Richard Dawkins - Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life (1)

Dostoevsky's dictum "without God, anything is permitted" is often used by religious believers to make the point that, quite aside from the issue of its truth, religion plays an important role, perhaps even a necessary one, in fomenting moral behavior and virtue. Without God, where would morality come from? If we were simply left to our own devices, what would be there to prevent absolute chaos, violence, crime and wanton lasciviousness?

Well, whatever you may think about the moral foundation of morality, as an empirical claim, it simply isn't true that without God or religion we would turn into savages. How do we know? For one, because non-human animals, presumably not being religious believers, do have all sorts of customs and rules by which they abide without having to descend into anarchy. And second, because when you look at the behavior or religious and non-religious people, you find that there is almost no difference there.

What religious people do have, though, is a lot of shame and guilt for things that should not be quite as big a deal as they think. So it seems as though religion is a self-perpetuating industry of devotion based on making its followers feel bad about themselves and then making them turn to religion for "salvation." Not much different from drug pushers, huh?

And it's getting to the point that religious people will go to all kinds of extremes to reconcile the inevitable cognitive dissonance they experience from the conjunction of their religious beliefs and their biological nature. Richard Dawkins explores these and other related issues

What exactly is the fascination with virgins? I never understood that one...
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