"Superstition and Morality", by David G. McDivitt
To: EGOISM@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU Subject: superstition and morality From: "David G. McDivitt"
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 16:05:00 GMT
I just realized another aspect of morality, and probably that which gives it the greatest significance - superstition.
I remember when I was a young zealous Christian. I gave away pretty much everything I had on a regular basis, doing my utmost to apply spiritual concepts. I would often pick people up on the side of the road, feeling guilty if I didn't do so. It was my opinion, if I didn't help people when I had the means, God would no longer help or provide for me. If a person needed money, and I had it, I would give it to them. I felt it was a sin not to do so. I was often critical of those in church who were hypocritical with their spirituality, not realizing church was merely a social club.
Lately I've been having a difficult time with something. To my good fortune, many things I've been having a hard time with recently, have been resolved; however, I've been having a new problem. Today, I found myself thinking about morality. I actually found myself starting to go through the motions of doing whatever I could right, so this problem would work itself out. It then became clear to me the link between morality and spirituality, being that of superstition.
In this forum we have technically nit picked morality to death, trying to arrive upon some rational or even biological basis to it. We seem to have overlooked the superstitious aspect, however. In my opinion, this is what gives moral thought, and the undying need to have moral thought, its power. Why are people so often moral and undeterred in this regard? Well, earlier in Christian history people were threatened with not receiving absolution, thereby going to hell, by not submitting to the control of spiritual leaders. My analysis of the subject had not gone deep enough, insofar as I stopped with the issue of control. Yes, much of morality has to do with control, but what is the magic allowing people to submit, but their superstition? Spiritual leaders conveniently define the parameters of superstition, using just enough culture and historical base to make it believable, then qualify superstition pursuant to thought and behavior. Truly, this is the greatest sabotage of rational thought. Morality is an issue of personal freedom, to the degree some people, possibly desiring to be rational, are ruled and inhibited by the superstitions of those who are not so rational.
As a society, I do believe morality has at least something to do with whatever rules have evolved, allowing society to exist in the way it does. However, by removing the element of superstition, whatever rules we arrive at can be rationally determined, with the greatest respect for human rights, as we all seek to survive and be happy, while yet occupying the same space and sharing resources.
For me in my personal quest, I am glad I recognize this challenge to rational thought. Is my present trouble merely God's way of speaking to me? No, I don't think so. I shall make it through, and on the other side be glad I had the fortitude to ignore superstition. I shall not go out finding good things to do, if by chance it may happen to help. Neither shall I call upon whatever vague and ambiguous forms of spirituality, being contrary to fundamentalism, in an effort to save myself. They are all the same thing.
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