Any of us brought up unwillingly in a religious environment has always had to square our contempt for the church with its 'good works.' Doesn't this redeem its bad works, and don't these good works offset the ridiculous but well intentioned mythology? Since this is a decidedly and demonstrably positive characteristic of religion, shouldn't atheists recognize this positive aspect of religion?


I utterly disagree, and I'll share my argument with the first respondent to this post.

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Comment by Omnipotent Feces on March 17, 2014 at 5:19am

If you look at the larger picture of church history, it seems as though doing morally 'good' things are a reactionary product of a threat to their image. That is, as people have started becoming more civilised, morally intelligent organisms, the churches of the world (Catholic church especially, but let's not forget other religious institutions, being man-made and maintained, are just as capable and probable to committing the same) have felt the need to suddenly make their church seem reputable - not a horrible thing if they took this on fundamentally and did only morally just things, mind you, Yet, these religious institutions (and let's think of them only as institutions, used to hold power) have seemed to try and shroud the horrid acts they have committed in secrecy, whilst promoting, advertising and exploiting there good acts.

A token example of this is the Catholic church's work for AIDS in Africa. They LOVE to advertise that they are the largest private provider of care for this in Africa. Yet, their war against contraception has been responsible for millions of deaths and the further spread of AIDS.

The truth is, all religious institutions that I know of are, in their nature, full of contradiction and hypocrisy. This is because they are in a fight to maintain their traditional moral values, whilst trying to retain their image by being...well, morally just.

Not too shabby for my first post in this forum, if I do say so myself.   

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 17, 2014 at 9:07am

@OmnipotentFeces, thanks for the response. I think you have approximated the traditional response to this poser, which is what I sought.

My thoughts are as follows: The church's claim of 'good works' effectively and insidiously confiscates the innate good nature of those in its vicinity. A Catholic cannot do something good out of their own good nature, not if the church catches wind. A Catholic cannot just be a Good Samaritan - their own good nature is usurped when this new claim is made.

This is not a small matter. I can't just be a decent person and be a Catholic? No. Think of what the follower is denied. You aren't any good without the church (and its leaders and doctrine).

This is also the perfect corollary to vicarious redemption. Just as your misdeeds can be taken by the church, so can your inherent virtue! What the church claims as their 'good deeds' is in actuality an announcement of their thieving nature.

The good work and good deeds attributed to the church aren't even some reasonable subject changing tactic (as if there were such a thing). These declarations are pronouncements that they haven't a single good Samaritan in their midst! Their followers would be evil doers if not for their questionable clergy and sick doctrine.

My atheistic brothers and sisters, the church's claim of good works is the declaration of ill gotten virtue, plucked from the inherent good nature of those in its vicinity.

As a sidenote, even if the PR campaign of 'good works' were only a smoke screen, it would still not come close to forgiving the atrocities clearly attributable to monotheism. It's something much worse. They rob their believers of the best qualities.

It's something much worse because it is nearly unthinkable, but that's how they have been getting away with it. If you've read this far, hopefully you'll at least suspect that the Abrahamic religions are not somehow right on this particular issue.

The church's claim on the good works of those in their vicinity does not vindicate transgression, but is in fact further evidence that nothing is shameless when you claim that God is on your side,

Comment by Unseen on March 17, 2014 at 9:32am

Christians do good works, though often there's a price. Some Christian "Feed the poor" programs subject those being fed to prayer sessions, having to say (or sit though) grace, etc. Ditto for shelters for the homeless. 

That's their right, and while it's a tough choice, those being "helped" can always decline the offer of assistance.

Let's not forget that there are hundreds if not thousands of hospitals across the US put up by the Catholic Church, the Adventists, the Lutherans, and others. I spent some time in a hospital run by Catholics, got good care, and other than a priest dropping by to say "Hi" and ask me how I was doing and if I'd like to pray with him (I declined), I have no complaints.

Where are the atheist-sponsored hospitals? I know why there aren't (we aren't organized like the religious folks) but it is a bit of a PR problem. 

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 17, 2014 at 12:03pm

Unseen, people do good works, but Christianity takes credit. You also point out the compulsory genuflection, the debasing transaction that it is.

Religion is certainly not the sole furnisher of social work; all US taxpayers participate. Religion ultimately takes credit for all that it deems as good. Charity exists without mythology, but mythology is a little too quick to claim this moral high ground.

All of this must be reconciled with the gruesome monotheistic atrocities. While some will say that the good works of the church offset the atrocities, I insist and maintain that the church's clam of 'good works' is in fact a declaration of theft.

Comment by Davis Goodman on March 17, 2014 at 2:37pm

A guy who volunteers at a hospital who hopes at the same time to hit on the nurses. We accept free samples all the time. Facebook lets us share our lives and connect with one another for free.

Altruism with hidden agendas exist in both the secular and the religious world. Most intelligent people are aware of the price they pay for it.

Comment by Simon Paynton on March 17, 2014 at 2:51pm

We can't expect anybody to be 100% good or 100% bad.  Sometimes religion brings a great success, sometimes a terrible disaster.  It's powerful stuff after all. 

shouldn't atheists recognize this positive aspect of religion?  - yes. 

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 17, 2014 at 3:51pm

When Christians do something good, they cannot claim to do so out of the goodness of their heart, because their motivation is selfish. The motivation is selfish because the act can get them to heaven and help in avoiding hell.

Christians cannot perform selfless acts.

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 17, 2014 at 3:59pm

Belle, I think that to the degree that the church takes credit for the good works of its followers, no a Christian must always consider that they are acting selfishly and not altruistically. Good deeds get one into heaven, good deeds help one avoid eternal damnation.

If a Christian believes in heaven and hell, they cannot act selflessly. 

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 17, 2014 at 4:08pm

There is an eternal carrot to be sought and stick to be avoided, which dominates and demeans the existence of the religious.

Comment by Andy Hoke on March 17, 2014 at 4:34pm

@Belle Rose

The doctrine is confusing and says everything to everyone in my opinion, containing over 150 outright contradictions. The contents of Bibles is inherently in dispute with what people believe, making matters worse.

You have license to do any rotten thing you like, as long as feel bad about it later on, because that's how you avoid hell. Some may see merit in this line of reasoning, I see it as an ethical cop out.

Most Christians believe that if they do good in this world and life, St. Peter lifts the rope to let you into the good eternal nightclub, otherwise welcome to eternal suffering.

This fear has saturated society for quite a long time. There is a lot of mental malware to be removed on this subject.



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