What the man in the street means by Atheist is the militant Atheist, Bradlaugh or Foote; and it is a singular characteristic of the Odium Theologicum that, instead of arguing soberly concerning the proposition, which those worthies put forward, they always try to drag the red herring of morality across the track. Of all the stupid lies that men have ever invented, nothing is much sillier than the lie that one who does not believe in God must be equally a disbeliever in morality. As a matter of fact, in a country which pretends so hard to appear theistic as England, it requires the most astounding moral courage, a positive galaxy of virtues, for a man to stand up and say that he does not believe in God; as Dr. Wace historically remarked, ‘it ought to be unpleasant for a man to say that he does not believe in Jesus’; and my dislike to Atheism is principally founded on the fact that so many of its exponents are always boring me about ethics. Some priceless idiot, who, I hope, will finish in the British Museum, remarked in a free-thinking paper the other day, that they need not trouble to pull down the churches, ‘because they will always be so useful for sane and serious discussion of important ethical problems.’ Personally, I would rather go back to the times when the preacher preached by the hour-glass.
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Ethics in the Sanctuary: Examining the Practices of Organized Religion by Margaret P Battin from Yale University Press:
Battin points out how religious bodies and organizers have often been excused from ethical criticism, and develops an approach to some of the ethical problems common among religious organizations. She draws on both the discipline of professional ethics and “everyday” ethical notions commonly used in criticizing the derelictions of leaders and teachers. The issues in her principal case studies are confidentiality, informed consent in decision making, and paternalism. This book provides valuable food for thought for any clergy. [via]
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