One thing that has baffled me quite a bit in these angry arguments about things like abortion and gay marriage, is the protest "religions shouldn't impose their morals on other people". To me, that has sounded completely unfair, because it's like declaring that anyone who follows a religion shouldn't have a say in a democracy, because obviously their opinions and their votes are going to be informed by their morals, their conscience, their beliefs.
I had an "aha!" moment recently, during a discussion on Twitter. (yes, very unwise to try to discuss anything on Twitter, but it was initially a cordial and respectful discussion, I think.) There are two classes of moral rules: those that apply to everybody, and those that only apply to some people. I think we can agree that things like "don't murder" and "don't steal" apply to everybody. The usual rule of thumb is "if it harms someone else, it applies to everybody". The ones that only apply to some people (I think?) are in the form of a promise made by a person to do or not to do something. Like promising to be faithful to your spouse; doesn't apply to those who don't have a spouse. My "aha" moment was the realisation that non-believers in (
Abrahamic) religions think that ALL of the religious moral rules ONLY ever apply to followers of that religion; because they're in the form of a promise to obey those rules when they follow that religion, and if you didn't promise to, you don't have to. Whereas followers of
Abrahamic religions believe that since God/Yahweh/Allah is the ruler/owner of the entire universe, there are some rules that He has laid down which apply to everybody, believer and non-believer alike, and that these rules are self-evident.( Read more... )
The basis of any cordial discussion of differences is the assumption of good will
on the part of the participants. Without it, there is no discussion, just an acrimonious argument.
I'm leaving comments on for the moment, because I am
interested in what you think, but the moment someone starts engaging in verbal fisticuffs, I will turn commenting off; I can't deal with the stress.