There seems to be some who have the attitude that religious people are BAD people. If a religious person does anything good in their life it is seen by some that they are only doing it for their eternal life not for the sake of doing something good. As if the only thing they live for is their eternal so-called reward in heaven.
Is it black and white?
Are they bad people just because they believe in God? There are many good people who are believers. Many. They may not have fully thought through WHY they believe in God or the evidence that supports that there IS no evidence for a God or they would be Atheists. But just because they haven't walked the same journey you have in life, or were born in to a religious family, does this make them a bad person?
Some of you seem to think that just because a person believes in a God, this somehow makes them bad. If you truly believe this I have a questions for you:
Who are YOU to judge another person like that? Are you not then just as judgmental and closed minded as the very people who you say are bad people? Does this make YOU a bad person?
Think about it.
Some atheists do stereotype believers. There are some very honorable and worthwhile prescriptions among the basic beliefs of Christianity. The problem is often some accretion that has been added in later times through creative interpretation. This isn't to say that everything in The Bible is good, but things like The Golden Rule, some of The Ten Commandments (thou shalt not kill, remember to honor they father and mother, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not steal, etc.) are generally hard to argue against.
"...remember to honor thy father and mother,...." ????
My father and mother both used violence; I revised these words to "Fathers and mothers have to earn honor."
What is parenting?
It's a selfish act that requires more unselfishness than some people have.
""If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own." [Dale Carnegie, quoting Henry Ford]
It's such an obvious point, yet few of us apply it in moral and political arguments because our righteous minds so readily shift into combat mode. ... The performance may impress our friends and show allies that we are committed members of the team, but no matter how good our logic, it's not going to change the minds of our opponents if they are in combat mode too. If you really want to change someone's mind on a moral or political matter, you'll need to see things from that person's angle as well as your own. And if you do truly see it the other person's way - deeply and intuitively - you might even find your own mind opening in response. Empathy is an antidote to righteousness, although it's very difficult to empathize across a moral divide."
- Jonathan Haidt: "The Righteous Mind - why good people are divided by politics and religion"
My biggest problem with theists and the question of "goodness" is that for every Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. we seem to have a hundred Pastor Fred Phelps. You cannot convince me that Fred Phelps is a good person, not with the bile and hatred that he spews towards my people. MLK was not only a good man, he was a great man, and I don't know if his faith had anything to do with that, but I think it's fairly obvious that the creator of GodHatesFags.com is guided entirely by his faith and his own bigotry.
Are all "religious" people BAD people?
Their religion is.
Very well and wisely said. Thank you, Milos.
As a pragmatist, I judge (and we all judge) others by their actions and words. This, however, becomes complicated, as our society (whether one claims to be Christian or not) is heavily influenced by Christian dogma--such as the belief that we, as humans "can't help ourselves" and we will do bad things because we are "imperfect". This belief stems from Christian doctrines, and is entirely FALSE. In fact, we all have the ability to make our own choices--and we can choose to make the right ones. It's as simple as that.
Society has become screwed because of this belief--and the only way to save humanity is to change the way we think.
I agree, Cathy.
But some of us won't change the way we think. We will save only some of humanity.
Hm-mm, which "some of humanity" will it be? And what will the reasons be?
Are religious folks 'bad people', NO, not as a class. As in any class/group you find variation. I expect a few are 'in it for the money'. A few for 'power'. Many for 'principle'. Many for 'fellowship'. Many for 'nothingelse better to do'. And many more 'too happy to change'.
Do you really think people are either bad or good? To my mind, people are both. Some people allow their negative side to flourish, some don't. Some face obstacles we couldn't even dream of and remain pleasant. Others can meet a minor hiccup and react as if the world has come to an end. That's just how people are.
I think religion is dangerous and sad at the same time. It is dangerous because the power and authority it enables gets abused too frequently. It is sad, because it prevents people from realising their full potential as humans, and encourages the abdication of responsibility. But "bad" and "good" are not appropriate terms to describe people.
Actions (verbal or physical) can be negative in their social effect, and there is a tendency to utilise religion as some kind of authority to enable prejudice. This is predominantly because religions developed from tribal communities, where any non-member would have been considered a potential threat to the tribe's continuation.
I will judge who I please, when I please. It is not relevant how I judge people. It is only relevant if I allow my judgement to lead me to carrying out some kind of action (verbal or physical) that has a negative effect on others. I am aware of my actions, and I choose to limit the negative potential in me.
What I think you are really saying, and do correct me if I am wrong here, is that you feel that the atheists on this site are not warm and welcoming to theists when they come here. We don't attempt to coddle them into releasing their beliefs. And part of that, is simply because they need to think for themselves. If we acted like a replacement center for their religious community, they would potentially be swapping one kind of obedience for another. There are sites set up to specifically help those who need support for their loss of religion.
If a theist comes here, they are already aware that we are atheists. Some of us react in a gentle way, some of us in a vehement way. But we are not stereotypical - there is no such thing as a stereotypical atheist. Each person here will agree with some points others make, and disagree with other points - sometimes quite outspokenly.
In the end, there is no "group motivation" to de-convert. I do not have a problem with theists or deists that don't feel they want to impose their belief system or inherent prejudices on me or on others that do not wish it. Were I to attempt to de-convert someone who is happy in their theism, that would make me as wrong as those people who attempt to convert me.
Theists ask - we explain. Theists tell - we refute. Theists preach - we respond however we feel motivated.
So Belle, what would you suggest, as an alternative? I agree that atheism hasn't got its act together in this regard.
"Everyone has a little of both in them...."
An American theologian / political activist, Reinhold Niehbuhr (1892-1971), put it this way (approx):
There is enough good in the worst of us, and enough bad in the best of us, that it behooves none of us to talk about the rest of us.