Trial and Error Isn't All That Complicated

"You're an atheist. How can you know right from wrong then if you don't have God to show you?"

I was asked this by a representative of a local Catholic church at a community small business event last night. You know the type of event, where the businesses stay open extra late and let customers hang out till late in the evening. This church had decided they would be a "business" too. A business of saving souls. So, they were offering Communion to anyone and everyone. Well, everyone except me because I had to beg the question,"How is this a good practice? Aren't there standards involved for this?" Which immediately solicited a knowing look between booth staffing and my admitting I was an atheist and a quick false argument hurled my way.

So,this line of reasoning is mind numbingly dim witted. I'm just putting my personal opinion out there up front. Whenever I am scrutinized on a personal level, being immediately reduced to a potential criminal simply because of my secular way of life, I can't help but think you are extremely stupid. So stupid, I don't understand how you graduated high school, attained a college degree, or even had the right to reproduce. "Don't they have a general exam one must take before they reach adulthood?" kind of incredulity is in my mind when I am told I can't know right from wrong all because I don't bow to the throne of Jesus.

It took a me a few years to really pinpoint what it was about such a poorly thought out assumption regarding my being an atheist that would just irritate me to a fury. In all seriousness, it wasn't so much insulting. I've been accused of being all kinds of things by people very close to me, so the moronic hypotheses of strangers really don't get to me very much. No, it definitely wasn't a feeling of being personally attacked. It was the sheer stupidity of such a statement. It was the fact to believe such a thing about atheists implies the believer is being simple minded, lazy, a re dubbed cassette tape filled with a diatribe of nonsense.

Now, I could dig into the whole fallacy behind this and rehash the usual discussion regarding how human social structures work. But that isn't what irks me. It's the sheer contradiction in their own life experiences and beliefs which are in plain fucking sight (No, I am not sorry for the fuck given). Common sense dictates a few things in this morality argument I hear so much. Now I won't argue against God based on morals. It's a supernatural farce that cannot be defended or decently assailed because we're talking supernatural. Reality just doesn't deal with imagination fueled deification of myths. But, the nature and biology of man completely refutes the morality argument pretty obviously. I don't need to go into evolution, biological programming, or genetics for this discussion. Just common sense need apply here, and that my friends is why I am annoyed with the "not good without God" rationale.

Why must I constantly walk people through the simple process of thinking? A believer could just think for five minutes and figure things out. No science text books or blasphemous Darwin needed. I'll show you in this blog how damn easy it is to use that brain to figure things out without a text book around. So if you're a theist reading this, please put your thinking cap on for just five minutes, and then pass this little process on to your fellow members in Christ so we aren't wasting precious air explaining this over and over and over and over. Discussion about more important things like personal freedom, eugenics, or even masturbation are far more important than whether someone knows right or wrong because (insert your choice of idol here..I rather fancy Sean Connery) said so.

First, you are supposedly given morality by this deity from the start, or you are divinely modified from the moment you whisper in prayer,"Enter me, please." Okay, that was gross, but you get the idea. Supposedly you will struggle with morality because of the Fall, but you know right from wrong, and sometimes give in to temptations of greed, strippers, and hallucinogens. Well, some struggle a bit more mildly than that. Some can't tell Aunt Martha the truth about how awful her dry turkey is on Thanksgiving. But anyway, if this comprehension of morality is so hardwired into who you are by a divine creator, why are you training your children to know what is right and what is wrong? Why are the religious teaching them to do good? If it is intrinsic, there should be no additional programming involved, just have them on their knees asking for this creator to.. there's just no polite way to say it without snickering, but asking this being to enter their hearts or whatever. There should merely be a struggle with temptation because it is obvious what is right and wrong.

That gives me a headache. Let's simplify things. How did you figure out to not play with a stove?

A. Because God told you it was the wrong thing to do?
B. Because your parents set the example?
C. Because you burnt yourself?

You better have picked either B or C. Any other answer is a bold face lie. The fact is you learned to not do these things. Just like you learned to tie your shoes tight so you weren't constantly retying them. Or like the way you learned to take turns with a toy otherwise it wasn't any fun after awhile because you were too busy fighting instead of playing. It wasn't enough for just mom, dad, and a god to tell you to share. You experimented a few times by hogging the toy, getting in trouble for it, and not having any fun because no one wanted to play with your sorry toy hogging butt. There was no deity involved here. At three, four, or five years of age, you genuinely do not completely comprehend why it is a dickhead move to hog Jamie's new light up mermaid wand. You just know you want to play with it.

This is the learning nature built into being a human being. Known to atheists as "Trial and Error", many religion based thinkers like to equate it to "We're all sinners". Quite a leap between the two isn't it? And it is such a simple concept that both sides of the religious argument practice it every single freaking day! The difference between the two? Trial and Error accepts the errors and moves forward with the process modified from the error so it doesn't happen again..hopefully apologizing to Aunt Martha, or the hookers, for the mistake you made. The "We're all sinners" approach does the same except for one minute detail. Divine atonement. This is huge in my book because it is more important than anyone you might have hurt in the process. It isn't too much of a deciding factor in the divine process if you apologized to whomever was hurt by your actions. It's not officially forgiven until you ask for it from this deity in charge of the Universe. After all, it's all about the creator, everything else is just part of his/her/its plan for you. Like side missions on a grand quest to seek eternal rewards. The only thing that truly matters though is this god.

You know what ices this bitter cake? What if the offended parties don't forgive you? It still doesn't matter in the big picture of things. This creator is an ace up your sleeve. Which completely guts the whole point of this so called morality, don't you think?

But what happens if an atheist were to take this route and move on after trying to make amends with someone that refused? What if an atheist just decides to move on and make every effort to never screw up like that again? We're selfish. We're conveniently avoiding our responsibility to live with guilt. We're avoiding responsibility. We're sociopaths. We're lost without God's guidance.

How on earth is having an imaginary sky daddy on hand to forgive us any different than us forgiving ourselves?

This is where my rage kind of ramps back up again because with this simple five minute thinking exercise we've learned something important. By a theist's own standard, they can't possibly be whatever they think is moral with a deity either. At least, no more moral than the rest of us since their creator shortcuts the entire process with a prayer for forgiveness and a doctrine that says no matter what, if you repent, you'll be forgiven. You'll get scolded later on for what you did, but since there is only one unforgivable sin, and lying to Aunt Martha isn't it, just repent to your god and move on.

That's about as apathetic as one can get, and sadly, most don't even realize it.

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Comment by Gerald Payne on May 3, 2015 at 1:40pm

It's ironic that one has to disbelieve so much to be a believer.

Comment by Bluegrass Skeptic on May 3, 2015 at 1:33pm

///He knows this because the elements in us and the animals come from close to the earth's surface, backing up the idea that god created us "from the dust.///

Yeah... Forget all of the elements of earth can be found in the cosmos....so if gawd used dust from earth, who created the elements in the universe that makes up said dust.

Comment by Bluegrass Skeptic on May 3, 2015 at 1:30pm

///like the idea that Christians need to explain why they teach their kids right and wrong if morality is something that comes directly from god.///

That was my point with the group of witnesses at the Communion For All Event. They couldn't comprehend the question,"Why do you teach right from wrong? Shouldn't you just have to teach how to avoid being wrong? Or how to cope with temptation? The kids should already KNOW what is right and what is wrong."

Comment by Bluegrass Skeptic on May 3, 2015 at 1:27pm

///Come to think of it so are Christians: unless their considering Christians.///

Or seeing a prime time to kick folks while they are down and scream,"You need GAWD up in here!" A la Nepal being sent Gideon Bibles anyone?

Comment by Bluegrass Skeptic on May 3, 2015 at 1:23pm

///Point being, we're not just talking about trial and error, both in evaluating the bible's morality and creating our own.  The one notable value I'm not certain the bible ever mentions is Empathy, the ability to understand or even to feel what someone else is experiencing. ///

I completely agree that empathy is a core trait in our genetics as a species, but for this essay I was only going from a common sense life experience point of view this time. So many religitards I know will actually argue that empathy IS a manifestation of morality..therefore.... GAWD. Ugh...I know.

Comment by Bluegrass Skeptic on May 3, 2015 at 1:21pm

///Many atheists seem to buy into the dreck with retorts that amount to saying that we are equally moral.///

That, right there is what really just chaps my ass when christards are going on and on about morality, forgiveness, etc. Like I'd said, if the actual victim of someone's "immorality" forgives or not does not matter. Forgiveness is only important if given from their idol of choice, and only has one unforgivable sin. It's pointless being moral, or at least claiming a standard for it which is impossible to iron into black and white experiences to judge by.

Comment by Michael Penn on May 3, 2015 at 9:39am

Well written, Amanda. I like the idea that Christians need to explain why they teach their kids right and wrong if morality is something that comes directly from god. Then the stove example stands out very well because nobody is going to say god told them not to touch it.

This reminds me of an Internet rant by a believer where he says evolution is totally wrong. He knows this because the elements in us and the animals come from close to the earth's surface, backing up the idea that god created us "from the dust." He thinks that makes the bible "right." I'm wondering if he actually thought evolutionists believed life came from deep within the inner earth somewhere. It means he doesn't understand evolution.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on May 3, 2015 at 8:36am

Another point about religion and morality involves the motility or transfer of the lessons of indoctrination, namely obedience and willingness to subordinate empathy to the secular sphere. If you want good little soldiers, nazis, or killers of any kind it is wise to have the candidates for secular evil undergo religion-think. You simply replace dictators.  If you want thinking citizens who will oppose the indoctrination of discrimination and fight for gay rights, women's rights and reforms of all shapes and sizes you want atheists. If you want proponents of business as usual you want theists.  If you want families willing to sacrifice their children in wars of imperialism you want religious families. Blind patriotism is well suited for those who have been indoctrinated in blind belief.  If you want conscientious objectors who weight the merits of the engagement before giving their ok you want atheists.  etc...

Comment by Frankie Dapper on May 3, 2015 at 8:14am

It is also interesting how right wing christians are so in love with the notion of draconic criminal penalties. They assume two things. First, that justice is vindictive and for the purpose of retribution. ...You have violated man's law and you will pay!... Second, that the fear of said punishment discourages wrongdoing.  Is it really a big stretch to assume their earthly model of justice mirrors their supernatural model?

And then the imposition of the supernatural model on their day to day lives makes them resort to the magic of formulaic absolution for sin. But as the writer points out such belief makes "sin" easier to commit.

The fact that recidivism disproves point two does nothing to change their position, much as the failure of prayer to work does nothing to stop them from praying.

The endless prattle and mantra of the deluded equating religion and morality ought be attacked at every turn. It is the greatest lie in the history of lies. It puts atheists on the defensive. Many atheists seem to buy into the dreck with retorts that amount to saying that we are equally moral. But few seem to have really evaluated the claim of religionists. Even Hitchens was at a loss in countering the claim when he debated what's his face.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on May 3, 2015 at 8:01am

Well said, Loren.

The bible discourages empathy. It is filled with lessons in which the actor must abandon his humanity which requires empathy (psychopaths lack empathy) like Abraham who is asked and willing to sacrifice his son. The lesson is clear. Abandon your intrinsic decency so that the dictator is paramount. Same thing happens in cults, political, social and religious and in those born without empathy and decency, psychopaths.

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