In my last post I spoke about how tracking incentives can lead to the answers for why the world is in such bad shape. If you take that a bit further you can see that the role of a parent, a school, or a society should be to create good incentive systems in our children.
That made me think: if there are good incentive systems, what are the bad ones? Asking that question to myself immediately yielded the worst one:
Be good or you won’t go to heaven. Don’t be bad, or you’ll go to hell.
These are horrible systems because they don’t coincide with a reality that humans interact with. They see a world where the incentive is to be evil, not good. Those who take advantage of others are rewarded, so they emulate that — very logical, really.
This is exacerbated by the fact that God is supposed to be punishing those who do these things, but he isn’t. So essentially, the only reason not to be evil and live a life of luxury is because someone invisible, all-powerful, and supremely benevolent will damn you to eternal pain and suffering if you don’t.
That’s not a good reason to be good, and we shouldn’t teach people that it is. This is the reason so many Catholic school kids become the bane of society. It’s because upon seeing the real world and leaving the influence created by the school, the main reason for them not doing evil is lifted from them, i.e. fear of God. They come to say, “Wait a minute, nobody else believes that crap — those people were crazy. I’m not going to hell for this stuff, everyone’s doing it, and damn — it sure feels good…yeehah!”
In other words, once they stop believing to any major degree, in the all-powerful, invisible, God who will punish you eternally, every single reason to not cheat and steal is removed. You aren’t taught in religious school that it’s universally wrong to hurt others. There is no “universal”. There is only God. And without God there is no morality; hence, for many, if you stop believing in the extreme, Biblical God taught in religious schools there’s no longer any reason to be moral.
This is a horrible way to teach people to be good. Unless you’re a small child, you shouldn’t need a “reason” to be good to others. Be good because it’s “right” to be good, not because something bad will happen to you if you don’t. This is harder to teach than, “You’ll burn in hell”, but it’s the only path to a truly moral society.