HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Religion & the Collective Ego
 
“Toynbee…admitted that there is a strain of egoism and pride within every religion, an egoism that is all the more insidious in that it camouflages itself under the cloak of the first person plural. The discomfort I might feel in placing myself before all others is much less noticeable when I rank not myself but my family, my people, my religion first. All religions, indeed all groups, tend to do this. For Toynbee, however, the main offenders were the three Western religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Of the three, it seemed to him Christianity had the worst record of intolerance and arrogance.” Page 41, No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions. Paul F Knitter. SCM Press Ltd. London, 1985.

 

A person can be selfish as a person. There is such a thing as collective selfishness. That is when the person is in union with a group and they are form a selfish unity.


With religion there is a crowd effect. If you suspect your beliefs are misguided or nonsense you will be able to put that suspicion aside if you get others to believe. Then you seem to think,

 

“Okay it must be true when others believe it too.”  Many think that way but it shows no concern for logic or truth but only about fitting in.

 

A religion like Christianity which signs up to doctrines such as St Paul's that the Christians are the only thing the human race can boast about (1 Corinthians 1) is certainly not a necessary evil but just an evil for it is a system based on collective egotism.

 

It is hard for the selfish individual to be selfish and she or he gets sick of it or frightened. So she or he joins a group and this becomes a group that is out mainly or solely for itself. This strengthens her or his selfishness. The individual is in cahoots with people who are as selfish as they are and they enjoy this group selfishness and find it more fun than individualistic selfishness. They need to be right so they insist they have the true beliefs. They need enemies to make themselves feel superior and to enjoy plotting against. The enemies are often simply groups or people who have different beliefs and moral standards to theirs. It is harder to be dangerous to others on your own. It is easier and more enjoyable and therefore more selfish if you are in a group that is dangerous to others.

 

It is thought that genuine altruism happens easily when the person you help is part of your group. But how altruistic are you when you help them mainly not because it is right to but because they are in your group? It is said that altruism outside the group is situational. If you do not help the poor outside your group unless you bump into them that is situational.

 

Prejudiced people when they associate together and build up some sort of friendship or sense of community become far more prejudiced. That is because they agree with each other and feel supported and through conversation and social interaction may learn new reasons to be prejudiced. No wonder religious people become freethinkers once they start mixing with outsiders and stop going to Church so much.

 

People can be part of a group that makes them miserable. If those people are free to go but don't, then they actually want to be unhappy. This desire is fed by their negative thoughts and feelings and experiences and they often like to draw others into this unhappiness too. Don't think that just because somebody lives a grim and austere life that they must be unselfish! They enjoy their misery.

 

A good person helps others.

 

A moral person holds that certain actions are bad and should have bad consequences. The sinner deserves the results of his deed and deserves to be punished. A morality without punishment and without intolerance of moral and criminal lawbreaking cannot be taken seriously. Its not a morality.

 

People do not like moralisers. We are all reluctant to moralise - and we prefer doing it about people behind their backs. Imagine computer technician John puts pirated software on computers that customers want improved. He will fume if you say, "What you are doing is a form of theft." And also if you say, "The customers would be very upset if they found out and its not fair on them." A parallel would be saying to a single mother who has lots of boyfriends, "What you are doing is cheapening yourself and even those men" and "Its not fair on your children to have strange men about the house and its upsetting for them." The person with no religion could say those things just as much as the religious person could. You can imagine and dread the reaction you would get! Morality implies a right to say such things regardless of the reaction.

 

Morality that is not communicated will soon die. And as morality is legalistic in its own way, it follows that immorality must not be tolerated. It must be spoken out against and then fought if possible. Religion is based on the concept of a supernatural and magical morality and the ties forged by this system. How can people truly want to belong to religion when they have such aversion even to non-supernatural and non-religious morality?


The hatred of moralising proves we have a collective ego.
 

The collective ego is so religion - it is what the religions are for. That is what religions are based on.