This I Believe

Steven - Belleville, Illinois
Entered on February 18, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I believe…

The horror of 9/11 and its many subsequent events have lead me to believe that continued survival of the human race may very well depend upon our ability as world citizens to devise methods for establishing moral values and processes that explain what is still unknown about our universe that are independent from the influence of religion.

It seems to me that moral values are far more universally accepted than are individual religious doctrines. It has also become obvious to me that science has a far better track record of explaining the unknown than do religious myths. By making the process of establishing moral principles a civil process rather than a religious one and by relying on science rather than mythology to explain the unknown, I have determined it would help to remove two of the greatest causes of war and other human conflict: religious fervor and ignorance.

I believe that I have learned from history that the nearly universal moral principles that prohibit killing, stealing, and lying as well as promote the caring of those less able to provide for themselves have been reaffirmed by thousands of different human cultures over the last 100,000 years. I have also come to realize that the adoption of these basic moral principles was no accident. Without them, groups of humans, especially the small groups which dominated our early history, simply could not have survived.

Although organized religions have been around for only about 6,000 of the last 100,000 years, it seems to me that religion was no threat to others until the time when some followers began to claim their deity required them to either impose their religious beliefs on others or even eliminate the non-believers. The flying of airplanes into skyscrapers in New York and the use of aircraft to drop bombs in urban areas of Iraq are just two of the many recent examples of deity sanctioned brutality that come to mind.

I believe that there are several examples in which the citizens of our planet have already substituted the democratic processes rather than religious doctrine as a means of establishing moral codes of behavior. Our own Constitution which gives authority to Congress to make laws that don’t violate the protections provided to individuals in our Bill of Rights, is an example of how society can establish moral principles outside of a religious framework. As I understand them, the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions are examples of how the larger world community has attempted to establish a moral framework that is absent of religious dogma.

Even if we are able to eventually establish a universally accepted moral code that does not rely on religious fervor as well as a process to explain the unknown that is void of religious myth, there would of course be no guarantees that wars or other forms of brutality would end, but I do believe we would have eliminated two of the primary causes of such conflicts.