Rational Religion

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And What Is Good?


The distinction between Ethics and Morality is more than semantics, despite the fact that both of them are dedicated to Doing the Right Thing.  Morality is more concerned with Following the Rules, while Ethics takes the more roundabout route through trying to decide what is Responsible Action.


Ethics is a great deal more work, often not as reliable, and occasionally takes so long to determine that the situation is over before any action gets taken at all.  Still, it is more in line with the requirements of an Ever-changing Universe and should be in the tactical arsenal of every Rational Religionist.


But without a punishing god and a matrix of superstitious guilt, what need does a Rational Religionist have for either Ethics or Morality?


"It's all imaginary, so do what you feel like!  Right?"


The Universe is not imaginary; just most of our concepts of it.  And one of the most fundamental elements of the physical universe that we can demonstrate and prove applies to us is the human gene pool. 


Now there is absolutely no evidence that our gene pool - all of carbon-based life, itself - has any objective relevance to the Universe at Large. 


But it does to us.


A recent fashion in bio-philosophy is to interpret the nurturing strategies of various animals, birds, etc. in terms of genetic relatedness.   That is, these creatures seem to be protective of and willing to inconvenience themselves for the young of their species in direct proportion to the (implied) number of genetic patterns they share. 


Parents, of course, are often fiercely nurturing; but older siblings and even uncles, aunts and cousins often unite in an "us-against-whoever" clan to take care of the kiddies.


This behavior is observable often enough, across a broad spectrum of creatures, to appear to be "true." 


With the result that a few social philosophers have adapted the analogy to our own species.  They tend to try to explain uniquely human behavior in evolutionary terms.  We are beholden, most closely, to our own kin because their gene pool is ours, and so it is natural for us to behave suspiciously  -- even abominably -- toward other persons perceived as unrelated to us.


The problem is that, socio-politico-economically we are a couple of hundred thousand years past that purely Darwinian concept of who is kin.


Within the human gene pool, we are, statistically, all very closely related.  True, we share at least 98 percent of our genetic makeup with the obviously very different chimpanzees; but we share over 90  percent of it with a badger, and nearly half with the lowly fruit fly. 


With modern laboratory techniques we can tell that a miniscule speck of protoplasmic material is or is not human; and usually the sex of its donor as well.  (What we usually cannot reliably determine is what we still tend to call "race", which makes it so ridiculous to attempt that definition.)


Perhaps more thoroughly than any other mammal (with the possible exception of the Cheetah) we share a unique gene pool.


And since it is the only thing we have of provable value (Provable by Negation.  Without it, we're gone, and there's no point to any of our endeavors) it behooves us all - of whatever faith or philosophy - to do our best to protect and nurture it.


In the service of this cause we use conceptual tools such as Altruism and Enlightened Self-interest and our guidelines are Ethics and Morality.


If you aren't getting any of this, it is possible that you are a functional sociopath and you should consider at least some deep counseling; at worst, suicide.


At any rate, you have no business trying to believe in a Rational Religion.   You won't get most of that, either.