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Is there a reason to be honest if you don't believe in life after death?

  1. Aug 22, 2004 #1
    Just wondering...
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2004 #2
    Why do you think that life after death and honesty have any relationship to each other?
  4. Aug 22, 2004 #3

    I personally think it has a large amount to do with honesty to one's self.
  5. Aug 22, 2004 #4
    -Maybe you're in court and don't want to be locked up for perjury.
    -Maybe you're on a polygraph machine.
    -Maybe you're telling the bomb squad which wire to cut.
    -Maybe you should tell the sweet 105 year old lady it's a "don't walk" sign when she asks you because you don't want Granny Crosswalk Pancakes to cause a scene near where your car is parked in the fire lane.
    -Just in case you're wrong about the afterlife and you're being interviewed for heaven, God'll know you're lying when you say you like his tie.
  6. Aug 23, 2004 #5


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    If you feel there isn't, listen to what Sade has to say on the topic. If you feel there is a reason, go to Kant.

    Or if you're like me, refer to both of them depending on the situation :devil:.
  7. Aug 23, 2004 #6
    There may be a reason depending on what you want. People have instincts and that includes the instinct to protect their children and themselves. A world in which people have no qualms about being honest is a worse place to live than a world in which people don't like to be honest. I'm not even sure if civilization can work like that.
    Almost everyone else in the world thinks that. Why don't you? Life after death is assumed by most people to be associated with God. It is also assumed by most that if God exists then honesty is part of what God wants. It is also assumed by most that doing what God wants gets you what you want and doing what God doesn't want results in severe consequences which are most unpleasant.

  8. Aug 23, 2004 #7
    Please explain how you know for a fact that almost everyone in the entire world thinks this way.

    Does this statement not rule out a large percentage of people in the world? Are you contending that almost everyone in the entire world believes in god, and that the god that they believe in causes them to believe as you stated here?

    You repeatedly state that "is is assumed by most". How do you claim to know what most assume?

    Even if I accept your statement as valid, and I do consider that for those who believe in god that it is sufficiently valid to accept in this context here, do you consider that your statement addresses the initial question of this thread?
  9. Aug 23, 2004 #8
    some sort of moral ethics that seem instictly rooted into humans that good is better than evil
  10. Aug 23, 2004 #9
    How is honesty different from deception? I mean they are both ways of getting what one wants, but what does one really want? Both of these actions must have certain affects on one's perception of reality and reality, it would be nice if everyone could be told exactly that being honest would make everything better but then they would be a liar.
  11. Aug 23, 2004 #10
    A gun and a smile are both things that can get you what you want, but I don't think I would compare the two. I see little value in associating them with each other.
  12. Aug 24, 2004 #11
    The original question, I'm assuming you mean that if you don't believe in life after death, then there would be no penalty for being dishonest, and that without a penalty, there is no reason for honesty.

    That is not the case. Dishonesty has a built-in penalty. If you habitually are dishonest, people around you will eventually notice. Once they notice, they treat you in a different way.

    Your lifestyle would determine how much a problem you have from this. Someone who moves around a lot and lies and takes advantage of people they won't see again probably wouldn't be too affected. If you stayed in one place though, it would catch up to you sooner or later.
  13. Aug 24, 2004 #12
    All you have to do is to think about the destiny of your childern.
  14. Aug 24, 2004 #13
    Show me where I said that I know it for a fact and I will retract that statement. Can I prove it mathematically? No. Can I show a print out from measured brainwaves which show this to be true? No. Why did I say that? Simple - Statistically - most people are religious and the worlds dominant religions hold to the old testiment and from that it follows that honesty is rewarded after death. Do you find that logic to be in error? If so then why?

    Some approximate stats - 1.1 billion Muslims, 2 billion Christians, 14 million Jewish, 850 million Hindus.

    The first three religions in that list adhere to the old testiment. Adding Hindus, most of which believe in God (but not all) and that makes up greater that 50% of the worlds population. The world population on in 2003 was 6.3 billion. Buddhism isn't really a religion as much as it is philosophy. As I recall, they don't believe in God.

    These stats may be incorrect but they seem right. That means that most of the people in the world are religious. All the more well known religious that I'm aware of believe in honesty in this life will be rewarded in the next. Its been a while since I've studied this in college but I was left with this impression and those impressions are formed through study. I may have gotten a few points wrong (e.g. Hindus may be different etc) but I think this is an accurate statement.

    Do you claim otherwise?
    If you show me where I said "rules out a large percentage etc" then I will retract it. I said most and that was what my comments were based on, i.e. what most people in the world think. Over than 50% is most since "most" is defined as "greatest in quantity" or "majority". You may have thought of a different definition than that but I did not. I was actually thinking about 80% but I feel safe with my statement but with the above stats (which I did an internet search on) the statement I made is still accurate.
    Nowhere in any post in this forum did I said that almost everyone believes in God. "Almost everyone" to me would be something like 95%. Again, I said most

    3.9 out of 6.3 billion are either Christian, Muslim, Jewish Hindu. Each of those religions believe in God, the same God in fact, and adhere to the old testiment in one form or another. Muslims even believe in the new testiment to some extent, e.g. that Jesus was the Messiah etc.
    Statistics. I went to a Catholic college and religious studies was required and that was something I always remembered, i.e. that more people believe in God than people who don't. Can I prove the stats are correct? No. I went by memory mind you of what those stats were. I do recall previously thinking before I went to college that the opposite was true. When I found out different it left an impression on me. And I assume those who call themselves "Christian" practice Christianity etc. However I did a search and it seems I was off a bit. I was thinking 80% but its really about 62%. Ah well.

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2004
  15. Aug 24, 2004 #14
    Your implication, I contend, is that almost everyone else in the world believes this way, and that I am a rare exception. Are you suggesting that I am wrong? You did not say "you believe" or "in your opinion", but made your statement in an objective manner.

    I do not consider that your usage of most is valid, and that is the source of my objection. To me, "most" does not mean 50% +1 (or more). This is particularly true when your usage of "most" follows "almost everyone in the world".

    I contest your numbers. Even though you state that there are 2 billion Christians, for example, I do not think that you can contend that all but at most an insignificant minority holds the belief that you say. There is a significant minority that considers itself a member of one of these religions, but is not religious. Even so, you are far from a position to say most, I contend. Paricularly when you challenge me as being a rare exception.

    You use the word honesty, but how honest is it to suggest that 50% plus a few deserves the use of the word "most"? This is particularly true when your usage of "most" follows "almost everyone", which I believe serves as an indicator of your meaning of the scope of "most".

    Yes. I claim that your use of the word "most" is inappropriate, particluarly in light of your use of "almost everyone".

    I said it, based on your usage of the word most. You claim that most is defined as majority, such that 50% + 1 qualifies as most. I consider this dishonest. I do not believe that you should say most, when you are estimating somewhere in the neighborhood of 50%. This is particularly true when your usage of "most" follows "almost everyone in the world".

    I hope that you did not learn at this school to talk about most people in the world when you mean at least 50%.

    The reason that I objected to your posting was that you claimed that "almost everyone in the world thinks that, and why do I not". You then continued with "most", where the word most is now reduced to 50% + 1. I think that your post was misleading in this respect, and that is why I challenged it.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2004
  16. Aug 24, 2004 #15
    Nope. I never said that. Open a dictionary and look up the word "most".
    I'm suggesting that you read exactly what I said when someone asked me about what "most" means. Your comments after that seem to indicate that you ignore my explaination as to what I meant by "most".
    Something like a statistic is objective. It is not subjective. E.g. the number of people in the world in 2003 was 6.3 billion. That is not an opinion. That is a fact. Same with religions and simple assumptions about them. At the time I posted it I was going by my recollections from my religion courses and what I recalled. I recall that the greater majority of the people in the world believe in God. I used the term "most" instead.

    The rest of your comments are on the meaning of the word "most". That is off topic. I've stated what I mean in no uncertain terms when asked for clarification. That is what honesty means.

    As far as what "most" means, look in a dictionary next time. You'll see it defined in several ways, one of which is most: the majority of where majority is defined as majority: a number greater than half of a total. That is from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

    I see no reason to use terms which are defined in any other way than in a dictionary.

    In any case this thread is not about what "most" means. Its about whether there a reason to be honest if you don't believe in life after death. If you prefer, go back to my original post and replace "most" with "the majority".

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2004
  17. Aug 25, 2004 #16
    As much as I personally dislike your use of the word "most" as meaning at least 50% +1, I believe that it is particularly misleading when following this citation. Did you or did you not say this? Does this quote by you mean at least 50% +1?

    Do you in normal speech say most or the greater majority for a situation regarding 50% + 1? If so, fine. Go ahead. I personally find it misleading, as I said.

    Yes, I grant that technically the dictionary does give that as a valid meaning. I am quite surprised to hear it used that way. I wonder how many people on this forum, for example, use most for any number greater than 50%.

    I agree. In your very first repsonse to me, you said:

    Let us forget our disagreement over your use of most for a moment. You began by saying that almost everybody else, but me, in the world thinks this way. By this phrase, do you mean most? In other words, by "almost everybody in the world" do you mean "at least 50%"?

    If so, then I suggest that your own numbers do not support your statement. The numbers that you provide do not suggest "almost everyone in the world". If not, then I contend that your statement is misleading, because it was immediately followed by "Why don't you", as though I am a rare exception.
  18. Aug 25, 2004 #17
    I'm not going to keep getting into petty discussions of what "most"/"almost everyone" means and whether you think I was trying to mislead people. Its not worth my time and these terms mean different things to different people.

    I'll say only this - When I said that most people in the world believe in life after death I had in mind about 90% from my recollections from my religious studies. To me 90% is almost everyone. If I had 10 marbles and someone took 9 of them from me then I'd say that they took almost all of them. However when I say "most" I mean more than 50%. When I say "amost everyone" I mean a large fraction. If you don't like that then readjust to those fractions since I have now defined what I mean in no uncertain terms.

    The Washington Post claims that 82% of Americans believe in life after death.They also claim that 95% of Americans believe in God. See

    Those stats seem about right to me and is close to what I recalled. And, of course, the stats will vary with the country. E.g. I'd say more people believe in an afterlife than they believe in God since some people who don't believe in God believe in an afterlife.

    I don't see a good reason to discuss these stats anymore. Anymore and its petty bickering on something I have zero interest in and is off topic. Especially since lockecole doesn't seem to care about it. The stats are not the point. The point is that a lot of people believe in God and life after death and not a very small percentage.

    If you're really that interested in stats and the meaning and perception of words then you can do it in PM. I will respond to all such questions in PM.

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2004
  19. Aug 25, 2004 #18
    This is incorrect.

    Christianity does make it clear that dishonesty is wrong. At the same time, it also makes it clear that any sin can be forgiven, and that being honest is not a requirement for going to heaven (believing Jesus is the son of god, was sent to die, etc is the requirement). Therefore, having an afterlife does not commit Christians to being honest, something else does.

    The quesiton of what an afterlife has to do with honesty is still a pertinent one.

    What the original poster really meant to ask is "Is there morality without an objective power to punish immorality?" Then answer is yes.
  20. Aug 25, 2004 #19
    Only if taken out of context. If you noticed I said doing what God wants. God knows were're not perfect and knows we will sin. He wants us to repent and then chose not do sin .. ideally anyway. If you at first chose not to do what God wanted and then later repented then you ended up doing what God wanted, didn't you?

    I've chosen not to get into a sermon mode (mostly because I'd be lousy at it :biggrin: ). That's pretty much of a turn off and this is not the place for details such as this. It's simpler to generalize like that since I assumed you knew what was meant. It now appears that sime didn't. May I assume that this point is now clarified?

    I was speaking only about dishonesty and in this context - with no repentance.

    Note: I looked in the Shorter Oxford English on the definition of "most"
    Dictionary: 1a Greatest in size, largest; greatest in number, quantity, or

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2004
  21. Aug 25, 2004 #20
    Absolutely. You were dishonest, and you still go to heaven.

    Then I may have misunderstood you. However, my point at the original post stands. The implication in the original post is that a belief in an afterlife has some bearing on honesty. Since you can be dishonest and go to heaven, I do not see any basis for that assumption, at least in the Christian religion. If he did not intend to include many large religions, he should have been more specific about which life after death he meant.
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