Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Power of Our Will

It's apparent that many people do need the community and ritual of religion, and that many people who don't believe in God still want these things. With a few exceptions, these rituals and moral codes have been in honor of a supernatural being. These rituals and moral codes have shaped our species. These practices - religions - elevate some behaviors to be holy, and condemn others to be damned. From the observation that people have followed these patterns before writing had been invented, it's apparent that many people need religion.

What we don't need is a supernatural explanation for our behavior. For many of us, a supernatural explanation is impossible to reconcile with observed evidence. For others of us, we prefer not to assert a particular supernatural explanation, and some would just rather not have the decision made for us. Supernatural explanation removes doubt and destroys rational decision making. For whatever reason, we choose to separate our daily ritual and our moral values from any supernatural explanation.

A Power from Our Will Alone

By virtue of our will alone we choose to follow our moral code, and not by the command of any god. We choose to neither court a reward, nor fear a punishment. When one of us sacrifices something for righteousness' sake, we don't do it for a reward in the afterlife, but rather for righteousness' sake. When one of us abstains, we choose to because of our obligation to righteousness - of our own will rather than in terror of divine wrath. A simple daily sacrifice by our own will, and with pure intention is greater than any sacrifice in the promise of reward. The righteous sacrifices and charities of other people are not worthless, and in fact, most of them are very noble; however, the the only righteousness in them is the righteousness of the intent: all measure of sacrifice and charity done for a promise of a reward is just a bribe.

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