A very profound reflection on the contradictions in morality and ethics in our pluralist society. It goes some way to teasing out the conundrum which the neo-atheists point to, that religion seems to be the Cause underlying so much evil in the world, while the majority of people are fundamentally good and seek only to do good. This does not, however, justify the rejection of religion, only the evil cause by those who misuse Religion, whether they been militant Islamists or those who have covered up clerical pedophilia – or who seek to impose an oppressive right wing morality by means of religion.

Maybe the only ones able to practice their faith in freedom are those who embrace a fully pluralist, secular society? Irony, indeed.

drum-fb-avatar_normal.jpgABC The Drum (@ABCthedrum)
17/04/2012 11:19
If there is a god, then anything is permitted, writes Slavoj Zizek on @abcreligion bit.ly/J4AH4F

Most people today are spontaneously moral: the idea of torturing or killing another human being is deeply traumatic for them. So, in order to make them do it, a larger “sacred” Cause is needed, something that makes petty individual concerns about killing seem trivial. Religion or ethnic belonging fit this role perfectly. There are, of course, cases of pathological atheists who are able to commit mass murder just for pleasure, just for the sake of it, but they are rare exceptions. The majority needs to be anaesthetized against their elementary sensitivity to another’s suffering. For this, a sacred Cause is needed: without this Cause, we would have to feel all the burden of what we did, with no Absolute on whom to put the ultimate responsibility.

Religious ideologists usually claim that, true or not, religion makes some otherwise bad people to do some good things. From today’s experience, however, one should rather stick to Steven Weinberg’s claim: while, without religion, good people would have been doing good things and bad people bad things, only religion can make good people do bad things.