Being A Christian Does Not Make You Moral


As I have said in a previous post, we get a lot of comments about how we can’t be moral because we are atheists. So let’s discuss what makes a person moral.

To be clear, neither Withteeth or I would say that we are moral because we are atheists. We are moral for other reasons. To be moral requires more than a set of beliefs: it requires actions as well. Withteeth and I have thought deeply about our moral convictions, and we have gone out of our way to act on those convictions. Anyone who wishes to argue that we are not moral is either willfully ignoring what we have done that makes us moral, or they are under the impression that to be moral you merely have to hold a particular set of beliefs. I believe that most of those who comment on our blog are of the second set. For that reason, I’m going to talk about why being a Christian (since those comments have so far come exclusively from Christians) doesn’t make you moral.

Do you go to church every week, or several times a week? Are you in a Bible study? Do you pray to God? Do you evangelize the word or God? Do you go to all of your churches events? Do you volunteer at your church? Basically, are you the quintessential “good Christian”? That’s wonderful if that’s what you enjoy, but that doesn’t make you a good person. Why? Because being a Christian doesn’t mean being moral. To be a Christian all you have to do is accept certain beliefs. There may be some required actions (ie. baptism) to go along with those beliefs, but the requirements are very basic and do not require morality in order to accept them. You do not need to help the poor in order to accept Jesus Christ as your saviour. You do not need to be kind to others to accept the Bible as true (literally or metaphorically). And you do not need to donate to charity to go through all of the programs and ceremonies offered by your church. There are Christians who are moral, but there are also some who aren’t. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be moral if you’re a Christian, but it does mean that you can be a Christian and be immoral.

Likewise, you do not have to be a Christian to be moral. Many of the comments we get are along the lines of “you don’t think morality is objective, so…” or “you need to believe in God to…” when they say we aren’t moral. It is commonly accepted by these commenters that morality is objective. So lets pretend that it is. If morality is objective, does my belief that it is subjective make any difference at all? It shouldn’t. If morality is objective, then it should be built into the foundation of our existence. It would be expected that we would all share the same moral belief systems. There wouldn’t be different moral systems across different cultures. It would also be expected that living creatures in general would treat each better overall. It wouldn’t matter what I believed about morality, because how I treated people would not change. I’d have this objective morality too deeply ingrained into me to act differently. And freewill wouldn’t change anything because this morality would be a part of my very foundation. I wouldn’t have any freedom to do otherwise. The fact that you believe God gave us the freedom to choose wouldn’t change anything either. If we can choose to be immoral, then morality cannot be ingrained into us, so it cannot be objective. If you believe that I can choose to be moral, then you do not believe that morality is objective.

However, if morality is subjective, then you’d see different cultures with different moral systems. You’d see people within a particular culture disagreeing with certain parts of their cultures moral system. And you’d see people acting immorally. If morality is subjective, then you can have a god who lets us decide whether or not to be moral. And you can have followers of that god disagreeing with one another about what it means to be moral. But this also means that, regardless of whether or not this god exists, you can have people who do not agree with this god behaving morally. This is because we can think about what is moral. We can debate the moral implications of a given action. And we can adjust our moral codes to better fit our reality.

Either way, atheists can be moral and it is not your Christianity that makes you moral.

For further reading on what objective and subjective morality are and what they mean, here are some links:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Objective_morality

http://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/six-reasons-why-objective-morality-is-nonsense/

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/why-there-is-no-objective-morality/

http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-morality-subjective

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism

http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/subjective-morality-not-what-it-seems/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-elerick/are-morals-subjective-or_b_504262.html

http://infidels.org/library/modern/niclas_berggren/morality.html

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61 responses to “Being A Christian Does Not Make You Moral

  • On morality | In Search of God

    […] is actually a response to another persons blog (https://hessianwithteeth.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/being-a-christian-does-not-make-you-moral)  but I thought it would be of value here […]

    Like

  • Colorstorm

    Hi there-

    Like you, I follow blogs with not only different, but opposing views. It’s a sign of a healthy mind. What is there to fear if your points are solid, and your beliefs are sure?

    Anyway, I know a fellow, a good friend, and he has higher morals than most believers I know. People ask me how is this possible, and I tell them…………… 😉

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  • Immorality of Morality | Interactive philosophy

    […] I came across an article where the author was not even trying to prove she was moral – she was trying to show why the […]

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  • mitchteemley

    There’s room to both agree and disagree here, I think. Being a Christian has never been about following a set of beliefs, it’s about having a life-changing relationship with one’s Creator (John 17:3). If that doesn’t change a person, making them more Christ-like, then it’s not real! http://mitchteemley.com/2014/10/14/pastor-rogers/

    Like

  • bryanajparry

    Nice post.

    In our society, there is still this kind of subconscious idea that being religious in some sense equates to being deep and having a meaningful and moral life. I’m frankly tired of religious people (and religious sympathisers!) telling me that I “don’t believe in anything” or that I am not spiritual or that I am not moral just because I don’t believe made-up crap written by illiterates who knew very little of how reality works.

    Keep posting stuff like this and spreading these ideas and we can raise consciousness as our LORD Dawkins would have it.

    Also, in case anyone’s interested, my YouTube channel is about 75% religion-atheism-philosophy stuff: http://www.youtube.com/user/BryanAJParry

    Cheers,

    Bryan

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    • equippedcat

      How can something be “written” by “illiterates”?

      Like

      • bryanajparry

        Good question.

        1. Many of the people who copied the texts were completely illiterate and introduced errors and unintentional changes into scripture. They were copying symbols that they did not understand.

        2. “Illiterate” doesn’t just refer to those who 100% cannot read or write, but also to those who have extremely poor literacy skills or who are generally unlearned.

        3. Mohammed “wrote” the Koran in the sense that he composed it, yet he required a scribe as he himself was illiterate.

        So we can see that, in a very real way, much scripture was written by illiterates.

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      • equippedcat

        I believe that the copying of the scripture was done in a very structured manner, and they had a system to check that the copy was accurate. I am more worried about the translating from language to language rather than copying.

        Unfortunate that the word “illiterate” is so imprecise in meaning. Someone who cannot read and write is very specific, and sometimes wildly different from someone with
        “little or no formal education” (since not all informal learning produces imbeciles). Then there is the “ignorant about a subject” meaning, which requires the subject to be affiliated with the word. At least all of these meanings are measurable. Then we get into “does not meet acceptable level” meanings, which can be interpreted pretty much any way you like.

        In any case, it is not clear how much impact the literacy of the people doing the COPYING had on the Bible. And as you point out with Mohammed, even the literacy of the people who COMPOSED the Bible need not have had a negative effect on the finished product.

        So what started out as a jest about a statement which “sounds funny” has coalesced into a flat out rejection of the statement. No, scripture was NOT written by illiterates. It may or may not have be composed by illiterates and/or copied by illiterates, but in cases where illiteracy was involved in the scriptures, that process was in the hands of people who were able to get around the illiteracy.

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      • bryanajparry

        Hi there,

        You start your last message with “I believe”. Indeed, this is the right word to use because in fact you are wrong. The very earliest Christians were not by and large learned men. And that includes those who copied the texts. Furthermore, errors are constantly introduced into texts even by learned men (perhaps you discovered this yourself when rewriting “draft” exercise up “neat” at school in the days before word processors). But the reality is that many of these early scribes were indeed quite illiterate. And, as I say, even good scribes made tons of errors; the variant manuscripts vary greatly for this reason. I mean this respectfully, but please do some research into this topic before saying, “I believe…”

        I would really recommend you also look into the history of the scriptures, how they came to be, and who wrote them, when, and why. The process is quite enlightening.

        Bryan

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        • equippedcat

          Shouldn’t you not say “in fact” but “I believe you are wrong”? Unless you have proof, it is a belief, not a fact. In the case of the Old Testament, the people IN CHARGE of copying the scrolls were VERY learned. And they knew how many “jots and tittles” were supposed to be on each line, so, along with the rigorous process they followed, the copies had a high degree of accuracy. The people creating it may or may not have “written” it, but if they could not write adequately, they had access to scribes. Who could write adequately.

          As for the new Testament, some writers may have been unlearned; it is likely that at least one was quite learned. Again, not really a factor, since scribes were available. Now as to how the New Testament was copied, that I don’t know. So by the widest possible definition of “illiterate”, you MAY be correct with respect to the COPYing of the New Testament.

          Actually I have looked into the history of the scriptures, and I do know the people “wrote” or at least created most of the books.

          “I believe” is a true statement, irregardless of the amount of evidence which backs it up. Most people have a lot of evidence for some beliefs, and very little for others. To suggest research before stating ‘facts’ is reasonable. Unless you have proof that a belief is wrong, attacking it will almost never benefit you.

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  • Finding Hope's Sunshine

    Morality is so nebulous. Ones definition isn’t the same as the others. Being Christian doesn’t make you any better than say an atheist. It was Ghandi that said, ” If all Christians acted like Christ, the whole world would be Christian.” Ghandi loved Christ, but was put off by the way Christians acted. This should encourage us to act more moral, more Christ like. Thanks for following my blog. You have an excellent day and find many blessings along your way. Meghan

    Like

  • Paddastoel

    I associate with the Christian belief system.

    I always remember:

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8King James Version (KJV)

    “4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
    5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
    6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
    7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

    The King James version did not translate the original as “love” but as “charity”.
    Although this verse has become THE verse for weddings and celebrations of romantic love, it actually refers to neighbourly love – or morals.

    Also refer to:

    Matthew 6:3King James Version (KJV)

    “3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:”

    If you are only moral to be seen to be moral, you are not obeying Scripture.

    Also see:

    Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    Is it not clear from the above that Jesus Christ himself separated morality from Christianity? One is not automatically moral because you proclaim to be a Christian and you are not automatically Christian because you are moral. All “morality” clearly does not come from Christ.

    And:

    Matthew 7:1-29 ESV

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    The moral of the story is (excuse the irony) that people who loudly proclaim their supposed morality are often the least moral people around.

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  • Josiah

    I’ll start by saying I am in fact a Christian (as if my handle doesn’t give it away). I have discussed/heard/spoken about morality often. Unfortunately I have almost never discussed it with an atheist. I am told (I do not agree with this and for the record I really appreciated what you wrote as it taught me some valuable lessons) that atheists can’t have or be moral because morals come from God alone. I would like to ask out of curiosity where would you say you develop your moral code? I ask not pretentiously, but purely out of curiosity because I unfortunately live in a bubble that does not include very many atheist. Thanks!

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I’m glad to hear you weren’t convinced. It’s easy enough to buy into such rumors when you’re surrounded by people who believe them and don’t have any reference point to say otherwise.
      We get our morals from the same place everyone else does: those around us. Our society, our family, our school, our friends. Morals are hard not to pick up when you’re constantly told “don’t hit” “say ‘please’ and ‘thank you'” etc.

      Like

      • Josiah

        So would that mean there is a sort of Atheist tradition that you draw not only beliefs but also your morals from? This would be an interestingly similar paralell to how a Christian tradition shapes my own…

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        • hessianwithteeth

          No. It’s not atheism that gives me my morals. Like I said, I get them from my society. My parents and teachers taught me that hitting is bad, they taught me to treat others with respect, they taught me, in general, how to behave. My country/government tells me it’s illegal to murder, though I knew that hurting others was bad already, but we have laws intended to uphold our culturally accepted moral systems.
          Likewise, your morals come from the same place. The moral code from the Bible comes from an already accepted moral system followed by the ancient Israelites. However, most of the moral rules in the Bible are today out of date. The fact that many of them are no longer followed suggests that it’s not religion that dictates our morality, it’s our society.

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    • Bill Miller

      I am an athiest. I do not brag about how I approach life. I know many Christians. Many of them have some very bad morals. I live by the golden rule. I was raised catholic. I was abused by the church. How I have lived my life is not by going to church. I have been married for 45 years to the same woman. Yes, there are many ups and downs. I love her and would not want anyone else. We had raised our children without cussing, drinking, smoking, and taught them to love and not hate. I have never robbed, raped, mollested, stole in the last 55 years. I am not a racist either.
      . I help the elderly and donate. I am 66 and have no regrets. My only regret is the so called Christians that have been divorced, raped, mollested, preaching to me about not going to church.

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      • equippedcat

        Going to church does not make you a Christian (or any other religion), any more than going to a florist makes you a flower. One who has any kind of a relationship with God should go to church as God leads them to, not man.

        A Christian who has divorced (since becoming Christian) is not a good example of Christian living, and should be concentrated on “fixing” their own lives rather than anyone else’s. As for those who have been raped or molested, that is something which happened to them them, not something they did, and as such is irrelevant to whether or not they are telling someone else to go to church (which no person should be doing).

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  • equippedcat

    It appears that this blog has intelligent readers, some of whom claim to be atheists, so perhaps I can satisfy my curiosity. We know that some people who claim to be Christians are not; I wonder how many people who claim to be atheists are not really.

    Atheist, by definition, is a person who believes there is no God. A person who does not believe there is a God (and does not believe there is no God) is not an atheist, they are an agnostic (one who does not know). A person who hates God or is mad at God is not an atheist, they believe in God, just don’t want anything do to with Him.

    Christians are encouraged to share their “witness”; that is, explain how they came to believe in Jesus despite there being no supportable proof. Come on, atheists, why not share your witness?

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Why hello,

      Well those are some interesting questions with some interesting awnsers so tell me if this helps.

      First it’s important to understand that the Atheist Agnostic Theist spectrum, as it is to often formulated. Is actually two separate spectrum. Theist Athiest and Gnostic Agnostic. The first spectrum is what and to what extent do you belief there is a God/gods. The second spectrum, the gnostic spectrum, is about knowledge. Do you know/Think you know? Then your a Gnostic. Are you unsure? Then your an Agnostic.

      So most atheist I’ve met are agnostic atheists, which is short hand for. I don’t know if any gods exists but for what ever reason (it varies from person to person) I don’t believe in a god/gods.

      There are only a couple kind of (logically) legitimate types of gnostic atheism. The names escape me at this time, but the first form relates to gods which are logically impossible (examples being an all merciful and all just god, or a omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent god when there exist evil in the world). The other kind is one I lean toward which is not fully gnostic which relates to the probability that what is natural is all that exists (as opposed to supernatural forces also existing) it’s a argument from nartualism, though it’s not fully gnostic. If you care to learn more watch the two links near the bottom of my post found here: https://hessianwithteeth.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/an-update-on-my-most-basic-assumptions/

      Now are there people who call themselves atheists who still believe in a god/gods. As far as I can tell this almost always is because they don’t understand what it means to be an atheist. Though since I’ve never met one, and the only time I’ve heard about them is when a Christan )I’ve heard about similar stories from Muslims, but I’ve never personally came across such an event myself) tell me about this former “atheist” who converted to Christianity (because they where angry a god). So do they exist, most likely, but they form a rare breed. Why am I confident in say this? Because there aren’t really benefits in calling yourself an atheist in the vast majority of cases. People tend to lie about their beliefs, or identity (though atheism hard counts towards a persons identity in any meaningful manner) to gain something or avoid being ostracized or to avoid discrimination. People normally lie about (from my experience) about being Christan or spiritual because being seen as a Christan or as spiritual is general seen as a good thing and buys you social capital. Where being an atheist often does the opposite.

      People don’t often come to realize that they are atheists in a sudden or decisive way. Rather they tend to realize after a while that they are athiests. Even if they where devote Christan at one time, or never had any religious affiliations. generally one day you wake up, or you have a conversation with someone and you end up thinking about that whole god question and go. “Oh a guess I don’t believe in that.”

      Some times it’s more interesting/traumatic then that, but it rarely happens faster then a few months, and it almost always occur for many reasons. dozens of little, some almost unrelated, conclusions leading to the simple fact that now you don’t believe in any gods what so ever. If you want personal stories I suggest you search “my deconversion” on YouTube. I just did myself and tons popped up.

      Withteeth

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      • equippedcat

        Not that helpful, sorry. I don’t see any choice other that 1) belief that God/gods exist, 2) belief that no God/gods exist and 3) not believing either way. The first two are binary; either you have the belief or you don’t have the belief. The last one can be wildly variable; you can lean one way or the other, or have no opinion.

        Saying “I don’t know if God exists, but I don’t believe in Him so I am an atheist” is linguistically and logically incorrect. “I don’t know” is contradictory to “belief” which is “I know, but can’t prove it”.

        A “logically impossible” God would be one which could be proven not to exist using provable assumptions and valid logical arguments. I have not seen any such argument. And the one you mention in passing does not seem to hold water. That common views of God are “impossible” because evil exists in the world. Keep in mind, any realistic view of God includes that we are unable to comprehend most of Him. Thus. “evil in the world” is not necessarily a condemnation of Him. One theory is that He allows evil because we chose it. Another is that things we see as “bad” for us are in His environment good for us, or good for him or good for someone else.

        For an agnostic to become a theist or atheist is relatively easy; they have no existing belief blocking them from finding a belief. For an atheist or theist to swap is pretty hard, since the support for one belief must be removed and support for the other added. It is not impossible, though. To discard one belief (become agnostic) and then eventually adopt the other belief is also possible.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Well I’m sorry to say, but I feel your limiting your view of this topic unnecessarily. The biggest reason for this is that Gnostics and agnostics are making knowledge claims, and theists and atheists are making belief claims. For this reason alone you can be sure that there are two things going on here. Even if your limit yourself to three position model your still left with the issue that the middle switch is a knowledge claim and the other two are belief claims. Knowledge ≠ Belief.
          For this reason you can comfortably have a system which has four positions (infinitely more if you allow for varying strengths of both knowledge and belief claims). Where you have Agnostic Theists, Gnostic theists, Agnostic Atheists, and Gnostic Atheists. They are all claims you can make, and there are certainly people who are agnostic theists. This model is simple more encompassing of the breath of beliefs than a single axis spectrum which conflates knowledge claims with belief claims.
          “A “logically impossible” God would be one which could be proven not to exist using provable assumptions and valid logical arguments.” what do you mean by “provable assumptions” like you can prove some assumptions by induction but there is no way to prove all assumption deductively. Rather you make logically sound assumptions and prove your conclusion by making valid logical arguments. You can take issue you with the assumptions made, but this need to be don’t on a case by case basis. So if we assume only logically possible things exist. Then if a god claim includes contradictory qualities then that god, as described, can’t exist.
          As for the naturalistic argument against the supernatural (which god fits under). Since you didn’t actually give any reasons for why you don’t think it hold water. I’m not going to guess why you think that rather I’m going insist that it does in fact hold water, however, if you disagree I’ll willing to discuss possible point of contention.
          “Keep in mind, any realistic view of God includes that we are unable to comprehend most of Him.” Why? If you can’t comprehend something then why would you be willing to make an statements about it, what it like or how it feel. Heck even that it at all resembles what you think it does. There are plenty of sort of imaginable gods that are possible for the human mind to comprehend. However if you insist this is necessary then you’ll need to also indicate how you can comprehend anything about it in a meaningful sense? Are you sure you have this incomprehensible or are confusing something else for a incomprehensible deity? Going this route I feel weaken any argument for a deity because now you added this layer that one can touch and from that point on any one can defend any point they might have.
          “Thus. “evil in the world” is “not necessarily a condemnation of Him.”” If he is omnipotent then yes, yes he is. It’s conceivable even to me to have a world with free will that does not have suffering or pain, or even a world with contain a tiny amount of suffering or pain to make the joy far greater. But our reality exists much meaningless suffering, death, and pain. You may want to hand wave it away, but it still happened, which tosses away at least one of the most common traits given to the Abrahamic god. If he allows undue suffering and death then said god can either do nothing about it, or is unwilling to do anything about it.

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      • equippedcat

        I don’t know that there is much negative from calling oneself an atheist, except for tempting some who are deeply religious to attempt conversion. You know, “pearls before swine”… Perhaps there is some benefit from claiming to be Christian, since the perception is that Christians are “more moral” than non-Christians, despite evidence, sadly, that this is not always so..

        There are a group, probably small, of “atheists” who are so enamored of the label that they spend much of their attention trying to “stamp out” God from everyone else’s lives. These are the ones who object to existing crosses and plaques of the 10 commandments and the pledge of allegiance and even our money. This would tend to make mockery of their claim to atheism; why spend so much effort on something they believe to not exist?

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Depend on the groups around you. if you live in the bible belt being an out athirst can mean you won’t have a job and your whole family disowns you. It means a significant number of people assume your immoral by default, as much as half of the population of North America. It means you probably can’t run successfully for office (and be open about your beliefs), amongst other things.

          As for atheists fighting for secular government spaces and policies, well in the US that is simply constitutional. US currency only had “In God we Trust” added in 60’s due to the red scare, the founding fathers had no intention of having anything religiously affiliated in regards to the government. Such as money. So many atheists feel it’s acceptable to push against Christan organization who want to rewrite the USA as a Christan nation when it is in fact the first secular nation to have existed. The majority of these secular (not all of these people are atheists) folk are not pushing against god, but against the Christan right, and the politics of the the conservatives and in particular the Tea Party. I think that where your confusion is coming from.

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      • equippedcat

        I checked out a sampling of the deconversion stories, and from that small sample, they tend not to be conversions from Christianity to atheism; they seem to be conversions from Christianity to non-Christianity, a much easier change. If you believe that God exists, it is more likely to become disenchanted with the view of God you are presented with and even discard belief that God exists, than to flat out swap beliefs from believing in A God to believing in NO God. After all, a person might be wary of beliefs for a while after “getting burned” by one. Unlikely does not mean impossible, of course.

        Also, I noticed that the tendency is for the people to apply their opinion to God, a mindset I can relate to because I used to have that mindset as well. “That sounds good, and contradicts the Bible, so the Bible must be wrong”. I finally came to the realization that my opinion does not matter; God’s opinion “rules” since “He has all the facts”.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          I at no point said that there is a sudden switch, in fact I said it’s a slow process generally taking at least months. However, your right it tends to happen gradually, as people move from one form of belief to indifference before they move to something else. Though some times it does happen in a sudden manner. Also I feel your confusing atheism with other things like secularism and anti-theism. Heck you can be an atheist and be spiritual.

          As well you make fair points on people confusing god’s ideas with their own. However when you say”God’s opinion “rules” since “He has all the facts”.” How do you know which are “Gods rules.”

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      • equippedcat

        Wow, many ideas to deal with at once.

        The first area of confusion is our view of “knowledge”. You are correct, belief does not equal knowledge. However belief is a subset of knowledge or perhaps a type of knowledge. Knowledge is something you accept as true. Some knowledge you have because it was proven to you, some knowledge you were told by someone you trust, some was synthesized from other knowledge and your experiences, and in some cases, a piece of knowledge is a temporary “glitch” which is eventually disproven. Here is the key point. Any knowledge which cannot be proven belongs to the class of knowledge called “belief”. You can’t separate knowledge and belief, you can only separate provable and not provable.

        We are quite familiar with the natural world, and have a good understanding of it’s laws and dimensions. I have not seen any valid proof that there is no supernatural world (what is this naturalistic argument), and if there is such a world, it would have to have different laws and dimensions, by definition. Because we cannot know these rules, such a place is mostly beyond our comprehension, because we don’t have the frame of reference to comprehend it. We can guess or wish, but that is just us trying to impose ourselves on territory foreign to us. That is why I claim we cannot comprehend “most” of God, who is supernatural by definition. All we have is the books which are claimed to have be provided by Him via inspiration, with the potential for Man to have obscured it due to lack of comprehension, or human frailty or even selfish intent. God seems Illogical? Contradictory? To our mind, yes, but perhaps not by the logic and nature of that world.

        No, there is no confusion in my understanding of atheism. It is the belief that no God or Gods exist. Nothing more, nothing less. Anti-theism is a new term to me, but it seems to refer to a person who is against God. They would have to believe God exists in order to be validly against Him. Or perhaps a person who is against theists. Secularism is keeping religion out of government which has nothing whatever to do with the validity of the religion, just the realization that government by religion is a disaster.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Well if you’re going to reject induction as a valid means to reaching knowledge then we simply will not make any progress. Without induction nothing is certain at all. Not our existence and certainty not the existence of gods. This is philosophical skepticism and from it we cannot achieve knowledge, and all thing are equal, all beliefs are equal. Equally meaningless and fruitless. This is entirely unavoidable if you reject induction.

          Though, say we don’t take that road and grant that induction can be a useful tool. I’ll link you once again to these to video as they discuss the naturalistic argument I was talking about (which I previously linked too). That way if you wish to see a theory which is sound you will have your chance to rebut it.

          The definition of natural I’m working with. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbh5vIimhgk&list=UUrnYMlsoyNeXuYNNh6xkv3Q

          and the argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXzWt5LWXtA&index=2&list=UUrnYMlsoyNeXuYNNh6xkv3Q

          Both are by Gary Edwards who should get the credit for coming up with them. But these are some of the finest video and argument of the subject I’ve found.

          Moving along. If you’re willing to believe something because it could be possible somewhere else with very different rules then our own with no evidence. Fine but that is hardly an argument. It’s no more defensible then time traveling push teddy bears in outer space, or the invisible pink unicorn that watches you sleep, or the celestial tea pot. More over if it is the case, then we should be able to (perhaps not now but in the future) be able to detect the meddling of such a being, at least as souls are escaping or human minds are copied and put into heavenly bodies or what have you. Though I guess it’s possible that even that might not be the case, but then we are left only with a god that doesn’t want/care to let us to know it’s there, or one that is not omnipotent and can not affect our world in tangible ways.

          On to anti-theism I will mention that looking up definitions can help a lot with confusions of this sort, but I’ll provide one with I think is accurate.

          Antitheism (sometimes anti-theism) is active opposition to theism. The term has had a range of applications; in secular contexts, it typically refers to direct opposition to organized religion or to the belief in any deity, while in a theistic context, it sometimes refers to opposition to a specific god or gods.
          I’ve italicized the most pertinent part, but all of it is useful.
          An anti-theist in the secular context I’m using it in neither refers to any gods, or to theists, but rather organized religion, and many of the ideologies and beliefs associated with such organizations. and you don’t need to believe in an idea to think it does harm. For example: I think Anti-Semitism is harmful and I oppose it, but I don’t believe in or think that for a moment that Anti-Semitism is true. So I think many claims made by and in the name of various religions are harmful. I accept that these ideas exist in the minds of other people, but that doesn’t mean I belief any of them are true.

          “Secularism is keeping religion out of government which has nothing whatever to do with the validity of the religion, just the realization that government by religion is a disaster.”
          Which is why I brought it up in context of putting “in god we trust” on American money, or putting up religious paraphernalia in public schools and government buildings, as that is mixing religion in with your government.

          Withteeth

          Like

      • equippedcat

        I don’t think I rejected induction as a means of getting knowledge, although I did fail to mention it specifically in the list of ways a person may have acquired knowledge.

        I don’t have much of a background in philosophy, so those videos were somewhat incomprehensible to me. The one on natural was not too bad; I didn’t lose it until he started trying to explain the “Y must not be intentional” part. It was obtuse and I didn’t comprehend any of it, although I later realized that I think what he was saying was that “nobody/nothing caused Y. Thus for something to be natural it must not be the result of any meddling.

        The second one started out with a simple logical argument, which was invalid due to an apparently invalid premise (which he admitted), so he attempted to prove that it was valid. I didn’t understand much of it, but it did appear pretty clear that what he was trying to prove was there was a “high degree of probability” that the premise was so. I don’t think he proved it, and even if he did, a high degree of probability is not certainty, and without certainty of the premise, a certain conclusion does not follow.

        No evidence of the supernatural? Not quite. Personal experience of the supernatural by me and by people I trust (including some of the “dark side”) is no evidence to you, but is some evidence to me. I realize that it cannot be proven to you, and I do try not to label it as fact, but it is what I believe. As you say, maybe someday we will advance to the point where we can detect the supernatural by consistent means or maybe not. As for God making it impossible to prove His existence, I find it highly annoying, but that is the way He set it up, apparently looking for faith. I have no idea why.

        The terms secularism and anti-theism are interesting and useful, but I see that they don’t specify anything about a person’s belief in God. A person could be anywhere in the spectrum of belief and be of the opinion that government should not impose or support any religion, or be against religion in general or a specific religion or God (because it is perceived to be harmful).

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Well it seems some of that helped, It’s late now so I won’t be getting into evidence based claims or further into those videos I linked, but I may make a post later this week explain them in detail because I like them so much. Thanks for your questions and stopping by.

          Like

  • thechristianrant

    Reblogged this on thechristianrant and commented:
    Definitely has a point ..check this article out great opportunity to start a dialogue between 2 separate parties Christians & Atheists

    Like

  • thechristianrant

    Man this is a Really strong stance but alot of truth on here…I must say I’ll have to reblog. ..I love the thinking behind this! ! Atheist maybe but I still appreciate a free thinker!!

    Like

  • ia1972

    thanks a lot for posting the blog. very thought provoking. how rightly said that attending all the rituals religiously does not make you a good person. thanks, i have been grappling with how to see christian values and actions in perspective. take care.

    Like

  • sirgb

    Reblogged this on sirgb's Blog and commented:
    Sir Arthur C. Clarke said once and that’s the bare truth:
    “One of the great tragedies of mankind is when morality has been hijacked by religion.”
    Since that religious people, doesn’t matter what of a kind, assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. The act of hijacking is the only connection! If we would depend from them we would still “enjoying” inquisition without microchips, computers, internet etc. I don’t even understand why people from secular societies feel they have to argue with christian or any other religious claims. Integrity, the virtue of good, morality is having nothing to do with faith, religion.

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  • sirgb

    Sir Arthur C. Clarke said once and that’s the bare truth:
    “One of the great tragedies of mankind is when morality has been hijacked by religion.”
    Since that religious people, doesn’t matter what of a kind, assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. The act of hijacking is the only connection! If we would depend from them we would still “enjoying” inquisition without microchips, computers, internet etc. I don’t even understand why people from secular societies feel they have to argue with christian or any other religious claims. Integrity, the virtue of good, morality is having nothing to do with faith, religion.

    Like

  • ia1972

    Very clearly written. I too was a devout Christian say 2 years back. No longer. I get criticised for not following the faith. Am still searching to ground and root myself in love. So how have you resolved to be and let be. From a very out reaching way of professing one’s faith to being at one with all.

    Like

  • sarcasticsprkle

    Reblogged this on Introspection Theory and commented:
    Very interesting reading.

    I’m an atheist as well.

    Like

  • mellyramirez

    I say, do good, be kind, don’t judge.what you believe becomes irrelevant if you do these things.

    Like

  • trotter387

    Hey there are many moral atheists and non-Christians, the bible does agree with you as well.

    Morality is more than just accepting a faith and demonstrating loyalty to it.

    Morality is demonstrated when no-one see’s what you are up to and when an opportunity to take advantage comes up whether we feel justified at taking it whatever the cost.

    I liked the reasoning in paragraph two.

    Remember that in the 1st Century there were immoral Christians who had to be exposed and the same applies today.

    Morality requires that you live up to and beyond the principles you personally accept as the baseline, where these are commonly held for example you must not murder, steal, rape or exploit they are the common values of society. Christian morality requires a much higher standard therefore you are right to single us out for these well argued comments.

    I really enjoyed reading this, thanks

    Like

  • gertiesjourney

    Thank you for writing this. I have discussed this topic with a number of friends from various religious background and it does seem that the particular religion that have issues with morals are Christians. It boggles my mind that people who consider themselves “Christian” think that the only way to be moral is that you have to believe what they believe. From what I have read on your blog, the two of you seem to have your head on straight and know what you are talking about and say it eloquently.

    Liked by 1 person

  • jrob8157293

    You absolutely can be an atheist and be moral. There are a lot of atheists out there that are a hell of a lot more Christian in terms of the way they live their lives than a lot of people who claim the Christian faith. But I somewhat disagree that you don’t have to be moral to be a Christian. I believe you at least have to at least attempt to live your life at least somewhere along the lines of Christian morals in order to be Christian. According to the Bible you have to have good faith, good actions, a good heart, and good intentions. You’re going to fall short though; everyone does and God understands that and forgives you (I’m using an impersonal you). Honestly the number 1 reason I’m Christian is not because of the promise of Heaven or an afterlife or because I’m afraid of going to Hell, but because the core teachings of the faith speak to me. And honestly, if all this is fake, which I acknowledge is a possibility, those teachings and my reverence for the beauty of the Universe would be all I’d be left with in terms of my spirituality, and I’d be disappointed but content with that.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      To define an atheist who acts morally as “Christian in their actions” you’re still defining morality as a Christian concept. We aren’t acting like Christians, we’re acting like moral people. Likewise, Christians who act morally are acting like moral people.

      Like

    • janiese

      Yes you are absolutely correct when you say, ” that Christians need to attempt to live a life along the lines of Christian morals.” Usually I tell others that inquire about my faith to follow the examples of Jesus Christ. He modeled how Christians should live on a daily basis. Yes he knew that we’d sin, so that’s why he died on the cross for us. He died in order for us to live and through his Death and resurrection we are saved. Jesus came on earth to do away with the laws of man. I believe that Jesus is coming back one day, and I shall live with him in Glory. Thank you for sharing because the crux of the matter is that Jesus is coming back. We don’t have time to debate religion, philosophies, idea logics, etc. We need God in our lives, and we don’t have time to mistreat other’s. Love you guys for this stimulating conversation. BE Blessed

      Like

  • siriusbizinus

    This is a great post! I just wanted to throw another thought out there, though.

    I disagree with some of the materials you linked to about objective morality, but that’s only because I dislike how the term “objective morality” gets abused by Christianity (with the ensuing engagement by atheists). What Christians really mean is a morality given by God. Suffice it to say that their argument against subjective morality, that it’s uncomfortable to say that morality is different, is really an argument against one’s comfort zone.

    What I am trying to say here is that it is okay for secular thinkers to say a moral is objective and not mean that it’s universal. A moral can be called objective if it applies to an entire group (no matter the group size).

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      That really misunderstands the term “objective.” As it’s a philosophical term, I prefer to use it as it was meant to be used. Meaning that either something is engrained into us by something outside of ourselves (meaning it’s natural to humans), or it’s subjective and comes from inside of ourselves. Christians may have adopted the term for a different meaning, but I think that’s more because they don’t understand what the word actually means.

      Like

  • clubschadenfreude

    Nice post, hessian and withteeth. I find that I am moral because I am empathetic. I hurt so I do not want others to hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

  • equippedcat

    A lot of truth here. In particular, you don’t have to be Christian to be moral, and just because you claim to be a Christian does not mean that you are moral. This may fly in the face of some people’s beliefs, but it is perfectly reasonable.

    That is because “morality” is not defined just one way. The actual definition is:

    Morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behavior”) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are “good” (or right) and those that are “bad” (or wrong).

    That is pretty clear at first glance, but the problems are caused by the words “good, bad, right and wrong”. When it comes right down to it, everybody has a slightly different view (a few wildly different, many different only in a few details) And, of course, thinks that their view is the only correct view. Thus, if a person follows “my” view, they obviously are moral, and if they do not follow that view, obviously they are immoral.

    A general view (of good/bad/right/wrong) is usually “built into” each culture based on the specifics of that culture, and again, people from that culture consider those who follow that morality to be moral, and those who do not follow it (particularly those darned outsiders), to be immoral.

    Another problem with morality is that the obvious benefits of (popular/common) morality are all for others, not yourself. Since the natural inclination of all life is to do for itself, this creates conflict. Some people realize (or at least hope) that the “hidden” benefits of being moral outweigh the obvious benefits of immorality. Some don’t see any benefits to themselves from popular/common morality and follow a “different” morality or even no morality (amorality).

    The conflict between morality and personal benefit can be eased somewhat if the morality being followed is “natural” to the person (self-generated), as opposed to a morality which was “imposed” on them. Thus, a person who did not have any interest in a “Christian” morality would have a much harder time following it after becoming a Christian than someone to whom it seemed correct even before they came to believe “Jesus said it was”.

    Note that morality includes intentions, decisions AND ACTIONS. It is entirely possible (and even likely) that a person may INTEND to behave in a manner which is moral to them, but when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road, have actions which are contrary to their intentions. This is a problem for some Christians, as the moral code they are instructed to follow is rather more restrictive and even less self-serving than some other moralities.

    By the way, most of the definitions of “a good Christian” given above are NOT definitions of a good Christian; they are definitions of a “good member of the XXX church”. A good Christian may and even should do some or all of those things, but their focus must be on their behavior and even thoughts about 1) God and 2) other people, before the church organization they belong to.

    I did not follow the “objective/subjective” debate. In my opinion, a person’s “natural” morality is developed based on the “ideal” morality for their culture modified by the impacts of their personal experiences and exposure to conflicting moralities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      The reason I did not add anything about Christians worrying about their behaviours and thoughts is because things like accepting the Bible as true account for a good portion of that. But only some churches encourage their parishioners to be moral: most just tell them to follow the Bible or Jesus, which really says very little about their moral obligations. As such, while I agree that it is expected that a Christian put God before themself, I don’t think that the same can be said of other people. It may be common for many different Christians, but I don’t think that all Christians believe that they should put other humans before themselves and their church, especially when it comes to non-Christians.
      I also didn’t say that all of those things I listed are required to be a good Christian, I just mentioned as many of the common Christian activities I could think of because not all Christians will accept all of those activities as important.

      Like

      • equippedcat

        There are many views on what Christians “should” do, but those who truly follow the New Testament seem to be told to do (and not do) various things which are open to interpretation. But it is very clear there are two “high level” rules they must (attempt to) follow which provide direction for all possible thoughts and actions. The first is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, and the second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

        So it seems pretty clear that a “true” Christian should be putting God first. Second place is a bit less clear, whether second place is everybody else, or everybody including self, but no interpretation of this commandment allows for self to be put ABOVE anybody else. .Not to say it doesn’t happen (it does, a lot), but it SHOULDN’T happen. .

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        • hessianwithteeth

          The “Love thy neighbour” thing is often used to say that you’re supposed to love everyone. However, given the time period that commandment was written in, it is more likely accurately translated as “love those who are like you.” This rule wouldn’t have applied to those who lived in the next village over, and the people in your village all would have shared the same religious convictions. So even if some people are meant to be put ahead of yourself, it is likely that your only meant to put other Christians first, and, more specifically, those members of your church.

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          • equippedcat

            You could be right. Which is a bit depressing. The concept that some people are “inferior” because they are different is troubling and has caused an awful lot of trouble.

            Like

          • Tom Kenobi

            I disagree. The “love thy neighbor” is supposed to apply to all. Here is why. If we read the entire discourse in Luke 10 regarding the “love thy neighbor”, it tells the story of three individuals who come across a man who has been robbed and beaten, two of which could definitely be interpreted as “those like you” (a priest and a Levite) and one who was hated due to racial tensions, religious differences, etc (the Samaritan). In this passage, Jesus intentionally uses the Samaritan to do the neighborly act and at the end of that particular passage asks “which of these was a neighbor?” the man who initially asked “who is my neighbor” then answers regarding the Samaritan actually doing the neighborly thing and Jesus tells him (and the crowd listening in) to “go and do likewise”. Though many christians I am sure do not want to love those who aren’t like them, it is clear that they are supposed to.

            Like

          • janiese

            I am a Christian and I’m striving toward perfection because I’m not perfect. I can’t judge anyone. In fact, the Bible tells me, ” Don’t judge because I’ll be judged. Also it’s wrong to condemn others and I know that we Christians tend to, but we shouldn’t. If we think about it everyone judges others because we don’t agree with someone else views. I apologize for those Christians that painted a horrible picture of the God I serve. I know him as a loving God, and He cares for everyone. When Jesus told the disciples, Love thy neighbor as thy love thyself, ” he wasn’t talking about loving only the ones in your congregation. He meant to love everyone. However, some Christians take the word of God out of context. I believe, those individuals need an excuse to mistreat other’s, so they hide behind scripture. Jesus wanted people to love one another back then, and we still have problems loving others in 2014. Remember: Everyone has flaws because we are human. But a true disciple of Jesus Christ will admit that they’re wrong.

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      • equippedcat

        Whew. Thanks, Tom. That does add support for the “neighbors means everybody” viewpoint.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paddastoel

        I have to say that I also disagree with this one. I will have to look up the verse, I can’t find it right now, but even in the Old Testament you were required to show hospitality to “non-believers” even though you were not allowed to allow them to worship their gods within your tent / reach.

        Like

  • khunka

    Reblogged this on movingthroughtheseasonsoflife and commented:
    I completely agree with you on this. I can’t stand when I see Christians or more specifically Catholics like myself behave this way towards people from other religions or whatever they have. I’m pretty sure C.S. Lewis was on to something when he deemed Pride as the worst of all sins… Something else that has been particularly bothersome to me is Christians that are so focused on what being a Christian ISN’T that they forget what being a Christian IS. It’s easy to label someone as not what they “should” be. It’s a lot harder to go inward and act according to those same standards you measure against others. Personally I think that Morality is subjective as well. I think that it’s more important to think for yourself then to blindly follow a religion because that’s what you are expected to do. Critical Thinking is a lost art. That being said, I still like being a Catholic after much meditating and discernment on my own spirituality. Thanks for writing this man!

    Like

  • jcarron13

    Reblogged this on cultivatedminds and commented:
    Truth.

    Like

  • jcarron13

    Very well written, and true.

    Like

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