Yup, I know what the passionately religious amongst you are probably thinking. “How dare he! Blasphemy! Arrogance! Somebody should teach this damn heretic a lesson.”
Well, not so fast.
Because my statement doesn’t necessarily deny the existence of God or belief in Him.
Have a glass of cold water, hear me out first, and I’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Holy Books: Awww Verses Vs Yikes Verses
Holy books and sacred texts like the Bible, the Hadith collections and even the Quran contain commandments and stories that can either make you go Awww, or Yikes!
That is if you read those verses and sections literally.
Now, I’m not going to get into examples in details. You can explore different verses on your own if you like. The resources are plentiful and online.
Still, let’s get into this matter briefly.
Taking the Quran for instance, you have many, many beautiful verses encouraging good deeds such as being kind to orphans, giving charity, and so on aka, Awww verses.
You also have a number of verses that can be morally repulsive and scientifically retarded when read and understood literally.
The same goes for the Bible.
“Don’t read those verses literally you dumbass! You need to interpret them correctly!”
Ok, fair enough.
In fact, that’s exactly the type of thinking I held on to and valued, and from a functional perspective, it’s actually a good thing, but it doesn’t mean it leads to truth, and in many cases, it needs some serious mental gymnastics.
Interpretation and Cherry Picking
Anyone who’s actually read the Bible or the Quran knows that there are plenty of verses that will make any sane or moral person today go yikes!
Stoning people to death? Killing non-believers?
Ah, well here comes the “beauty” of interpretation and cherry picking.
Demonstrating the Problem With
the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Let’s take an imaginary character and call him Ahmad.
Ahmad is a Palestinian Muslim kid whose parents got killed in an Israeli bombing raid on Gaza. He grows up with rage in his heart and contempt for Jews.
As time passes, Ahmad finds himself influenced by Quranic verses and stories in Islam that characterize Jews as infidels, and Islam’s sworn-enemies.
At the age of 28, Ahmad ends his life by blowing up himself at an Israeli checkpoint.
On the other hand, you have another imaginary character called Muhammad.
Muhammad is a Palestinian father who lost his children in an Israeli bombing raid on Gaza. He continues living his life still believing in peace and brotherhood with his Jewish neighbors.
As time passes, Muhammad finds strength and inspiration from the Quran, and continues to focus on the verses which encourage kindness and tolerance towards Jews and Christians, referred to in the Quran numerous times as “the people of the book.”
The truth is obvious from the examples above which aren’t really all that imaginary.
In both cases, Ahmad and Muhammad did not derive their morality from the Quran.
Their ethical intuitions came from within themselves.
Their ethical intutions directed their attention to verses they chose to focus on and be inspired by, whether knowingly or uknowingly.
Their ethical intuitions influenced their choice of interpretation.
And hence, their morals did not come from the Quran itself.
Their morals ultimately came from within themselves thanks to their own ethical intuitions about what’s right and wrong, and were influenced by their near social context.
And in case you’re still clinging on to the idea that our morality comes from Holy Books, here’s another example that demonstrates otherwise.
Demonstrating the Problem With Wife
“Beating” as “Instructed” In the Quran
This one requires no writing.
Just watch this fun, hilarious video that clearly shows a serious heinous problem in some parts of the Muslim world.
Ah, interpretation, interpretation.
I mean seriously, on whose authority does one decide which verses to take literally, and which to take as metaphor?
Like I said, morality does not come from Holy Books themselves.
Metaphorical interpretation becomes a necessity and the process of choosing the morally right interpretation comes down to the individual’s ethical intuitions on which interpretation seems right, and which one seems wrong.
Wife beating? Yikes! That’s just wrong. Probably metaphorical. God is loving and merciful. He can’t support this type of lunacy.
Wife beating? Yeah, beat the crap out of her. Some women need discipline, and discipline is important. Without it, you will just have immoral anarchy and disobedience. God doesn’t like disobedience.
Oh, and guess what?
I didn’t make up those two responses to the wife beating question.
Those are roughly the responses I got from two pious Muslim friends I personally know, who both appeal to the interpretation of the Quran they believe is right… out of their own ethical intuitions.
See what I mean?
Now, If Morality Comes from Within Us
and Our Own Ethical Intuitions…
… then that begs the question… where did we come from?
Jesus? The Big Bang? Allah? Evolution?
Leave your answer in the comments section below now.
I’m dying to hear it.