, editor for Harper’s, that reviews three books about morality without the existence of God. I touched upon this issue in my blog of June 12. In this recent piece, Beha reinforces the argument that religion in no way guarantees moral conduct.
…genital mutilation and genocide, the stoning of adulterers and the sale of prepubescent girls into marriage….[is] proof that atheism could hardly do worse than religion in matters of ethics… (“Reason for Living: The good life without God,” by Christopher R. Beha, Harper’s, July 2012, pg. 73.)
Still, I have to wonder why the new age of atheism, seems to be turning itself inside out to replace the absence of a God with a new ethic as they try to do in the books Beha discusses. Atheism is NOT anti religion, nor does it mean to replace religion with another kind of belief system. Atheism is the absence of belief, pure and simple. A decision not to believe in God requires no further argument than does a decision not to believe in unicorns. I realize refusing to believe in unicorns doesn’t raise the same issues as not believing in God, with its adherent questions: why are we here? How should we to treat one another?
Being a pragmatist, I leave the philosophers to wrangle. At the end of the day, with or without God, I live in a society that for my personal safety and comfort requires me to cooperate. Do I have free will? Or am I circumscribe by the laws of science? I don’t know and probably won’t in my lifetime. One thing is certain: the human mind is fascinated with God because it’s fascinated with itself and seeks to ennoble its existence. I don’t discourage the mental exercise any more than I would discourage physical exercise, knowing that death is inevitable. But with or without a justification for being, I will still be thoughtful of my neighbors and kind to those in need.
(Courtesy of leslievales.ka.com)