Secular Humanist or American Christian more deserving of paradise.by Don Lacey on Aug. 15, 2012, under Atheism, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Clarity, Critical Thinking, Education, Ethics, Faith, Freethought, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, Logic, Question of the Day!, Reason, Religion, Sanity, That's Life!, Willful Ignorance
Imagine you are the average American Christian, or even an above average American Christian! You believe that because of your beliefs you will be eternally rewarded, while, a typical American Atheist will be punished for ever in a place far worse than any dictatorship on earth ever created. I have to ask: why?
How is it, the two of us despite our numerous similarities are deserving of such different fates. We wear similar clothing, probably made y the same manufacturers, in the same foreign factories. We most likely shop at some of the same grocery stores and eat at the same restaurants. We may listen to the same radio stations and even have some of the same favorite musicians and sports teams. We send our kids to the same schools, shoot hoops in the same local parks and golf at the same golf courses. We could very well work for the same company or have similar jobs with different companies both controlled by the same interlocking boards of directors. We both likely give to some of the same charities for the same reasons and probably do not have overly differing visions of the world we want to live in. Both of us do all we can to avoid harming others and when we do we feel remorse and try to correct whatever it is we have done. Neither of us would go about killing, looting, raping, or plundering even if we could get away with it.
We really are very much alike. Perhaps we listen to different music or vote for different politicians or one of us enjoys alcohol and the other rejects it. These same differences are found among Christians and among Atheists. In many areas, there is just as much diversity within these groups as there is between them. So I ask, what is it about my group that is so horrible that makes it deserving of eternal torture?
Christians will answer by telling me that God has every right and would be exercising perfect justice by sending me to an eternity in hell for my beliefs. This is apparently because beliefs lead to actions. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that beliefs inform actions. That is why I write for this blog but I would argue that my Humanist beliefs have made be a better person less deserving of torture. After all, my lack of belief in a cosmic justice fills me with the desire to ensure justice is done here on Earth. My lack of belief in a heaven or hell ensures that my random acts of kindness are done without expectations of reward or punishment. They say that your moral character is most clearly demonstrated by what you do when no one is looking and for me no one is ever looking. Yet, I still do all I can to be kind and helpful to others, even without the expectation that a celestial being is sitting there judging me from above.
I agree with Physicist, Steven Weinberg, who said “With or without it (religion) you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” I would change his sentiment in two ways. First, I acknowledge that there are people who have been motivated to do wonderful things by their religion. There have been countless Christians, Jews, Muslim, Buddhists, and other people of faith whose beliefs have inspired them to show amazing acts of heroism, kindness, and humanity. At other times tough, some of these same beliefs have motivated people into engaging in horrendous acts of cruelty. Take the Spanish Inquisition or the September 11th hijackings as just a couple examples.
I’d also change Weinberg’s quote to saying it takes religion, or something like religion, to make good people do atrocious things. After all, Maoism and Stalinism were technically atheistic movements but they had all the dogmatism of religions and to a great extent simply replaced the notion of a heavenly dictator with an earthly one. Dictatorships tend to engage in leader worship and place their leader a god-like status. This is not more compatible with the Secular Humanism I advocate, than Christianity.
I am not a murder, plunderer or dictator, nor do I have any desire to be. I live like an ordinary American, except for my lack of belief in any god. I cannot for the life of me imagine why so many people think that makes me deserving of eternal torment while other ordinary Americans apparently will be sent to a paradise. It seems rather petty of the Christian God to judge us solely on that one belief.