The Odd Problem with Learning from your Mistakes…

… is that your opponents will remember your mistakes long after you are dead.

This isn’t only about religion, but it comes up a lot in religious debates–between religious people and atheists, or religious people and other religious people, between atheists and other atheists, and I think it is setting everyone back, setting the whole human race back.

I don’t have the citation on me, but an article I read recently criticized so called “liberal views of morality” by saying “in the late 19th century, atheists were racists.” I’ve spoken about that idea extensively in previous posts, noting that “so were the religious among us,” because most people in that era were racist. Most people today are racist to some degree, though obviously not as bad as say… Turn of the century American South.

That being said, the whole argument is moot, isn’t it? “Remember that time when you were four and you peed in that guy’s shoe? You’re 28 now, and I still don’t trust you around my shoes.”

That statement is absurd, so why is it not considered absurd to say “19th century atheists were sometimes bigots,” or “But look at the crusades!”? Those were mistakes, they will forever be considered mistakes, and you will be hard pressed to find someone involved in main stream politics who says “The crusades were justified!” So why do things like this even come up?

Why do we talk about how a 19th century liberal philosopher was a racist? Why does that same 19th century philosopher undermine my ability to posit a better moral outlook today? The author I spoke at great length about in my previous series of posts seemed to think I am culpable for what other atheists have done (and his article can be read here). That completely ignores that fact that we have, as a society and as a whole, grown up.

Saying that the Bible, a book canonized in the third and fourth centuries, is the final word on morality is just a like a twenty-eight year old saying “Peeing in shoes at four was good enough then, so it’s good enough now.”

And saying “Some humans got it wrong 120 years ago, so you have it wrong today,” is grossly disingenuous.

So I’ll say it again; let’s work together, maybe? Find a better moral code, a moral code that improves the happiness of everyone? A moral code that does not accept or endorse bigotry towards people who have caused no one harm?

Or we can complain that old timey people were racist, and argue that this is somehow relevant.

Maybe that works, too?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s