I'm having this debate about religion with a friend on a forum. He insists that religion is not only a good way of maintaining a moral society but it the only way to do it effectively. He also states that a moral upbringing void of mythology together with the law cannot come close. Anyway I'm a little stuck now.

How would you reply if someone said:

what im trying to say is, any ordinary reasonable man knows that killing is immoral, whether he is Christian, Muslim or from some random tribe. Let us call this natural (basic) morality - are there enough moral consequences for the ordinary reasonable man not to commit acts which go against this natural morality for his own sake?

No. The reason? They still do it even when bound by religious morals, let alone when only bound by such natural morals.

and the last part obviously applies because you are speaking about the complete uselessness of religion, and how we would be better off without it. Using that same argument, you could remove nation states, because at first glance, all they do is divide humanity and create cultural schisms, and the world would supposedly be better without them, as it supposedly would without religion.

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I got another reply.

im Roman Catholic and ive been so all my life and i havent regretted it, ever. im not going to stay pointing fingers and shooting other people down, but I will say this; i cant agree with the people who want to be religious just because its a good 'bargain' on their part. as in better believe and secure a place in the afterlife rather than refuse to believe and be condemned. it doesnt work like that, you know it doesnt work like that, we all know it doesnt work like that, so quit playing the idiot.

And another thing. now im pretty much into science and all that and i know that some people are trying to find what started all that existed. my belief is that, try as hard as you may, you are never going to find the starting point. im sticking to the 'ex nihilo nihil' philosophical belief; nothing can come out of nothing. something must have started all this, most people know this but hate to admit it im afraid.

Also most of you mentioned the bible. Stories like that of Adam and Eve in the genesis are in fact just that; stories. i believe in the Darwinian approach to evolution. However that doesnt mean that the bible is just junk. its a book filled with lessons and morales, some of which are hidden and it takes reflection and meditation to truly comprehend whats written in there. its not one of those books you leave on the bedside table to read before you take a kip.

Ive got some more things to add, but i guess i better hold my tongue im totally cool with people having different opinions, especially if they back them with reasons for their way of thinking. what i said just now is just my own opinion which i formulated after years of questioning and believing.
My reply is a quote from my big brother, "Governments seek to answer the question 'What do we do when people won't play nice?'" I'd also point to the level of agreement, yes humans have cooperation innately (like other apes). But the second paragraph is where disagreement arises - s/he is inferring that religious morals are MORE binding than natural ones ("even when"). I'd point to examples throughout history of religious morals being LESS acceptable than the innate non-religious ones - examples: holocaust (Hitler believed he was doing the will of God "with certainty" according to Mein Kampf), abortion-doctor murders, Abraham's willingness to blood sacrifice/murder his son, gay-bashing, slave owning in the States, etc. Religion allows good people to do bad things, and in fact offers justification that a natural worldview and innate morals don't.
Somehow religion & morals in the same phrase sounds oxymoronic.



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