A few posts ago I mentioned that there was an interview of me up at Common Sense Atheism: CPBD 003: Alonzo Fyfe - Morality without God.
The interviewer wrote:
For today's episode of Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot, I interview Alonzo Fyfe, who completely changed the way I think about morality with this very interview.
I hope it was changed for the better. Comments like this always cause a bit of moral anxiety.
What if I am wrong?
A morally responsible person is always asking that question when he is making claims which, if adopted, would interfere with the lives of others. He recognizes the duty to continually sifting through the reasons for his belief, looking for a sign that he might have been a mistake.
Similarly, any institution that teaches its people that they need not do this – that they can accept propositions leading to harm to others on the basis of faith alone, and never need to question their legitimacy – teaches moral irresponsibility.
In this area, the institution that teaches intellectual recklessness is less moral than the institution that teaches care and prudence with respect to beliefs, in the same way that the drunk driver is less moral than the sober and careful driver.
So, whenever I get praise for what I write it always makes me nervous. It always causes me to ask, once again, "What if I am wrong?" And to invite others to consider critically anything I may write.
This is . . . or should be the standard throughout. Any person who leads an organization that tells people that their support for policies harmful to others can be grounded on groundless beliefs, he is teaching them to behave recklessly. This is no different than telling a person that he may drink as much as he wants and go ahead and drive home.
In fact, the person who is counseling others to engage in drunk driving would be by far the lesser of these two evils, compared to the proponent of reckless thinking. The drunk driver will, at worst, wipe out a school bus or a family on vacation. The reckless thinker, on the other hand, have wiped out whole civilizations or aided in the death and suffering of millions.
"We are the most moral people in the world, and you are to trust that what I tell you is the right thing to do, even though others may be harmed, and the worst thing you can do is question me or what I say because what I tell you is necessarily true and true without question."
The person who makes any claim like this is uttering a flat contradiction. The person who preaches this type of intellectual recklessness is preaching immorality, not morality.
So, in contrast with their teachings, I have said often and I will say again . . .
It is certain that at least one thing that I have written is false, though I do not know what it is (or, more accurately, what they are).
The morally responsible person takes this attitude towards everything they hear and read. The person who does not question is by that very fact loses all right to claim to being or even knowing the measure of virtue.