Saturday, June 28, 2008

Religion and morality

Another refutation of connection between religion and morality comes in the form of a poll by World Public Opinion about public acceptance of torture.

The secular Old Europe (France, Spain, England) rejects torture by a wide margin - 82% of the population of these countries think that it must be illegal under all circumstances.

The corresponding number in deeply religious USA - 53%. Lower than Poland, Ukraine, China, and Palestinian territories(!).

Talk to me about "Christian morality", or the "Land of the Brave" for that matter - is it really brave to torture potentially innocent people because you're afraid of the "terrorists"?..

The poll is here:


Anonymous said...

Secret prisons, mock trials, and torture seem are a sign of wolves in the flock, sometimes even wearing sheep's clothing. In my opinion, too many good people have been Neo-CONNED!

Anonymous said...

This is nothing to do with religion - but just tells how much a country is affected by terrorism. I can speak for India - that faces at least one major terrorist attack every year.

Anonymous said...

Mexico is a pretty religious country and is in the 73% range. Tying this to religious belief is a pretty ignorant thing to do

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is a good tie here to religion. Nationality perhaps (very vaguely) but even with in the USA you will find pockets of the country that has greatly different views. If you took the poll in Seattle you will definitely see different results than New York. The sample size has to be huge to accurately make any reasonable statements tying these two attributes together.

Tom Cooper (home) said...

I have two points of concern:
1. How do you define torture? and
2. Is it fair to link "religion" and "morality?"

First, how do you define torture? If you use a sufficiently broad definition, I think that most people would support what some people consider some form of torture. As an example, is waterboarding torture? Some say yes, some say no. What about lying to a person you are interrogating? What if the lies are designed to confuse, harass, disarm? What about repeated questioning for 8 hours? For 4 hours? Sleep deprivation? It's a slippery slope.

With respect to "religion" and "morality," what if my religious beliefs include components which are upsetting to you? If I live with integrity to those beliefs, even though they upset you, couldn't you say that I was "moral" compared to at least my definition of morality?

I think that the key question is whether there is an objective standard of morality, and if so, what is it?