How can we judge morality if gods exist? This is the nineteenth of a series of short posts about whether gods exist and why the question is an important one.
In any given circumstance, it is already hard enough to understand and figure out the best balance between the requirements of empathy, compassion, cooperation, reciprocity, fairness and justice.
But religion corrupts this already-difficult process by adding in imagined supposedly supernatural commands that are unrelated to compassion, cooperation or justice.
And so you see Verse 24:2 of the Quran saying: flog adulterers 100 times each, and do not let your compassion stop you. Because clearly some early Muslims knew that this punishment was disproportionate and immoral, and so they had to be specifically told to not let their compassion stop them.
And you see Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel in the Bible, where the Christian God repeatedly commands the Israelites to attack the cities of other tribes, to show them no compassion, and to completely destroy them, putting to death man woman child and infant, and leaving nothing alive that breathes.
Otherwise good people defend these acts of injustice because of their religious beliefs, on the grounds that it is good because a god commanded it, even though it would have been bad if the god had not commanded it, including defending the slaughter of infants and children on the basis that they would have gone straight to heaven.
Not only is belief in a god not needed for objective morality, but belief in a god can corrupt our rational search for that objective morality.
Like this article? It is one of a series on this topic.
Click here to read the other articles in this series.