Continuing Discussion on God and Morality
I really wanted to write a much longer post on the discussion of morality and God from yesterday, but I'm running late and it's going to be a hectic day, so I'll just scribble what thoughts I can now - and some of them are tangential, but important to my own discussion about the existence of God and the ability to live a good life without God.
In the comments on the post, Clark says:
In short, atheists have no idea the blessings an unrequited God showers upon them every day in every good thought, impulse, or tendency they experience. All the while they fail to understand the fact that were it
To those skeptics who believe faith in God is no more conducive to morality than non-faith in God, I would ask which of the two following philosophies is more conducive to morality: Christ’s ‘Golden Rule,’ or the ‘dog eat dog’ of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest?”
In the first paragraph, he is assuming that I have no ability to guide my own morals and that whatever good thoughts, impulses and tendencies a person has are not their own, but bestowed upon them from God.
If that is the case, can I just stop thinking all together? Can I stop weighing options, considering consequences and debating the merits of my actions if God is just going to steer me in the right direction anyhow?
It's an empty way to argue against atheism: "Well, sure you're a moral person, but you just don't realize that God is magically giving you these morals!" How? If I don't believe in this entity, if I don't make room for him in my life, if I think of him as nothing more than a work of fiction, how does he suddenly fill my head and heart with good intentions? And what of those people whose heads and hearts are filled with bad, bad things? What of serial killers and rapists and people who kick puppies? Why does your "unrequited God" choose to not shower them with morals and the ability to make good choices? What about the priests who have molested children? Those are men of God, yet they chose wrong, morally. All the while they fail to understand the fact that were it not for God they would be dead to any propensity toward morality. And what about those who are dead to any propensity toward morality, especially those who claim to be witnesses to God? How do you explain that?
In the second paragraph, Clark offers two philosophical choices. Problem is, whether or not you believe in God, you are not confined to only those two choices in regards to morality.
I point you to something I wrote only a month ago:
When people ask my how, as an atheist, can I honestly raise my children with any kind of faith or morals or values, I give them the short answer: because I still believe in the core teachings of Jesus. ...... Many people find their life's beliefs through historical figures, maybe in philosophers or economists or authors....Wherever you find something that pulls at your heart or your mind and makes you want to be a better person or make a difference in this world, embrace it....
See, I can still find moral ground and not believe in a higher power. The old argument that my morality must be based on wanting to please a higher power is so much bullshit. I want to live a good, moral life and teach my children to live a good moral life because that is what makes the world a pleasant place to be part of it. I answer to me. I am my own higher power. I do not need God to tell me that kicking puppies makes them hurt and that's a bad thing. I do not need a God to know that taking property that belongs to someone else is wrong, that turning a blind eye to someone in need of a helping hand is wrong.
The argument that God is steering us and we just don't know it is not one you can prove. It's rhetoric, effective for those times when an atheist tells you that they just behaved in a moral manner. And it's the smug Ned Flanders way of preaching down to us non believers that makes discussions like this more often than not pointless. You point to an invisible entity, an unproveable higher power and tell me that I am unknowingly being guided by him. Even when there are church going people who behave badly, even though there are murders and rapes and stealing and wife beating and molesting going on at this very second, God finds it in his heart to come on over here and help this atheist make the right choices in her life, without so much as leaving a calling card. I'm not buying it.
Just as much as I don't buy the "God is everywhere" theory. Take Reggie Jackson, for instance, who was in a car accident the other day and is alive and well today only because "the hand of God" was touching him. Well, ain't that nice. But what about the hundreds of other people who were in car accidents the same day? What about this couple? Not only did God decide that they didn't need his hand, but he forgot to shower good thoughts and impulses upon the two drag racers responsible for the accident.
You argue this with someone and they will say "but God is not interventionist." Fine. Then don't tell me he's guiding my thoughts and morals. Conversely, I won't try to convince you that Binky the Magic Space Clown is guiding yours.
Ok, I've already gone far, far off the path I started from and now I'm very late. As always, this early AM post is dashed off quickly and may require some editing later.
Here's some further reading:
Update: Just to reiterate, I am not belittling people who have faith in God - any God (see here). I am, however, taking issue with those who put forth the theory that because I don't have that faith, I cannot be a moral person, or if I am moral person, it's because God is making me so.