Perhaps. Even the secular if religion is something akin to faith and the degree to which the secular/hyper-rationalists adhere to reason in light of their own hypocritical applications of faith in reason. They hold onto it faithfully, worshiping it like money with unflinching certainty in the fruits of its application….arguing their applications of it isn’t irrational or unreasonable or hypocritical. That it’s all absolutely rational even when it’s not. But they hold onto it. Insisting that a world of more and more reason will yield better reward in a world inhabited by largely unreasonable men. That’s faith. That’s religion. And that might be okay.
So what the fuck is this? Some pseudo-intellectual, hyper-pretentious thesis? It’s just this fool thinking. Thinking through the idea that religion is “what you act out” or not. And, if not, then maybe we’re all equally religious.
So here’s the full debate from which all this shit stems:
Peterson’s primary bed-shitting claim leveled against the atheists is that they act/behave according to a (mostly) Christian ethic. That pure reason at the level of individual or collective application would be chaotic, for we lack the experience or insight into the complexities of individuals and society to truly understand it or engineer it according to what we are, being so thoroughly ignorant of what we are and the world around us.
But I’m struck by the idea that a religious person who doesn’t behave or “act out” according to some of the heavier axioms of his religion might equally be regarded as “non-religious” while claiming he is. Sorta the “you’re not really an atheist because because you act according to a Christian ethic or morality” in reverse.
For example, most funerals and wakes are somber events in light of the Christian “belief” that the deceased has departed to the land of a child’s eternal Christmas or birthday party (Heaven), which should be a joyous occasion for everyone. But many don’t “act out” this belief. They act out as if the departed is never going to be seen again. Or that there’s been some sort of loss when the religion’s axiom should lead them to believe in a hyper-blissful reunification almost instantaneously (relative to our days on earth compared to eternity). Many of the religious don’t act out that belief. Like the deceased has departed to the most awesome vacation spot ever and, in terms of the cosmic timeline, you’re right behind them. If you truly believe that, then death is awesome. But it’s not often treated that way. It begs the question then to what degree the person is a true Christian believer when their emotions or actions run so counter to a professed belief.
Now this isn’t to argue that religion is utter crap. I mean, given that man seems to be inherently emotional and, as a consequence, at least partly and inherently irrational, perhaps you gotta come up with something that caters to that irrationality. That keeps it in check better than anything else. And you can argue that, obviously, the counter to irrationality is reason but who’s to say everybody’s capacity for reason or their discipline in applying it across the complexities and stressors of day to day living is enough to get them through their lives better than tethering their emotions or irrationality to something else. I mean, people do so many silly things, how can you truly expect them to adhere to reason during the most trying of times when many don’t have the wits or discipline to manage their credit card debt?
And it must be considered from where the Secular Humanist’s ethic is derived. From deliberation over ethics? Did Sam Harris conclude that jealousy is a vice? Did Daniel Dennet deduce, on his own, that pride can be either virtue or vice? Or does he only pretend to know that he knows where pride hangs out on the spectrum between virtue and vice. And does he know or is he only guessing in particular instances of pride whether it’s virtue or vice?
I suggest he mostly cannot and has not. That the morality or ethics of the Secular Humamanists are either instinctive (based more on emotion than reason) or mostly a matter of adapting to culture norms that lead to more personal benefit than harm. We see it and understand it and emulate it. But we didn’t discover the ethics of it. Somebody else did and we mostly just follow their lead.
Maybe our ethics are instinctive like the chick that takes cover at the shadow of a hawk upon the first time encountering that shadow, without knowing anything about the hawk or its intent. And that’s not to say, either, that some chicks may have less or none of that instinct compared to the majority. That can surely happen since there’s probably at least one that thinks, “what you all running away for? we don’t even know what that shadow’s about. I ain’t running off until I see….until I understand exactly what this shadow is.” Then he gets eaten while the others were busy scurrying away.
I imagine that much of what the atheists consider reasoned morality is just action and behavior and thought and belief inherited from previous generations. That, or it’s instinctive, not reasoned. Like, does a primitive tribe that behaves morally….did each member deliberate over moral action in order to be able to cooperate? Did they develop some moral framework through reason? Or was it instinctive? Instinctive and perhaps changeable based on environmental pressures?
Is a tribe of chimps’ cooperative behavior the product of moral reasoning? Or instinctive? And subject to change based on environmental pressures? And rats? And us? Is the idea of reasoned morality just instinct wrapped up in cute paper and a bow to make us think that our actions are more a matter of moral rigor and discipline than mostly base instinct? Which obviously isn’t an argument for the infallibility of instinct as a moral guide, either individually or collectively. The Nazis ran afoul of morality just as the female member of a chimp tribe committing infanticide does. Perhaps there’s inherent/congenital moral defects as there are physical defects. But the defects aren’t the norm.
Perhaps there’s the hyper-rationalists crowd that apologists can point to how they act hypocritical to their professed beliefs and the hyper-rationalists can point in turn to the Christians’ hypocrisy. And maybe in both instances that’s okay. That the application of a system of hyper-rationalism (mostly) serves to make person A a better person than an application of religious irrationality and person B is a better person for being the slave to a Christian ethic because he lacks the will or intelligence or discipline to govern himself according to (near) absolute reason. Each makes both better people, irrationality and/or hypocrisy included. Maybe the argument to be had isn’t one for absolute non-hypocrisy but accepting that some degree of hypocrisy/irrationally is inherent in any system and that one system may work better than another individually, based on temperament, intelligence, etc.
And in the same way the rationalist can point to the theist and pick apart the ways in which he behaves in non-accordance to his professed beliefs, the theist can in turn point to the rationalist for ways in which he behaves in non-accord with his stated rationality. But it doesn’t matter so long as both function as better people from the belief that they’re acting out, in accordance to God or absolute reason.
I’m reminded of the words of the great philosopher Lemmy Kilmister:
Cause I’m in love with rock ‘n’ roll
Satisfies my soul
If that’s how it has to be, I won’t get mad
I got rock ‘n’ roll to save me from the cold
And if that’s all there is, it ain’t so bad
Rock ‘n’ roll
Now, for whatever reason, you may hate Lemmy or heavy metal or rock and roll. You may have your preference for jazz or concert (classical) music or hip-hop or electronica. And we can spend decades debating which is more meritorious musically, but if Lemmy makes me feel better than Coltrane and Coltrane makes you feel better than Lemmy, and we’re both happier and consequently better people for listening to what we like…then let’s respectfully allow one another to listen to what we like and just shut the fuck up without trying to make ourselves feel better about the quality of our preference and by implication, the betterment of taste.
If the belief that you are acting according to reason or God’s will is what satisfies your soul, then “if that’s all there is, it ain’t so bad. Rock ‘n’ Roll.”