Monthly Archives: May 2013

Overriding Your Conscience

[This post is a Beagle’s Bark.]

I’ve been trying to stay away from atheist videos and blogs. They only get me torqued up about religion and I’m trying to move past all that. However, Pat Condell can be very incisive and, well, fun to listen to … so I dipped into one of his videos today.

A disclaimer: Mr. Condell makes no distinction between the various flavors of religion. In that respect, I don’t share his views. There are religions that seek transcendence (the subject of his video), yet do not have the attributes that are the real target of Mr. Condell’s ire. So, FWIW, here is Mr. Condell.

The part I wanted to discuss in this post starts at 2:57.

…surely if anything can be called intuitive knowledge, it’s a sense of morality: this sense of right and wrong that we’re all born with. … It’s called a conscience and it’s one of the many magnificent senses we’ve evolved with which to navigate and make sense of this infinitely rich and subtle world we’re lucky enough to live in.

Religion doesn’t give you a conscience, despite what it claims. It takes the place of our conscience by overriding it. … This is why religious people can often do inhuman things — things they wouldn’t dream of doing if not for their religion. Their conscience has been quarantined and supplanted with dogma, and dogma has no conscience because it isn’t human.

Again, not all faiths override your conscience. However, I think people in my own former faith are starting to be aware of the possibility. More than one person I know well has left evangelical Christianity primarily because it was trying to override their conscience by condemning homosexuality, which they knew to be just the way some people are, and not a sin. My acquaintances are not homosexual themselves, but they had gotten to know some homosexuals and see their situation through a lens other than evangelical dogma.

My church’s position on homosexuality was not a factor in my deconversion, but its insistence that the Bible is God’s Word even though it commands slavery and worse was the most important and final reason why I left. My conscience told me that if there was such a thing as right and wrong, the Bible was not a sure way to find it.

As a believer, I used to think that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that’s why religion had a right to override my conscience. Ultimately, though, I could no more deny my conscience than I could deny my sense of sight.