“If you are a Free-Thinker, won’t you be supportive of a sexual relationship between son and mother or brother and sister? Why do you believe in marital and family relationships that are taught by religion? Does a Free-thinker really possess morality?”
I’m sure you have come across these clichéd arguments by faith mongers who try to prove that to prove that rationalists are social anarchists trying to demolish the moral values of the world. Theists forget that these questions have boomeranged on themselves. Let me state here the key flaws in the theists’ arguments.
Morality – The Stolen Apple:
It is an argument often raised by theists, in their attempt to prove the superiority of their religious faith, that “morality is taught by religion.” Rationalists counter this by stating that morality is nothing but the commonly held social norms that the human species acquired in its evolutionary process. Over the years, man understood that he cannot survive as a social group without mutual give and take, and this understanding further evolved into a common consensus that was widely accepted by societies of the respective ages. In its literal sense, "morality" refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or social mores. It does not connote objective claims of right or wrong, but only refers to that which is considered right or wrong. Man uses this equation, which contains individual and cultural values, to differentiate right from wrong in social life. Morality is not a list of recommendations and prohibitions, but a logical approach to help us distinguish right from wrong.
History reveals that religions captured and appropriated morality and positioned themselves as wholesale and retail dealers of the same. Unfortunately, religions twisted morality into a list of do’s and don't’s which could not accommodate the perspectives of a more educated, culturally aware and socially conscious society! In essence, the much celebrated claim that religions, especially Semitic religions, present a superior morality and result in a more civilized society, is quite baseless and nonsensical.
Incest - Scientific Approach:
Now let’s talk about incest. What is incest? It refers to the sexual or marital relationship between people that are closely related. Procreation through incest is considered dangerous from a scientific point of view, as it results in a greater possibility to produce offspring with congenital anomalies and genetic disorders. Studies prove that incest aggravates the chances of autosomal recessive disorders like fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, albinism, etc. When “sex” as a form of reproduction came in as a factor in evolution, it introduced genetic variety and reduced the likelihood of genetic disorders occurring as a consequence of incest. In essence, leaving aside the romance part, sexual reproduction is essentially the mixing of genes. With new genes added, new biological and behavioral traits are acquired by the offspring, and the species is more likely to survive and reproduce. It is this genetic variety that give organisms newer abilities. Thus, nature intrinsically prefers the pooling of a wide variety of genes through sexual reproduction than the combination of faulty genes as a result of incest, as it would cause genetic disorders in the offspring. It must surely come as a a big blow to the pseudo-morality of religions that scientific research proves that even plants avoid reproduction with close relatives; in other words, nature is intrinsically programmed to avoid or minimize incest!
Notions of culture and morality were formed through socio-cultural evolution since our species began to evolve around 200,000 years ago, and the process continues even today! Of course, the family is an essential part of morality, since it is an efficient structure for ensuring the survival of the species, especially since human babies (unlike the babies of some other animals) need to be nurtured for much longer durations. Concepts of morality, justice and fair-play have been widely observed among animals and insects, which proves that morality is not the monopoly of humans, let alone the monopoly of human religions. At the same time, studies also show that many animal species (and even some plants) have effectively discouraged or even banned incest Once again, this shows that sexual morality is not the exclusive preserve of humans, let alone human religions. It follows therefore that early humans understood the importance of family, and deliberately included incest in the code of morality, and much later when religions evolved, the theist-majority shrewdly copied and enlisted the prohibition of incest in its codes of morality and attempted to claim a patent on the same!
Incest - Rationalistic Outlook Explained:
Rationalism is not the denial or rejection of religion, but is a state of mind that is free from all the constraints on rational thinking. Rationalism aims to regulate life according to a scientific approach, and live in harmony with nature and with society, as much as possible. However, there are areas where man has to think for himself and make rational (and often painful) choices for our individual and collective benefit. Unfortunately, rational decisions may evoke the ire of religious fanatics, especially those who are willing to inflict violence or even death for pursuit of their religious ideals So a rationalist is not opposed to whatever is followed by theist just because the theist believes in it; rationalists are only opposed to the anti-human, anti-social and untruthful beliefs espoused by the faithful. It is nonsensical for a theist to ask why a rationalist should accept a belief or value that is followed by a theist, for rationalists have no problem with accepting beliefs and values that are beneficial to individuals and society. (That would be like criticizing a rationalist for brushing his teeth or having a bathing just as a theist does).
Unlike religious fanatics, a rationalist is not opposed to sex between two mature people with mutual informed consent, since rationalists do not wish to intrude into other people’s privacy. Rationalists do not get overly rattled when hear about sexuality, for we are neither the ”morality police” nor are we religious psychopaths who dream of virgins as reward in heaven. In essence, we allow and respect the sexual freedom of others.
Bashing the Pseudo Morality Of Religion:
Let us now review the so-called morality of prominent religions. How could Adam and Eve’s offsprings populate the Earth, unless they engaged in incest? What about the numerous examples of incest in the Old Testament, such as the story of Lot and his daughters? Hindu mythology says that Lord Brahma married his own daughter, Goddess Saraswathy ! Lord Rama abandoned his innocent wife Sita on the basis of rumors, Lord Krishna had 16,008 wives, and the holy book of Mahabharata is replete with illicit sexual encounters. I challenge the Hindu fanatic to point out families portrayed in Hindu Mythology that could serve as perfect examples of morality for modern world. And consider the ‘hero” of Muslims who had eleven wives and numerous sex slaves. Ali Sina’s 12 charges against Prophet Mohammed (including that he is a rapist and pedophile) still remain unchallenged!
Let me conclude this article with a quote from Christopher Hitchens - “We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”