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Clarke on religion and morality

November 7, 2010

“The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by the church.  The church doesn’t know what to do with morality.  It thinks morality is defined by the will of a nonexistent person.”

Arthur C. Clark



(Not entirely sure on the second two sentences, the first is Clark for sure, he’s used it at least three times.  The whole quote is found on page 224 of “The Last Theorem” which was co-authored by Frederick Pohl after Clark’s health had deteriorated too far for him to finish it so there is the slight chance that the latter part of the quote may be Pohl’s own addition, maybe.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. extro1 permalink
    November 9, 2010 5:44 pm

    Clarke was brilliant, another one that will be missed.

  2. November 12, 2010 12:03 pm

    Is it really a problem if morality is defined from a religious perspective? I think it depends on how religion defines morality. If eating pork or wearing blending cloth is immoral, then I have a problem with that. But if morality is defined as right action, then I don’t think there’s a problem with that. It’s like the list of the fruit of spirit, “against which there is no law.”

    This may be relevant to your ideas on fundamentalist vs liberal Christianity.

    • November 13, 2010 12:14 am

      The problem with the idea that the church is the sole authority on morality is that, then, when a particular sect or leader decides to implement some crazy idea it becomes a “moral issue” and those who adhere to that faith must abide by it or they are breaking the rules of their faith.

      To the Jews/Muslims eating pork IS a moral issue. There have been wars carried out in the name of morality (by Christians and Muslims), and atrocities have taken place in the name of religion’s morality. That is the problem with the church defining morality.

      There was a time in this country when slavery was considered a “moral issue” and today homosexuality is considered a “moral issue”. Even atheism is considered to be a “moral issue” by the church at large.

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