# No God? Why good?

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
As a few of you might have noticed, I attempt to argue for beliefs beyond only those justified by science. In fact, I think that it can be wrong to challenge a person’s belief system since none can be defended. Of course, I only came to this conclusion after years of heated arguments with friends, relatives, eventually my wife, passers by, the guy at the donut shop...you get the idea. But with that said, I have always wondered all of you non-believers - since when a non-believer I encountered this paradox - what justifies doing good, and what is good...why bother? It seems to me that all arguments for anything except self-serving selfish behavior quickly fail. In turn, this kind of behavior has negative effects on society. Of course, if the world effectively ends with my death what do I care?

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heusdens
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
As a few of you might have noticed, I attempt to argue for beliefs beyond only those justified by science. In fact, I think that it can be wrong to challenge a person’s belief system since none can be defended. Of course, I only came to this conclusion after years of heated arguments with friends, relatives, eventually my wife, passers by, the guy at the donut shop...you get the idea. But with that said, I have always wondered all of you non-believers - since when a non-believer I encountered this paradox - what justifies doing good, and what is good...why bother? It seems to me that all arguments for anything except self-serving selfish behavior quickly fail. In turn, this kind of behavior has negative effects on society. Of course, if the world effectively ends with my death what do I care?

You imply that in order for human behaviour to be less self-serving and ego-centric, one needs a belief in God. This is of course not true, when one adapts to materialism, you can not escape the conclusion that the world will continue to exist after your death.
Only your mind has passed away.
This kind of thinking urges us to be both concerned about our own lives (we have only finite time to live) and to be concerned about the world in total, and other human beings especially. Cause they will still be living in the world, which also you contributed to.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I really want to get into this but I have to go to bed...and get a few hours of sleep. So for now I will only say that this was a genuine paradox for me at one time. My beliefs changed so the paradox became moot...as far as personal significance. But I still find the question interesting. Why should I adopt some philosophy that requires any more personal sacrifice than I absolutely must tolerate in order to remain free and to get the things that I want? For me, all such motivations seemed rooted in spiritual rather than logical interests...perhaps what many would argue is my latent Catholic guilt complex.

FZ+
I see it as the fact that what is considered good in the eyes of society, is co-incidentally generally good for you. Ie, being good is in your own interests, as a society based on what we consider pure self-interest is inevitably unstable, liable to collapse with extreme problems for all it's members. Man is undeniably a social animal, and we benefit more from this society, than we would gain from betraying it's values.
Another way is see it is that life is a journey. But what is important about this journey is not the monotony of the destination, but what you pass through on the way. The path of "good" can be considered to be that which brings both directly and indirectly maximum happiness, and genetic satisfaction.
Finally, a cynical argument is that this is all the result of brainwashing - society works by brainwashing it's members, implanting a purely arbitary moral code into their minds. This is the glue that hold civilisation together, and it's persistence after such a long time is reason for it's influence.

Ivan Seeking,
It seems to me that all arguments for anything except self-serving selfish behavior quickly fail. In turn, this kind of behavior has negative effects on society. Of course, if the world effectively ends with my death what do I care?

And;
Why should I adopt some philosophy that requires any more personal sacrifice than I absolutely must tolerate in order to remain free and to get the things that I want? For me, all such motivations seemed rooted in spiritual rather than logical interests...

“Atheists would teach men to be moral now, not because God offers as an inducement reward by and by, but because in the virtuous act itself immediate good is insured to the doer and the circle surrounding him.” - Charles Bradlaugh, 1864, /A plea for atheism/

By treating others with kindness you encourage others to treat you well too. I see nothing wrong with a bit of selfishness, especially when it brings positive benefits to all. I don’t really see how spiritual matters even apply that much. It seems simple enough that both believers and non-believers can easily recognize that if you injure someone you invite retribution…
I knew a little Catholic girl (about 16 years old) who told me that what she liked about Catholicism was that “it’s easy”. She explained what she meant was she could pretty much do whatever she wanted, then go confess it and be forgiven. So which camp is really more selfish, I would ask; the religionist pawning off responsibility and being forgiven for transgressions against their fellow man by some god (that may not even exist), or the atheist who recognizes his/her self-worth and thus understands that if he, a fluke of nature, has any worth at all then so must his fellow man, and treats others accordingly.

"For my money, I'll bet on reason and humanistic kindness. Even if I am wrong I will have enjoyed my life, the existence of which is under little dispute." -Dan Barker

wuliheron
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
what justifies doing good, and what is good...why bother? It seems to me that all arguments for anything except self-serving selfish behavior quickly fail. In turn, this kind of behavior has negative effects on society. Of course, if the world effectively ends with my death what do I care? [/B]

The assumption in the west is that nature is a beast, a mean and selfish ill tempered beast at that. Our natural instincts and predilections are all suspect from this point of view and only our transcendent will power can save us from ourselves. What rubbish, what a negative self-image to walk around with.

Nature

Nature is not kind;
It treats all things impartially.
The Sage is not kind,
And treats everything and everyone impartially.
The Way is like a bellows,
Empty; yet never ceasing its supply.
The more it moves, the more it yields;
So the sage draws upon experience
And their happiness cannot be exhausted.

Kindness as an abstraction can be just as mean and destructive as anything. Out of "kindness" was born the concept of the White Man's Burden. Kindness is not something you find in a book or figure out after hours of deliberation, it either comes from your heart sponatneously or it is not real. It either begins with yourself, or it become a parody of the real thing.

Originally posted by wuliheron
The assumption in the west is that nature is a beast, a mean and selfish ill tempered beast at that. Our natural instincts and predilections are all suspect from this point of view and only our transcendent will power can save us from ourselves. What rubbish, what a negative self-image to walk around with.
Insightful point.

Iacchus32
What is Good?

Truth is the vessel (form) and good is contained within (essence). Which is to say good can only coexist with truth, and in fact is the essence of truth.

Whereas where good and truth go hand in hand, evil and falsity go hand in hand as well ... meaning, the lie is used to justify the wrong.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Hmmm. First I would say that yes, retribution can be a problem. But I can also tell you as a business man: Doing the right thing often involves personal sacrifice, and there is no reward other than being true to ones own principles. For me, although sometimes painful [costly, no sleep], I try to live according to values based mostly in my religious belief that "good" is not just an abstraction. If the essence of good - GOD - is real, then there are real reasons to do good. If you think that bad people don't profit, well, I've got some swampland for you...and guilt only comes with moral conviction. I see little guilt in business. In fact there's a favorite saying: Hey, it's not personal, it's just business...and then the unspoken part…sorry I just ruined your life...see ya!

I won't even get into the life of an inner-city ghetto laborer. The point here I guess is that for people who live desperate lives, abstractions carry little meaning. It is the belief in something real that gives comfort and causes change. Perhaps this is just a matter that my personal experience is not representative of the norm, but I have seen very little evidence that abstract [unreal] principles affect most people or their actions. [EDIT] This is why we invoke the name of God if we want to fight a war! It's not religion that's the problem, it's the power of belief...and the way that this belief is manipulated by the powers that be.

Next, I agree, original sin stinks. The man-beast picture is not a pretty one either. If you think that man is not also beast, then I suggest that you speak with some POWs from Vietnam, Japan, Korea, or the camps in Germany. What are you talking about?

I found that within me is an innate sense of good and right. You seem to argue that this comes from nature. To me it seems that only our philosophies cause humans to act well, that our nature can be that of beast. The speed at which Bosnians neighbors who had once had BarBQs together turn on each other with machine guns is just one piece of evidence that the veneer of society is thin indeed. If one only perceives his or her philosophy as an abstraction, something that only means something in one's own head, then I doubt that for most people it really means much. IMHO, most people are simply not that philosophical. I think people NEED to believe.

EDIT: Oh yes, the Catholic thing. You guys kill me. Now I am no longer Catholic but I was raised as such until my mid teens. The reference to confession lacks perspective. This was a child...a childs perspective. The process of confessing forces one to admit to his or her failings. The point is introspection. The forgiveness was always there. No philosophy is that simple...really! Why does everyone pick on the Catholics? They haven't started any wars lately.

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Hmmm. First I would say that yes, retribution can be a problem. But I can also tell you as a business man: Doing the right thing often involves personal sacrifice, and there is no reward other than being true to ones own principles.
I disagree, building a good reputation by honoring commitments, even when it costs you your a$$, has proven a successful strategy for several businessmen I have known. For me, although sometimes painful [costly, no sleep], I try to live according to values based mostly in my religious belief that "good" is not just an abstraction. If the essence of good - GOD - is real, then there are real reasons to do good. Morality, I believe, does not come from god. If you think that bad people don't profit, well, I've got some swampland for you... This does not negate the fact that an honest man can also profit. …and guilt only comes with moral conviction. Back to the flaw of the origin of morality. I see little guilt in business. In fact there's a favorite saying: Hey, it's not personal, it's just business...and then the unspoken part…sorry I just ruined your life...see ya! There is nothing inherently ‘good’ in business. Business is forced to ‘do good’ by catering to the whims of the buying public. Those that satisfy demands may prosper, while those that misjudge the market might not. The problem is with living, breathing, individuals only. won't even get into the life of an inner-city ghetto laborer. The point here I guess is that for people who live desperate lives, abstractions carry little meaning… I favor the view that all men lead lives of quiet desperation. I found that within me is an innate sense of good and right. You seem to argue that this comes from nature. To me it seems that only our philosophies cause humans to act well, that our nature can be that of beast. Where do our philosophies come from if not from our nature? IMHO, most people are simply not that philosophical. I think people NEED to believe. They need to believe they have no business killing or enslaving their neighbors… EDIT: Oh yes, the Catholic thing. You guys kill me. I have no intention of ‘killing’ you. Now I am no longer Catholic but I was raised as such until my mid teens. The reference to confession lacks perspective. This was a child...a childs perspective. How much do children carry with them into adulthood? The process of confessing forces one to admit to his or her failings. The point is introspection. The forgiveness was always there. No philosophy is that simple...really! Why does everyone pick on the Catholics? They haven't started any wars lately. Do they still sell indulgences? Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Originally posted by BoulderHead I disagree, building a good reputation by honoring commitments, even when it costs you your a$$, has proven a successful strategy for several businessmen I have known.

But this does not argue that honesty has any advantage, only that it can also work. One thing learned quickly in business is that a dollar today is worth millions tomorrow. You must live for the day. I have seen many people go down waiting for all of that invested good will to pay off...especially consulting engineers. I feel that although worthy, from a purely logical point of view honesty is the more difficult path

Morality, I believe, does not come from god.

"If the essence of good - GOD - is real, then there are real reasons to do good." Your reasons to do good are only abstractions. Abstractions are not real. Therefore no real reasons exist to do good.

This does not negate the fact that an honest man can also profit.
Again, to what advantage? Why choose the hard path?

Back to the flaw of the origin of morality...
There is nothing inherently ‘good’ in business. Business is forced to ‘do good’ by catering to the whims of the buying public. Those that satisfy demands may prosper, while those that misjudge the market might not. The problem is with living, breathing, individuals only.

Business has the brutality of math and physics, but I agree that it is neither good nor evil. Things are what they are. It is merely a forum for comparison about which I have some first hand knowledge. Many good business people do many good things, however I find no implicit motivation to do so.

I favor the view that all men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Even though a king may commit suicide, there's desperate and then there's DESPARATE. I cannot even imagine living as some do. I grew up near the ghetto areas of Watts in California. I was one of the lucky participants in the force bussing programs of the 1970s. I went to school with armed gang-bangers whose value for life equates to a pack of cigarettes. Once I got past the hatred and fear, I realized that these people are the product of hopelessness. People need hope for real things...even when little really exist... So even if I can't convince you that God is real, perhaps I can convince you that the need for a real God is real.

Where do our philosophies come from if not from our nature?

Ultimately this is a faith argument. I think the good within us is real, not just an abstraction.

They need to believe they have no business killing or enslaving their neighbors…

I see the use of God's name to promote war as the greatest hypocrisy found in all religions.

I have no intention of ‘killing’ you.

I wish my wife would say that once in awhile

How much do children carry with them into adulthood?
Good point. Many never do understand the more sophisticated aspects of their own belief system ...especially the Catholics in my experience.

Do they still sell indulgences?
Still, one can point to many many good things done by the Catholic Church that go mostly unnoticed...and surely without thanks! Instead of pointing to the St Vincent DePaul Society of today, which is a Catholic Charity that does tremendous good, most point the something done in the middle ages. It is also noteworthy that while many religions go out to convert people, the Catholics often first help people, then they try to effect conversion.

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Do they still sell indulgences?
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Still, one can point to many many good things done by the Catholic Church that go mostly unnoticed...and surely without thanks! Instead of pointing to the St Vincent DePaul Society of today, which is a Catholic Charity that does tremendous good, most point the something done in the middle ages.
I've been at this computer too much today and I'm tired. What I was attempting to show is that religion is the easy way out. Whether a it is a young person doing as they please then seeking forgiveness in the confessional, or a businessman who cheats someone then does the same thing. When it is taken to the extreme it may turn up as an indulgence where forgiveness is paid for. This absolves people from the injury they have done to others. If you ask “why not take the easy route” I’d reply “Because I see in this easy way something I cannot agree with”, and what makes me disagree has absolutely nothing to do with god.

Royce
Could any or all of this be why Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is here on Earth and now. Implying that we shouldn't wait for heaven and it's rewards
Or why Buddha said at least in effect; Let God and heaven take care of themselves. It is living our lives now and here that I am concerned about.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Originally posted by Royce
Could any or all of this be why Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is here on Earth and now. Implying that we shouldn't wait for heaven and it's rewards
Or why Buddha said at least in effect; Let God and heaven take care of themselves. It is living our lives now and here that I am concerned about.

I suspect that the biblical reference is out of context. Can you provide a little more information? Also, I may agree but I'm not sure what you mean. Could you elaborate a little?

I would like to respond to this, but I am not sure what the direct question is. Can you restate it properly? I think that, being as my name states, and a strong member in quite a large atheist community, I could provide a good answer to...well what's the question?!?

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
...What I was attempting to show is that religion is the easy way out. Whether a it is a young person doing as they please then seeking forgiveness in the confessional, or a businessman who cheats someone then does the same thing. When it is taken to the extreme it may turn up as an indulgence where forgiveness is paid for. This absolves people from the injury they have done to others. If you ask “why not take the easy route” I’d reply “Because I see in this easy way something I cannot agree with”, and what makes me disagree has absolutely nothing to do with god.

I completely appreciate your point of view but I must maintain just the opposite. I am trying to show that religion is not the easy way out at all. It is hard to live as a good Christian. Those who use religion as a convenience are hypocrites. My faith demands that I strive to maintain higher standards than I might really want. You seem to argue that these standards are implicit to our nature. I say that this nature within us is real and not just a philosophical premise or biological urge. I guess that philosophically, you see yourself as good, but I say no, you are really good. I guess we are down to a faith argument on this point.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
...What I was attempting to show is that religion is the easy way out. Whether a it is a young person doing as they please then seeking forgiveness in the confessional, or a businessman who cheats someone then does the same thing. When it is taken to the extreme it may turn up as an indulgence where forgiveness is paid for. This absolves people from the injury they have done to others. If you ask “why not take the easy route” I’d reply “Because I see in this easy way something I cannot agree with”, and what makes me disagree has absolutely nothing to do with god.

I completely appreciate your point of view but I must maintain just the opposite. I am trying to show that religion is not the easy way out at all. It is hard to live as a good Christian. Those who use religion as a convenience are hypocrites. My faith demands that I strive to maintain higher standards than I might really want. You seem to argue that these standards are implicit to our nature. I say that this nature within us is real and not just a philosophical premise or biological urge. I guess that philosophically, you see yourself as good, but I say no, you are really good. I guess we are down to a faith argument on this point.

I am trying to show that religion is not the easy way out at all. It is hard to live as a good Christian. Those who use religion as a convenience are hypocrites.
Yes, we won’t be able to reach an agreement over this one. The type of religion we are dealing with here has the potential of allowing you, to injure me, then relieve yourself from guilt by seeking forgiveness from a third party (god, the priest in the confessional, etc.). Now, you might argue that your beliefs would have you come to me and attempt to make amends, but that doesn’t really alter that you can take a load off your mind without doing so…. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
I maintain that the only one you need forgiveness from is me, the one you harmed, and you are not going to get it until you come see me and I give it to you.

Now let us turn it around and look at it from my end, where I (the non-religionist) injure you. I know what I have done is wrong, and I know that the only way for me to every feel at peace with myself is if I beg your forgiveness and offer to make it up to you somehow. I do not have the luxury of easing my mind by any other means (well, I could be a sociopath, but that’s another story). There is no safety net for me to fall back on, I must simply do what is right.

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HazZy
that's simply not true. confessions are done to confess ones sins in hopes that god will forgive you, not that through god only the person you injured will forgive you. a man punched another man, did a confession, then walked up to the man he punched pretending like everything was ok -- is this situation even plausible? no.

the person may feel that god forgives him, but he surely feels guilt from what he did to the other person, knowing the only way to make up is to apologize face to face.

Why are you superimposing a mythological concept onto a real concept, and expecting any possible outcome to result? An outcome from such an event will never occur.

Originally posted by HazZy
that's simply not true. confessions are done to confess ones sins in hopes that god will forgive you, not that through god only the person you injured will forgive you. a man punched another man, did a confession, then walked up to the man he punched pretending like everything was ok -- is this situation even plausible? no.
You are picking at a flyspeck and calling it a mountain here. It doesn't have to only happen in the way you describe.

A man injures another man. The injured man sues. Being sued irks the Christian (after all, we are human). He rationalizes the injury first in his head, then in a confessional. He never faces the man and asks for an apology...yet he keeps right on going to church, doesn't he?

...the person may feel that god forgives him, but he surely feels guilt from what he did to the other person, knowing the only way to make up is to apologize face to face. [/B]
This is where you have spoken my very point and yet failed to see it. He can be forgiven by god even if he has killed the man in cold blood and thus is never able to face the man.

HazZy
anybody, even an athiest, can rationalize his actions therefore not feeling any guilt... some people are like that, however that's human nature, not religion. and why does it matter if he "keeps right on going to church"? if he already rationalized his actions he has no reason to feel guilty, yet if he actually believes he is in the right, he's got problems.

and you think that a person who kills a man, even if he believes he is forgiven by god, feels no guilt from his actions or guilt towards the family of the person he murdered?! that's blind. maybe you should talk to a christian that has killed a man. first ask if he thinks god forgives him for his crime, then ask if he feels guilty for what he did, I am positive without a doubt (considering he didnt rationalize his crime) he would say yes. he would feel the same guilt an athiest would feel. it's really a pointless argument, atheists feel the same guilt as theists, yet theists feel an additional guilt from their god.

…atheists feel the same guilt as theists, yet theists feel an additional guilt from their god.
That’s the first thing I’ve seen you say that I feel addresses my points. I don’t think I believe a word of it, however.

We are talking about an ‘easy way out’ aren’t we?
We are talking about knowing that god has forgiven us aren’t we, or can theists, in your way of thinking never be certain god has forgiven them for their crimes against others?

.. that's simply not true. confessions are done to confess ones sins in hopes that god will forgive you, not that through god only the person you injured will forgive you.
Who grants forgiveness, god, or the priest?

Absolution is the remission of sins in Confession by an authorized priest, in the Sacrament of Penance. The power to absolve is given to the priest at ordination, but can only be exercised within the jurisdiction given to him by his religious superior, except when there is danger of death. In order for the absolution to be valid, the penitent must have confessed all known sins, firmly resolve not to sin again and intend to perform his penance. Conditional absolution is given when the priest is not certain of the conditions or dispositions of the penitent.
The punishment for sin is only partially satisfied; the remainder must be satisfied by good works, almsgiving, indulgences prayers and purgatory. This is called temporal punishment. General absolution is given (in emergency situations only) without confession when confession is impossible. Absolution is regarded as Christ's forgiveness. St. Augustine tells us that the words which the priest says to the sinner, "I absolve thee," are infinitely more powerful than the word by which Almighty God created the world (THE CONFESSIONAL, Thomas Burke, O.P., Catholic Truth Society, page 9).
Taken from; http://www.angelfire.com/ky/dodone/Absolution.html [Broken]

What can I say except “I absolve thee”?

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HazZy
That’s the first thing I’ve seen you say that I feel addresses my points. I don’t think I believe a word of it, however.
yeah, but I'm a theist, the ethnocentric fallacy monster eats your claim up . forgiveness from god is something totally different then forgiveness from the person you hurt, for me at least. I am sure other theists would agree.

can theists, in your way of thinking never be certain god has forgiven them for their crimes against others?
doesnt matter, we're talking about their guilt, not if they actually are forgiven. but to answer your question, sure .

Who grants forgiveness, god, or the priest?
i'll take your word for it, I am not catholic . again it doesn't matter, who cares if god forgives them or if the priest does or whatever, it's all about how the person feels about their crimes after they have been forgiven by the priest/god/whatever. do they still feel guilty of them? i know i do. i would speculate that it all depends on the type of person they are, not their religion, or lack there of.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
...What can I say except “I absolve thee”?

Pretty good! You have me at a disadvantage since my own beliefs are in conflict with Catholic doctrine. However, in spite of the archaic overtones, the reasoning behind these practices is still rooted in good sense. I would argue that beyond the common aspects of wrong-doing such as guilt or paybacks, here Catholicism imposes the additional requirement for introspection and then the vocal confession. Note that if a Catholic commits a murder and is sentenced to death, if the person is unrepentant, even the chair doesn't get him a ride to heaven.

So like the retiring attorney said: As a young man I lost cases I should have won. As an older man I won more cases than I should have. On the average I would say that justice has been served.

Royce
Ivan Seeking and Logical Athiest,
Think that what both Buddha and Jesus were saying is that we have to concern ourselves with living now on this Earth in this life and doing and living good in the here and now for the sake of good and mankind rather than possible rewards in the afterlife. I was addressing a few posts before that were saying the same thing but critizing religion for that reason. I was trying to show that in reality Jesus and Buddha agree completely with them. We should do good for goods sake rather than fear of punishment or hopes of reward. That is the difference between a child and a mature and wise adult.

Originally posted by HazZy
yeah, but I'm a theist, the ethnocentric fallacy monster eats your claim up . forgiveness from god is something totally different then forgiveness from the person you hurt, for me at least. I am sure other theists would agree.
Ah, but we have not until just now (so far as I’m aware) attempted to break all of religion up into little pieces in order to find some of it blameless…
doesnt matter, we're talking about their guilt, not if they actually are forgiven. but to answer your question, sure .
Yes, I will try to remember that in reality we are only dealing with the guilty feelings inside our own heads. Now, if we find a way to relieve this guilt and convince ourselves that we are going to heaven even though we never made amends to the injured party, then doesn’t a religion which provides for these views offer something corrupt? Some ‘easy way out’ to relieve yourself?

BTW, I admit that I gave a crappy scenario, you were right about that. Can you also admit that you were not trying very hard to use your imagination to find support for what I was attempting to show?

i'll take your word for it, I am not catholic . again it doesn't matter, who cares if god forgives them or if the priest does or whatever, it's all about how the person feels about their crimes after they have been forgiven by the priest/god/whatever.
What matters is that the person ‘believes’ the priest can absolve them. That way, a few moments of ‘feeling bad’ in the confessional sends them back out into the world living in some fantasy where all had been forgiven….while the injured party rots.
.. do they still feel guilty of them? i know i do. i would speculate that it all depends on the type of person they are, not their religion, or lack there of.
Yes, I mostly agree, but then at the least I would make a claim that religion becomes moot in a topic like this. Are you then arguing that there is no easy way, be someone religious or not?
What I think this picture is lacking is that it doesn’t recognize the ability to seek forgiveness by asking God to forgive you after clubbing someone over the head. There are as many different people in the world as there are people in the world. The non-theist, as I see it, has no outward means of redemption except for involving the injured party. The theist not only has that exact same outlet, but has another one too. More paths, more options, one of which might actually allow him to convince himself that all is well…

Fliption
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
I completely appreciate your point of view but I must maintain just the opposite. I am trying to show that religion is not the easy way out at all. It is hard to live as a good Christian. Those who use religion as a convenience are hypocrites. My faith demands that I strive to maintain higher standards than I might really want. You seem to argue that these standards are implicit to our nature. I say that this nature within us is real and not just a philosophical premise or biological urge. I guess that philosophically, you see yourself as good, but I say no, you are really good. I guess we are down to a faith argument on this point.

I think this is a good thread that, if it had stayed on track , should have stayed in the philosophy forum. This is a point I have tried to make in several ethics discussions, albeit in a different way. I have claimed that the only way you can get to a true definition of what is good and evil is to have an absolute objective or purpose. All actions are assessed as good or bad based on how they perform their "function". A person is considered a good offensive football player if he scores lots of touchdowns because scoring and winning via the score is the objective. But that same player would likely get boo'd off of a basketball court. Because "touchdowns" are not the objective and that's the only way this player knows how to score.

What I think Ivan is saying here is similar to this view above. If a god exists, then that is the source of the purpose of creation. Hence the measure of good and bad is there. Without this "purpose", there is no single absolute rule of ethics. It is all individually based.

So for the benefit of all the self professed logical people, the question is..."On what standard can you judge the actions of others if you do not believe there is a single "standard" or "purpose" for determining good actions from bad?"

In these ethics discussions, I heard all the ideas about "whats good for survival of the species is the absolute standard". But my question is simply "says who?". Maybe the survival of Panda Bears is a more ethical thing? And lord knows they would be doing a whole lot better if humans went away. So who decides?

There were other attempts as well but no one has been able to clearly answer Ivan's question. I do not think there is an answer. It seems belief in some sort of absolute purpose is the only way to justify crucifying anyone for their actions. There doesn't seem to be any other rational way to justify this unless everyone in the world just decides to agree on a standard. But then even this leaves the poor Pandas out

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

Originally posted by Fliption
I think this is a good thread...
Thank you
...that, if it had stayed on track ...
Thank you
should have stayed in the philosophy forum.
THANK YOU! Getting diverted into an existence argument undermined the very point of the post. I asked the philosophical why; not the religious one.
There were other attempts as well but no one has been able to clearly answer Ivan's question. I do not think there is an answer. It seems belief in some sort of absolute purpose is the only way to justify crucifying anyone for their actions. There doesn't seem to be any other rational way to justify this unless everyone in the world just decides to agree on a standard. But then even this leaves the poor Pandas out
Couldn't have said it better myself.

EDIT: I think this is basically my thesis, from way back when:
"If the essence of good - GOD - is real, then there are real reasons to do good." Your reasons to do good are only abstractions. Abstractions are not real. Therefore no real reasons exist to do good."

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Ivan said this earlier:
Once I got past the hatred and fear, I realized that these people are the product of hopelessness. People need hope for real things...even when little really exist... So even if I can't convince you that God is real, perhaps I can convince you that the need for a real God is real.

Ok. I grew up 3 yards (not units of measure) away from what was considered the Ghetto in Florida. I went to church with several of the people whom you describe as hopeless. They continued going to church, praying to god to get them out of the mess they were born into.

Later in life, in my teens, I hung out with a wide variety of people. Many of my friends were into freelance pharmeceuticals (spelling) and also attended church. While they constantly prayed to god to make there life better, selling drugs was the only way to pay the bills.

You see, you might look at something like selling drugs as being "bad". But what about when a person who is out selling drugs to feed his younger brothers and sisters, elderly grand mother and putting himself through college? Is that still "bad"?

You see, you can wonder if god is responsible for all good things. Personally, I think everyone has potential in them, for good or bad things. It is merely the opinion of an outside observer as to whether or not that thing is good or bad.

Where as you may say "selling drugs is bad, regardless of the motivation" I have a different opinion. And all of society will have different opinions.

Now, what I hate to see is people crediting god with all there accomplishments. Like a lady I work with, whom had never used a computer before this job. She had 3 weeks to learn the material or she was out the door.

Now she is very religous, and prayed to god to help her out. I let a week and one half go by, merely to see if god would grant here some SAP knowledge. After noticing that apparently god and his infinite wisdom knows nothing about the humans SAP, I decided to step in and show her how to get things done. Within 3 days she was moving through SAP like a pro.

Now of course, the theist would say "But god sent his wisdom through you to answer her prayers." But that is bs. I have been a non-believer before I learned sap, and god did not grant me with computer ability, I merely learned it on my own. She of course, after thanking jesus, decided to thank me for delivering the message. I was rather offended but bit my tounge.

Believers have a bad habit of passing the buck. All that is required of a christian is to admit jesus died for your sins, accept him in your heart, and try to live a decent life. Anytime you stray from this path of a decent life, you say "God, I've gone astray, and I need your forgiveness." Now everything is all better and you go on about your business until the guilt finally builds up to a point where you must call on God again to forgive you.

I'll give a christian credit that is hard/impossible to be a true christian, and live as the alleged Jesus lived, and meet all the various guidelines of the religion.

For example, how many of you believer are guilty of the following:

Premarital sex
hypocrisy
having a wife of equal stature, or a husband who is submissive
passing judgement on others

And you don't even think about things like that. Because society has changed and when society disagrees with a certain part of religion, that part is removed or rewritten, or sometimes just ignored, such is the case with biblical support of slavery.

But basically, there is no solid answer to your question. I can type all day long about it, but it will not satisfy you. Unless you can prove god exist, your point is, well, pointless.

Kinda like arguing that 2 apples + 2 apples equals 4 apples, but not knowing what an apple is.

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this will stay in the philosophy forum as long as it stays away from religious disccussions...

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Originally posted by megashawn
Ivan said this earlier:
Ok. I grew up 3 yards (not units of measure) away from what was considered the Ghetto in Florida. I went to church with several of the people whom you describe as hopeless. They continued going to church, praying to god to get them out of the mess they were born into.
You are by definition missing the point: If they had a belief in a God then they weren't hopeless [without hope for better things]. I am talking about people who believe in nothing.
...You see, you might look at something like selling drugs as being "bad". But what about when a person who is out selling drugs to feed his younger brothers and sisters, elderly grand mother and putting himself through college? Is that still "bad"?

If you check my post, you will see that I am talking about hardened gang-bangers; not the good boy who lost his way. I mean people who have no regard for their lives or anyone else’s.
You see, you can wonder if god is responsible for all good things. Personally, I think everyone has potential in them, for good or bad things. It is merely the opinion of an outside observer as to whether or not that thing is good or bad.
So I can choose whatever I wish?
Now, what I hate to see is people crediting god with all there accomplishments. Like a lady I work with, whom had never used a computer before this job. She had 3 weeks to learn the material or she was out the door...she is very religous, and prayed to god to help her out.

I also think most persons of a faith actually take their cars to mechanics rather than praying for divine intervention. This is silly.
Now of course, the theist would say "But god sent his wisdom through you to answer her prayers." But that is bs. I have been a non-believer before I learned sap, and god did not grant me with computer ability, I merely learned it on my own. She of course, after thanking jesus, decided to thank me for delivering the message. I was rather offended but bit my tounge.

What does this have to do with the thread? I assume in my opening post that God does not exist. Also, your comments show that you have little or no knowledge of religious beliefs.
But basically, there is no solid answer to your question. I can type all day long about it, but...
So you agree with my meaningless point. Thank you.

Well, then back to the topic we shall go…
what justifies doing good, and what is good...why bother? It seems to me that all arguments for anything except self-serving selfish behavior quickly fail. In turn, this kind of behavior has negative effects on society. Of course, if the world effectively ends with my death what do I care?
Let’s look at the questions in order;
1) What justifies doing good.
2) What is good.
3) Why bother to do good.
Then what follows is point I agree with and another I disagree with.
4) Why should anyone care if the world effectively ends when someone dies.

First, I would say respectfully that too damn many questions are being asked here to make the replies stay on topic.

That said, here are my responces;

1) Depends on who you ask.
2) Depends on who you ask.
4) Not everyone believes this happens, both the religionist and the atheist understand that their children will carry on, if nothing else.

Boulder, I feel the same way. Here is my short explanation of my POV

Good - socially acceptable. Generally speaking

I am an atheist. I use logic, scientific methods, et al, to come to this conclusion. We are all aware of what an atheist is.

Let me address why I hault myself from doing things.

1. If I was to be found out, the government I live under would punish me

2. An action I take may affect a relationship I have with another person

Those are the primary reasons. But let's face it, the first one is more prevelant. If I could hide such an act as, let's say, a theft or a murder, from anyone not SERIOUSLY investigating this, and there was no government to punish me, boy you better believe there's things I'd be doing.

That's my basic take on it. However the question is so vague it's a non-question. Please THINK about questions and make sure they're not VAGUE or AMBIGUOUS. Otherwise you will get the same thing in return.