Does Religion put a constraint on bad behavior?

I may not agree with O'Reilly on a lot of things, but I think that O'Reilly is right here. Thinking that there is something more powerful out there looking over your shoulder will keep people from doing some really bad things. It is interesting that Dawkins doesn't seem to understand this very basic point.



Blogger Bruce said...

Of course he understands the point he just doesn't agree with it. Its an argument that gets thrown up by believers all the time - its bogus and its insulting.

It is a lot like saying; "The only reason I don't abuse children is because I am fearful of hell".

Would you be comfortable with a close friend making that admission?

Furthermore, do believers really think we were all murderous adulterers before the 10 commandments were delivered to Mount Sinai? If so, why didn't God take more care to design a different species?

10/07/2011 8:38 AM  
Blogger darwinkilledgod said...

It's an interesting point, but it assumes that people don't model god's wishes precisely onto their own. History suggests they do. Christopher Hitchens put it better than I can, but it was something along the lines of, "it's people who think they have God on their side who give themselves license to do anything."

10/07/2011 10:00 AM  
Blogger Chas said...

Does Religion put a constraint on bad behavior?
Criminals tend to be ignorant and thus superstitious, though an "Insured by Smith & Wesson" sign might have more spook value than a cross, Jesus being vastly less scary than the prospect of catching a bullet, and what with Jesus being such a nice guy and all.

10/07/2011 12:49 PM  
Blogger Willy B Good said...

Completely disagree. The fear of "something more powerful out there" is the same reason a nutcase like Osama Bin Laden was able to recruit so many followers.

I agree with Bruce, I wouldn't start killing people because there's no God. Even if murder was suddenly legal, I wouldn't kill anybody - neither would most people.

Regrettably, atheism is usually code for "environmentalist" (another religion). I usually prefer to describe myself as "not religious".

10/07/2011 6:37 PM  
Blogger Al B. said...

Presumably, fear of hell -- which doesn't even exist in many religions, acts as a deterrent in the same way that the death penalty does. Oh, wait! Maybe it acts as a deterrent in the same way that gun control laws do! Sounds like a research project!

So, is there a statistically significant difference in the percentage of atheists in prison populations around the world relative to the general population? Without correlation, there can be no cause and effect. How would someone go about studying something like this?

I would refer O'Reilly to the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797, Article 11, which starts with the phrase, "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, ...". But hey, what did Presidents Washington and Adams and the first U.S. Senate know about the principles on which our country was founded anyway? Besides, most of them were deists, not Christians.

I would also invite O'Reilly to recite the 10 commandments (the Catholic catechism version that he was raised on would be perfect) out loud, one at a time, and explain what they have to do with the principles on which our country was founded. I count 5 out of the 10 -- and these, as Christopher Hitchens points out, are universal human values. Christianity has no exclusive claim to them. The other 5 are the typical values of religious fundamentalism and religious intolerance. Again, Christianity has no exclusive claim to them.

Frankly, I find the arrogance and conceit of religious zealots of any stripe offensive. And the unfounded presumption that belief in God or hell would keep anyone in line certainly strikes me as arrogant.

10/08/2011 3:48 AM  
Blogger joeyn said...

I was going to respond to this but so many did such a good job I'll just say: Thank you! to them. I find it disturbing that such educated and reasonable people Like O'Reilly and Lott) still beleive that religion is even real say nothing about needed.

10/09/2011 4:01 PM  

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