Isn’t Congress Full of Religious People?

I happened to be tuned into the radio when a new statistic caught my attention.

Congress 1

I guess only 7% of the American population have faith in the legislative body that governs them, Congress. Amazing. When I googled the story, I had to read to get more clarity and found, “There’s also the fact that just 8% of Americans believe Congress is honest and ethical” (USA Today).

Congress

As a citizen of this country, of course I have my opinion on the matter, but as an Atheist, it took me about twenty-four hours to realize, isn’t Congress comprised almost entirely of religious people, Christians to be specific?

Congress 2

Source: Pew Forum

When I came to this stark realization I had to laugh, but there is an undercurrent here that is quite disturbing. With all the hoopla about how it is the religionists who are supposed to be endowing the world — chock full of its illiterate plebs and peasants — with their divinely inspired abilities to dictate and uphold the moral standard, how is it that no one finds them to be “honest and ethical” when they are doing their jobs?

As someone who’s been down the religious road, who understands that religious people can be weak and have their moments just like anyone else, I’m not really buying into this philosophy as means to judge them. Why? Because the statistic is a little drastic. It speaks of behavior that is questionable on a continuing and ongoing basis.

How does this look from my perspective? Have these religionites stumbled into the reputation that situates them down there in the gutter with those awful Atheists?

The rationale I adopt from all this leads me away from the aspect of human behavior and back to that question that ever plagues the never-ending debate between Atheists and religionists: Does the supernatural even exist? I see a syllogism here that I believe characterizes religious thinking:

a) Degenerate thug robs liquor store.

b) Degenerate thug has strayed from religious principles.

c) God exists.

The theory here is that a supernatural force is responsible for providing a moral framework that humans can access to be better people. Here’s the syllogism reworked:

a) Degenerate thug finds his religious principles.

b) Degenerate thug becomes a respectable person.

c) God exists.

But what happens when the terms of the deal are altered?

a) Degenerate thug robs liquor store.

b) Degenerate thug is an Atheist.

c) God exists.

In this fashion, the person is a criminal because he has no god; but notions of a supernaturally-charged moral framework become complicated when the syllogism is reworked:

a) Degenerate thug gets caught and does a prison sentence.

b) Degenerate thug changes his ways and becomes a respectable person.

c) God unnecessary.

The point of all this is to suggest that being a morally upstanding citizen does not constitute elemental criteria in the litmus test that determines whether or not the supernatural exists. Religionists are untrustworthy in office, but even if they were not, would that mean the supernatural is something we as humans must believe in order to be seen as respectable people?

What this boils down to is that in order for the Atheist to gain traction in their endeavor to fit in with the world, they have to go around saying, “I’m a good person: I donate, I help at the shelter, I’m perfectly happy, etc.” But this, to me, is not required. Atheists, like members of Congress, can be hypocritical and deceptive and untrustworthy, but no matter how the moral fabric is shaped within a person, it does not establish whether or not there is a god.

 

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11 Responses to Isn’t Congress Full of Religious People?

  1. Excellent point. I think the ‘moral argument’ is one of the last bastions of religion. But we often get caught up in the debate at about morals and ignore that it has nothing really to do with whether God or more importantly, a specific God, exists.

    • LEjames says:

      Very well said.

      Sometimes people will refer to the godless triumvirate Stalin, Mao and Hitler and decry leadership that is not religious, but how does this further the claim that, say, the Red Sea had actually been parted, or that the Resurrection was real? If evidence for the supernatural cannot be tested, then there is no reason to believe morals come from a supernatural entity.

  2. The America of the Founding Fathers, a regime set up with a constitutionally limited government is long gone.

    The American regime has been Progressive for over a century.

    In other words, the American people have outsourced their Christian duty to the poor, elderly, sick and disadvantaged, to the government.

    Such a government is necessarily tyrannical no matter the Christian or humanist intention.

    • SiverBlack says:

      Are you saying that a government that is not christian is tyrannical? Do you think modeling America more after “the America of the Founding Fathers” would be desirable?

      • keithnoback says:

        No True Scotsman is the comment’s claim, I think.

      • Siver and Keith,

        Government, like all things, is bound by “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” The phrase in quotes comes from the Declaration of Independence.

        The powers of government, the power to make rules, enforce the rules and judge whether the rules have been followed, must be separated so that they never fall into the hands of one person, group of people, or a single institution.

        Otherwise, the result is tyranny.

        The bit of political philosophy defining “tyranny” was brought to the human race by Enlightenment philosopher, Charles Montesquieu and instituted into American government by the Founding Fathers.

        The basic meaning of my previous comment is that a government whose powers are not separated will be tyrannical and unpopular whether it is run by Christians or atheist humanists.

        The Progressive American regime concentrates all the powers of government into the executive branch.

        That is why Congress, the legislative branch, looks like a bunch of clowns.

  3. I like this post very much. Your point that being morally upstanding does in no way prove the supernatural exists is well taken. I think the implication always being made in pro-supernatural arguments that the mere existence of morality exclusively comes from the divine, therefore deity must be there to provide it. That itself implies a rejection of the principle that a human is capable of acting with good intentions. I wonder if it also implies that no person can truly be a good person, even those who believe in the “true” faith?

    This takes the principle to an extreme, but I think it might be helpful in future discussions with people of faith. If one cannot agree on the premise that people can act in accordance with their own consciences, then Atheists can show the discussion is moot before it goes awry.

  4. LEjames says:

    “I wonder if it also implies that no person can truly be a good person, even those who believe in the “true” faith?”

    This is a good question, and difficult to answer. My mind leads me to think that by thinking rationally about decisions, it would at least be a forthright attempt at being a good person. The other option becomes that in which a bickering session occurs with an entity who exists only in the third person, the good/bad angel routine following along. Since this option is often either cloudy and vague, or based on a dictate that is predetermined according to say, some arbitrarily inspired text, the probability of bad decision making remains high. This would leave a person being, seemingly, not as good as they could be.

    Nevertheless, I thank you for being able to sum up my post in such a succinct manner. The morality topic can get kind of mucky.

  5. Doobster418 says:

    Good post, good points. I wrote a post a while back about moral values and atheism that you might find interesting. I also used deductive reason to shoot holes in the Christian assumptions about morality. http://mindfuldigressions.com/2014/02/21/atheism-and-morality/

    • LEjames says:

      Thank you kindly. I was just reading the entirety of your latest post, replete with the great discussion going on there…I just had to click the like button. The link you provided, this will be my next destination on a topic that can never receive too much attention.

  6. Pingback: Group Dynamics | Amusing Nonsense

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