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Good Without God -- Not For Everybody


Llwellyn

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Some people need God in order to be good, in the same way that some people need to live in prison in order to not to disrupt community tranquility.  For that reason, we ought to have a nuanced perspective on religion.  I might not like the idea of prison incarceration in the abstract, but in the practical, it plays a part in a desirable society.  In particular, some people do not find within themselves an internal desire to be social.  Instead, they find perversion.  For certain Christians, love for fellows is the kind of behavior that must be "commanded," as a "new" command rather than a native affection.  John 13:34.  As an example, Christian apologist William Lane Craig discovers the following opinions when he examines his own heart:  "Life is too short to jeopardize it by acting out of anything but pure self-interest. Sacrifice for another person is just stupid."

 


 

Christianity, with its doctrines of divine curses and  atonement (Galatians 3:10-13), is thus fitted to the perversion of certain humans.  Let them gaze up at the cross and fear doing wrong.  The worship of fear, although very low, can be useful.  Unless a man has love, it is appropriate that he should have fear.  Thus, I'm glad that Christians have their religion and share it with other people like them.  If Christians behave decently, contribute to their communities, and do not trouble those around them, then that is as much as we should hope.  If a person is capable of believing Christianity, it is good that he believes it.  I would not speak a word to deconvert him.  There would be no advantage in their becoming intellectually convinced that the religion is wrong -- they would but remain what they are.  Success would be worthless -- and worse than worthless, it could release the tiger from the cage.  The same goes for Islam and Judaism.

 

I do, however, think that it is important to continue to publicly present the truths of atheism and humanism.  Humble, obedient, and social people should be aware of this option and should not have their inborn character qualities, the inheritance from their pre-human ancestors, exploited by self-styled "religious authorities" who are far inferior to themselves.  It is important to keep Christians from laying fears on the shoulders of true humans.  People who are true, out and out, will immediately and at once recognize an untruth.  But others, like ex-Christians, once held a lie (with how much or how little of blame, unknown) and later abandoned religion as an inevitable part of the progress of maturation.  I don't see a point to be an "evangelizing" atheist, but when I see an anxious and guileless youngster suffering under the burden of the doctrines, I would gladly help lift that person's burdens.

 

Thoughts?

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Many believers think they could no longer justify being good without a God telling them what is good,  However, when these people, as they sometimes do, lose their beliefs, their morality usually only changes slightly.

 

Dr. Luke Galen, cohost of the reasonable doubts podcast presents an excellent overview of what we know about morality, and why religion (or secular based alternatives) play only a small role 

(1.5 hours, but well worth it.)

 

A second order application of Euthypro's dilemma, which destroys the god's nature argument (I don't think it was in the presentation above, even though the original dilemma indicated it was)

 

Finally, Ozymandias Ramses II on the crippling effect of the divine command theory or moral reasoning.

 

Essentially, though it may be true that for a very small part of the population (some psychopaths), religion has a large affect on their moral behavior, for the vast majority it's provides a rationalization for the intuitive, non religion based, moral judgement they rely on in everyday life..

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I am not convinced that some people need religion to be good.

 

Assuming "good" and "bad" are definable in ways that have some generally applicable meaning, those who are "bad" will be so regardless of whether they subscribe to some dogma or other.

 

Paedophile priests, anyone?

 

Equally, the "good" who subscribe to no particular dogma will continue so to be.  There are plenty philanthropist atheists out there.

 

We are what we are.  Religion, I suspect, often tends to be a bolt on extra that is used by the individual to forward his or her personal views and agendas.

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With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion. -- Steven Weinberg

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With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion. -- Steven Weinberg

 

I suspect that C.S. Lewis thought that Christianity could be useful as a "Noble Lie" to elevate the morals of humanity, which explains why he converted and became a Christian apologist.  But even he had to face the fact, on occasion, that his project was of dubious effectiveness:  "I think we must fully face the fact that when Christianity does not make a man very much better, it makes him very much worse . . . Conversion may make of one who was, if no better, no worse than an animal, something like a devil."

 

Here is an image I edited, maybe I'll create a new thread about the absurdity of John 13:34 and how it can only make Christians look like a bunch of hyenas.

 

New Command

 
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VIDEOS

 

Thanks for linking those videos -- watched them all and enjoyed them.  I've already had discussions with my friends about that Dr. Galen video.  Good stuff.  But you're definitely going to have to change your name to something more memorable, Mr. 24598060.

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