[LMB] Bringing it back to LMB [Was:OT: verging on forbidden territory: political)

Howard Brazee howard at brazee.net
Sun Sep 11 16:31:39 BST 2011

On Sep 11, 2011, at 8:55 AM, Carol Cooper wrote:

>> Ezar felt free to order mass murder to fulfill his purposes, because he
>> believed (and prayed!)
>> there was no God to judge him.  If I were an atheist, why on earth would I
>> care about the
>> environment or anything else but my own aggrandisement and pleasure?
> I'm trying to work out if that comment is 'tongue in cheek' or not, because
> if not, it's one of the most offensive things I've ever heard.  Do you
> seriously think that atheists give no thought to ethics?  Most of the
> atheists I know (as opposed to those who don't know what they think and
> simply don't go to church) have given much thought to what they do or do not
> believe in, and generally have a well-thought out set of ethics and values.
> I personally have far more respect for people who behave with decency,
> kindness and altruism because they have chosen to do so, rather than those
> whose behaviour is governed by fear that they'll be punished if they
> misbehave.
> But I'm really hoping your comment was just a bad joke......

Or a philosophical question.

People act ethically or not without a strong correlation between whether they believe that a superior being will reward them or punish them.    For someone who believes in natural selection, the reason is pretty obvious - in a social species, those beings who care about others and the future are more likely to procreate.    This applies to religious and non-religious people.

For religious people, this observation is not quite so obvious - especially if one believes that those other religions are false - maybe even creations of Satan.

But for people whose religion is mainly a way of saying their way is right, ethics gets measured differently.    It's OK to condemn those whose hair is the wrong length, whose cultures are different, and who Do What Jesus Would Do, instead of what the Powerful say is right.

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