Category Archives: The Old Religion

Religion and Decency

Some people believe faith is necessary for decency. Some think it hinders it. The truth is far more nuanced, but here’s a pithy example of one skeptic’s point of view:

“If a man needs a religion to conduct himself properly in this world, it is a sign that he has either a limited mind or a corrupt heart.”

Ninon de Lenclos

Pope Criticizes Atheism

I’ve never met Pope Benedict XVI. I’m sure he is a kind and good man, but I’m led to believe he would not say the same of me. In a new encyclical, he blames atheism for “some of the ‘greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice’ ever known.”

It would be more fair to blame the people who committed those acts (Mao, Lenin, Stalin, et al), rather then their religious persuasion. We all know about atrocities committed in the name of faith, but that does not make faith itself evil.

The Pope’s argument rests on the assumption that one simply cannot be a good person without religious faith. This is false on its face. All of us know people of integrity who are honest, hard-working, loyal, and kind – and secular. I try every day to be all of those things. I don’t need faith to compel me to be a good person.

Faith is not a necessity for a virtuous life. To say that it is insults good, honest people everywhere.

Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design has become a trendy idea in the last few years. In short, it states that nature and life are simply too complex to have arisen spontaneously. A “designer,” i.e. God, simply has to exist.

How does anybody know that?

They don’t. Nobody does. Despite all of mankind’s achievements, we have yet to figure out the origins of life. Nobody is happy with this conclusion, so some people have simply made up answers to fill in the blanks.

That’s where every religion has gotten its unique creation story. That dissatisfaction is also the root of Intelligent Design. I want to know where we came from as much as anybody, but I’m afraid I just don’t know.

So let’s admit it. It’s not that hard. I know it’s not satisfying, but that’s the way it is.

There is a lot of excellent writing on Intelligent Design, especially by my fellow travellers at Reason. While they may be more eloquent than I, it’s frustrating that no one ever makes that single most persuasive argument: We don’t know. Accept it. It’s ok.