I sat for a seminar today (I know, how fun), and the woman proctoring the seminar was a case worker for a neighboring city’s juvenile and domestic relations court. When she gave examples to explain the concepts she was presenting, she often spoke about the children she supervises. Mostly every example she gave used actual court cases involving juveniles or juveniles who had been sentenced and gotten into more trouble. This is rather important to the central point of this post, which I will get to momentarily.
After she introduced herself, the first thing she said was, “I believe in a higher power. I believe in a god.” Which god? I don’t know, but she’s a latin woman, so the odds are she’s Catholic.
This made me roll my eyes because this seminar had absolutely nothing to do with supernatural agencies or even religious beliefs. It was almost like she was telling us she believed in god strictly for her own benefit. But then towards the end of the seminar the issue of morality came up. Before we go on, I’d just like to reiterate that I’m a firm supporter of the idea that what many call morals are socially constructed. Objective morality is a myth. Of course, I’m sure you can see where this is going.
The first thing she said about morality was, “I believe in a higher power. We might not get in trouble for our actions on this earth, but god up there will one day hold us accountable.” … and there it is.
A man a few seats away from me turned to his neighbor and said, “I don’t believe any of that nonsense. Why is she even bringing it up?” She must have heard the man because she quickly put him in his place.
She said, “If you don’t believe in a higher power, if you don’t believe in god, if you don’t believe in karma, you better believe in a judge!”
Bam!! She nailed it! People hold us accountable for our actions all the time. Be it the police, a judge, our boss, our family members, our friends, or some other social force, someone is going to punish us if they catch us doing something wrong.
I wish everyone, especially religious people, especially especially apologists, would shut up about objective morality. We can all agree that judges exist and are ready, willing, and able to mete out justice. That’s as close to objective morality as we’re going to get.
On a side note, I was especially appreciative of how she handled the atheism issue. She acknowledged our presence in the room. She validated our position (instead of condemning it). And she offered us a secular alternative to her beliefs (instead of forcing her beliefs on us). Good for her. I hope all religious people will take a page from her book.