I have always struggled with the concept I grew up with that morality is based on religious belief. Simple life experience should reveal to us that some of the most immoral acts in history have been based on ¨religion¨ and common belief systems. Humans, with our pack mentality of consciousness, have for centuries carried on about morality based on the "Ten Commandments" or some other ancient traditional text, yet we continue even within the context of religious programming to NOT act accordingly.
This video to me represents one of the greatest quotes of noted Biologist, scientist and atheist apologist, Richard Dawkins. It is far from my intent to make this guy some hero opposite the cause of religion. The importance of this man is his rational and educated approach to answering the hard questions that religions love to gloss over.
Many people in the world claim a religion based on their understanding that their religion is the core to their morality and existence...that somehow without the rules and regulations of a religion or sect humans are lost and damned forever and ever. I no longer espouse this sentiment...primarily because I have known too many secularists and atheists who are some of the most moral people I have known. This alone proves to me that religious belief does not equate to a corner on morality...and I can point to a few million cases of global believers to prove my point. Religion is generally a method of guilt tripping the average human into conforming to behavior that they somehow may not find natural or logical. I on the other hand think that morality is natural AND logical.
For me it comes down to a case of genetic code. It just seems that people, whether religious or not, are somewhat coded by genetics to act in certain ways. Some are naturally more rational and orderly than others...inside and outside of religious orders. I have known thieves and addicts both inside and outside of churches. I have known gluttonous people both in and out of church walls. No one has a corner on these moral dilemmas. The problem comes when you claim that you do.
The source of morality does not necessarily come from ancient texts...but from the heart and mind of every human with rational and reasonable thought. Morality comes in all colors, sexes and political persuasions. Morality sticks out in ANY crowd...because it is rare in most any crowd. It really comes from PERSONAL PRINCIPLES that we each decide and act on. It is not something claimed or performed verbally. It is not ¨tradition¨ or a dogma. Morality is an option at the core fiber of every persons being. We decide each day whether we are going to do right or wrong according to our own consciences. Even the Christian Bible defines ¨sin¨ as ¨knowing what is right and not doing it¨. You don't have to be a believer to be moral or know right from wrong. You just engage your power and right to BE so.
The core beauty in Dawkins later discourse in the video above summarizes best what I am thinking here.
Can we not design our society which has the sort of morality we want to live in?... We don't believe in slavery anymore, we believe in the equality if women, we believe in being gentle and kind to animals...these are all things which are entirely recent. They have very little basis in Biblical or Koranic scripture. They are things that have developed over historical time, through a consensus of reasoning, sober discussion, argument, legal theory, political and moral philosophy...We have grown out of (religion) because of secular, moral philosophy and rational discussion.