Humanist Musings

From godless, by Dan Barker, pages 167-168:

When someone tells you to do something it is natural to ask, “Why?”  Why remember the Sabbath?  The bible tells us that we should remember the Sabbath “to keep it holy.”  The word “holy” means “set apart,” “sacred” or “clean” and has nothing to do with “good” or “right.”  In other words, this commandment does not deal with ethics; it deals with the superiority of God.  when true believers say that something is “wrong” it is because it has been decreed wrong by a “holy” deity, not because it is a good ethical reason.  The child asks, “Daddy, why can’t I do this?” and Daddy responds, “Because I said so!”  If the commandment is violated, it becomes a crime of disobedience–the authority figure should not be offended.

…The humanist, on the other hand, looks for some reason or principle independent of authority.  The child asks, “Why can’t I do this?”  Daddy or Mommy responds, “If you do it you will get hurt.  I love you and don’t want you to get hurt.”  Or the parent says, “If you do this, someone else will get hurt.”  the crime is against humanity, not against Daddy.  A deity might give reasons for its decrees, but they must be irrelevant.  If God gives reasons, then he is appealing to a court outside himself–a court to which we could just as well appeal directly, circumventing his authority.  If God needs reasons, then he is not God.


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