Every once in awhile, we like to poke fun at those who post comments on the Internet with which we take issue. Today’s Idiotic Comment Award goes to a commenter on another Web site outside of TheGreatRealization.com. I thought it was fair game since the comment was on a story that referenced a Great Realization post questioning the Godliness of the world’s largest philanthropists.
Before we get to the comment, here’s the article.
[DRUM ROLL PLEASE] And the idiotic comment award goes to a user by the name of “Patrick” for the following gem!
I don’t know any religious thinker who says “without religious belief you cannot be moral.” I don’t doubt that there are some religious people who think so, but this is not a serious argument. I know many religious people who say that without religion, society cannot transmit morals, moral behavior is not promoted in society, and that immoral behavior is not discouraged. I don’t think a feeling of empathy can get a society to that point.
As far as the effect of religion on Buffet and Gates, I wonder if they haven’t been raised in religious homes. I don’t know. Maybe their motivations are simply altruistic, in which case they are the exception to the rule. Still, the American culture and environment in which they operate is religious. Good behavior is determined largely by the values that the Judeo-Christian tradition has engendered. As Arthur Brooks has shown, religious people give more than secular people. Of course that is not true in every particular. Regardless of their religious (or lack of) motivation, Gates and Buffet are doing good things.
Okay, Patrick. Let’s take this piece by piece. First of all – there are MANY religious thinkers (if not most) that argue that religion is essential for morality. Just recently Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney made that exact argument in a speech about religion. Christian writers argue all the time that without Religion, we’re relegated to being a bunch of immoral monkeys running amuck around the planet. Just yesterday, Chuck Colson used a twisted understanding of the philosophy of Nietzsche to argue in the Christian post that:
One atheist understood the moral consequences of his unbelief: That was Nietzsche, who argued that God is dead, but acknowledged that without God there could be no binding and objective moral order.
Of course, the “New Atheists” deny this. Instead, they unconvincingly argue that you can have the benefits of an altruistic, Christian-like morality without God.
Of course, it should also be noted that Colson thinks that “You won’t find many atheists feeding the hungry and ministering to the sick in places like Africa or Mother Teresa’s Calcutta.” Apparently he doesn’t read this blog.
Look – I probably shouldn’t even use Colson as support here. He’s obviously got a screw loose and furthermore doesn’t understand science very well.
The point is – as an atheist, one sometimes fears telling other people about their lack of belief because of situations like this:
magikent: …so I helped serve food to the homeless at the shelter over Thanksgiving and then I delivered cookies to all the grandma’s in a three state area.
believer: Really, that’s so nice of you.
magikent: Yeah, then I went home and wrote a blog entry for “The Great Realization,” my atheist blog.
believer: What? You’re an atheist? I thought you said you helped feed the homeless? [HEAD EXPLODES]
I hear stories like this all the time. There are sadly many that simply can’t imagine a human possessing morals and values without the threat of eternal damnation.
Patrick also argues that “Good behavior is determined largely by the values that the Judeo-Christian tradition has engendered.” What? Patrick, my dogs can exhibit good behavior and I’m pretty sure they haven’t been up watching the 500 Club. Good behavior has to do with several things. The innate desire to end suffering, the natural understanding of “the golden rule,” and the desire to show compassion to others. These are things that are possible without any religious beliefs. They’re simply a condition of being human. We want to be happy and in order to be happy, we learn what makes us end our sufferings. One of the most obvious of these is to treat other people the way we would want to be treated. Even more sophisticated “learned behavior” could be attributed to mimicking of parenting styles and role models more than religion. However most Christians would tell you that it is the code of the Bible (most of the things above are mentioned as God’s word in the Bible) that is necessary to know these tips for good behavior. Because many of the Judeo-Christian God’s rules are natural, inborn desires and feelings in humans, the Bible is unnecessary for good or moral behavior. How many of the “Ten Commandments” can be explained through “Treat others as you wish to be treated?” Almost all of them. Yet Christians will argue that without understanding and living through God’s law, one can not be moral.
Patrick doesn’t believe it, so he get’s today’s idiotic comment award. YAY.