Divorcing Morals from Religion
Though again mired in 14 hour days with little time for reading let alone writing blogs, I came across this post by D.A. Ridgley Ridgely on abortion. The post seems interesting in that Ridgley Ridgely, a libertarian, takes on a defense of laws limiting abortion. However, in the preamble to his argument, he includes this ghastly disclaimer:
My third point is that purely religious beliefs and arguments by themselves are insufficient to determine public policy. Which is to say that even if there were a majority or even a supermajority who were convinced on purely religious grounds that abortion was morally wrong (or, for that matter, morally right), imposing that position on those who do not share those underlying religious believes would be immoral. If by some bizarre quirk of fate Pastafarians should someday become the religious majority in American, their belief that the Flying Spaghetti Monster says that abortions are okey-dokey is no more a sufficient ground to make (or keep) abortions legal than a majority of Festivus celebrators’, um, beliefs would suffice to erect an aluminum pole on public property for the ritual airing of grievances.
This brand of profound nonsense is becoming more and more prevalent among contemporary hyper-secularists. Ridgely assumes here that some morals may be used as a basis for legislation, just not religion-based morals. What is the implication here? That morals based on well-established, deeply ingrained belief systems are not permissible, while morals based on “moods” or shallow, fleeting, loose-knit, pseudo-intellectual models are? Why should religion be disqualified as a source of “legitimate” morality? Because its adherents take their belief systems seriously? Because it is part of their culture? Because they believe morals are tightly knit with their view of man’s relationship to the world and those who share it with him? Can this possibly form the basis for barring their views from the political system?
Enough. Here’s Richard Weaver on the matter:
That it does not matter what a man believes is a statement heard on every side today. The statement carries a fearful implication. If a man is a philosopher in the sense with which we started, what he believes tells him what the world is for. How can men who disagree about what the world is for agree about any of the minutiae of daily conduct? The statement really means that it does not matter what a man believes so long as he does not take his beliefs seriously. Anyone can observe that this is the status to which religious belief has been reduced for many years. But suppose he does take his beliefs seriously? Then what he believes places a stamp upon his experience, and he belongs to a culture, which is a league founded on exclusive principles. To become eligible, one must be able to say the right words about the right things, which signifies in turn that one must be a man of correct sentiments. This phrase, so dear to the eighteenth century, carries us back to the last age that saw sentiment and reason in a proper partnership.
Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences 23 (Univ. Chicago Press 1948).