If it is in someone's nature to do something bad, preaching in an effort to stop it won't do any good, and there isn't really any point in fighting against that tendency in oneself, because if you were that way yesterday, you'll be that way tomorrow too, presumably.
Is religion limited to the experience of being preached at?
Religion is only effective at reforming sins that aren't natural
How do you differentiate between "natural" and "unnatural" sins?
One can behave selfishly from error, but the best antidote for that is moral philosophy.
Philosophy is merely discourse. To practice a moral philosophy, on the other hand, is often a great part of religious life.
True, there are bits and pieces of insight in most religions just as in myths, but essentially by definition a religion must be traditional, and the ones I know of are each of them replete with outdated highly unlikely notions.
What do you mean by "traditional". Traditional to who? Do you think that Zen practice is "traditional"? Do you think that Zen practice would be called traditional by a Catholic, for instance, living in the US?
Regarding unlikely notions - yes, often times, silly concepts survive and thrive under religious guise. However, I cannot help but wonder if this is something necessarily true of religion, or if we can imagine religion without such silly notions.
In fact, if a religion doesn't have much superstition in it, people are likely to consider it a philosophy, much as some people think Taoism should be considered a philosophy or a way of life rather than a religion.
Is there necessarily a difference between religion and philosophy?
You mention Taoism. Well, Taoism is philosophy. The school grew up out of the I-Ching school of thought, and has certainly changed a great deal over time. Taoists might disagree as Empiricists might disagree.
If people don't distinguish between good and evil, there will be no justice and evil will have a free reign.
What, then, is "good" and what then is "evil"? Is anything inherently good or evil?
If nothing is inherently evil, I do not see how "evil will have a free reign".
You can't be very good without wanting to advance what is good.
And this, I think, is the heart of the criticism - treating "good" or "bad" or "evil" as objects to be pursued.
Nor is it reasonable to suppose that people would at all evolve to be good if good people didn't love fellow good people more than bad people, as they couldn't if there were no distinction.
Which would be more accurate:
1. There are good and bad people
2. There are people that sometimes act poorly, and sometimes act well
I would suggest that the overall spirit of Taoism doesn't so much suggest that there should be no distinction between good and evil, but just that we should not be very purposive or obsessively urgent when we make these distinctions, the way many people feel (for example) when making disctinctions about controversial political issues.But that's what I don't like about Taoism. Sometimes it is appropriate to behave extremely purposively, namely when one is fighting addiction; sometimes one's hindquarters actually do get screwed. Wu wei, purposiveless action, is only appropriate when not fighting addiction. Some moral action should be taken with a will.
Isn't addiction a purposeful action?
In the Confucian school, the Tao was constantly subdivided until Tao came to mean any abstract ethical doctrine. This Chuang Tzu criticizes - only addressing the manifest aspects of the Tao "that can be named". What of the Tao "that cannot be named"?
Chuang Tzu does not think that happiness can be found in some "profit motive". He also criticizes the "Superior Man" of virtue because they (namely the Confucian school, the philosophers nearest Chunag Tzu) treat "good" as some object - something to be obtained through some particular kind of action which results in happiness. This process places "good" and "happiness" outside of ourselves, into the world of objects, and therefore, "good" and "happiness" are forever out of reach because they are to be obtained in some distant moment as the product of our heroic actions, instead of being here in this moment.
True, Taoism tends to be against distinctions, but my impression is that it is only against distinctions mildly: mainly just if they are arbitrary, forced, or unnatural. E.g., the famous ideal butcher separates effortlessly, but he still separates.
The butcher example, as far as I can tell, shows us something about action and the way we do things. Remember, "My cook has shown me how I ought to live my own life!"
"Great knowledge sees all in one. Small knowledge breaks down into the many."
If I remember right, when China was plagued with opium problems there arose a famous leader who was so fed up with the lazy indifference that he associated with Taoism that he called himself (in Chinese, of course) "purposive action" or "no purposiveless action", or some such thing (by changing the "wu" of "wu wei" to its opposite character?).
Perhaps this is so. But I will remind you that 'Taoism' is a broad subject, sometimes absolute superstition, sometimes tantamount to academic philosophy. Especially in China, there is little distinction between traditional religion, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism because they all compliment each other, and are incorporated in to the same practices. Yet, somehow, Chuang Tzu manages to criticize Confucius. So they are obviously not the same.
Thanks for your comments. My education about Taoism is mostly limited to the materials I have found on my own. Do you mind me asking your background with the subject?