Christians may pretend to think that we atheists are all "this" close to committing rape and murder, but the fact is we don't commit rape and murder, any more than they do.
When people ask "why should atheists be moral?", that is a misleading question. They should really ask, why ARE atheists moral? [Why do they hardly commit rape and murder at all ...?]
Good question. Why.
Why do you, personally, always try and do the right thing? Why do you, personally, sometimes do the wrong thing? Do you go against your own moral code?
Christians seem to spend a lot of time agonising over moral issues. I think that is great. We do the same thing here on Think Atheist. Both Christians and atheists explicitly feature the study of morality as part of their belief systems. I think it's fair to say that the two groups are roughly equal in moral standards and behaviour.
I'm not looking for theories about society or stuff Richard Dawkins says or anything like that. I just want to hear about your personal experiences of yourself. I'm hoping some patterns might emerge. After all, we're all human beings, and there's only a limited number of reasons why we do things.
The reasons I try and do the right thing are probably that: I want a clean conscience and an orderly life. I don't want to s*** in my own bed. I think I derive confidence from feeling I'm doing the right thing morally. I feel empathy for other people and don't want to hurt them unnecessarily. If I love someone, I'll move heaven and Earth for them. If I have a strong belief that something is right, I will aim to uphold that belief.
I would go against some of my normal moral beliefs if I thought it was justified and wouldn't cause too much trouble. There would have to be a very good reason - beyond just getting my end away, for example.
# Compelled? I don't know that they can.
This is what some philosophers say (which makes sense to me). It would be nice to find something "compelling", but I'm not sure it exists. People have to want to behave well. If they don't, then no amount of hell-fire is going to stop them.
Suzanne, I appreciate your input. If I may study you (and myself) like guinea pigs, it seems that you are saying:
- a straightforward life is a moral life, and vice-versa.
- being a moral person is completely fundamental to who you are and how you operate.
- it helps to give you the confidence to act freely.
- loyalty either has to be earned in some way, or exists naturally and unconditionally through blood relation. Once you give your loyalty, it is faithfully kept. To betray it is a serious crime which will probably be punished, depending on who the person is. He or she may be cut off like shit in the gutter.
- your moral standards are actually your own and not given from on high by society or anyone else.
- you don't care what other people think of your behaviour: it is your own opinion of yourself that matters.
I personally would agree wholeheartedly with every one of these statements.
I agree that Christianity is wide open to selfish moral corruption and destructive anti-life practices. On the other hand, it has the potential to be a wonderful force for good, and I have seen both aspects up close. As for reading the Bible to a child - that's a good point. I feel that all of the New Testament would pass this test.
I think we owe it to Christianity and the world in general not to give up on Christians when they do bad stuff. We should work with them and hold them to account like everyone else. If we can't convince them with compassionate rationality, then perhaps we're failing too.
For me, it is not that xianity is open to selfish moral corruption - the bible condones and in a lot of cases, orders it - It is the secular group that takes the immoral and corrupt xains, and puts them under the spotlight. I can never understand why more xians don't call the Danny Hinns of this world, the charletan that he is. The only time I will not give up on xianity is when they themselves start outing, the catholics owning up to what their priests and the head of their church, the infallible Pope, has done, and is continuing to do. Why call oneself a catholic if the head honcho is a liar, and will do anything for power.
The only time I will call a Muslim a friend, is if they stop ordering a female to wear a hijab, or Mormons, to stop making their wives walking incubators, and that lovely little group who 'marry' underage girls to old men, and who have five children by the age of twenty, then proceed to kick out any contenders for the girls, namely teenage boys, from the age of fourteen, into the big wide world, with no education and no where to live.
I will be nice to good people, xians or not. There are videos on this site that I cannot watch, it just makes me so sad - the indoctrination of teenagers etc. The people who actually perpetuate this torture cannot believe in a good god. The good god fearing xian parents, who kick out a child from home and community, because they are gay. The Nuns who are sadistic.
I think my problem with xians is that they bend the rules, to suit, and justify the evils that they do, or ignore them.
Religions are only a wonderful force for good if they don't follow the bible, back to good people are just good people, they don't have to follow a book to be good.
But, if a person is only good, because they follow, or are scared of going to hell, good for them. Stay with the book.
So, yes there are good xians around, just not enough of them.
I don't think we were made by a superior creator of intelligent design - but if people want to believe that - that is ok, but only if they are also good - do no harm - that goes with it.
But it doesn't. the cannon fodder of all religions are taken in by frauds or fear.
Hindi - lovely, philosophical religion, until it's head honchos start producing by magic, food and trinkets - Buddhism, lovely, philosophical religion, but produces its Dali Llama by having a chosen boy pick out items that belonged to previous Dali Llamas, they also have hungry ghosts!!! and would never have a female Dali Lama, they are for looking after monks and going into the populace and helping, as all women should do - thought of as servants and treated like servants.
Mother Therese, her little charity brings in millions, nobody knows how many millions, then proceeds to starve people. As a catholic, she thought, as a lot of catholics do, having a very hard life will take you into heaven, just as long as you believe. Heinous.
The pope, who will not sanction condoms and contraception pills in poor countries, where women are producing 10-15 children, who then slowly but surely starve to death. While he and his cohorts live in absolute luxury. Heinous.
Catholics in wealthy countries, including Italy use both condoms and contraception pills.
Religion is really big in poor countries, where they have to have hope, 'cause their lives are so shite. Wealthy prosperous, educated countries, very little religion.
Salvation Army in Australia - good people, live on very little money, have very modest homes, feed the poor, pick up kids on the streets, that is their life - they do what they say they do - and that is extremely rare.
But all the good religion does can be (and often is) done without it. So any good it may do does not make up for the harms it causes, which rarely ever happen without it.
Furthermore, the New Testament is really no better than the old. The moral code still condones slavery and oppression of women, maintains the monstrous doctrine of hell, and in general upholds the law of the old. Not to mention, how exactly is telling a child that the brutal murder of an innocent man was required to make up for the bad things that child has done and will do an OK thing? We hear it so often, I doubt we ever think about it, but really? An innocent human being died for you? It's ghastly, and if anyone tried to tell their kid that grandma or even the family dog 'died because you're naughty,' they would (rightfully) be considered a horrible parent who was messing royally with their kids' heads.
I may owe it to individual humans not to give up on them, no matter the circumstances, I agree. However, apart from understanding its role in history (for good and ill) and acknowledging that it gave us some beautiful art and architecture for a while, we don't owe Christianity diddly. It deserves the same role in history and the same form and scope of respect as Greek myths, Egyptian mysteries, the Norse pantheon, or any other body of religious/mythic narrative, but not one jot more.
you make some interesting points. From my experience, the way religion is carried out is completely screwed up much of the time. It can easily go wrong, and when that happens, lives can get ruined. However it's not always like that and shouldn't have to be like that. I believe there is a firm distinction between Jesus and the rest of the Church. Jesus was completely in touch with the source of all goodness; and yet, he was no pussy. Of course, he makes the pedo priests and their defenders look like the devils they are. But just as easily it can all go right, and lives and souls are saved.
Possibly I may come across as some kind of cold robotic monster sometimes. It's just that I have my "ideas head", which is as hard-nosed as you like, and my "people head", which I like to think is soft, warm and sweet, like a deep-fried Mars Bar. I find it very difficult to do both at once.
I feel we have an unspoken contract to be moral. Life can be depressing, brutal, unfair, and intolerable. But it can also be rewarding, uplifting, enjoyable and fulfilling. I think if we strive to be moral, more of the latter will be in evidence.
This is separate from political, religious, bigger picture thinking, etc. I am referring only to the decisions and choices I make daily in my life. It can certainly be applied to a more broader canvas, and probably should be in many contexts. But that is where it can get difficult and compromises may need to be made.
In my opinion, I do good things for the same reasons that xians do good things. To me, human behavior is driven by the same principles regardless of what you believe. I just don't give thanks to an imaginary friend in the sky for this morality, and I don't claim that certain behaviors are moral for the sake of tradition. I do good things because I get good things or avoid/escape bad things in return.
As other people have mentioned, my parents (strict catholics) probably think that I'm a huge immoral sinner: a) They think that the simple act of denying god's grace is a sin, b) I live in sin with my boyfriend, c) I have premarital sex, and I could go on. I, however, do not find these acts inherently wrong and/or immoral. I measure the goodness or badness of acts by their actual direct outcomes on myself and others (and no I don't count someone just feeling like it's immoral as a bad outcome).
I get my morals from my arrogance. My mother taught me that we came from a great family that was better than most if not all others. I was raised to believe that there are certain things we just don't do because we are not the kind of people that do those things. We might see others lie and cheat and maybe even get away with it but we don't because we are Gomez.
In a really low point in my life on probably the worst day of my life I was robbed and left with nothing in a place I knew no one and had no access to people I knew would help me. I was so upset and filled with rage I began to tell myself that I could easily beat up that man in the nice cloths and take him for everything he had on him. I knew that with my strength and the power of my punch that I could easily knock-out the average man with one punch and this little wimp was easily below average. Before I could act on this thought another thought came to me. I am a Gomez and I'm better than that.
Although my arrogance has got me in trouble and at times offended people it is also what drives me to be a better person. I also work hard not to let my arrogance get in the way of getting to know someone because for as much as I love my mother and look up to her I also inherited a bit of judgmental, condescending, personality.(although I have to admit that her judgements on peoples first impressions are often very precise)