Sunday, November 1, 2009

Are atheists better people?

What if atheists actually are better human beings than Christians? I’ve thought about that before, but today I’m seriously wondering if that might be true.

I was sooooo angry at my nine year old today. So angry! He’d thrown a metal toy at a younger sibling. I've always hated bullying. I was just furious. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to say mean things to him. I wanted to throw him to the moon. I didn’t do those things but I wanted to. Oh I so desperately wanted to.

Here’s my point.
. I don’t see how any atheist could be me and say, “I don’t need God in order to be good.”

. I don’t see how any atheist could be me and say, “I don’t need forgiveness.”

When atheists say, “I don’t need God in order to be good,” or when the New York bus campaign says, “One million New Yorkers are good without God,” are they lying? Are they profoundly deluded about their character makeup? Or are they correct?

I’ve long said that we shouldn’t be surprised when sin breaks out in the Church. We don’t become Christians without admitting to the fact that we are sinners; we’re hypocrites, gossips, liars, adulterers, cheats, drunks, abusers of all stripes and sizes and on and on and on. That’s who we are - those of us in Christ.

But what about atheists? Is it perhaps true that atheists don’t see a need for God because they really ARE good people?

27 comments:

Ginx said...

Atheists often tout the fact that they are under-represented among the poor and criminal population, but I think being an atheist tends to be a result of affluence.

It's not that atheists are better people, it's just that affluence often makes people ambivalent to religion, and crime is largely a function of poverty.

Now if atheist try to claim being atheist actually makes one affluent... why then you'd have atheism preaching the properity gospel.

In the end, what religion you are is largely a function of your environment. What kind of person you are, and how you react to your environment, is (I think) what really makles you who you are.

Makarios said...

Good points Ginx. The thing is, not only in my life but in the lives of billions of people, we say, based on empirical evidence that we truly are a new creation since Jesus came into our lives. And this not through our own effort. This was an inside job.

The reason that we who claim Jesus as our Saviour (literally our Saviour) often express surprise that atheists aren't out raping and pillaging is that prior to our becoming Christians, that is who we were. So again I’m forced to wonder if perhaps atheists really are better people than Christians - not because of being atheists but just because.

You’re right, affluence makes atheists see God as superfluous and pain makes them see Him as evil. Either way, they deny His relevance in their lives.

Makarios said...

That's not right. There are many Christians who have always been pretty good people. I have not.

Gorth Satana said...

I think it's stability mixed with education that makes superstitions and gods seem less than relevant.
Without stability, people may look for assistance outside of themselves. Without education, superstition is more likely.

Makarios said...

So you don't have much education?

Gorth Satana said...

My country is not as stable and is very superstitious.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Haitian_rebellion

Gorth Satana said...

The education question, when you say "you" do you mean my country or my person?

Makarios said...

I mean you.

Gorth Satana said...

I've had a fair bit of education.

Gandolf said...

“One million New Yorkers are good without God,”

Its very true.

Religion is really only the book cover.Book covers dont decide if a book is really good or bad.

Tristan Vick said...

I agree with Ginx, mainly.

And Makarios, you're forgetting that Billions of people are born Hindu. And Billions of people are born and raised Buddhist. And Billions more are Muslim. And none of these people believe in your God, or in the sort of God you do, or, for that matter, their notions are entirely different when it comes to how they would even perceive God--or not.

Which is something Ginx pointed out when she said the kind of person we are and the kind of religion we will have depends mainly on environment and upbringing. It's easy to see when you look out at other cultures instead of simply demanding they be (believe?) more like you.

I think a lot of your argument regarding atheism is ad hominem. For example, if you see a bad atheist, you say, ah-ha! Atheism made that person bad because he's obviously degenerated from a "saved" person to an "unsaved" person. You're equating people in spiritual terms, and everything we know about sociology and biology tells us humans are captive to our environment and our surroundings.

It's just a fact of life. As for some people needing more consoling form of contentment, I find that religion can offer this. My wife being brought up in a Buddhist family, her Grandfather a practicing monk, I see how consoling religion can be. However, it's just not for me. I used to think I needed it, but I had never experienced that much of the world. Now I see it's more like what Thomas Paine meant when he said, "My religion is doing good."

No deity need apply.

Makarios said...

So why do you believe things like inanimate and inorganic gases evolving into life? Why do you believe that everything came from nothing by nothing?

Hugo said...

I liked that blog post Makarios but I was wondering if it was truly honest on your part?

Personally I think it's evident that there are good people and bad people among both theists and atheists, so your post illustrate that idea, but from your particular Christian perspective.

I also think that it's somewhat of a maturity issue. Don't take it wrong, but I feel like it's a demonstration of maturity to be Atheist and morale, because it means that you are an adult who understands the consequences of his actions. No need for a parent to tell you that you did something bad, no need of a god either...

Chris Mackey said...

So why do you believe things like inanimate and inorganic gases evolving into life? Why do you believe that everything came from nothing by nothing?

Strawman = FAIL.
Are you educated? Then why do you believe in magic talking animals? Ghosts? A sky wizard (thanks JD for the phrase) that can't forgive unless blood is split? Why do you believe humans are only 6000 years old?
Strawman = FAIL.

Chris Mackey said...

Sorry about that, I couldn't help myself after seeing Rod trying to building another strawman...

tinkbell13 said...

I am an atheist. I am not an affluent person, and I work with very poor and marginalized people. I am educated, yes, but by no means do I preach the "prosperity gospel".

I got something to tell you- atheists are good people. Just as there are a high number of Christians who are, there are atheists too. The difference is is that I have to live with the consequences of my choice of actions. I cannot pray away and be forgiven. I have to live, for the rest of my life with my actions. Therefore, I do nothing that I cannot live with. Imagine how hard it would be if you did something that you are not proud of and you could not make yourself feel better by praying? That is reality to me.

I liked your blog post, I felt that it was a really constructive and honest personal revelation.

Makarios said...

Tristan: “if you see a bad atheist, you say, ah-ha! Atheism made that person bad.”

I have never - ever- suggested that atheists are worse human beings than Christians or anyone else.

The point of this post is, I wonder if perhaps atheist are actually better, more socially acceptable people - not because of atheism but just because. And I’m wondering if that is why atheists see no need for improvement or help or whatever. For anyone to say, “I’m a good person,” is an incredible statement when you think about it. However, atheists may be better than some other people.
=============
“everything we know about sociology and biology tells us humans are captive to our environment and our surroundings.”

I think that’s worded too strongly, but one thing I do know is that Jesus sets this type of captive free. All that other religions do is take the person as is and makes that person religious and helps them to feel spiritual. Like Madonna. Same old whore, just a religious whore.
================

Chris: It’s not a straw man. Gorth equated superstition with a lack of education. He is educated yet still believes in things that are impossible, made-up, mythology.

I don’t need to justify my beliefs. All of you agree that Christians are stupid so leave it at that. Gorth and that rest of you however see yourselves as logical and reasonable yet you believe illogical and unreasonable things. That’s for you to justify. ============

tinkbell: “atheists are good people.”

As above, I’ve never suggested that atheists weren’t as good as the next person. I’ve also said that I don’t believe in people being “good.” At least I haven’t met any.

Regardless, I’d be interested in your definition of good.
=================

“The difference is is that I have to live with the consequences of my choice of actions.”

That is not unique to atheists honey. Same with regrets for what we’ve said that can’t be unsaid or done that can’t be undone. I’m forgiven, but that doesn’t take away consequences.

Chris Mackey said...

Gorth equated superstition with a lack of education.

Education and stability.

He is educated yet still believes in things that are impossible, made-up, mythology.

!

I don’t need to justify my beliefs.

! Congratulations. I'm speechless.

tinkbell13 said...

Please do not patronize me by calling me "honey" That is really unnecessary.

I, for one, know many good people. If you feel as though you do not know good people, might be time to reexamine who you know. I have many people in my life who are selfless, charitable, and generous with themselves. I would not associate with them otherwise. And, not one of them is Christian. A great number of them are Jewish and Muslim.

Makarios said...

"I would not associate with them otherwise."

How come?

Gandolf said...

"Here’s my point.
. I don’t see how any atheist could be me and say, “I don’t need God in order to be good.” "

Mak .You dont need god/s to know your anger was somewhat natural and relative to what had happened.Thats not a excuse!. Its more about a understanding and learning of why it happens.

"I don’t see how any atheist could be me and say, “I don’t need forgiveness.”

Humans dont need god/s to know they never always perfect.We mostly forgive ourselves when we keep trying our best to do better whenever we can.

"The point of this post is, I wonder if perhaps atheist are actually better, more socially acceptable people - not because of atheism but just because."

Morals of faithful folk often seem to rely more on old customs.They are said to be absolutes,yet still sometimes seem rather relative.We see this specially with gods said by so many to supposedly be the "same yerterday today and tommorow".Yet whos moral absolutes that at one time includes stoning folks to death, yet next moment changes to "not" including stoning.Proving to atleast be really only rather "relative" to length of "time" and the "religion".

Maybe agnostics and atheists etc are more able to be far more adaptable and so then tolerant and understanding.Which allows better for learning and change also.With not being bound the same as religion often tends to bind people up in old custon, so stagnating peoples ability to adjust.

The thing is God/s is only ever really the cover of the book.No matter how often you read a god book,it will still come back to needing to be "your choice" to learn and and decide to make any real changes.

Reading god/s books wont do much to stop your anger.You can read it over and over 100 times.

But it will still take the "you" bit to decide "yourself" to really make any real change.

Thinking and learning and understanding better why you react the way you do at present moment,can allow you to think and consider many other ways maybe you can try to manage your future behaviour better.

So you will then hopefully react a little differently next time.

"One million New Yorkers are good without God,” are they lying?"

No not lying so much at all really.If anything maybe they being extremely honest.

tinkbell13 said...

It is very simple. I do not have people in my personal life who cause me any undue stress. I work with complicated people as it is. Why have that in my personal life? Very simple. I am very selective about how I associate with.

I work with many Christians. Some of them are really good people, and I admire them. However, there are a good number of them who I would hide from if I saw them in public.

In my personal life, I know two Christians, and we have more of a work relationship. The people that I care about tend to be atheist, Jewish, or Muslim. That is all that there is to it. If I developed a personal relationship with a Christian, I would be overjoyed, but it has not happened.

When you remove God, or religion from your decision making, you are able to understand how normal your reactions really are. Ask any parent about getting frustrated with their children, they will tell you the same as your post. There is nothing wrong with what you said. It makes you human. Only Christianity would equate atheism within such a useless dichotomy. "I had a bad day, and maybe we really are the bad people, and they are the good people..." How about "I am a human being, just like everyone else, and today really sucked."

Makarios said...

"It is very simple. I do not have people in my personal life who cause me any undue stress."

Yes, the exact opposite of Jesus.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the people who are the most difficult to be with are those who need the love of others the most.

I understand that if you’re in the mental health field you may indeed need to ration yourself.
==============

"When you remove God, or religion from your decision making, you are able to understand how normal your reactions really are.”

I look at the world around me and say that normal is not good enough.
==============


“Morals of faithful folk often seem to rely more on old customs.”

Yes, and here is what allows atheists to say that they are good people. Change the rules an voila!

I’m no longer doing anything wrong.

Check this out and tell me again that these are “old customs” to which we are called.

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/06/atheist-women-reject-kindness.html

Trying something and finding it too difficult doesn't mean that the thing tried is outdated.

Gandolf said...

"Yes, the exact opposite of Jesus."

Hi Mak .We may have been told (in book) Jesus was ALWAYS completely different.And im very sure too most often he was one very very special guy. But that doesnt (prove) he didnt ever have times where he also had had enough of some people.

Faith book writers were not likely to write that much about what is not so good for "potential followers" of faith to be hearing are they though,that would be really utterly totally stupid if they did right?

People are best to only mostly hear all the good bits!!,not the bad bits....Bad bits dont tend to help people have much faith in things really do they Mak.


Even today amongst religion we mostly we only hear all the "praises sung" about religion,they are never quite so quick to sing all the bad praise bits so loudly are they?.When it comes to investigating the bad bits it needs to be almost "choked out" of them!,its almost like "sucking moisture" from a stone!.

All im saying Mak is just because you read or dont read something in a book, doesnt mean its the facts or even all the facts.

Besides while the books seems to suggest these types of supposed perfections.In other pages it also seems to suggest seperation and shunning etc.

So no difference.

You said"I look at the world around me and say that normal is not good enough."

But Mak atleast you know its "you" and "us" thats got to somehow try and join together with "others" and do what can be done to "improve matters".If improvements what we wish for.

Thats got to be better than "crossing your fingers" for luck or just "praying" it will hopefully improve like magic.

The sooner (more people) realize it really comes down much more to the "us" to make most of the changes,the sooner its got much more better chances of ever really likely happening.

While so many folks still bank so completely on the likelyhood of God/s coming and doing it all for us.

The less chance we all have.

You said"Yes, and here is what allows atheists to say that they are good people. Change the rules an voila!....I’m no longer doing anything wrong."

But Mak ..The rules have obviously changed the same over time "even within religion" also...We stoned folk to death!,then later on we didnt anymore!.

Whats the big differenece? to the "Atheists" part you just seemed to try to suggest as being something more extremely immoral or something?

Christian changed stuff too! because it was wrong too!.
1,They once were stoning folk!,it was wrong.
2,they changed it! = "no longer doing anything wrong."

It exactly the same thing! in any totally honest realistic "reality".

If we are not straight up about it,who is really fooling who?

Mak i did check your link.But im not here to be disagreeing with you,or to say that there isnt any good bits/parts of life within written religions also.Because i know there is.

After all religion i feel is just a extention of our human society,so why would i ever even expect none of it would likely cantain any good?

Naturally some will be likely to be good because all humans are naturally both good and bad sometimes.

You said "Trying something and finding it too difficult doesn't mean that the thing tried is outdated."

Excellent Mak i find i do agree with you on many things.So even though non belief of Gods was likely around long before any belief of God/s ever arrived.

Its not "outdated" or too "difficult"!!

Makarios said...

“But that doesnt (prove) he didnt ever have times where he also had had enough of some people.”

You’ve missed the point. He chose to be with those who the rest of us avoid.
==================

Faith book writers were not likely to write that much about what is not so good for "potential followers"

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/10/they-invented-nut-case.html
=====================

Thats got to be better than "crossing your fingers" for luck or just "praying" it will hopefully improve like magic.”

I don’t know anyone that does that. There are mountains of evidence to show that down through history, it’s been Christians and not atheists who have gone into the world to build hospitals, and drop-in centres, and shelters for those with leprosy and AID’s and battered women and food distribution centres and on and on and on. That’s why I’m saying that normal isn’t good enough. We need people, religious or not to go above and beyond the call or we’re screwed.
================

Gandolf said...

Mak said.."You’ve missed the point. He chose to be with those who the rest of us avoid."

But i dont see everyone in the world really trying to avoid certain people that much though Mak.Thats just stereo typing human as all uncaring and suggesting especially those without gods just wont give a damm about people who are different to them.Propaganda.

I can say overall i have found humans to often still be pretty helpful and caring.

Mak .."http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/10/they-invented-nut-case.html"

I looked at that post Mak.But still see plenty of reasons these stories could have evloved.Just the fact we have the thor and Zeaus gods and so many other gods and godly men dreamed about by man,is enough evidence in itself to almost prove beyond doubt.That its nothing so unusual.Its nothing that cannot be explained.

Mak said.."it’s been Christians and not atheists who have gone into the world to build hospitals, and drop-in centres, and shelters for those with leprosy and AID’s and battered women and food distribution centres and on and on and on."

Mak if these folks were in the community (instead of being in churches doing it) ...These type of people would still very likely be involved in doing all these same things.They would still care because they are caring types,and there is plenty of non faithful folks who care also.

Its a sad thing if they are really only being charitable because they read some religious book.

I dont see how extracting statistics of charity, from church charities who have always traditionally run the charities...Charities run by folks of faith,that infact (many non faithful still donate to also).

Is such a real totally honest way!, to go about deciding who is actually so charitable or not.

If less people were religious..Then more non religious folk would be the ones mostly involved in charity.All you have proved is that traditionally so far lots of folks in this world have been religious.

I dont see how that proves they wont give a damm about folks, as soon as they no longer read a bible.


Mak said.." We need people, religious or not to go above and beyond the call or we’re screwed."

Ohh i do agree.And might i add that i try to be charitable and help folks when i can.And i only wish i could help many more!.

I would like to POINT OUT though that faith can also work against charity sometimes.For instance when it splits and divides families.

Split and divided families have much less chances to be charitable in the sense that they have less chance of managing their (combined family wealth)as a family/tribe group.

So as to be able to then even afford to be very charitable and share much more with others.I know this problem!,ive experienced its nastiness myself.

Its all very well faith patting its own back and saying ohhh looky what we do!! ,while saying they over there dont help like we do....But lets atleast try to keep it honest.

tinkbell13 said...

Well, I actually have just come across literature that says that missionaries in Africa, Nigeria, are accusing innocent children of witchcraft. Then, the church is taking money from the families and killing them as they attempt to exorcise the demons. There is good old fashioned "Christian" charity to you.

I have a suggestion Mak. Since you are telling me that I am the opposite of JC because I do not want to be personally involved with people who are stressful, I would like to pose a challenge. I challenge you to open your home to all of the prostitutes, drug dealers, and mentally ill people on the streets. Let them come and live in your home, and eat your food, sleep in your bed. That is what JC would have done. See how long you last.

Only "special people" see this wonderfully diverse and dynamic world within a prison of simplistic dichotomy.