Lying for the faith

Time and time again we find that religious folks, who claim to hold the ultimate form of morality (an apparent direct line to a God) to be a tad lacking in basic ethics. The most common example we all often come across consists of Christian Creationists lying for Jesus and more or less making stuff up that they then claim is “proof”. When you go through it with them, it does not make one iota of a different, they might as well have stuck their fingers in the ears and babbled “la la la” while you patiently explained things. The very next day they will be back to babbling the same old rhetoric.

Is it just the Christians? Nope, not at all. Today we have an Islamic example. Andrew Gilligan writes in today’s Telegraph about an East London Mosque that had faithfully promised to ban homophobic preachers. Well yes, I’m sure you can guess where this is going … he writes …

I described how the mosque has repeatedly lied and broken such promises before: waiting a couple of months until the coast is clear, then bringing the extremists back.

This time, however, it has only taken just over a week for the mosque’s bad faith to emerge. The day after tomorrow, 29 June, it welcomes to its premises an organisation called Sex and Relationship Education Islamic (SRE Islamic), one of whose main purposes is to campaign for “the unacceptability of homosexuality which is often portrayed as a lifestyle choice.” That’s a quote from the first sentence of SRE Islamic’s statement of values.

You can read that full article here.

Why do they behave like this, and at the same time believe it to be right to do so? To answer that, I think we need to turn the question around and ask when we as individuals whould be prepared to lie and in doing so believe it to be the ethical thing to do. OK try this, imagine you live in Nazi Germany and have just hidden your Jewish neighbour in your secret basement, then there is a knock at your door. Upon opening it, you find the SS commander asking if you know where your neighbour has gone … it is quite obviously ethical to look him in the eye and lie.

So are the believers behaving in the same manner? They might believe they are, and they might also believe it to be ethical to lie for a greater truth to prevail. If you have given your whole life over to a belief that is itself just a delusion, perhaps to a degree that motivates you to be prepared to die for it, then it is not such a huge leap to think that a believer might think that a few lies are appropriate to ensure that their ultimate “truth” can prevail.

Where science and critical thinking wins out, is that it is far more ethical and demands a degree of integrity and honesty that does not exist within any belief system. For example, when you process raw data and suggest a hypothesis, then if you are to truly demonstrate scientific integrity, you not only present the reasons why the hypothesis might be correct, but you should also suggest other explanations. Tests can then be carried out to learn the truth. Ah, if only the believers could begin to demonstrate such integrity and start to consider other more natural simpler explanations for the supposed supernatural events they claim to experience, we might then find we live in a more rational world … but I’m dreaming, we are still a long long way from that.

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