Do ‘Morals, Ethics’ or ‘Right’ come from God?
Do ‘Morals, Ethics’ or ‘Right’ come from God?
Anyone who does not like the way the world is, then he/she has an obligation to change it, of course, within our capacity. I am fully aware that only as one person I cannot change the whole planet as I wish or as I want to carve it. But it is enough if I can inspire others to think about change or set an example. And I am happy to write that I am doing well with my keyboard. I am putting my share in the welfare of my fellow human beings, according to my knowledge and capacity. My articles are the voice of my conscience.
The basic nature of humans is autonomous, rational, and self-determining. Once the strictures of religion have been removed, they will naturally incline towards a socialist society that takes care of all. They deem it wise and in the best for their own interest.
My relatives are my fierce enemy because according to them I am a depraved minded person, an agnostic who does not believe in their God and Islam. This is my humble attempt to refute their ridiculous notion and theistic claim that an atheist or agnostic cannot be moral because they are not religious. Sorry to disappoint all my relatives and religious naive mates—there is no apocalypse coming. Unbelievers do not need God to stay moral. It’s all about motivation. The notion of God or Deity is just emotional support of petrified humans; humans created God, God did not create humans. Although GOD terminology is very flummoxed but believing in God has never harmed humanity. These are religions; they are persistently hurting the wretched humanity intensely.
Anyway, our planet is getting along just fine with a sixth of the world’s population consisting of Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Rationalists, and Skeptics, living without any God. No catastrophe is coming due to the absence of God. Morality exists in humans because there is an intense longing with avidity.
Nonbelievers also want morality to prevail, preventing cruelty, defending human rights, helping the needy without any discrimination, and promoting peace are always morally worthy. Apart from rare psychopaths, our jubilation is greater when it is shared.
All religions insist to play the seminal role of arbiters of human behavior. The crank and gadfly clergy, sacerdotal authority and fideism persistently averred that they have the right to tell humans what is right and what is wrong because they have a unique and exclusive relation to the God, and only God can define right and wrong, good and bad.
Unfortunately, even secular societies inclined towards this absurdity and consider their monopoly as their prerogative. They should not meddle with things they do not understand; but they are actively involved from politics to science, from stem-cell to end life support issues. Old Adam never hesitates to provide their foresight, as they possess great savoir-faire. On the contrary, the opinions of Humanists, Agnostics, Atheists, and Freethinkers are very rarely considered, denounced and castigated frequently.
Human compliance to religion on matters of morality is based on the regnant belief and presupposition that a divine origin exists and only a divine command can define absolute ‘Good.’ Anyone who is interested please read in detail Plato's dialogue ‘Euthyphro.’
Euthyphro espouses to prosecute, contending that he must follow gods' will. However, Socrates tells him that it is wrong to pursue gods if you think that there is a higher good.
Now, the question arises, does God will tell us to do certain acts because they are good or is an act good because God wills it? This is where I come to the point of this article.
Suppose if God demands that you kill your own son, as Muslims believe, Abraham sacrifices his son Ishmael or according to the Biblical tale, Abraham sacrifices his son Isaac; (I do not bother who was sacrificed, Ishmael or Isaac) Just consider, would you obey God will, as Abraham did, or spontaneously and instinctively appeal to God for some higher Good?
The God believers would response that God would never ask something that is not good. But they thereby concede that God does not adjudicate what is good after all and that ‘Good’ remains independent of God. If God solely regulates what is good, then God can decide that killing your son is good.
The Allah of the Quran and the God of the Old Testament perpetually and consistently demands that atrocities be committed for the sake of the Lord. I would like to draw your attention at some vivid citations of agonies and atrocities which are never revealed in Sunday services or Friday sermons in the Holy places by Holy people.
“Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.” Quran 9:111
“Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.” Quran 9:41
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” Quran 2216
“Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness…” Quran 25:52
"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides..." Quran 5:33
"Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them." Quran 8:12
"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves" Quran 48:29
"The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you." Quran 24:2
"These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning." Quran 22:19-22
"O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end." Quran 9:73
After capturing a large number captives in war, Moses orders his soldiers, who had already executed every adult male at God's command:
Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:17-18 RSV)
Moreover, Moses orders three thousand men put to the sword on God's authority:
And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.' " (Exodus 32:27 RSV)
In this catch-22 situation, many apologists would dismiss these as anachronisms that were eradicated with the coming of Lord Jesus. However, no one can deny that in the New Testament Jesus frequently reaffirms the laws of the prophets:
Think not that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets: I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17 RSV)
Apologists fail to acknowledge that Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to send peace on earth: I have not come to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man at against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-37 RSV)
Abrahamic religions are not pacifist religions. The history of Muslims and Christendom copious with violence and bloodshed sanctioned by both religions’ Holy Scripture and thereby construed as divinely inspired "good."
Medieval knights of the Crusades assured by the Pope Urban II (d. 1099) that the killing of infidels was not a sin, and this did not implement just to Muslims in the Holy Land.
Massacre at Béziers: Pope Innocent III had declared a crusade to eliminate Catharism in 1209. Beziers is a city in Southern France, across from Italy and near the Mediterranean. Besieged Cathar city of Beziers fell and soldiers asked their papal adviser how to distinguish the faithful from the infidel among the interned and incarcerated. He endorsed: “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius”. In simple English translations, "Kill them all. God will know his own." Thus they were granted a papal license to pillage, rape and booty. Nearly 20,000 were slaughtered, mostly first tortured, blinded, mutilated, and dragged behind horses
The roots of the religions and theologians are secretly connected with the totalitarian and corrupt regimes. The parasite of the Priesthood and Mullayet (Muslim Priesthood) thrives and prosper under the patronage of the King, while the King gets his legitimacy and justification from these members of the aristocracy. And they usually decide the ‘good,’ which is in their own interest and favor, in the name of God.
If we accept this hypothesis that whatever attributed to God is ‘Good’ and where God's word is construed as what is revealed in scriptures and other holy sources, then Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish have the moral obligation to slaughter each other and annihilate enemy cities —BUT keep the virgins, because it is also their moral obligation to keep them alive, just for their own pleasure. The Jihadist and Crusaders, and all dictators who support barbarism and extremism, justify all kind of violence for good deeds.
According to God’s words, Human Sacrifice and cannibalism were the religious practice of the Aztec and Mesoamerican civilization with hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered each year as offerings to gods.
If we rely and reckon literally on the God’s words in our Holy Books for moral guidance, then followers of all Abrahamic religions have other obligations and responsibilities too; they are coerced to kill any family member who tries to convert them to another religion, even logically:
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, `Let us go and serve other gods,' which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the people that are round about you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 13:6-11 RSV)
And, according to their religious belief they are bound and obligated to kill anyone who is caught working on the Sabbath or during few hours of Friday prayers:
Six days shall work be done; but the seventh is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. (Exodus 31:15 RSV)
O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed for the Salah on Al-Jumu`ah (Friday), then hasten (Fas`aw) to the remembrance of Allah and leave off business. Quran 62:9-10
Just imagine, the scene of mayhem, anarchy, and catastrophe that would occur if Muslim, Christians and Jew extremists get the chance to fulfill this ‘Holy GOOD’ and will of the God, Slaughter every human being in factories, supermarket, school and colleges and so on! Such atrocities you can still experience in the Muslim Holy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; their Religious police would punish you for such horrible crimes.
Most of the theological apologists insinuate that God has enigmatic and inscrutable reasons to command these repugnant and odious acts that humans could not fathom out the reasons behind and we are unable to comprehend. Then, what about the human conscience of the moral goodness or blameworthiness? How can we carry them out despite what our own consciences direct us? Why not let your conscience be your guide?
Let’s suppose again if God appeared before people and threatened them with hellfire and eternal damnation unless they slaughter their sons, I suspect most parents would not fulfill this divine and Holy Demand. Of course, in every religion, there are a few fanatics who follow what they regard as God's will.
As a matter of fact, humans cannot depend on the moral values defined by a deity. I do agree with Plato: he asked if the commandments of a deity or God were simply ‘Good’ because deity had commanded them or because deity recognized what was good and commanded the action accordingly.
Of course, the Quran is as bloodthirsty as the Old Testament of nonbelievers and nihilist; numerous verses can be found to the horrible fate that awaits them and they will repent.
Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. Lo! Allah is ever Mighty, Wise. Qur'an 4: 56
The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter, theirs will be an awful doom; Save those who repent before ye overpower them. To know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Qur'an 5: 33-34
Then, how most of the theists conclude and determine what is good? To decide what is good, most of them rely and depend on their Imams, Mullah, Molvees, Muftis, Pundit, Pujari, Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni, Rabbis, Priests; they define ‘Good’ for them.
And their judgments depends on the Holy Scriptures of their religion and the teachings attributed to the founders of their faith. Apart from this, these sainted and hallowed clairvoyants also describe what is good by their own hunch, instinct, and intuition.
There is no doubt that religions also preach moral precepts, like The Ten Commandments; but just on this base they have no right to claim authorship of these axioms for their particular God, morality is not written in pages of the books, but in ourselves. There is no evidence that people of no faith behave substantially differently. These theorems developed solely in other cultures and human history reveals that they were adopted by rather than learned from religion.
Furthermore, the generally accepted statute is not the exclusive property of any religion. Long before the Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, they were familiar in all the civilizations of the planet—Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Hindu; similar sentiments can be found elsewhere, here are some other references:
a. I treat those who are good with goodness. And I also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. I am honest with those who are honest. And I am also honest with those who are dishonest. Thus honesty is attained. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 49
b. Conquer anger by love. Conquer evil by good. Conquer the stingy by giving. Conquer the liar by truth. Buddhism. Dhammapada 223
c. A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them—for who is without fault? Hinduism. Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 115
d. The Hindu Mahabharata, written around 150 BCE, teaches, "This is the sum of all true righteousness: deal with others as thou wouldst thyself be dealt by."
e. Isocrates (c. 375 BCE) said, "Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others."
f. In The Doctrine of the Mean 13, written about 500 BCE, Confucius says, "What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to others."
I do agree that the Bible and the Quran both contain many commendable sentiments. Both books are preaching and asking the believers to be kind to other humans, not to steal, not to lend money on interest, to help the needy, and not to kill their children due to the fear of the poverty.
In spite of that, these are not original moral ethics. The evidence of evolution process beckons towards a source other than the revelations claimed in these Holy Scriptures. In the Holy Scriptures and other disciplines of the monotheisms, we find a recurrence of typical ideals that arose during the gradual, steady and progressive evolution of human societies. Consequently, they developed a rational thinking process, discovered how to live together in greater harmony and finally became more civilized.
Again, if we accept this hypothesis that whatever attributed to God is ‘Good’
then what about the ‘Slavery’ which is officially approved by God? Islam and Christianity have a long history of autocracy plus totalitarianism. Their authoritarianism dwindled when the Enlightenment substantiated the power of reason. The Quran and the Old Testament not only ignored and condoned slavery but verily justify and regulates this bane:
1. Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee – Quran 33:50
2. Who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess – Quran 23:5-6
3. And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." Even sex with married slaves is permissible – Quran 4:24
4. But (now) enjoy what ye took in war, lawful and good – Quran 8:69
5. And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves – Quran 24:32
6. ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female – Quran 2:178
7. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh, he shall go out free, for nothing. (Exodus 21:2 RSV)
8. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out alone. (Exodus 21:4 RSV)
Mohammed and Jesus both had favorable circumstances to uproot and eradicate appalling crimes against humanity, including slavery, from the human race, but they did not accomplish this most important goal; humanity deprived of the divine blessing and St. Paul acknowledges this burden on humanity:
Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; (Titus 2:9)
Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi, the Mullah-in-Chief of the Indian sub-continent of the 20th century; An Islamist Imam, Jurist, and philosopher. The founder of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, translator, and commentator of the Quran and author of volumes upon volumes. Here I am presenting a glimpse of his wisdom and knowledge and point of view regarding slavery:
In his famous Six Volume Tafseer, Tafhimul Quran (Urdu), by Idara Tarjumanul Quran, Lahore, November 1982. The Captive Women: 1:340 means Vol 1 Page 340. The summary and conclusion of his discussion on war captives, Vol 1 Page 340: “Even today, the government must distribute the women war captives among Muslim soldiers and the soldiers should ‘use’ them. This rule will apply to women regardless of whether they belong to the People of the Book or any other religion.”
How would the Mullahs feel if Muslims, getting trounced all around the planet today, had their women treated by the ‘Infidels’ in this contemptible, nauseous and despicable fashion? Whenever we encounter a statement that ‘Islam says this,’ or ‘Sharia states that,’ know that it is almost invariably and perpetually Mullah’s own acquisitive highbrowism rather than the Word of God. But this is the tragedy that these imbecile God aficionados are playing god to their fans even after their departure; frozen the minds of millions of simple Muslims around the planet.
Quran and Hadith were widely used to sustain and upheld slavery in the Muslim world. Although slavery was officially abolished in Qatar 1952, Yemen and Saudi Arabia 1962, United Arab Emirates 1963, and Oman 1970 but the unofficial practice and exploitation of foreign workers is to continue and flourish even till now. We are also aware that the Bible was widely used to justify slavery in the United States in the nineteenth century.
Now, the official slavery is almost abolished from the planet lead by Christians. However, our Christian heroes, the paragon of virtue, clearly were not guided by the God but by their conscience, moral sense of right and wrong, through the process of evolution, interpretations and innate sense of a higher good; a vivid and quite eloquent evidence that these values did not come from the God, goddess or any Deity.
If something is good simply because a deity has commanded it, then no doubt anything could be considered good. Who can predict what in particular the deity might ordain ensuing in the latter date, and it would be entirely inane and inconsequential to assert that “God is good.” Genocide, carnage, and holocaust of enemies would be just as likely to be ‘good’ as would the principle ‘Love your enemies.’
Similarly, if the deity’s behest is based on a knowledge of the innate and intrinsic to goodness of an act, then we have no choice, except to accept that there is a standard of goodness, nonpartisan of the deity or god and we must concede that deity or god cannot be the source of moral ethics. Rationally, in our inquest for the good, why we do not bypass the deity or god and directly go to the source of good.
Now a question arises, if human values and morals do not emerge from the divine command, then where do they come from? Well, as human beings, we are social animals. Our sociality is the result of evolution, not a choice. And it is not really due to their fear of hell-fire and, nor due to their desire for virgins or frenzy of the excitement of heaven. Good or bad are always from the same causes and is regulated by the same forces, and has nothing to do with the presence or absence of God.
If we contemplate in the societies of our closest primate cousins, like apes, their genes are 98 to 99% identical to humans. Their social behavior is not tumultuous and their society is without grubby political and religious tricks or conjuring. Apes do not follow any celestial or Holy Book, attributed to any God and they are also not aware of the contents of the Ten Commandments. They are free from fearing/loving/appeasing any God but we can observe altruistic behavior among them also. The apes do not need any Mullah, Mufti, Priest, Pundit or Pujari to preach them about the honor of their parents and to refrain from killing each other. As an exception, family bickering and altercation and even bloodshed have been detected in ape societies; you can observe the same attitude in human societies.
We can observe signs of moral, or proto-moral demeanor in other animals too: Elephants try utmost to save impaired and harmed members of their herd. Bats share food. Monkeys and apes comfort upset members of their group and hunt together to get food. Similarly, Dolphins and Whales also behave to help members of their group.
In the above-mentioned instances, we can understand the onset of the morality that advanced to higher levels with human evolution. It seems probable that this is where we humans have learned our sense of right and wrong. We have taught it to ourselves.
Humans have to live in more complex societies and scenarios. They need something more than the Quran, Sharia Laws or any other type of Divine Commands. They cannot base their moral values upon arbitrary decrees. Human ethics cannot be based on fear of God fiction or desires of the imaginary and whimsical deities. Human ethics should firmly root in the soil of scientific self-knowledge. Moreover, they must be able to exist and occur together without problems or conflict, versatile and adaptable with time.
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