Peter Singer’s utilitarian ethics replaces our sexually-obsessed religious morality

The sexually-obsessed morality of conservative Christianity

.. and of other religions!  This phrase aptly summarizes the dilemma of most moral problems in the US and in the world. Moral discussion and legal discourse are obsessed with sexuality and relatively unconcerned with violence, greed, selfishness.

The more enlightened Christian readers have themselves now recognized that their Church’s preoccupation with sex has been a mistake: Dr George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, has admitted that the church has been guilty of ‘being caught up with the idea that sexual sins were “more significant” then other sins’ and has said that instead we should think more in terms of global problems such as world poverty. […] ethics has no necessary connection with the sexually-obsessed morality of conservative Christianity   Peter Singer “How Are We to Live?”

World poverty, corporative greed, dishonesty of politics, culture of violence, school yard bullying. So many real problems require ethics and morality.  Real violence, real damage to society and economy caused by moral failures.

But religions obsess with issues like birth control,  abortion: “saving” human life of small clusters of cells, while thousands of really alive and breathing humans starve or get killed in wars. Religions cause suffering by prohibiting stem cell research, mandating that embryos can be discarded to waste but can not be used for life saving medical research. Our laws interfere with birth control and HIV prevention. 20 year jail sentences for consensual sex with adolescents or mere possession of nude photos.

There is a reason for this religious obsession with sex.  Our holy books, are all around 2000 years old and were not updated.

Sexuality and baby-making were inseparable 2000 years ago

But nowadays, we have birth control. Sexuality is not identical to child production any more. Paternity can be verified with DNA tests and does not require virginity enforced by draconian punishments.

It is funny, though, how churches extrapolate their teachings unto issues that are not covered by the Bible: areas like stem cells, birth control pill, etc. It is also interesting how churches influence politics and legal codes, in countries that have clear separation of church and state.

New ethics and morality are needed.

Merely abandoning religious ethics can lead to crime, greed, moral disorientation. We can observe this in politics, youth violence, obesity, nutrition, corporate (lack of) ethics, general moral disorientation of large parts of the population.Morality & Ethics without God: Peter Singer’s Utilitarianism

Read hundreds of free articles by and about Peter Singer


Very good overview of Peter Singer’s ethics. Just listen to the audio, the video is not interesting.  This is not a single video but a set of videos.
Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics, approaching ethical issues from a secular preference utilitarian perspective. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer

Singer is the greatest contemporary exponent of utilitarianism, the doctrine that actions should aim to maximise the greatest happiness for the greatest number of individuals. Given that our every action has consequences for this end, we are truly immersed in morality.

Peter Singer’s utilitarian philosophy is an alternative to stupidity derived from religious beliefs. Where Richard Dawkins just vaguely surmises about morality without religion, Peter Singer devotes his life to the intricacies of such a morality.  As I have stated, the rules from holy books like Bible or Koran were very sensible at the time they were written. But they need overhaul. And, preferably, without resorting to God or Prophets. Peter Singer can come to the rescue.

Dinesh de Souza made the great compliment: Singer’s ethics is what you arrive at with logic and without God: “Peter Singer represents the sharpest, deepest, certainly the most lucid, the most consistent in arguing out the premises and the implications of atheism”.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phgb67NAaHA is part 1 of a 12 (!) part discussion with Peter Singer. Very interesting to see in its entirety. In part 1 Dinesh gives a fairly good but hostile description of Peter Singer’s philosophy)
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Atheists Sam Harris, Bertrand Russell on Morality, Dangers & Violence of Religion

Religion, even if untrue, could help guide the average person’s morality. Religion could help if religion taught morality at Wall Street, compassionate behavior for chief executives, just profits instead of blind greed.

Unfortunately, Western religions miss the big issues and instead devote themselves to obstructing society on minor philosophical points (rights of embryos containing 300 cells only are more important then life saving research), prohibition of condom use in Africa, etc.

But, religious books are outdated, badly interpreted, and as Sam Harris would say, dangerous to society. Sam Harris, a militant Atheist, aptly dismantles religion in his speeches and Videos. Really interesting & valuable.

Sam Harris: The View from the End of the World: Dangerous Deadly Religion

This is a voice only recording, you prefer to see a Video (albeit not very well done), you find a video with nice structure by topics http://fora.tv/2005/12/09/View_From_End_Of_World

Video Content description

Quotes taken from the youtube post of the video above follow:

  • In the US, Christians use irrational arguments about a soul in the 150 cells of a 3-day old human embryo to block stem cell research that might alleviate the suffering of millions. In Africa, Catholic doctrine uses tortured logic to actively discourage the use of condoms in countries ravaged by AIDS. “This is genocidal stupidity,” Harris said. Faith trumps rational argument. Common-sense ethical intuition is blinded by religious metaphysics.
  • In the US, 22% of the population are CERTAIN that Jesus is coming back in the next 50 years, and another 22% think that it’s likely. The good news of Christ’s return, though, can only occur following desperately bad news. Mushroom clouds would be welcomed. “End time thinking,” Harris said, “is fundamentally hostile to creating a sustainable future.”
  • Harris was particularly critical of religious moderates who give cover to the fundamentalists by not challenging them. The moderates say that all is justified because religion gives people meaning in their life. “But what would they say to a guy who believes there’s a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in his backyard? The guy digs out there every Sunday with his family, cherishing the meaning the quest gives them.”
  • “I’ve read the books,” Harris said. “God is not a moderate.” The Bible gives strict instructions to kill various kinds of sinners, and their relatives, and on occasion their entire towns. Yet slavery is challenged nowhere in the New or Old Testaments; slave holders in the old south used the Bible to defend their practice. The religious texts have power because they are old, but they are also hopelessly out of date because they are old.
Sam Harris has been identified as one of the “Four Horsemen of Atheism” — company he shares with Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. An outspoken proponent of skepticism and science, his two books — The End of Faith and its follow-up Letter to a Christian Nation — have become best-sellers.
In The End of Faith, Harris showed “a harrowing glimpse of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities.” After receiving thousands of angry letters in response, he wrote Letter to a Christian Nation, which centered on religious controversies in the United States: stem cell research, “intelligent design,” and links between religion and violence.

Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. He is the co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.
source: ted.com/speakers/ sam_harris.html

samharris.org


The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

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Letter to a Christian Nation (Vintage)
by Sam Harris
4.1 out of 5 stars (689) $8.64


God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Ev…
by Christopher Hitchens
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The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins
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Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Ph…
by Daniel C. Dennett
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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings…
by Christopher Hitchens
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