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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Morality Argument Of Masonry

The Morality Argument Of Masonry Cover The first conclusion is that Atheists are incapable of following God’s Moral Law, and they are therefore incapable of meeting on the Square. The most often-quoted example of this comes from James Anderson in his Constitutions of Free-Masons (p. 50): “A Ma?on is oblig’d, by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly under?tands the Art, he will never be a ?tupid Athei?t, nor an irregular Libertine.” Can Atheists follow moral law? Again, from an areligious perspective, an Atheist can hold the same values that a non-Atheist holds, but for different reasons. A religious man may hold moral law to be a sacred or divine teaching, whereas a man without religion may believe that “doing good” is beneficial to himself and all of humanity, though not link it to God. Therefore, Atheists are capable of reaching the same end, that of acting uprightly, though they may have used different means to arrive at their conclusion.

If Atheists can practice brotherly love, relief, and truth, then why deny them admittance to our Order? Paton (p.154) suggests that the Atheist “… acknowledges no relation to God which should lead to fear, or hope, or love, or obedience. To him, as to the most absolute speculative atheist, the moral law is nothing.” Paton suggests that following moral law is but a whim, a fleet of fancy which may be turned upon because a man who does not fear God has no reason to remain moral. Perhaps the best example of this philosophy was given by Albert Pike (ch. 23):

The intellect of the Atheist would find matter everywhere; but no Causing and Providing Mind: his moral sense would find no Equitable Will, no Beauty of Moral Excellence, no Conscience enacting justice into the unchanging law of right, no spiritual Order or spiritual Providence, but only material Fate and Chance. His affections would find only finite things to love; and to them the dead who were loved and who died yesterday, are like the rainbow that yesterday evening lived a moment and then passed away. His soul, flying through the vast Inane, and feeling the darkness with its wings, seeking the Soul of all, which at once is Reason, Conscience, and the Heart of all that is, would find no God, but a universe all disorder; no Infinite, no Reason, no Conscience, no Heart, no Soul of things; nothing to reverence, to esteem, to love, to worship, to trust in; but only an Ugly Force, alien and foreign to us, that strikes down those we love, and makes us mere worms on the hot sand of the world. No voice would speak from the Earth to comfort him.

Paton adds the idea that Masons believe in a “Future State,” which he defines loosely as rewards and punishments to be given in the next life or in the afterlife. In this case, Paton makes the point that without a belief in a Supreme Being or the afterlife, there is no immortal consequence to breaking moral law. This has historically been a key reason for denying Atheists positions in Masonry—they cannot be trusted to maintain morality. Although it is true that Atheists have no belief in immortal consequences, good men tend to be good men; using this as the only argument to keep Atheists out of Masonry is hardly sufficient.

The other perspective often repeated in Masonic literature dealing with the subject of Atheists is that those who do not believe in a Grand Architect are somehow baser than those of us who do believe. The effect of allowing Atheists entry into Masonry

would be to lessen confidence and weaken friendship, and no obligation would be regarded as binding among men … Mankind would give way to the most unrestrained, cruel, and base passions of their worst natures. The very foundations of good order would be subverted, and society would soon degenerate into a state of anarchy. (Ernst, p. 69-70)

This is an even more prejudiced view than the view that Atheists cannot be trusted to uphold moral law, though there are connections between them. Anderson’s reference to Atheists as “stupid” (meaning base, not of lower intelligence), implies the belief that non-believers are less of men. This, in addition to the aforementioned arguments, makes up the bulk of the arguments opposing the Atheist’s admission to the Lodge.

Books You Might Enjoy:

Phil Hine - Aspects Of Tantra
Anonymous - The Emerald Tablet Of Hermes
Henry Cornelius Agrippa - Of Geomancy
Castells - The Apocalypse Of Freemasonry