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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Science of Morality, or Why Jesus Might Side with an Atheist Today has an interview with Sam Harris who has written about the science of morality in his book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (affiliate link). He states that, "The science of morality is about maximizing psychological and social health. It’s really no more inflammatory than that." So instead of using religion to define a "good" outcome for people, he wants to look at how the data can drive right behavior.

The problem is that religion tends to give people bad reasons to be good. Is it better to alleviate famine in Africa because you think Jesus Christ is watching and deciding whether to reward you with an eternity of happiness after death? Or is it better to do that because you actually care about the suffering of your fellow human beings?

Here's where I think Jesus would agree with this Atheist. Doing good shouldn't come from a feeling of guilt or fear or even from a desire for reward. We ought to love our neighbors as ourselves. We ought to do what is right for people who are suffering because they are human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Atheists often critique religion for causing war and pain across the globe and throughout history. They're right. We need to own up to that and stand with them in condemning that history. Because Jesus agrees with Atheists . . . at least on this point.

What do you think?

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