michiexile: (Default)
A few days ago, I was approached by a Mormon, who wanted to talk to me about his and my faith for a while and at the end invite me to sessions of reading the Book of Mormon. The discussion amused me highly, though probably not in the way he originally intended.

One of the points we passed through in discussing is a strawman I perceive as rather common in religious debates - he claimed that without a God commanding the morals, the world would descend into decadence and decay, since without a God who cares what you do, there would be no reason to .. y'know .. actually behave like a decent human being.

I cannot understand it. What is their impression of humanity? It seems from this argument that no man can be trusted one step further than he is watched, and that the result of dropping constant surveillance is immediate decay into a state of stereotypical evil that I think comes very unnaturally to most people.

I believe that the basic human is a decent, rational individual who is completely capable of empathy as well as realizations as to what a good way to behave to ensure compatibility with the immediate environment is. This basic human will be capable of realizing that theft, murder, and generally pissing people off is detritemental to eir own wellbeing, and thus will most probably avoid it most of the time, and adher to something more or less akin to most moral systems in circulation. E may not end up with a precise copy of a particular moral system - for instance is there no reason to restraint idolatry unless you buy into the mosaic laws.

In contrast to this, the basic human of this strawman argument is someone who will take any chance available to break the mosaic laws UNLESS e is watched at ALL TIMES to ensure eir wellbehaviour. E will happily search for loopholes and ways to get away with promiscuosity and theft should the everwatching eye sleep for half a moment, and needs constant reminders that Bad Things Will Happen in order to behave decently.

I react to this the same way I do with highly collectivistic arguments: I simply do not accept your view of what a human being is like, and I find it insulting that you attempt to apply your blueprint to me.

(and yes, I am aware that I, in turn, am attacking a bit of a strawman myself. But then again, God does not watch me.)

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michiexile

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