Due North

Compass Study

Compass Study (Photo credit: Calsidyrose)

I want to take some time to talk about morality. Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes ‘moral’ thinking or action, and especially in the American political sphere we are quick to judge as immoral those whose political views do not coincide with our own. Having two sets of friends—one secular, one religious—means hearing a lot of indictments from one group about the other. I’ve heard all kinds of questions asked during in-group sessions—the closed echo chambers full of people who think similarly—that vary in their sincerity for understanding, but all underscore a desire to vent.

Without god, who or what holds atheists accountable for their actions?

Do religious people truly require the threat of pain/death/damnation to make positive decisions?

What guides the moral compass of an atheist?

How can a person withstand the cognitive dissonance of embracing [insert religion here] and still maintain progressive politics?

How can someone maintain their belief in conservative ideals while rejecting the foundation upon which those ideals were built?

Why do religious people believe?

This is just a sampling of the many questions I hear from the religious and secularist camps. These questions are best directed at one another, but unfortunately, people from both camps often (though certainly not always) lack the empathy necessary to truly understand the other side. I want to take a few posts to talk about this. I want to discuss the questions that religious people and skeptics have about one another, why they don’t usually address them at one another, and the possibilities that exist for a positive, even cooperative relationship between religious people and skeptics.

In the meantime, which camp are you in? Which questions resonate with you? What are your questions about the ‘other’? And what are your answers for yourself?

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