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Monkey Tamer

Let's put the God/morality issue to rest

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Hi All,

 

I came back to this forum recently after hearing about the impending decision from National about membership reqs. Not sure what I expected, but I have had my eyes opened to the diversity of thought here among this slice of the scouter community. I can only assume that this is representative of the entire community of scouters at large. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. It is after all, a very large group and it makes sense that we would all have different viewpoints. I apologize for assuming we were all of a like mind. So as I have read, I have come to realize that even in something I considered fairly straight forward, i.e. Duty to God, there are VASTLY different opinions as to what that means and even to whether that should even be an inherent aspect of Scouting. Mea Culpa.

 

 

Anyway, While reading one string about the Brits taking it completely out of their charge,http://www.scouter.com/forum/issues-politics/361593-chief-exec-of-uk-scout-association-time-for-a-promise-that-atheists-can-keep, (sorry don't know how to jump yet), I was struck by how ignorant I have been. In one brilliantly crafted reply, a fellow (apologies if the author was, in fact, a woman) named Outdoors boiled the entire issue down to its essence. I began my reply therein, but have come to the conclusion that this issue truly deserves it's own thread. I mean, many, many of us are decidedly on board that religion is actually at the root of many of the problems facing scouting, both locally and as a movement. So, here goes:

 

 

Ok. I think Outdoors made a very good point that I would like to develop further. “What makes a person a good person comes from within themselves and has nothing to do with whether or not they consider themselves religious" Now, ignoring the part about whether they consider themselves religious, I think it is fascinating to consider this thought. Just think! What makes me good comes from inside me and from no other source. I feel SO good about this! I have always loved the atheist position about how there are no eternal, ultimate Truths and that morality comes from within. i guess i just needed the right presentation to push me over the edge. It really is the most tolerant view one can take. You might call it enlightened even. It is certainly the most liberating way to think and we all know liberty is a good thing, mostly anyway. But Outdoors has verbalized it in the best, most concise way I’ve ever heard it. No gobbledygook philosophical ranting about morality being a construct largely created by oppressive patriarchal religions to sooth the masses, or arcane historical references to conflicting scriptures intentionally left out of canon law that indisputably prove that the early church was a racket. Nope! Just one straightforward, simple fact. All goodness comes from the individual.

 

Ok, there is that nagging little anxiety in the back of my mind. You know, the part about what being a good person means. I mean, if it comes from inside me, then I should be the final arbiter of whether I have it and “am goodâ€. I’m sure that’s what he meant, because that is the best case for a logical argument. By that argument, whatever I am and whatever I do is good as long as I believe myself to be a good person. See how fun this is? With this new freedom, I can really have a good time as long as my inherent sense of morality (from inside me, remember) allows it. I can hunt out of season, because I love hunting and there will be way less pressure without all those other hunters in the woods. I may start sneaking onto golf courses, since I think greens fees are ridiculously high. And all that propriety society intolerantly demands of me is really starting to harsh my mellow, man. Think it’s time to get back in the game, but this time, I’ll have WAY more fun without all those pesky rules about treating girls with respect and all that. The best part of course, is that if anyone decides that my behavior is bad or that I am a bad person for my actions, they will be guilty of forcing their inherent, inside morality on me, which is intolerant and wrong.

 

Now, if that’s not what he means, I suppose those of us who’re good are so by declaration of Outdoors. Which would mean his viewpoint is that which determines the inherent “goodness†of everyone else. Now, this could work, IF he intends his judgment to also come only from inside of him. Hence, he would judge based on whatever is inside of him, those who, by whatever is inside them, are actually good people. Less concise, but still easy enough to be followed. As long as Outdoors is omniscient, everything is cool. Otherwise, we have a little problem. To wit: who is to decide what “good†or “moral†or “ethical†even is? I mean we all agree that there is no ultimate Truth right? That idea is backwards and intolerant. I mean, don’t push your religion down my throat! Unfortunately, without an ultimate Truth of some kind, and excepting the outside chance that Outdoors is actually the Messiah, then there is no such thing as morality; hence either we are ALL good people, because we say so, or nobody is because good doesn’t exist. Either way, if you take this to it’s logical conclusion, everybody deciding their own set of morals will end not in happy, loving cumbaya. It would, by definition, lead to the rule of force. If I am bigger than you, and I want something you have, my inner morality tells me that I am totally within my rights to come and take it. And if you can’t stop me and don’t like it, well that’s the breaks. If you say anything against this, it smacks of intolerance. It’s MY MORALITY remember and you will be guilty of judging me in the most intolerant way. However, if you are stronger than me or have better weapons, then you are within your rights, by inner morality, to stop me and punish me for imposing on you. I will accept that and treat you with all the respect you deserve for your personhood. We are both “good people†by definition. No ultimate Truth needed, remember?

 

That’s cool too. I’m a pretty big guy and have plenty of firepower, so I’ll be alright. Besides, once I enslave half my block, I won’t have to do any pesky lawn care or housework anymore. And there is that chick down the block that I’ve had my eye on…

 

Now, none of you intoleran hate-mongering religious nuts better try and talk me out of it!

 

Peace (if you wish it and whatever you think that means)

 

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It might be that I am up at 1am, trying to read Monkey Tamers thoughts.. But, at this early hour, my conclusion is that I think Monkey Tamer has lost it. Outdoors may not be the messiah, and from what was quoted from his statement, I don't see that he was even making the statement that he was.. Neither is Monkey Tamer, so I guess I really don't care what either of them think..

 

I guess that probably puts me closer to Outdoors philosophy without thinking that means Outdoors has to approve of what I believe in. Whether your values come from your parents teachings, or your church in the various faiths with the various philosophy of what is right or wrong, and which book to follow, or what in that book is ranked super important. average importan, or outdated.. Perhaps it comes from your inner self, or from your spouse kicking you where the sun don't shine if they think you screwed up.. Everyone has a different way of figuring out what their values are.. Some how in this mad, mad world we live together and just make it work..

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Good heavens Monkey Tamer! How unfair and mean spirited it is to follow this feel-good premise to its logical roots and conclusions. This hegemonic logocentric discourse you're trying to impose is going to upset the admiring omphaloskeptic practice of intellectual onanism.

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Conservatives following anything down to its logical roots, have made up the most ridiculous conspiracy theory's.. Somehow their logical path seems to zig & zag until it comes up with something very illogical.. But, go ahead, because I know it's your feel-good premise.. After all you come up with some doosies that make great comedian fodder.

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Adding gods doesn't inprove morality, they are just absolute authority lynchpins that stymie any real debate. I don't see anyone arguing that slavery is moral, or that rape victims ought to be compelled to marry their rapists (or be killed if they didn't cry out), but Jehovah certainly never showed up to decide to change these rules; humans decided these particular rules are actually immoral and no longer follow them. Religious rules allow a Saudi cleric to rape and torture his own 5-year-old daughter to death, but since fathers can't be prosecuted for murder of their own children in Saudi Arabia, he only has to pay a fine:

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-preacher-who-raped-and-tortured-his-five-yearold-daughter-to-death-is-released-after-paying-blood-money-8480440.html

 

Ain't religious morality great?

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Monkey tamer: your attempt at satire was pretty terrible. Satire should be funny, witty, and to the point. That giant wall of text nearly made me cross eyed. I'm starting to get a bit annoyed with the religious conservatives. Why does your religious beliefs trump mine? Why does your Charter Organization get to make the determination about which leaders my unit can select?

 

Whats interesting is from a theological perspective your post has a bit of merit. Goodness does come from within in the Catholic tradition. (I think I remember you saying you were Catholic). According to Catholicism, God endowed us with Free will. Therefore, the choice to follow God is a free choice. Goodness comes from within, not from God. The term you are looking for perhaps is Grace? Grace comes from God.

 

If you are looking to associate yourself with perfect unerring people, then you will be a lonely man for life. Simply put, we are all screw ups.

 

Yours in Scouting,

Sentinel947

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Money Tamer, thanks for the intriguing post. You identified an interesting point about the philosophy of innate character, which seems to be a common doctrine in a lot of popular literature and movies, that people are good or evil at their core, and that life and its challenges are dramatic forums for stripping away the hypocracy to show a person's true character. The idea is also popular and useful among our political extremists, who vilify their opponents, rather than just disagree with them. I think we are drawn to this drama because of the human proclivity of presenting false images of ourselves, our awareness that others do this all the time, and our insatiable desire to find out the "real truth". In the end, the innate character doctrine only gets you so far, and reduces persons to angels or devils.

 

An alternative philosophy (with less drama) is that character and morality are taught and formed by the family, community and faith, and reinforced by the choices we freely make in life. This is at the core of the scouting program, which acts as part of the community to form young men who make of strong character, who make moral choices.

 

BSA's "Duty to God" is where scouting recognizes the individual's need for moral values. (As well as the need of the Scout patrol and troop, and the larger community for individuals with moral values) It should not be used as a screen to eliminate atheists and agnostics because they do not acknowledge a God or Gods, but it rightly is used to eliminate members who cannot recognize a connection between scouting and morality. I have a few good friends who are agnostics, they do not seem to lack for morality, which an enigma to those of us who are believers.

 

In my opinion, BSA should become inclusive of agnostics and atheists, but should not let them off the hook about this "Duty to God" thing. BSA is about raising up young men with values and character. Actions have consequences. Beliefs can have consequences too. Atheist need values as much as believers, and almost by definition face a more difficult task of defining them without a ready made set from their faith community. In my opinion, BSA should keep its "Duty to God" requirement, but allow individuals to define that duty as they will, and only exclude those who cannot be supportive of those who define duty to God in religious terms.

 

The crunch comes at the Eagle level, and in my opinion, an Eagle candidate, believer or not should be able to explain what his values are and where he got them from to a panel of adults. I have seen candidates pass he easy way by sinply repeating that they follow the teachings of their church. I could see a non believer passing the requirement by developing a comprehensive set of values and explaining them.

 

Anyway, in my experience, there already is a gerneral tolerance for members who have no formal faith, at least among the secular COs.

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>>In my opinion, BSA should become inclusive of agnostics and atheists, but should not let them off the hook about this "Duty to God" thing. <<

 

 

They already do as you stated later in your post. Just about any scout willing to listen can stay in the program up until he says "I tried but can't do it". The issue is allowing atheist adults who already made the choice.

 

 

Great post overall. You said it best with "character and morality are taught and formed by the family, community and faith, and reinforced by the choices we freely make in life. This is at he core of the scouting program". Without some untouchable source of moral direction, there would be no platform to build a program of moral decision making.

 

 

Barry

 

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Until the BSA finds out, then they're kicked out.

 

"Without some untouchable source of moral direction, there would be no platform to build a program of moral decision making."

 

The BSA DOESN'T USE ONE. They allow religions that have mutually contradictory moral directives. Is polygamy moral? Is eating bacon allowed?

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>>]"Without some untouchable source of moral direction, there would be no platform to build a program of moral decision making." The BSA DOESN'T USE ONE.<<

 

Sure they do, it's god. And the BSA gives guidelines to interpret god's morality, Oath and Law.

 

Barry

 

 

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So, does this god allow polygamy? Does it allow Jews to eat bacon? If the BSA used a god, these questions would have answers, but they don't. The BSA is fine if your god allows polygamy or prohibits it. That certainly can't be an "untouchable source of moral direction". That's directionless.

 

 

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The BSA doesn't use "a" god, it uses "your" god, Merlyn. What does your god say about your food cravings.

 

Barry

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I don't have one. But for that matter, Deists are (presumably still) allowed to be members, as well as scouts who consider their god to be, quote, "A rock or a stream". Now, since both of these scouts have acceptable religious views, and both could, as part of their religious outlook, make up their own moral principles, in what way are these morals an "untouchable source of moral direction"?

 

And by the way Eagledad, if the BSA uses my god and it's also an "untouchable source of moral direction", then there should be definite answers to these questions:

 

1) is polygamy moral?

2) is eating bacon moral?

3) is gay marriage moral?

 

Feel free to post definite answers that must agree with all BSA members.

 

 

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