Love thy Atheist?

In a story published in the Manchester Evening news, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor instructs everyone…

"Love thy atheist neighbor"
Well thank you father for being so… Christian???

I had a discussion not too long ago with a friend who commented; “look what good work all the Christians are doing, building play grounds for kids, helping the homeless, giving to shelters…” The big issue I have always had with putting a label on kindness is just that, you are putting your label on something that doesn’t require a label.

We all have good intentions, thoughts and desires. We all have some really ugly ones too. The difference is that some humans listen to one side and some to the other. The theist is always quick to point out that this is simply their God or their Satan. I maintain it is even more simple than that. It is simply human nature. There really are good people and bad people. Sometime circumstances drive the nature; sometimes the human overcomes the circumstances. The bottom line is, you are either good at heart or you are not. (I believe most people are, but a bit misguided)

People who build playgrounds and give generously of their time are generally doing it because they are good people. They don’t need a label to show why they are good. I know many atheists who are much more generous than I and they do all the things you would associate with a kind hearted person. The difference is the Christians have good PR people. They gather all their friends together (I suspect a few atheists are in there as well) and then tell everyone to “smile for the picture”. Now to be perfectly should be pointed out that Atheist are quick to point out how they too are helpful. Atheist Volunteers

So what happens if you take away the label? In the perfect world; when there are no religions, what would all the children be left to play in the dirt? Would the homeless be left to fend for themselves? The obvious answer is “NO”. All of the same kind hearted people would do the same things they are doing now.

In a discussion between and atheist and a theist I heard the atheist ask “if you have irrefutable evidence today that god absolutely did not exist, would you start rapping, pillaging and killing.” The theist answered “Well sure, why not?” So for this person his religion was the only thing making him a “good person”. At the conclusion of the conversation the atheist told the theist, “I hope you stay in church for the rest of your life!” I agree. Not only was the theist psychotic but obviously an idiot.

Bottom line…
Be kind to everyone PERIOD! Because you are the guardian of your kind heart and you don’t have to be a god, or worship one, to offer a helping hand.


yunshui said...

It seems so obvious, and yet the "without religion, there is no morality" argument is one trotted out with tedious regularity. The refutation I've always relied on is to point out that Christians tend only to follow the bits of the Bible's moral code that fit with the ethical precepts of their society. So "love thy neighbour" is fine and dandy, but "stone adulterers to death" is generally sidelined. The question then becomes, what criteria enable them to choose the appropriate verses to cherry-pick? And the answer? Their own sense of morality!

Shameless plug: I took apart Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's speech at my own blog, you might want to look over whether he is in fact saying "be nice to atheists" at all...

Bacchus Veritas said...

You kind of hinted at this, but the atheist who will not be rewarded in the end with salvation or an afterlife is the most sincere of those who do good. An atheist does good simply to do goo whereas some religious do good because they have to. Good post. Thanks.

Jeff said...

I am not really sure what i think about this post. It was an interesting read and so are the comments. But if atheists' whole perspective in life is to just do good onto others even though nothing good will happen to you in the after life, then what is the point. If i look at it that way then all i think is, "What is the point?" If nothing is going to happen to me after i die then life is a waste. In fact i would come to the conclusion that there is no reason for life to exist.

Then i wonder, "If there is no god, and we are here because of evolution or something like that, then why do we even want to know why we are here and no other species does?"

The Dragon said...

Well Jeff, the answers to your questions lay in philosophy. Not Theology. I suggest some reading in that department.


cl said...

I believe, and it's always disheartening to hear "atheists can't be moral" arguments, or "Christians are so moral" arguments. I liked this post, and this comment on another blog came to mind:

"An atheist who treats others as he would like to be treated is much better off than one claiming to be a Christian who doesn’t. While many Christians teach that Christians will be forgiven for all their sins and argue that others will not be forgiven – Jesus instead gave a parable that those who knew what they should be doing will in the end be judged much more sharply than those who didn’t know. So, if a Christian hears in church or reads in his Bible that he should be doing good to others and believes it to be the will or word of God and then doesn’t do it – and an atheist with no compulsion, no conscious hope of any reward does the good instead – the atheist is far better off than the Christian."

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Houston, TX, United States
I live in Houston Texas, married to my best friend with two wonderful kids (both teenagers). I enjoy philosophy, psychology, theism – atheism, quantum computing. I work in the technology industry with focus on energy and computer theory. I love to engage in discussions of rationality, logic, and reasonability.


Growing Up…
I had a great childhood. I had loving parents and a very easy life. I never wanted for anything. So I was never “mad at god”. I did have a lot of physical problems as a child but I never “blamed” them on anyone or anything. I was just born that way. I believe my parents were “religious” because of my physical birth defects. Because of these defects I spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child. Several times I was close to death. I believe this had a lot of influence on my parent’s belief system.

I have lost friends and family, I have experienced hardships. But that is just life as it happens. I did not have a great first marriage, but I did have two great kids come out of it. I am now married to the most wonderful woman on the planet and am very happy. For the most part life is good. Some have even told me that I have never “found god” because I have never truly suffered in life. That argument doesn’t hold water, but is interesting.

I begin questioning my Christian upbringing about age 10. I was asking questions and wasn’t getting satisfactory answers. I was raised in a small town in east Texas; this does not provide a whole lot of exposure to other religions. As I aged and begin to learn more I found it interesting that there were and had been so many religions and gods throughout the history of man. I begin to question why some believed in one god while others believed in theirs. I wondered how anyone could prove, or at the very least have some level of confidence they were worshiping the “right” god.

I can’t say I ever lost my faith. I never really had any. When I was young of course I didn’t know I was an Atheist. I just didn’t believe what everyone else was telling me. With my friends it never really came up that “I’m an Atheist”. When I told my mother I didn’t believe in god she just dismissed it as something I was going through. My father was indifferent to my proclamation. My closest friend is Jewish. I try my best to honor his belief system and he reciprocates.

Focusing Thoughts…
Once I realized that there were so many different religions it just seemed clear to me that none of them were real. Then I learned that there was a name for what I believed and it is called Atheism. Once I found others who believed as I did I begin to learn more about the religions and how they controlled so much of our lives. I wanted to know as much as I could about all of them. I even wrote an anthology paper in collage on how everyone could be worshiping the same god, just using different names.

I find it extremely easy and comforting to be an Atheist. Life is very simple, and so much less complicated. I follow simple rules for living; be nice to all living creatures, and the earth. Don’t think that you are better than anything or anyone else. I don’t think this is an original way of thinking or living but I don’t subscribe to it because it is part of some other philosophy, it simply feels like the “right” way to live.

I do tend to “pick on” Christianity more than other religions simply because it is the one that is most prevalent and intrusive in my life. While I think extremist or radicals in any religion are responsible for a large majority of the damage done to humanity, I also believe anyone who follows that religious teaching is responsible. You are responsible because you do not get to pick and chose which part of a religion you want to follow. Saying that you are against gay marriage while you are eating a bacon sandwich just doesn’t cut it with me. (If you don’t understand that last sentence look up the Christian bible and refer to the book of Leviticus.) If you only pick out the parts of a religion you want to follow you have just created a new religion.

I do make it evident in my life that I am an Atheist. I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle, I have sayings and quotes around my desk at work or around my house. I do this to let others know who they are approaching if they want to engage me in conversation or wish to ask questions. Just as others put “fish” on their vehicle or place religions symbols around their house.

Why am I an atheist? Because I ask questions and ask for the answers to be empirically evident. I consider my self to be a rationalist. I do not believe in faith, nor do I believe in statements like “we can not comprehend.” Do I have all the answers to life’s questions? Well of course not. It just means that we don’t have all the answers. I also believe that when we die, we just die. We are no different that any other living organism in the universe Wow is it really that simple? Yes it really is that simple. We just keep investigating the world around us as we have done throughout history. I have enough answers to get me through this thing called life. I will enjoy it while I am here and try to help those I care to help along the way. I will do so based on a moral compass in my heart, not one dictated by a religion.

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