Friday, July 07, 2006

Pray or die

From Middle East Online (via Butterflies and Wheels)

Somali Muslims who fail to perform daily prayers will be killed in accordance with Koranic law under a new edict issued by a leading cleric in the Islamic courts union that controls Mogadishu.

The requirement for Muslims to observe the five-times daily ritual under penalty of death was announced late Wednesday and appears to confirm the hardline nature of the increasingly powerful Sharia courts in the capital.
How can anyone worship a God that endorses such barbarity? How can anyone call this god which advocates such brutal intimidation tactics "good?"

"I will call no being good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a creature can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go." - John Stuart Mill, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy (1865)

Of course, the apologist for this action will tell you that "good" is obediance to God. This person is not a morally autonomous individual, because by making "good" synonymous with arbitrary divine fiat, he has given up the ability to make ethical judgements, leaving him incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Instead, he can only decide whether an action is approved or disapproved by his master. Given that he is no longer bound by moral considerations, there is no limitation to his behavior. Anything that he believes to be sanctioned by God, his master, no matter how cruel or irrational, is acceptable.

"The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men." - Robert Green Ingersoll, "The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child" (1877)


Psyberian said...

This is a fascinating area of philosophy to me.

First, Plato (or Socrates) realized that religion and morality are interdependent. A person could not, with good conscience, worship an evil god, so morality precedes belief in the supernatural (at least for those who think for themselves and don’t blindly accept the teachings of their parents or other authority figures).

Also, Bertrand Russell points this out well here:

…[T]he contention… is as follows. It would be a good thing if people loved their neighbours, but they do not show much inclination to do so; Christ said they ought to, and if they believe that Christ was God, they are more likely to pay attention to His teachings on this point than if they do not; therefore, men who wish people to love their neighbours will try to persuade them that Christ was God.

…In the first place, [people who think this way] are persuaded that it is a good thing to love your neighbour, and their reasons for holding this view are not from Christ’s teaching. On the contrary, it is because they already hold this view that they regard Christ’s teaching as evidence of His divinity. They have, that is to say, not an ethic based on theology, but a theology based on their ethic. [italics mine] From Can Religion Cure Our Troubles

Hume's Ghost said...

Here is the most concise summation of the issue from Plato's Euthyprho.

"Is that which is holy loved by the gods because it is holy, or is it holy because it is loved by the gods?"