Atheism is selfish because…

I’ve just had an early morning epiphany about why Christianity is preferable to atheism.
Atheism is inherently selfish. It teaches no way to live. It’s a blank slate that one can write a life of service on, but can just as easily be totally selfish. It involves no inbuilt nagging little voice that whispers ‘be more’.

The Christian life is one of service and giving; and if it isn’t then it should be; those of use who don’t do enough to improve the world are reminded of the expectations placed upon us every time we read the gospels.

An atheist can be good if they want to be, but only if they have an already implanted desire within themselves to be so.

A Christian has as their manifest the order to help others. So, if our own personal will is weak, we have the added boost of knowing that God has left the betterment of the role in our hands.

I know that Atheists say (and I’ve been one of them) that’s is a sad state of affairs when you are a good person only because the a Bible tells you to be. I would say that it’s human nature to look after our own little clan. Going outside that in any meaningful way can be an imposition. Lots of us needs a good kick in the pants to do it, and without that, it often never happens.

( I’ve done my own little non- peer supported study, on my own head, while writing this. I’ve thought of 10 atheists and 10 theists that I personally know. My conclusions are correct within this groups, therefore, I’m right 😉 )

15 thoughts on “Atheism is selfish because…

    • Yes, well aware of those definitions.
      To clarify, I mean that it is ‘inherently selfish’ because it indicates that we are alone in the universe, each of us trying to create a next generation of our own genes, with no real necessary commitment to any other group.

      • It doesn’t suggest any of these things. I’d take a look at your own philosophy and how it gets you to that stage. Atheism suggests nothing. It is the absence of one belief.
        The ideas that we might be alone, or that we are only trying to spread our genes or that we have no commitment to other groups are three independent ideas that are separate from atheism. Therefore, not inherent.
        I am free to believe or not believe any of those other three statements, regardless of whether I am an atheist… therefore they are not inherent to my atheism.

        • I was an atheist or the first 36 years of my life and have been an agnostic for the past 3, so ‘my philosophy’ is one that has been developed with a love of my dog eared copy of ‘The God Delusion’ and a patronising sneer towards anyone that would even countenance belief a in god.

          But Atheism has become much more that just an ‘absence of god’, as I learned through member ship of an atheist society that I was an active member of.

          But you are right, my use of ‘inherent’ was probably faulty.

          • I understand your step from “atheism has no inherent rules built in it” to “therefore, an atheist may make up his own rules to life”. But I hope you can see that the step where you assume what those rules are and make your judgement call on them, that’s not an inherent step. That’s -your- baggage.
            Ironically, most atheists (that I encounter, that I know, whose blogs I read) are also humanists. And inherent in humanism is the premise that humans are worthy and that we do have an obligation to them…

  1. That’s all well and good, but why does it make either viewpoint preferable? It says absolutely nothing about what the truth is.

    Would you be happy to believe that lizard people (actually, I think they prefer to be called reptilians) are secretly running the world if by some extraordinary series of events it made you a better person in some way? I doubt it.

    • No, neither viewpoint is necessarily preferable, but I’m looking at this from the position of what will cause the greatest good in the world- those who feel a need to do good because of a direction from God, or those who have no such direction.

      I’m pretty sure I read an article about reptilian overlords recently…

  2. “Atheism is inherently selfish. It teaches no way to live.” — This is like saying, “If I don’t know the answer, then I’m selfish.” Atheism has no ethical viewpoint; if you’re an atheist, you must choose your path. That doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It simply means you’re on your own.

    Religion ought to inspire, not force. Otherwise we’d live in a nightmare of obedient, docile human cows whose only desire is not to make an error. When we say, “I need someone to tell me what to do, or I’ll do bad things,” we’re saying we’re a mistake. God makes mistakes? We must be forced to be kind and helpful? What kind of monsters are we, then?

    If, troubled by our uncertainties, we fear being on our own — that without an imposed structure, we’ll waste our lives or, worse, use them destructively — then we’ll turn to an authority for answers. That’s like a child looking for a parent. Yet if we’re smart enough to know there’s no cosmic Daddy but too scared to step out on our own, we become like orphans, wandering around lost. It’s a terrible double-bind that can make us vibrate with confusion. So we bounce back and forth between the safety of religion and the risky freedom of doubt.

    There are studies that suggest atheists aren’t as happy as religionists. Much of that effect, though, has to do with the strong social ties engendered in church life. Atheists aren’t wrong; they’re alienated. There is no place in society for them to belong, to contribute. It’s lonely, at this point in history, to be a doubter. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong or selfish. Humanists, though condemned by religionists for their apostasies, tend to be high-minded and far-thinking about society and how to improve it. If anything, doubters have more room for tolerance and less impulse to go to war over their beliefs.

    Why must we assume that our job is to help others? A Christian’s job isn’t to help, it’s to witness. Beyond Christianity, others say our purpose is enlightenment, or purification, or worship, or even exploration or innovation. Declaring, “Everyone should have as their goal helping others, or we’ll kick ’em in the pants” discards arbitrarily any other purpose.

    Our greatest contributions can’t be made when we’re following someone else’s agenda. Our best work comes when we stop trying to fulfill some arbitrary goal, when we “let the spirit move us”. Spontaneity and creativity are where the good stuff comes from. (Sure, there’ll be a lot of crap, too, but that gets discarded during the process.)

    People who act with enthusiasm and joy rarely do harm and usually contribute to others. It makes much more sense to think that our heart’s desires are there for good reasons, than to think our yearnings are bad for us and/or bad for our fellow humans, with whom we need to get along to survive. After three billion years of evolution, humans impulses are naturally destructive? That makes no sense. We’d already be extinct.

    But the challenge isn’t how to be enthusiastic and joyful; it’s how to get out of our own way so we can discover our enthusiasms and passions. This involves trust, but if we can’t trust ourselves we’ll turn to others for our assignments, and the opportunity for true contribution gets lost. Worse, that’s the moment when destructive things start to happen: our leaders, political or religious, will have their own agendas and will tend see us as cannon fodder in their wars against what they disapprove of in others. Anyone who says, “You’re bad, and I’ve got the cure” is selling snake oil.

    Organized religions have poor track records at making the world better. Hundreds of millions have died in their names. An individual, hearkening to the beat of her own drum, rarely causes harm and usually adds to the world. It’s not mass movements that make the world better; it’s people following their hearts.

    Some of us, growing up, were told we were unworthy, and we believed our authority figures and tried to please them by denying our deepest wishes. But we’re not bad to begin with; we’re simply us. We’re designed, not to be selfish, but to cooperate with others. That process has its pitfalls and pains and frustrations, yet when we trust it, it leads toward positive outcomes. If we need to, we can believe that God speaks to us through our heartfelt inspirations. But however we come to it, we can learn to trust ourselves. And that’s not selfish at all.

    • I do, however, think that a Christians job should be to help, as well as witness. Jesus was very clear about what he wanted us to do. The world needs more people willing to go out of their way to shake things up in the name if social justice.
      In my experience, and I can think o several people right now, Atheists will say ‘pah, I don’t need God to be s good person’ which is of course correct, but none of those people go out of their way to be an activist. I dont mean that the fear of God makes Christians good, either. None of the flavour of Christians that I know ‘fear’ God in a hell bound way. They understand that Jesus described a way of life that will improve the state of the world, and that we should make ourselves uncomfortable in order to achieve that.

      • Though I’m decades removed from churchgoing, I can’t help but smile when I see Sunday worshipers pouring out of church into a quad, where they meet and chat. There may be something to your notion that church people are more helpful than atheists, but I suspect it’s largely cultural, with the atheists nursing their resentments rather than pitching in.

        Bear in mind, it’s unfair to equate all of them with the acerbic militancy of Richard Dawkins, who is brilliant but several shades too combative for my taste. There are also quiet, nice, giving atheists out there, who don’t feel the need to do battle with religionists.

        The philosopher Krishnamurti — who was very much into spirituality but never took a position about God — challenged people to, e.g., remove a stone from a path or plant a tree they’d never see grow up. The advice to reach out, and to get out of our own narcissistic skins, is everywhere. If the church emphasizes it, so much the better.

        By the way — and judging from your follow-up post to this one, “Good Without God?”, where you rail against our excessive love of material goods — you’ll like the new pope! He shares that very sentiment.

        • It’s true that all atheists aren’t Dawkins, I love his writings on evolutionary biology, and have several of hi books on my shelves next to more ‘Christian’ works. As a scientist, I respect him greatly. As a quasi- theological he’s just, well, smug.
          I used to be one of those smug, patronising atheists, and I imagine that part of my issue us the fact that I feel self conscious tht if jumped ship.
          I was also someone who was a ‘good person’ and resented the fact that anyone would think me otherwise.

    • JH says “Why must we assume that our job is to help others? A Christian’s job isn’t to help, it’s to witness.” Hogwash! The golden rule is universal in all religions. The golden rule is God’s algorithm, it is all God’s laws and commandments rolled into one. No creature in the universe can simplify the golden rule, making human beings among the most intelligent beings in the universe. All religions are founded on helping others. It is the Christians, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Muslim, the Hindus’ job to help others. Eva is correct “Atheism is inherently selfish. It teaches no way to live.” All atheism is is not believing in something and trying to convince others they are wrong. It is Atheist’s like JH who ask “Why must we assume that our job is to help others?”

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