Rob Harris (
Thu, 25 Nov 1999 11:46:06 -0000

>"Religion" is a package of many things, most of them good. It
>is good to have organizations that promote moral values, community,
>tradition; offer personal and family conseling; educate children;
>promote voluntray charity; and do the other things religions do.
>It is unfortunate that such organizations as are now popular in the
>West also promote irrational faith. But that's just part of the
>package: let us villify that as it deserves, and strive to excise
>that sickness from the otherwise valuable whole that is religion.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Here we are with "Morals" once more. Just recently, here in England, a famous football coach voiced one of his loony little philosophies in the presence of the press. It involved the idea that disabled people are as they are due to bad behaviour in a past life. Of course, the media went mad and disabled groups took it as a severe insult. Everybody starting bandying moral soundbites around such as: "He has a RIGHT to his opinion..", and so on. This of course resulted in a conflict of opinion. Now, if you were to ask anyone what their CENTRAL guideline on treatment of others was, they'd no doubt answer with something much like "Treat others as you would want to be treated....", or "minimise suffering" etc. Which is fair enough. The problem with these higher-level "Morals" is that they are not always to be followed if you want to preserve your central guideline. People fail to recognise this. For instance, I was speaking to a friend of mine on the football coach issue, and his "opinion" was that "Everyone MUST have the RIGHT to voice their opinion". Even when I pointed out to him that in this case, the feelings of a great many very vulnerable people were seriously hurt, he still pounded his fist on the table, eyes glazed over...."EVERYONE MUST HAVE....blah blah".
The point is that by propagating a set of unbreachable high-level guidelines - "Morals", you are in fact discouraging thought, encouraging completely unqualified self-righteousness and causing conflict where none exists. The only moral that should be remembered is to treat people well, in order to minimise suffering. Using this simple guideline, the "best" solution to any ethically questionable situation will be immediately and universally identified. After all, what exactly is the point of your "Morals" if not to make the world a better place to live......unfortunately, in their current form they do exactly the opposite.