Remembering 9/11 - Imagine No Religion

Today marks the 10th anniversary of that surreal and catastrophic day that will be forever marked in our collective and individual memories. Needless to say, my heart and thoughts are with everyone affected by that tragedy.

But I think this day also presents an opportunity to meditate and reflect on what philosophers refer to sometimes as the ethics of belief, and the question of our moral responsibility for holding the beliefs we hold.

Beliefs don't just exist in some mental vacuum separate from the physical world. They express themselves all the time in our behavior, our actions and our choices. Those planes crashed into the Towers because some people had certain ideas in their minds, and since our actions almost always have the potential to affect others, then a pretty good case could be made that we have a certain set of moral obligations for making sure that our beliefs are well justified by strong standards of evidence and reason, and NOT by whether they simply make us feel good, by whether they give us hope or comfort in our time of spiritual need, by whether they are dictated by some presumed authority figure, or by whether they conform to tradition.

And when you think about it, you may come to realize that the massacre that took place ten years ago would not have taken place if it weren't for the mental and psychological poison of religion. Whatever hope for redemption or salvation it may provide, religion offers the empty promise of an after-life at the real cost of your intellectual maturity and even at the cost of your real ethical values and your own moral compass. Steven Weinberg has often said that good people will do good things, and that evil people will do evil things, but that for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. And I would add that if it weren't for religion, 9/11 would not have happened. Think about it.

Honor all those whose lives were destroyed on 9/11 by start thinking for yourself and by taking responsibility for your own actions. Let's stop hiding behind the veil of excuses we call religion and faith.
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