I have had yet another debate sparked on my facebook account after posting a quote as my status. I have asked for advice and help on here in the past and have had great responses. I find I learn more by asking others for help and it allows us all to flex our intellectual muscles a bit. If anyone would once again like to help me formulate a good response to the following, I would much appreciate it.

Some background info: Neal, the gentleman who posted the response to the quote is an old friend and former employer. He used to run a Christian Summer Camp. He is a smart guy and a very caring individual. This is the first contact I have had with him since "coming out" as an atheist.

Without further adieu, the facebook convo:


Me: "An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done
instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and
not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war
eliminated." - Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American activist (1919 - 1995)


Neal: Wow! I doubt that is accurate. Atheism covers a broad range of values. To suggest that most
or even a significant percentage of atheists feel that way is wrong.
That was merely o'hair 's way of trying to get prayer out of schools.
To even suggest atheism as a system of "moral" guidance is A
misrepresentation.


While one can always draw ... examples to pretty much demonstrate anything you want, it is my choice to follow guidelines that were laid out
roughly 2,000 years ago to serve as a moral compass for my life. A
belief structure that is essentially "anything goes" does not cut it for
me. Imagine where our country would be if not for being founded on
Christian principals. Sure, there's been things done in the name of the
church that were hurtful, wrong and damaging. But you need to look at
the good that's been done as well to see the big picture. All of the
social services, health/welfare, volunteerism, education and much of
what we are as a country can find it's roots in the founding father's
faith.

Go to a country where there was no moral compass that guided how their government began and compare. You'll have a rude
awaking.

Yes there's shortfalls. The obligation one who critizes must assume is the obligation to show what to do to make it
better.


Yeager: Or look at medieval Europe where the church ran everything.

Charles: There's nothing wrong with foregoing metaphysics in favor of appreciating every last moment, of being mindful of your life and living
it to the fullest extent and doing as much good as possible. I believe
the above quote reflects that.

Neal: The quote is just that. . . A quote. Not a definition of atheisim. And everyone has to choose for
themselves what they hold to be true and right. That is what I mean by
a moral compass - the values that you as a person consider important.
Has nothing to do with others, everything to do with you individually.
The values our country was
... founded upon were based on the founding
fathers faith and Christian values.


Yep, there are things wrong. But don't ignore what's right while touting the shortfalls or you end
up with an unbalanced viewpoint, skewed towards the shortfalls

Yeager: Okay... the founding fathers built our constitution based on religious persecutions in Europe.Not to
mention, if you want to look at it, most would be considered atheists if
you'd read their writings... or deists... at best. Poor Thomas
Paine... Looks like no one wanted an age or reason.

Me: 
I concede that Atheism in and of itself makes no claims on moral codes, as it is simply the lack of a belief in any God. Atheists all arrive at morality in their own way.
Rule of law, mutual benefit, philosophically, Secular values, Humanism,
etc... This does not mean that simply because atheism does not have its
own moral code that people who identify as atheist don't tend to exhibit a
similar moral belief system. Atheists tend to be perfectly moral people
and more importantly, don't have to be told what is right and what
isn't. As for O'Hair, unless you personally questioned her or read her
mind, how could you question her motives or sincerity?

I take particular offense to the idea that atheism is an "anything goes"
approach to moral guidance. It's not that at all, it simply rejects the
idea that morality is derived from a god, or that there were no morals
before 2000 years ago. Why, also, do so many atheist seem to converge on
the same set of moral values if it really is 'anything goes'?

"If the country is founded on Christianity, please site where in the
Constitution it mentions God, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, Jesus,
the Holy Spirit, or any of the gospels?" The Constitution is an
explicitly secular document. Most of the founding fathers were Deists,
not Christians. To learn more, you could look up The Enlightenment. Some
of the founders were atheists. Some where also Christians.Can you site
some of the founding laws of the US, not states, that make you say that?
I see the first commandment telling us to have only one god, and the
first amendment saying you may have any as a clear conflict. You need to
credit the Greeks and the Romans, along with the Pagan Norseman for our
democracy. If we had left it up to the theocratic church we would live
in the catholic version of religious tyranny. It is insulting to claim
that our society and our goodness is based on the Christian Church. We
were founded as a country by people escaping religious tyranny. Also,
don't forget Article 11 of the Treaty with Tripoli declared in part that
"the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the
Christian religion..."

As for countries with no religious moral compass, there has been a study done that actually shows the countries
with the lowest religiosity tend to have the highest levels of wealth
and success as well as the lowest levels of crime and poverty. Here is a
link to one of the studies:http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf You can find the statistical graphs starting on page 13 and see how far out of whack
the US is. The Study has been done twice, in order to silence the
critics of the first one and the same conclusions can be drawn in both
studies. Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, Netherlands... all
miserable places? I would actually love to live in a country that
exhibited the same statistics as these countries

Neal:
Beyond my interest in debating at this level. You'll have to come down some night and enjoy some quality "hot
tub" time and we can chat. You're a good friend and I care about you
and your view points. Who knows - we might even agree on some points.


By the way I looked up your reference to the study by Gregory Paul and the particular study you referenced. In my opinion it is an over reach of the material to grant it to the level you are suggesting. And not
everyone quite agrees with his material putting it (in my opinion) in
the catagory leaning towards subjective research vs objective and
conclusive research. Just because a free
lance researcher publishes a paper does not mean it's definitive. He
does have some valid points, but I feel some holes as well.
Interesting. . . .

Check out the declaration of independance for references to "God" and "Creator"

My offer stands Kyle, to have you down sometime. Neal

Tags: Debate

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We have done just that, [went] "...to a country where there was no moral compass that guided how their government began and compare." You can find the statistical graphs starting on page 13 and see how far out of wack the US is. The Study has been done twice, in order to silence the critics of the first one. Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, Netherlands... all miserable places?

When you state that this country is founded on Christian principles, it puts a quizzical look on my face that you can't see through the computer. Can you site some of the founding laws of the US, not states, that make you say that? I see the first commandment telling us to have only one god, and the first amendment saying you may have any as a clear conflict. You may say that theft and murder are wrong, but maybe you should point out a country where that is legal. You'll be left with "In the year of our lord." as the result of your search and you'll know my quizzical look.

Religion is a detriment to society. It may be helpful on a personal level for certain people. But as a society, it's always been a hindrance and the US standing up and objecting to government and religion being put together in the first days then leading the way for 200 years was a great example of the success of that divorce. I only wish that we would hold on to that ideal.
You'll be left with "In the year of our lord."

As seen recently in a certain, facebook discussion. ;-)
Yes sir! You could feel him hit the brick wall.
Neal, contrary to what you might like to think, there are atheists who do feel that way. Did you personally quiz O'Hair on the matter? If not, who are you to question her sincerity? Or are you writing her off just because she is an atheist?
Secondly, regardless of the genesis of one's morality, one picks and chooses. Let us, for a moment, look at Christianity, as that seems to be where you are coming from. No doubt you try to follow the Ten Commandments, courtesy of the "Old Testament". Do you follow them to the letter? Sure, such things as not covering thy neighbour's ass almost don't even apply to most of us. But what about 'thou shalt not kill'? I won't even get into the matter of animal rights. Let us just focus on people. This one seems pretty straightforward to me. Does it to you? Why, then, with his next breath does god commmand his chosen ones to slaughter others? Are you a veteran? If so, have you killed? Did you support the invasion of Iraq? If so, you sanctioned the death of others, many of whom were innocents.
Beyond that, what about other rules from the "Bible"? The OT enjoins us to stone unruly children. Are you on board with that one? Didn't think so. What about the injunction about mixed fibers? Are you really going deny your wife the comfort of cotton polyester blend? Chances are good that your no-iron oxford shirts are cotton poly, too!! Just something to think about.
Then there are the words of Christ. The whole do unto others as you would have them do unto you thing is beautiful. Wiser words have never been spoken. It isn't always easy, but I think that everyone should try to live up to that. He also said that he was here to tear families apart, to pit sons against fathers and mothers against daughters. I would like to believe that Kazantzakis was right when his Jesus said that he is not fire that destroys, or a sword that kills, but a heart and as a heart he is here to love. But the words of the Jesus in the NT are contradictory.
So where do you go if you claim the "Bible" as the basis for your morality? Do you try to keep every rule or pick and choose? Have religious people done great good in the world? Of course they have. Have non-religious people done great good in the world? Of course they have. But don't slam someone else's morality until you are sure that yours stands on rock, not sand.
Oooh I likey!
Thanks! :)
Well said. But, I don't think Jesus ever uttered the "Golden Rule" phrase, according to the Bible. Where is Nelson?
Ah! Thanks, doone!
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you thing is beautiful. Wiser words have never been spoken."

Personally I think wiser words are: "Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you."
Great replies by Gaytor and darwinbaby. Bravo!

I would just like to add that Atheism does not claim a belief structure of 'anything goes'. Atheism in and of itself makes no claims on moral codes, as it is simply the lack of a belief in any God. We all arrive at our morality in our own way. Rule of law, mutual benefit, philosophically, Secular values, Humanism, etc... We tend to be perfectly moral people and more importantly, don't have to be told what is right and what isn't. To me, the individual that arrives at morality by way of determined investigation, is truer to these ideals that he whom requires a list and blindly follows.
Nice, James. I agree.
Haha!

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