Guest post: The problem was dogma

Originally a comment by Sastra on A kind of Turing test.

In atheist forums I often promoted an unpopular opinion: the religious were no less ethical than we were. On the whole, they share the same values and moral goals. Even the Nazis didn’t really differ in their sense of right & wrong, or commitment to fairness, from the people they persecuted.

Because change what you thought were the facts, and you change what’s right and wrong. If God was a God of Love and homosexuals subvert the Loving Natural Order, thus harming not only themselves but leading whole nations into damnation, then gay marriage is wrong. And fighting against it is right. It does no good to see my opponents as wicked, immoral, demonic, or cruel if I would do the same thing if I believed what they believe. The problem was dogma, ideology. The problem with the religious was religion.

Sure, there’s a disturbing portion of psychopaths and people who really are cruel. But if there’s a position that’s popularly held it’s very unlikely indeed that it’s believed only by the sort of people who enjoy torturing others. Look at the facts they’re working from: what looks like a moral problem may be a problem in reasoning.

When I made this case I noticed that, over time, fewer and fewer people agreed with me. It used to be a standard position in skepticism and a respectable position in atheism. But the more emphasis placed on social justice, the more the religious were seen as reveling in hatred. Till it became… like it is now. Dark vs Light, Good vs Evil, the Saved vs the Damned. It’s come full circle. We’re not just like the religious — we’re like religion.

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