Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stenger, Stinger

Victor Stenger cross-publishes an interview he gave to Greek weekly EleftherotypiaQuestion 4:
So what is faith?

Faith is belief in something in the absence of empirical evidence or reason for that belief. It provides no information about reality and no basis for human action. Science is not based on faith since it relies on observations and reason.
Why should "people of faith" be deferred to on matters of morals? This deference is based on the false assumption that morals come from God. In fact, a study of history amply demonstrates that morality arises when humans, and even some animals, need to have rules of behavior in order to maintain the cooperative society necessary for survival. Believers have been led to think that morality comes from God and that it is not possible to be an atheist and be moral. The observed fact is that atheists are at least as moral as believers, perhaps even more so.
While the Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim scriptures contain some excellent moral teachings, they are not original with those writings. For example, the Golden Rule taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount goes back thousands of years earlier and can be found in the writings of many ancient sages such as Confucius and Isocrates, and in the Hindu Mahabharata.
Ethics and morality come from humanity, not God. They are rules of behavior needed for a functioning society. Even many animals have a primitive morality, such as altruism.
Those nations without dominant God-belief have far less murder than the God-smitten Unites States and are healthier in many other respects.
Not only can we be good without God, we can be better without God.

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