Saturday, 24 November 2007

Does having a god make doing good impossible?

As an atheist I have often been told that I don't know right from wrong and I have no right to comment on other people's morality.

I have posted on this in detail before here and here.

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Lets turn this around a little shall we;

"To do somebody a favour because it is commanded by a God is not goodness but obedience. The fact that you have acted to please your God rather than to please the human recipient, automatically drains your act of all moral worth."
(Anonymous respondent on Comment is Free – Guardian)

What do you think?


  1. I tend to think that religious people actually do good things for the same reason atheists do (i.e., an evolved instinct for altruism in certain contexts, empathy, community mindedness) but misatribute it to their religiosity.

  2. I can imagine theists get two "atta boys" for the price of one. They get the feel-good feelings for actually doing something good and morally correct, but they also get the comfort of obeying God's law. God's law is not necessarily "Do this or go to hell." It also has the message to "Do this to know happiness." Certainly some theists might be doing something for fear of God's wrath, but most are also trying to make the world a better place by asking the question "What would Jesus do?"

    Look at Alcoholics Anonymous. If there is no higher power, then these people are staying on the wagon all on their own. The irony is that they don't think they can make it on their own -- they need the higher power.

    You can argue that people operating with the slogan "WWJD", are not functioning as morally as one would asking the question, "What should I do?", but its still them conjuring up the mental picture of Jesus and his actions. They understand the moral code, they simply ascribe it to Jesus.