Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I don't need dogma; I have empathy


Most people confuse faith with religion, when organized religion is really more about dogma.

Just to repeat my important mantra at set expectations early: I'm not "anti-religion," I'm not even "anti-dogma."  What I am is Anti-Stupid.

Here is an interesting Op-Ed piece citing studies that show "non-religious" (I'm going to say "non-dogmatic") people are more sane, compassionate and empathic than "religious" (i.e. "dogmatic") people.

“Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious' parents in our study,” [Vern] Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”


Now, the sociopaths at the Freedom From Atheism Foundation will almost certainly be the first to say "how can you have morality without some skygod telling you what is right and wrong?" which I think says a lot about their own broken - or simply absent - moral compasses.

Dogma is about behavior control, and behavior modification. That means that it is, by definition, amoral. Oh, sure the proscribed behaviors might actually be ethical, but dogma has been used to justify and mandate all kinds of immoral crimes against human beings like murder, slavery, war and robbery.

All the "Bible churches" that have sprung up over the course of my life time are doing so with the intention of escaping the dogma of the older, more established flavors of Christianity. The two ironies here are 1) they develop their own, enitrely new, and often incompatible (and incoherent) sets of dogma, i.e. proscribed behaviors, and 2) their new dogma lacks the insights and wisdom provided by the centuries of practice and sorting out and shaking out the crap-that-doesn't-work that the older, better established religions have.

So, it's actually kind of tragic that "wanting to return to the roots" turns out to backfire and create a terrible disaster of warped dogma, twisted behaviors, and unhappy faithful.

The point remains that dogma cannot provide a native sense of morality and ethics. Only empathy can do that - the ability to see things from a different point of view. The ability to see what suffering looks like, and seek to bring relief. Dogma proscribes behaviors within a rigid framework, so you can get bullshit like relief agencies only helping those willing to convert to the dogma, while empathy is open-ended - just provide aid, because that's just the right thing to do, and don't play "carrot and stick" games with people's lives.