Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion claims to?

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Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion claims to?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:21 pm UTC

Societies been GREAT for thousands of years! Good thing we had religion to look to.
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Re: Religion

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:27 pm UTC

And atheism inspires people to go out and do good works? Y'know, I was having a conversation about this with a friend earlier today.....do me a favor, gimme the name of a philanthropic and/or charity organization that defines itself as atheist, but goes out and does good works or donates money to make the world a better place, in ways that do NOT have to do with atheism. A friend of mine was hunting and says that for all orgs he found, at least 40% of their proceeds went to fighting against religion. Atheist Volunteers gives labor, but use the cash for "the fight."

Oh, and for clarity, a counterexample would be Child's Play, an organization that defines itself as "gamers", but help children in more ways than just games.....they also do so with toys and cash. Or of course, Habitat for Humanity, or Feed My People, Christian orgs that help in ways that don't necessarily have a thing to do with their religion....other than that religion helps motivate their actions.

So yeah, religion has done both good and evil....but folks tend to focus on the evil and ignore the good. I guess it's cos the crusades, spanish iniquisition, etc., tended to cause a bigger fuss than anything Mother Theresa did. But tell me....what has atheism done for us?

(Please note, simply saying that atheims works to free us of religion is simply circular logic, "Atheism is good because it supports atheism which is good.")

Gimme an example and I'll eat my hat!

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:37 pm UTC

Let me appeal to your practical side. What exactly will arguing with the Christians and other theists in my circle of friends and family do? They're not the Hitlers of the world, killing Jews in God's name. They're not the insane rednecks of the world, looking to lynch me because I believe differently than they do, they're just regular people (well, extraordinary people, imho) trying to make it in the world, and many of them look to the concept of God to help them make it through the tough times in their lives, or to help bring them together with people they'd otherwise have problems relating to, or to find purpose, a reason to move forward through life.

What would be the reason to try to "convert" them? Why is it harmful to have their belief in God, if they're not hurting anyone with their belief in God? Why am I so arrogant to believe that my way of looking at the world and living in the world is the best, that no set of beliefs or philosophy is better than mine?

Aikanaro, identifying yourself as a "Christian" charity is an advertising campaign. Missionaries are sent around the world in large part to spread their religion. Historically, missionaries in Africa and South America got lessons in morality and shame from the missionaries right alongside how to farm. Ironically, the bible and torah both say you should do good things in secret and the lord will reward you, rather than preach in the street, showing the world how incredibly pious you are.

Atheists similarly don't have any reason to attach their anti-religious affiliation to their actions unless they are anti-religious organizations. When I volunteered at a local school to judge their science fair, I didn't do it with the tag of "ATTN: ATHEIST", because that wasn't appropriate, nor was it the goal I wanted to achieve. I wanted to help kids get the same love and excitement for science I have, not shove propoganda down their throat.

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Re: Religion

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:44 pm UTC

Oh, I'm aware that it gives good P.R.. And I'm willing to accept that, for any given organization, be it Christians saying, "See what we're doing for you, in God's name!" or atheists saying "Hey, just because we don't believe in some magic man in the sky doesn't mean we don't believe in PEOPLE! Look at us, helping! We're helpers!" Regardless of that, they're still doing GOOD, and are making the world a better place. If I donate a million bucks to a soup kitchen, homeless folks are going to be fed. It doesn't matter whether I did it because a voice in my head told me to, or because I think it's what God would want, or if I did it to impress a girl so I can get laid. As long as it wasn't part of some bizarre chain reaction with the goal of causing even MORE harm, I went out and did what I think most rational humans will agree is a "good" thing.

So. There's lots of individuals AND organizations out there who do horrible things in the name of religion. There's also a lot who do their level best to try and just help their fellow man, in entirely secular ways, just because they think it's what God would want. But how much good has been done in the name of atheism? Even if it's just for P.R., and is against religion inasmuch as trying to show it up, how much has it really accomplished in the way of helping folks in general.

To sum it up....anyone know of any purely secular (not having a thing to do with either religion, or atheism) charities that, say, Richard Dawkins donates money to on a regular basis?
Last edited by Aikanaro on Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:54 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Religion

Postby Hammer » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:52 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:To sum it up....anyone know of any purely secular (not having a thing to do with either religion, or atheism) charities

I don't believe that Susan G. Komen for the Cure has anything specifically to do with or against religion.
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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:54 pm UTC

I really don't think that's a fair comparison. I know I've released half a dozen video games for free so people can play them as they wish, I've contributed time and code to open source projects, I've volunteered at the local school, I've volunteered quite a bit to raise money for the local nursing home, but I didn't do it to be an asshole and wave my atheism in everyone else's face, I did it because it was the right thing to do, and because I wanted to do it.

The idea of forming an atheist charity is ridiculous. It would be like founding an "I don't eat at McDonalds" charity.

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Re: Religion

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:03 pm UTC

Alrightaru, what if I use the term "Secular Humanist" instead of "Atheist?" Sound a bit less ridiculous?

Hammer, Dawkins has donated to that charity? Citation, please? If so, he's a better person than I thought, and you'll have to excuse me while I go look for a hat made of pizza.......
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Re: Religion

Postby Hammer » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:07 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:Hammer, Dawkins has donated to that charity? Citation, please? If so, he's a better person than I thought, and you'll have to excuse me while I go look for a hat made of pizza.......

I don't have a list of Dawkins' donations. It's simply a non-religious charity organization. I didn't realize the requirements were quite so stringent.
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Re: Religion

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:08 pm UTC

Oh, sorry, I didn't see which of my posts you were responding to, I thought it was the second one where I used him as an example.
EDIT:

And to broaden the requirements, I'm basically allowing any Atheist/Secular Humanist charity or such organization that basically goes out and does good works, and the WORK they do is unrelated to their dislike of religion, even if their motivation is so they can say "Hey, look at us, we're awesome, we don't need God to tell us to do good stuff, we can improve the world anyway." The only other dis-qualifier is if they use 40% or more of the money they recieve to attack religion directly, rather than simply passively doing it by providing an example of Humanist morality.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Hammer » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:34 pm UTC

Split from Religion thread. Note, there are already a number of threads for general discussion of atheism and morality, including this one.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby clintonius » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:50 pm UTC

. . . the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby theonlyjett » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC

Thread split while I was writing.

I believe the point brought up in the religion thread to be moot.

Good people do good things. Selfish people are selfish. (Is that like "obvious troll is obvious?" :P )

I know many religious people who do believe that god will reward them for doing good thing, but they still don't do good things! I also know a few atheists who are atheist as an excuse to be selfish, "cause they can do what they want."

But I also know atheists and theists who are just good people. Regardless of whether they believe in God, they still believe it's better to be a good person. Gotta say, I'm not even the slightest bit interested in "who does more." It seems pretty childish. :roll:

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Gunfingers » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:59 pm UTC

Have you really never heard of a charitable organization existing that wasn't religious in nature? I mean, just off the top of my head the Combined Federal Campaign and Kiva (my favorite charity) come up and i'm sure there are thousands more so i must be misunderstanding the question.

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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:00 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:And atheism inspires people to go out and do good works? Y'know, I was having a conversation about this with a friend earlier today.....do me a favor, gimme the name of a philanthropic and/or charity organization that defines itself as atheist, but goes out and does good works or donates money to make the world a better place, in ways that do NOT have to do with atheism.


Why would that exist, any more than atheist churches? Why would an atheist want to spraypaint "made for and by atheists, KEEP OUT, GODBOTHERERS!" all over their charity? It detracts from the purpose, which is to actually raise money to help people.

By and large, an atheist who is interested in charity isn't going to think about how he can make the charity reflect on his atheism and shine the light of atheism to the world. He's just going to go start/donate to a charity. With notable exceptions, it's only the religious who feel that their relgion has to be stamped on everything they do.

The only reason to start a specifically atheist charity is if you're specifically funding the fight against state religion and suchlike. Otherwise, even if you're an atheist starting a charity you aren't going to put "atheism" in the mission statement because it's not bloody relevant.

So, that being said, you could easily assume that any charitable organization with no religious affiliation is an atheist charity. Run that search.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:03 pm UTC

It isn't a belief or lack of belief in God which drives a person to do good. It is the innate values of humanity. When I help others, when I hold the door for the frail old lady, when I volunteer to teach at the local school, when I release video games for free, when I write a free magazine for a programming community, I'm not doing these things because I'm an atheist, and if I still believed in God, I wouldn't do these things because I'm a Christian. I'd do these things because I'm human, and it is my humanity which defines me.

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Re: Religion

Postby lesliesage » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:36 pm UTC

A brief question, but I think that it is relevant, as the discussion will reveal:

Does religion inspire "good" works, or does religion merely suggest good works to people who are already good (much like religion inspires evil works to people who are already evil?)

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Oct 02, 2008 11:20 pm UTC

Okay, items to go through...

Item the first..../goes and eats a hat made of pizza.

Item the second: I already denoted the reason why such an atheist organization would exist. Note that I never said it was a MATURE reason, but no one ever said all organizations were sane, be they religious or secular.

And the reasons for my questioning the existence of such organization wasn't so much to attack atheism by claiming atheists haven't done anything to improve the world. The original reason I brought up the subject in the other thread was in response to an all-too-common comment regarding all the ills religion has caused throughout history, etc., etc., and how whenever such arguments are broached, any good that may have come from religion throughout history is completely ignored.

There are certain kinds of rabid atheists that truly seem to believe both that religion has caused nothing but harm to humanity all through the ages (and continues to do so today), and that it's apparently the root cause of any and ALL woes in the world. I know, I know, "Straw man," but not quite--this is simply the conclusion I'm lead to when as soon as any harm caused by a religious motivation is brought up, there's an apparently knee-jerk reaction condemning faith for the harm it ALWAYS apparently causes to people. I brought up the comparison of religious charitable organizations simply as an example of GOOD things that have been motivated by faith. It's unbalanced to simply point out the evil that has been done in the name of religion, while ignoring every house built to help a stranger, every meal served at a soup kitchen, if it was done in the name of God. THAT is why I questioned how much good has been done "in the name of atheism."

You could also argue that, as time passes, more good than evil is done in the name of religion. Yes, there's always fanatics, but there's fewer of them as history goes on. We still have jihads, but we no longer have the Spanish inquisition in Europe, Salem witch trials in New England, etc.. So it just seems imbalanced to constantly denounce religion (when we have yet to determine whether overall it does more good than harm), while claiming atheism is superior simply due to how it is, most likely, a zero-sum on the balance of good and evil it's caused.

Though I must admit, MJ raises a very good point, though I don't really know if there's any good way to analyze/test it, barring Hari Seldon and a working model of psychohistory.

/drops asbestos vest. Okay, let the flaming begin, I'm braced for it.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Kachi » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:24 am UTC

Yeah, uh, charities aside, atheist people don't do things -because- they are atheists. Contrast that with religious motivations, and it should be clear why atheism doesn't inspire good work-- it just serves as an example that religion is entirely unnecessary to do good work.

And I wouldn't trivialize the bad that religion does as obscure historical references. Even today there's sectarian violence and turmoil with religion at its root. It may not be -your- religion (anymore), but at some point your religion probably was responsible for such crimes against humanity. Even here in America, there is still plenty of domestic strife as a result of religion, and it pulls families apart. I won't go into the plentiful personal experiences I've had with religious people who have used their religion (and these are your average Christians and Catholics) to treat their own friends and families negatively, but I have seen more than enough tears shed by loved ones caused by religion-- in their own homes no less.

It seems to me that the people most apt to do good things purely because of their religion, rather than by their own virtues, are also the most apt to do bad things at the behest of biblical literalism.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby SJ Zero » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:37 am UTC

If you're trying to show that both good and evil have come from both atheism and religion, A question with a much more clear-cut answer is "What evil deeds have been done in the name of atheism?"

Communism was strongly anti-religious. Marx called religion "the opiate of the masses". In Russia, Churches were "disappeared", religious leaders were considered dissidents and they too were "dissappeared".

In terms of pure evil, communist atheists in China and Russia each killed more than Hitler's Holocaust.

Neither good nor evil are really the fault of any religion or lack thereof. There's lots in the bible that good people ignore, like slavery, or blatant sexism, or outdated racism. There's also good stuff in the bible that bad people ignore, such as this:

"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:1-6 RSV)

You can't call any religion which contains something as wise as that all that evil.

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Re: Religion

Postby SenderMage » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:08 am UTC

Belial wrote:
Aikanaro wrote:And atheism inspires people to go out and do good works? Y'know, I was having a conversation about this with a friend earlier today.....do me a favor, gimme the name of a philanthropic and/or charity organization that defines itself as atheist, but goes out and does good works or donates money to make the world a better place, in ways that do NOT have to do with atheism.


Why would that exist, any more than atheist churches? Why would an atheist want to spraypaint "made for and by atheists, KEEP OUT, GODBOTHERERS!" all over their charity? It detracts from the purpose, which is to actually raise money to help people.

By and large, an atheist who is interested in charity isn't going to think about how he can make the charity reflect on his atheism and shine the light of atheism to the world. He's just going to go start/donate to a charity. With notable exceptions, it's only the religious who feel that their relgion has to be stamped on everything they do.

The only reason to start a specifically atheist charity is if you're specifically funding the fight against state religion and suchlike. Otherwise, even if you're an atheist starting a charity you aren't going to put "atheism" in the mission statement because it's not bloody relevant.

So, that being said, you could easily assume that any charitable organization with no religious affiliation is an atheist charity. Run that search.



Thank you. I was reading all of the posts from the top, thinking, "Not one of these reflects how I feel," until I got to this post. Only religious charities care that their charity is labeled with their religion.
I haven’t seen any atheists actively set against religion, but according to some of these posts, some people like that exist. I’m just an atheist who feels how I feel and don’t tell others what to believe. That’s their prerogative.
I also like the line from SJ Zero, "The idea of forming an atheist charity is ridiculous. It would be like founding an "I don't eat at McDonalds" charity."
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby VannA » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:16 am UTC

/rant.

Religion | Atheism is the totally, utterly, completely the wrong framework for moral comparisons of this sort.

The root axioms that define an Atheist of Deist are unlikely, in my opinion, to be weighted overly greatly, when considering their moral behaviours from a separate perspective.

I believe quite strongly, the factor that is worth considering, in this particular question of Good vs Harm in Religion vs Atheism, is actually dogma vs critical thought. (Rationality)

Religion, for various reasons, is frequently lumped (with varying degrees of accuracy) with Dogma. Atheism is frequently viewed as rational.

Atheists and Deists both have dogmatic zealots and rational thinkers, however. And I would posit that the Dogmatic followers of either are ultimately responsible for the greatest amount of evil. Mostly because a dogmatic approach leaves an individual heavily open to manipulation.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby TheStranger » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:17 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:In terms of pure evil, communist atheists in China and Russia each killed more than Hitler's Holocaust.


Wasn't Hitlers Holocaust an "atheist" ideology against religious groups (among others).

That being said, atheism is a negative belief... most atheists don't go around with "hey I don't believe in any form of deity." running through their head. Atheists just join/support charities without a religious focus, instead of those with a religious focus.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Kachi » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:29 am UTC

In terms of pure evil, communist atheists in China and Russia each killed more than Hitler's Holocaust.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but they did not do so for dogmatic reasons.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby VannA » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:35 am UTC

I really, really *really* hope you meant to write:

Kachi wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but they did not do so for dogmatic reasons.


Because the implementations of Communism and Capitalism entrenched in various parts of the world are heavily, heavily dogmatic in their approach.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby SJ Zero » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:51 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:Wasn't Hitlers Holocaust an "atheist" ideology against religious groups (among others).

That being said, atheism is a negative belief... most atheists don't go around with "hey I don't believe in any form of deity." running through their head. Atheists just join/support charities without a religious focus, instead of those with a religious focus.


Actually, Hitler was a Roman Catholic. In his writings, he makes references to God, and there are references to God within the Nazi party. I'm not going to look it up until I get home at which point I'll probably ninja it in, but I believe the SS motto explicitly mentioned God, and Hitler mentions in his writings that he's on a mission for God to eradicate the Jews.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Mane » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:51 am UTC

Any 'good' deed that you need to be inspired to do is not really a good deed to begin with; truely good deeds are done because it's the thing to do, not because you have some cloud man watching your every move.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby TheStranger » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:32 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Actually, Hitler was a Roman Catholic. In his writings, he makes references to God, and there are references to God within the Nazi party. I'm not going to look it up until I get home at which point I'll probably ninja it in, but I believe the SS motto explicitly mentioned God, and Hitler mentions in his writings that he's on a mission for God to eradicate the Jews.


I doubt very much that AH could be described as a practicing Catholic by the time he took power in Germany. The nature of Religion in Nazi Germany is very much open for debate, but it has always seemed (to me at least) that it was a propaganda tool.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby SJ Zero » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:38 am UTC

Regardless, the final conclusion is very much in line with the conclusions of this discussion: Religion doesn't cause people to do terrible things, they do terrible things because they want to, then religion either becomes the justification, or religion falls away. Atheism doesn't cause people to do terrible things, they do terrible things because they want to, then atheism either becomes the justification, or it too falls away.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Kachi » Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:45 am UTC

Because the implementations of Communism and Capitalism entrenched in various parts of the world are heavily, heavily dogmatic in their approach.


I meant religious, or I guess anti-religious, dogma.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Varsil » Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:59 pm UTC

Well, I don't really think anything is done "in the name of atheism", in the way that has been described as above. No one stands up and goes, "I'm doing this in the name of ______".

Now, you might get atheists who are persecuting religious people. I don't find those douches to be any different from the religious douches who persecute other religions (and usually atheists). They're just persecuting either an extra group, or (more likely) a different set of groups.

By the same token, I'm an atheist, and I'm doing a fair chunk of volunteering right now. But I don't go "This is what physics tells me to do", but instead just say "I think this is a good thing to do", or more basically, "this is something I want to do".

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:38 pm UTC

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I think 'good deeds' happen all the time, by all manner of people, religious and otherwise. Just because someone pulls someone out of harms way out of 'decency' or 'in the name of God' does not mean the deed has any less weight; it's just an unfortunate point that we commend the deed to God when they declare it such, and don't commend the deed to... decency... or the awesomeness of Steve... or communal obligation... or anything else... when God doesn't enter the equation.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Outchanter » Fri Oct 03, 2008 8:54 pm UTC

Atheism does not on its own imply attachment to any moral system. Secular humanism does, but some secular humanists may be agnostic or deist rather than atheist.

I find the idea of an Atheist Charity as absurd as a Theist Charity. A Cthulhu worshipper and a Mormon might both be theists, but that doesn't mean they have the same moral system.

SJ Zero wrote:Actually, Hitler was a Roman Catholic. In his writings, he makes references to God, and there are references to God within the Nazi party. I'm not going to look it up until I get home at which point I'll probably ninja it in, but I believe the SS motto explicitly mentioned God, and Hitler mentions in his writings that he's on a mission for God to eradicate the Jews.

Hitler had no compunction murdering millions of Polish Catholics (although proportionally they were not targeted as badly as the Polish Jews).

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:45 pm UTC

Atheism doesn't "inspire good works" any more than theism does. People do good things because they like other people. If they're religious, they might use their religion to justify why they did it, but when you get right down to it, people are generally nice to each other. It comes with being a social animal. (Serial killers and the like are notable exceptions)
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby dobilay » Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:36 am UTC

If anything an atheist would be more likely to do good things then a theist since they do not beleive that God will fix things eventually. I'm not suggesting that that happens often though, I'm just saying that it's possible.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:05 am UTC

The title here is misleading. Neither atheism nor religion inspire good works. People are inspired to do good or evil by their internal beliefs, which are usually entirely distinct from any religious belief or lack thereof. Of course, some religious people give money when their religious authority figures tell them things like "God will reward you if you give your money to helping starving children in Africa" but I wouldn't say that this is a good work based on a rational moral decision. I'd call that blackmail and say that the person is not doing any good works, but is trying to selfishly avoid an undesirable future.Overall this number of cases is statistically small though.

If I remember correctly, Atheists tended to donate a larger percentage of their salaries through charitable organizations (yes, including religious and secular charities) than any mainstream religion on average. What's more, the charities that atheists donated to were far more efficient with their money than the charities that religions donated to. Being an atheist myself, I can say that I spent hours each week trying to find charities that had high rates of success and good goals. All my christian friends were surprised, responding with things like "I just give to wherever the church is collecting that week"

I think the real question that should be asked is "Are religious people doing charitable things out of fear, or out of a desire to give?" I think the answer is probably the latter, but I don't know.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Exotria » Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:30 am UTC

Good people generally do good things. You can have bad atheists and bad believers. You can have good atheists and good believers. Attributing good works to one or the other is silly.
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Malice » Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:32 am UTC

Exotria wrote:Good people generally do good things. You can have bad atheists and bad believers. You can have good atheists and good believers. Attributing good works to one or the other is silly.


This has been said several times in this thread, and is not entirely true.

The reason is that belief does inspire action, and not all beliefs are equal. If a religion says, "God hates black people, go kill them," and, you know, really makes a point of it, anybody who believes in that religion is going to go do that. And the same goes for the opposite wavelength. So if I'm comparing Christianity (basic tenet: "Be nice to other people") to Ancient Greek polytheism (basic tenet: "Kill animals for the gods"), well, there's a clear difference there in the kinds of actions those believers are going to do.

So Christianity can inspire both charity and working against gay rights. People can do both; does that make them a good person, or a bad one? And what do we think about that religion?

Another false dichotomy here is the comparison between athiesm and religion. They're both belief systems. A better comparison is religion and areligiousness, which Chrome tells me is a made-up word, so maybe it's not very different from agnosticism. The point is that both atheism and religion will lead you do crazy things, sometimes, and it's better to compare the results of both of those to the results you get when you say, "My feelings on God have nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not I should go help out at a soup kitchen or give money to help fix cleft palates in Africa."
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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby alexh123456789 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 3:39 am UTC

Malice wrote:The point is that both atheism and religion will lead you do crazy things, sometimes,


The difference is that being atheist doesn't tell you to do anything, but the bible does tell you to persecute gays and everything else.

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Re: Does atheism inspire "good" works like religion does?

Postby Malice » Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:10 am UTC

alexh123456789 wrote:
Malice wrote:The point is that both atheism and religion will lead you do crazy things, sometimes,


The difference is that being atheist doesn't tell you to do anything, but the bible does tell you to persecute gays and everything else.


A religion isn't just its text. It's the group. (After all, the stuff about gays is very minor in the Bible, and it's the group that makes it such a big thing.) And I'm sure that hanging around in basements with a bunch of atheist buddies going "Man, fucking religion, man" is what leads to charities and organizations devoted to fucking with religion.

And as has been noted in the thread, a fair amount of (violent) religious persecution has been motivated by atheism. You don't really need a book; the fact that your central and only belief regarding God is that those fuckheads over there have it totally wrong is enough to make you do aforementioned crazy things.
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