inhuman nature

On Beliefnet, Rod Dreher offers a study in contradictions, starting with the title: Atheism and our inhuman nature. If human nature has a tendency towards evil, then evil isn’t inhuman, is it?

Then, as part of his argument for the necessity of religion, he cites atrocities in the Congo, then states:

This is not a matter of religion, or no religion. This is a matter of human nature, and what human beings are capable of absent civilized restraints. If you think people are bad with God, just imagine what they’re capable of without Him. I finished the Kristof column and thought to myself, “How is it that people still believe in the basic goodness of man?”

So if this is not a matter of religion or no religion, why, exactly, would religion help? In places like the Congo, or Rwanda, or any of the other places horrific things take place on a massive scale, are we to believe that by introducing (presumably) Christian morals, the rape, torture, and genocide would magically go away? This is a bit like shipping solar-powered bibles to earthquake victims who are starving and dying from lack of the most basic supplies – ignoring the overwhelming *real* needs in favor of imaginary ones. Not to mention completely overlooking the unspeakable persecutions currently being inflicted on gays in Uganda by a government heavily influenced by “The Family.”

But that’s not a contradiction, it’s just stupid. This is a contradiction:

And I believe having God — in the sense of professing belief in Him — is not enough to prevent individuals and sometimes entire societies from turning to evil (I think from time to time of a story I told here about Serbian butchers — Orthodox Christians, presumably — massacring innocent Bosnian Muslims; it was related to me by my friend Rich, who was haunted by the black mold on the wall of the warehouse, feeding on the bodily fluids of the murdered men). But if we are to be good, God must be present, and present in a real way in our hearts, such that His laws are binding on our conduct.

The cognitive dissonance is absolutely deafening. It’s like there’s an invisible 11th commandment, “Thou shalt disagree with thine own self.” Or maybe “Thou shalt not make any fucking sense at all, for the sensemakers are an abomination unto the Lord your God.”

In other news, Religious belief is likely a by-product of human moral reasoning, suggest psychologists.

9 thoughts on “inhuman nature

  1. Being a head injured chap, I saw how my sweetheart perished at 17; though her old house is an A frame, that doesn’t give me any right to diss God by being an atheist. However, what works best for me is I think of how SHORT this life is and how LENGTHY eternity is where I can love forever; join me, please, for a celebration of our resurrection on my very own drawbridge in the Great Beyond? “It is impossible that anyone should not receive ALL that he has believed and hoped to obtain; it gives Me great pleasure when men hope great things from Me and I will always grant them more than they expect.” -God to Saint Gertrude

    1. My first Christian commenter! Welcome :)

      Being an atheist wasn't really a choice for me, I tried for many, many years to find blind faith, I just don't have the knack. And the more I learn, the happier I am that I am not associated with institutions who persecute gays, or who seek to have their version of faith written into law governing others who do not share that faith.

  2. So…..if people who believe in God are capable of doing horrible things, that proves that what we need is…..more belief in God?

    Can anyone suggest a plausible scenario in which the September 11 hijackers would have destroyed the World Trade Center if they'd been atheists?

    I think your second version of the 11th Commandment is the correct one.

  3. So if we're good, then God (I assume that he meant the Judeo-Christian version) must be present in our hearts? So you mean that the Buddha, Gandhi etc. were actually Jews/Christians? I'm not sure how he came up with such logic.

    1. I wondered about that too — this isn't the first Christian I've heard claim that all goodness comes in some way from his particular god.

      Especially when you consider the book they accept as history. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

  4. My first Christian commenter! Welcome :)

    Being an atheist wasn't really a choice for me, I tried for many, many years to find blind faith, I just don't have the knack. And the more I learn, the happier I am that I am not associated with institutions who persecute gays, or who seek to have their version of faith written into law governing others who do not share that faith.

  5. I wondered about that too — this isn't the first Christian I've heard claim that all goodness comes in some way from his particular god.

    Especially when you consider the book they accept as history. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

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