The other day I mentioned that I’ve started following the Dalai Lama on Twitter, entirely out of curiosity. This morning he “tweeted” this:
There must be a way of promoting human values without involving religion, based on common sense, experience and recent scientific findings.
Wow. That is exactly what I’m always thinking. I don’t intend to bash religion. It’s great when people can find comfort in religion and enjoy the fellowship of other people of like mind, but, it has never been very effective as a way of promoting values. This might seem like a shocking statement since promoting values is a big part of religion but it’s actually rather obvious.
Why should we be good? Because God said so and He will punish you if you’re not good. But what about people who don’t believe in God? What reason to be good are Churches giving atheists? They cannot do so because in the minds of believers there can be no morality without religion and so they must convert non-believers and they become ever more aggressive in their attempts to promote not morality but religion itself. For those who do not and cannot believe in what they see as mere fairy tales the greatest efforts of believers will have no effect except to turn them even more against religion.
Churches can’t change. They are what they are. But values need not be tied to religion. Most non-believers are good people who share many of the values taught in churches. I think most people want to be good. However there will always be people who are immoral, evil and selfish. How to get across to these people is a problem for both the religious and secular worlds.