An Ethical Exercise – What do you think

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This topic contains 76 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Ivy 7 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    BTW, we should probably get back on topic, Reg.




    If you want to experience another religious culture then there is nothing wrong with satisfying your curiosity by investigating it in an open manner.

    One thing I would say to that is that “investigating” a religion from the sidelines is like being an armchair quarterback.

    but the question I’m actually asking is about the ethical implications of voluntarily choosing to become part of a religious social group, knowing that within your heart, you don’t believe any of it, but you recognize the benefits of belonging to said social group. Human beings have always been tribal creatures. And the whole us versus them mentality is as old as time in our species. Once you join the club so to speak and you are one of them whatever those people are, it automatically brings a certain level of protection around you that you cannot get from the sidelines. It’s really a question of tribal Ethics I guess. And any kind of social group people have to play a part. It’s like playing a game. There’s leader and followers in every type of dominance hierarchy. We learn the social norms of the group and we follow along. Sociology 101. But the purpose of the thought experiment is to beg of the question… Is it ethically wrong to join a religion you don’t really believe? You say it’s being disingenuous. What if I told you it was a survival strategy? Would it be considered wrong? I understand this is not your situation, but imagine for a moment that you were at the bottom of every dominance hierarchy there could possibly be. And you have a child to feed. There’s nothing you would not do to take care of that child right? Including steal from the grocery store if you had to. I mean if you really really had to. We currently live in the United States in this weird alternative reality where these Republican assholes want to strip away all the government services that keep people housed and fed. Now I realize that when Joe Biden becomes president a lot of things hopefully will change. But just imagine for a moment… That Joe Biden did not win the presidency and we had to tolerate four more years of orange Hitler. I can’t even fucking imagine what would happen nor do I want to. But I can guarantee you they would probably have overturn Obamacare, roe v Wade, in some states. Probably drastically cut housing for millions of people, as well as access to food stamps and many other government programs that are admittedly inferior compared to other developed nations, but for many people within the United States, really the only safety net they have to fall back on. The type of stupid white rich men that support these kinds of legislations are also mostly (republicans) Who believe that government should be a small as possible, and places like the churches should trickle down their wealth to the community. But we all know that churches take care of their own people first. So Innoway my question is also somewhat political, but I didn’t say that at the introduction. So with that context in mind, does it change your answer at all? If we were living in a country that continued to strip away the foundations of stability for millions of citizens, would it be a bad strategy to have the mentality that hey – Just join the fucking social group, and when you need some help from the church they will be there for you. When the pandemic hit, I got help from a church, they made mention that they take care of their members first. It just got me thinking about the subject. I wondered what it would be like to join multiple churches and be a part of their community. Like they say in AA meetings, take what you need and leave the rest LOL… Maybe occasionally there’s some uplifting bullshit but in the grand scheme of things it’s about survival of the fittest. And when you have nothing you have nothing to lose. Food for thought.


    Simon Paynton

    You could say it’s ethical in the same way as “stealing to feed your child”.  If you’re comfortable doing that, it’s ethical.  But only doing it as much as necessary.  Joining multiple groups would be unnecessary and therefore unethical.  That’s what I think.



     Is it ethically wrong to join a religion you don’t really believe?

    No I don’t think so. People join social groups they think little of, even volunteer for causes they don’t care about, play on the teams for sports they don’t like and so on. There are all sorts of reasons people join groups for reasons other than doing the activities the group is meant for (need to connect, make business connections, romantic interest, boredom, meeting people in a new town you’ve moved to, etc). It’s only dubious when you are outright lying in people’s faces like saying “yes I absolutely LOVE the lord” or “yeah I used to play for the New York Yankees” or “Yeah I’m a pregnant mom” when none of those things are remotely true. Lying when you are under social pressure or are forced to believe in a religion is one thing, it could maybe be justifiable but I don’t think so when the activities are voluntary unless you have a really good reason to do so. Laying it on thick and lying about your love for God and doctrine is probably a slimey thing to do unless, and only perhaps, you are in a particular bind and really need them or need to get something pretty important out of them. So no I don’t think it is a big deal unless the community specifically asks you to be devout or super dedicated to the activity (which few community groups, religions or amateur sports teams do). But if you’re just hovering around, hanging out or religion shopping I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. I don’t know any moral system that requires absolute sincerity in every action you perform.

    There are a few religions which can be hesitant to take new comers, notably Judaism. They actually go out of their way to make it cumbersome to join their church and they may have to dedicate some time to helping you study and mentoring you and preparing you to join. If you are using up their time when you actually have no interest in joining the faith then that might be dickish. But again, it depends on the circumstances.


    Ivy – can I clarify what you mean by joining a religious social club. Do you mean joining one that believes in the same God as you but has different ideas about worship? Say, like leaving Catholicism and joining a Baptist group. Or do you include leaving Christianity to become a Hindu for social supports?

    In the former you still believe in the “same God” but with the latter you are denying your God by placing false gods before Him. My next question is why is your current Church not full of “real Christians” who want to help you as you are their neighbor?

    At festivals in the past I would often go to the Hare Krishna tent for food. They fed me. I thanked them and left a small donation which they did not ask for.


    Simon Paynton

    I think that one would have to be a sociopath (devoid of moral feeling) to actually pretend to be one of them, in order to get benefits, and I don’t think you’re a sociopath Ivy.

    But if they do outreach work in the community, that’s a different matter.


    @Inseen – BTW, we should probably get back on topic, Reg.

    Yes, both Harvey and I are unanimous on that.



    When it comes to acts of desperation like shoplifting food to feed your child, stabbing a male partner who is engaging in a potentially lethal physical attack, excuses are begrudgingly given. We understand why such things are done in shitty situations, but at the same time we can’t give such solutions a rousing “Hell yeah!”

    For me,  one thing to consider is how much participation in activities like worship services you’d participate in. One can go through the motions in bad faith (insincerely) and present oneself as worshipping when…not really. Here actual belief is everything when it comes to the ethical angle. Belief is absolutely binary. You either believe 100% or you don’t, and the don’t includes somewhat believing, kind of believing, semi-believing, etc., etc. It’s not the sort of thing you can try on.

    In that regard, here’s a counter-thought experiment: Try believing in Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god 100%. Let me know how far you get.


    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  Unseen.



    to be clear, the original post was referring to the idea that I am wondering about the ethical implications of a person joining multiple religions, even though they are an atheist. But to further the conversation, that’s why I was pointing out some other parallels. Like pointing out the fact that so many (religious) Republicans who are governing the US, want to destroy the social programs but keep poor people alive. So would it be unethical to join as a survival mechanism.

    It’s interesting that nobody has yet responded to or touched on their thought process about any spiritual implications. Like the fact that if a person or an atheist joined multiple religions at the same time, would it have any bearing on their soul? Is it dangerous in anyway?

    Some of the deeper implications of this question and the purpose of this post is to think about levels of involvement. I think we could all agree that there are many people who attend religious services who don’t contribute to their own church, who don’t really live out what they say they believe Monday through Saturday, they just go through the motions. How would it be any different for a person who is proclaimed atheist to join that same church whatever Church it is knowing they do not believe any of it. The difference is that this atheist contributes to the church, and goes through the motions just as well. Is the atheist any different than the believer? Do you think the easiest is better for the fact that they at least contribute something to the social group? Or do you think it is bad because they are in their own heart unbelieving of the entire thing? Do you think that is worse than somebody who really does believe it all. But the believer sits back and does nothing to contribute to the social group.

    So to answer your question Reg, I’m not asking just one question I’m asking multiple questions. It is a thought exercise LOL…The questions that I am asking is meant to provoke deeper ethical analysis. It’s just for fun.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  Ivy.



    It depends on circumstances.

    Ivy is quite right that we humans are undeniably and irresistibly tribal. 99 percent of humans are this way. Even the rebels who strive for individuality are conformists in their own groups. Psychopaths, some autistics and other unusual personality types may not fit the description. Tribes want true blue faithful members. In the marines it is semper fi. In monasteries, in churches, in cults, on football teams, among political parties there is a special rhetoric and creed that clearly identifies the tribe. When individuals within the group deviate from faithful observance of the rites and rituals they tend to be shunned. The trappings of the tribe are the external proof of faith. So one can don the uniform and walk the walk without ever being detected. My thoughts just went to spies who play a dangerous game when they infiltrate an enemy’s culture.

    To answer the right or wrong question one must know about the outsider who wants in but does not accept the creed and the tribe itself. Lets examine a few hypotheticals. You are a jewish mom in Nazi Germany. Your family will be murdered if your heritage is divulged. You can acquire papers, and contacts that turn your eyes blue and utilize contacts to pass as a german German instead of a Jewish German. Anybody got a problem with that other than Nazis? Obviously not. The Nazis are evil and the woman with her family about to be victimized.

    I have a few hypotheticals in mind but i don’t feel like writing all day. So let me make the jump to the Catholic Church. You are a single mom with a son who demands a lot of attention and your finances are stretched so far that you are at risk of being homeless and needing a way to feed yourself and your son. You are not the typical lilly white family and are experiencing social ostracism. You’re an atheist. If you play the game you will be accepted and you will receive the succor you desperately need.

    Lets see. The harm done by the Catholic Church is overwhelming. Crusades, Inquisitions, autos da fe, gay lives, Jews, women, religious wars, persecution of offshoot sects, stealing from the poor by lying et al., perpetuation of cosmic lies, authoritarianism resulting in young minds never achieving their potential and being susceptible to manipulation by Trumpists, requiring faith when the natural world has contradictory conclusions that are thereby avoided, lying that religion is the sine qua non of morality.

    If our courageous actress utilizes her wits to flip a bitch and gain the social standing and money she needs has she done wrong? Being untrue to THAT STEAMING BEDROCK OF IMMORALITY is no sin. She is to be congratulated and praised. That is not to say that members of the Catholic Church ought to be her targets.

    Lets contrast the aformentioned Nazi and Catholic Church with a man. Just a man. Any man. Lets say he is single and has plenty of money and has always acted in good faith to our actress. He likes her a lot. She is down on her luck and needs the place to live and the resources of this guy. But she feels nothing for him. She would rather fuck a statue than touch this guy. She feigns interest and plays the role so that she moves in and takes advantage of him. Has her bad faith in this instance been a no no, wrong wrong? Obviously it has.



    Ivy, spiritual implications, implications on their souls. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

    You are conversing with atheists, not idiots.


    Simon Paynton

    If you were to sign up for multiple faiths, and try to become a sincere follower of each one, I think you would learn a lot about the Perennial Philosophy or the common spiritual thread said to be shared by all major religions.  I don’t think it would be spiritually damaging in that way, more enlightening than anything.  It’s an interesting question.

    But there could be moral injury to you that would be very upsetting, if you were not able to be honest with your new religious brethren at the different places of worship, about what you were doing, and had to deceive them.

    But that is the morally difficult part.  The multiple-faith situation is actually beneficial I believe, and it is the religions’ jealousy of each other that would cause problems.


    I have contributed my time and energy to a Catholic run charity. Basically I donated 12 computers, set them up in a local work group and also gave them 2 printers. I spent a full day, at no cost to them, getting it all updated and working smoothly. When it was done the local priest arrived on the scene and said thanks to me. I told him he was welcome and that I would provide ongoing support until they could take it over from me. He asked everyone to join him in prayer to thank his God for the it all. I told them I was not a Christian so I would remain silent.

    He almost had a fit. He started to get angry and began lecturing me about being two-faced. I told him not “to look at me in that tone of voice” (an Irish saying :-)).  A woman, with her friends nodding support, suggested that they might not be able to use the equipment because I was “godless”.

    I thought to myself  “These people are all fucking mad”.  I left. I could have lied but the priest now knows not to assume that everyone else believes in his God.


    Simon Paynton

    @regthefronkeyfarmer – that’s so silly.



    Simon says silly. Not silly Simon. Props to Reg.

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