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Entry 8 – Goodliness is not next to God

October 6, 2009

Why be good without God? This is the other question I brought up earlier in Entry 2 which I wanted to answer for my inquisitive family members during that lunch over a year ago.

Let me be clear. I think our morals and our sense of wanting to be good don’t need to come from a supernatural being. Goodness can simply spring from perfectly natural sources such as our own level of human discourse and human decency toward one another. We are all human beings trying to survive on this very harsh, yet very beautiful planet. And in order for us all to survive well, we need to work together, help each other, and love one another.

Some feel the need to delegate the imperative to be “moral” and “good” to a supernatural being called ‘God’, who must be appeased or else those who are not appeasing said deity will be tormented and tortured forever in a lake of fire and brimstone (see Entry 7 or check out the following verses from the New Testament of the Christian Bible if you think this isn’t clearly spelled out to those who ignore this Godly appeasement if you will: Matthew 5:29, Matthew 10:28, Mark 9:43-50, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:23-24, James 3:6, Revelation 20:10, Revelation 21:8, to name just a few). If people want to believe in such a supernatural being with such a vengeful nature, that is clearly their right in this free country of the United States of America. I concede that such belief systems do work to a certain extent. I certainly believed this way for the first 23 years of my life here on the planet. I was scared to death that I might end up burning forever in hell if I didn’t confess all my sins, and assuage the jealousy of this Yahweh, the god of the ancient Jewish peoples, this Emmanuel, the god of the Christians. I have slowly let go of these beliefs, and come to understand a more evolutionary pathway to how our morals came to be.

If I decide that it is OK to kill my neighbor and steal his food to better my situation, then I run the risk of not surviving myself. Sure I may get his food, but there are others that may not like the fact that I killed him to get his food and I may, with retaliation by these others, lose my own life.

On the flip side of that, if I treat this neighbor with kindness and respect and show him love, we can both work together to share our food and survive much easier. A bit of a simplistic explanation on ethics, but I think effective nonetheless. I am open to debate this. If there are better naturalistic arguments for where our morals and goodness can come from, please share with me and keep the dialogue going.

The urge to do good in this world is really more, in my humble opinion, of wanting to survive and seeing that doing good actually in the long run is the best plan for survival. Choosing to live your life from a more self-centered approach lends itself to possibly ending your life quicker. Isolation is quickly becoming a thing of the past, as we must all work together to survive in this global economy that is quickly becoming oblivious to geopolitical boundaries.

When I volunteer my time in the community in which I live to help a young person learn science, or dribble a basketball, or read a book I am showing love to that person; I am doing good. I am helping that person develop skills that may help them later on in their journey called life. But most importantly I am helping myself. I am giving back some of what I have been given; a brain that functions, a body attached to that brain that can perform certain tasks, and logic and reasoning to say that people in my community matter.

It feels good to help others because we are taking part in the place in which we live, and saying that I care about how we all get along, and how we all can survive here together. If we don’t take time to help others, to love others, then we ourselves will not be helped, and not be loved and we will not survive. It’s a give and take always on this planet. What we do on one side, affects the other. No supernatural being is needed, as I see it, to encourage me to do this…this ‘good’. It is simply a part of being human.

For next time, I’ll address further the issue of whether the God of the Christian and Jewish sacred texts can truly be called “good”.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by,

TRC
the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Justin permalink
    February 2, 2011 7:55 pm

    I figure if the only reason some one does something good is out of a fear of consequence, then that person is not truly good. As an atheist, someone who doesn’t believe in these consequences, I feel that I am then holding myself to a higher standard. I do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

  2. Anonymous permalink*
    February 5, 2011 9:17 am

    Couldn’t agree more with you, Justin, and it’s something that is usually completely missed by persons who have almost a knee-jerk reaction to equating a religious person with a moral person. I would love to see our society move past the discussion about whether or not someone can be good without god or gods, and onto the better discussion about why someone who lives their life without a belief in god or gods chooses to be good. I think alot of ‘good’ can come of that latter discussion over the former.

  3. Bear permalink
    February 16, 2011 5:26 pm

    Another way that you can survive in the “killing my neighbor, stealing his food” scenario which is even more efficient than the two methods you have listed is to become friends with your neighbors and form a group which then goes to other neighborhoods and kills and steals from them.

    It helps if you can rally your neighbors around a common flag, be it an actual flag or something else you have in common such as race, religion or simply sharing the same hometown.

    This of course being a metaphor, food in the scenario being any resource and neighbors being any group of people. There have been studies done that show we are genetically inclined to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal.

    As far as what is “right” and “good”, it certainly isn’t any good to starve to death, nor is it good to let those close to you starve to death.

    • Anonymous permalink*
      February 20, 2011 9:32 pm

      Well said, Bear. Like how your take expands a bit more on the evolution of morality.

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  1. Entry 9 – Goodness God, why so bad? « The Recovering Christian

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