The "Power" of Faith

Monday, August 02, 2010

This weekend, religion allegedly stopped a man from committing one robbery, only to fail to stop him from committing another, only hours later.

Ultimately though, after spending five minutes urging [Israel] Camacho to seek Jesus, [Nayara] Goncalves convinced him not to rob her. And he left the store apologizing and empty-handed.

But, he apparently wasn't as repentant as he let on when he entered a Payless Shoe Store on Commercial Boulevard less than two hours later.

Investigators say Camacho put a handgun in a shoebox and forced the clerk to give him cash from the register. On his way out the door, Camacho said to his victims, "God bless you."
How could this have happened? In the sense that Camacho's mind hadn't really been changed, it is plain that he wasn't as "repentant" as he seemed in the earlier robbery. But that leaves unanswered the question of why his mind wasn't changed.

Religion teaches, and even many non-religious people believe, that morality lies outside the province of reason, and that it furthermore has no practical relationship to such "worldly" concerns as the problem of succeeding in life. As a result, even many who subscribe to religion and honestly believe that robbery is wrong fall for the notion that it is a practical, if risky way to obtain goods.

But on top of that, religion cannot show anyone that robbery is wrong. It can only offer an arbitrary injunction against it that does not tie in to the rest of what one knows by experience and reasoning from experience.

This is no excuse for Camacho: There will always be people who ignore or evade even the most rational arguments, or choose to do things they know to be wrong. But a careful consideration of the assertion in the first story shows that its premise -- that religion is what stopped this man from committing his first crime -- is highly suspect.

-- CAV

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