I'll post my comments here:
In his response to Keterina Tefft's article, "Religion is no basis for morality", Jon Kornelsen makes the following statement:
[T]hese faith-communities take the Bible seriously... Therefore, we adhere to all of its doctrines – even the ones that offend modern sensibilities.
If Mr. Kornelsen isn't making a jest, I would ask if he has ever read the Bible.
Lapidation (that is to say, stoning) is the prescribed punishment for those who curse their parents (Leviticus 20:9), apostates (Deuteronomy 13:6–10), adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), homosexual men (Leviticus 20:13), and virgins who are betrothed, raped, and don't scream loud enough (Leviticus 22:23–24), among others.
Also forbidden are tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), trimming the sides of your head or beard (Leviticus 19:27), and wearing garments woven of both linen and wool (Deuteronomy 22:11).
Or [will] Mr. Kornelsen
willplay the ever-popular Get Out of the Old Testament Free Card?
In Matthew 5:17–18, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
To better illustrate the absurdity of attempting to actually live by Biblical law, I would recommend A.J. Jacobs' wonderful book, The Year of Living Biblically.
But Kornelsen continues:
After all, if a moral law does exist for humanity (as she implies, and I certainly agree), from where does it originate? Science and rationality may describe morality, but they cannot create it.
In his new book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, author and neuroscientist Sam Harris would probably beg to differ. Although I think that he overplays his hand a little, I agree with much of what he has to say.
Regardless, Kornelsen seems woefully ignorant of the entire field of normative ethics. I would recommend that he begin his education here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative_ethics
In other words, the existence of a moral law requires the existence of a moral lawgiver.
I would humbly direct Mr. Kornelsen to Plato's Euthyphro dialogue, which asks the question: "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?"
In the first case, God is merely a messenger who is relating a descriptive law of the universe, and God's existence is not necessary for the existence of such a moral law.
In the second case, God is the source of the moral law, which is prescriptive. However, this also makes the moral law arbitrary. If God were the source of morality, and God commanded (or carried out) the slaughter of innocent children (as he does several times in the book of Numbers, for example), that would be by definition moral.
To conflate descriptive and prescriptive laws (to argue, for example, that the law of gravitation requires a lawgiver) is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.
To quote Sam Harris: "In the best case religion gives people bad reasons to be good where good reasons are actually available, and in the worst case it separates moral thinking from the actual details of human and animal suffering."
There are far finer moral systems available than the arbitrary, authoritarian ethics offered by religious dogma.