Look, I haven't mentioned Zeus, Buddah, or some religion.

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Flaw with the Golden Rule

Started by Sophus, November 15, 2008, 06:07:23 AM

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I hesitate to enter this debate. I am steamrollered by Titan's massive certainty most of the time, but I have to ask why deists think atheists have no sense of or concern for what is right. I am an atheist in part because most versions of god portray an unfair, petty, barbarically violent dictator. If he exists, he is a dick, and I want none of it. Come on...human sacrifice? blood atonement? sin all you want...if you come to christ you get a "get out of jail free" card? no matter how much suffering you alleviate or how much good you do, if you can't wrap your brain around the seriously internally flawed document we inherited from some supposedly divinely inspired catholic dudes, you burn eternally?  ETERNAL HELL?

I consider myself a secular humanist. If this is all we get, then it is imperative that we make life the best it can be for each person. I have so many more reasons to be a better person now than I did when I was all hung up on my eternal soul. I have the freedom to feel empathy for anyone...not just other christians. I have the freedom to consider my actions based on reason and my own good conscience (yes, Titan, atheists have them, too). I want to do what is right because I choose to be a force for good. If I steal, I am a thief. No god is going to erase my nature for me, so I must be the best person I can be. I don't need no stupid god to tell me right from wrong, and I don't need the threat of hell to make me choose constructive over destructive behavior.

Also, Titan, you seem to think that Christians value others more because God assigned them value and will kick your deist ass if you break his rules. Atheists don't value others because somehow our lack of faith in god equals us valuing nothing but ourselves. I beg to differ. Most of my deist friends are way more hung up on being sure they are right with god than on being sure they are right with their fellow man. Although I cannot speak for all atheists. I value nature, and life itself very highly. I value many things more than I value my own hide...god just isn't one of them.


Someone get me off this soapbox before I hurt myself!

I wanted to add that when deists assume that with no god there is no reason to be good, I can't help but picture them as children with an imaginary parent. He promises them eternal bliss if they are good and the boogey man is gonna get them forever if they're bad. I wonder what they'd do if their god just vanished. Would they have orgies in the street? That seems to be what they think we do despite the obvious lack of copulating atheists on most streets.

When I grew up and left home, I had to evaluate my reasons for continuing to do the right thing. It wasn't that I was tempted to go bad. I just needed to understand and own my moral compass. I studied philosophy and psychology and religion. There are many logical reasons to be good, the simplest of which is, if you want civil society, behave civilly. It was always important to me to do good in the world, though, even without logical or religious reasons. I have been a volunteer for many causes over the years, including the Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels, Hospice, and many others. Right now I volunteer for the American Lung Association of Washington and also at my children's schools. I do good because I like how it makes me feel about myself and about the world. It gives me a sense of interconnectedness, purpose, and peace. It keeps my compassion healthy and real. I avoid doing bad things, as much as possible, because doing bad things makes me feel bad. Conscience is independent of faith.


We're veering slightly from the topic but this is a good point. Many theists act on morals out of obligation while atheists do so from the heart. If you have to love someone because Big Brother tells you to then it's not really love at all.

I think the mark of a mature person is when they have the integrity to do the right thing when nobody is looking. Or for that matter when they think someone (a certain omnipotent hypocrite) is constantly judging them.

By the way... to clarify any possible confusing, my critique of the Golden Rule is not to disown morality but improve upon it.
‎"Christian doesn't necessarily just mean good. It just means better." - John Oliver


Thanks, Sophus, and sorry for veering. I had noticed that the style on this board seem to be to defend atheism with logic and rhetoric and, if you'll forgive me, sophism. I felt like I had to step in and defend our camp against this attack on our collective character with a few words from the heart. I think it is ironic that christians think they are the most generous, selfless people in the world when their primary concern is not for the suffering all around them, but for the chance that they might cash in on the ultimate jackpot upon death or rapture.