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03 December 2015 @ 05:40 am
To kill for  
The other day, I linked to an article about fundamentalist Christians lying in the belief that it would save souls. It included a quote from Steven Weinberg.
With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
If, as many people do, we define religion as a belief system that includes a supernatural deity, the statement is simply false.

So let us apply Miller’s rule and see what it is true of. To me, the Weinberg quote seems a useful operational definition of religion: any belief that makes good people do evil things, which means that Communism and Fascism are religions.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on December 3rd, 2015 12:53 pm (UTC)
Don't leave out Republicanism, and of course the history of medical research.
Lydy Nickersonlydy on December 3rd, 2015 03:15 pm (UTC)
Lords. Once you introduce the metric of a "good" person, you're kinda sunk, in my opinion. What does that even mean? If we're talking motivation, then no way do you need a deity. And who gets to judge who's a good person? It's a clever aphorism, but it doesn't bear scrutiny, in my opinion. It's rather lacking in nuance.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on December 3rd, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
" If we're talking motivation, then no way do you need a deity." That was the point, wasn't it? You do, however, need an all-encompassing ideology.

" And who gets to judge who's a good person?" Damon Knight.
amaebiamaebi on December 3rd, 2015 09:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's where I am.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on December 3rd, 2015 05:01 pm (UTC)
There are certain liberal denominations sometimes derided by the more conservative as not really being religions at all, and perhaps this is why: they're not known for making good people do evil things.
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on December 3rd, 2015 05:50 pm (UTC)
I think this line of reasoning needs definitions of, or categories for, good and evil that are somehow separate from religion and ideology.

Ideally, you would have definitions or categories that didn't lead to followers of a given system of ethics defining all other systems as religions/ideologies the first time they came to different conclusions (e.g. about when if ever it's okay to lie to save a life). I think I could take your argument (from Weinberg via Miller's rule) a bit further to argue that utilitarianism is a religion.
Elenbarathielenbarathi on December 4th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
'Religion' is not so easily defined..

Neither are 'good' or 'evil'. It doesn't suffice to say "well-intentioned people knowingly do harmful things" - as the old saying goes, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions", and there's no way to quantify what any person 'knows' about the probable consequences of any action.