Aug. 28th, 2009

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[livejournal.com profile] traceroo brought up some things recently in her own journal that prompted a few thoughts from me as well.

Isn't it better to be a decent person just because you think it's a good idea, than it is to be good because your religion tells you to do so?

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm an atheist, and have been for many years. I am not constructed in such a manner as to be able to accept the existence of a God without some kind of real, concrete proof. I am simply not built to take anything purely on faith. If there isn't testable, solid evidence of its existence, then I have little use for it and it's just philosophy or speculation. Now philosophy and speculation have their place, all right, and provide many interesting discussions, but I don't see a philosophical concept as being something I should build my life around -- especially not something I should be looking to as one of the pillars to hold up the rest of my life.

Because I don't believe in a God, I also don't believe in the things that go along with that belief: that God requires our worship, that he becomes petulant with you if you do not do so, that if you do not specifically come to him and ask to worship him you'll wind up in hell for eternity, forever roasting for your sins. This, even if you've been a good person all your life, being kind to your fellow man and making the world a better place. Not only does this not make sense to me, it seems cruel and spiteful. You want me to worship a God who would do something like that?

So I don't live my life because I think the Bible tells me to do something, or because I fear hell. Instead, I'm a decent person because I think that's what I should be, because my conscience tells me I should, because intrinsically at my core I believe that it's the right thing to do. I believe that I should tell the truth always, that I should treat everyone with equal respect and kindness, that a person's race or sex or age or religion is completely irrelevant to their quality as a person and fellow human being.

Do I have my flaws? Hell, yes. I have an explosive temper. I am too quick to condemn people for doing stupid things, and too quick to sink to the level of those who're doing things I find personally repugnant. But I still feel that you should treat other people with respect and kindness until they do something to earn your disrespect. And again, this is something I believe personally, not something I've been taught by religion. And I think that in the final balance I'll come out ahead, as a pretty decent sort. If there is an afterlife, then I would hope that the balance of my life as a decent person would be enough to earn me a place there. If there isn't, as I expect, then I'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing I left a record of being cool to others.

Understand: I don't hate those who're religious. I DO hate those who kill and commit atrocities in the name of religion (any religion), but that's a topic for another entry entirely. But as far as I'm concerned, you can worship whatever deity or concept you choose, as long as you don't hurt anyone and you leave me alone to make my own choices. If your belief gives you strength, then more power to you. I just don't share that belief, so I make my way in the world without divine guidance.

-- END OF LINE --

[[The Oracle would like to know if you're a dog person or a cat person (or perhaps both).]]

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Phil C.

April 2011

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