Atheists do good anyway

Atheists are sometimes viewed with suspicion, as if they are masking hidden values and questionable morals.

Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy were okay, but unquestionably my favorite TV cowboy in the early 1950s was the Lone Ranger. I’m not sure why I liked him when I was 10, but I now think he was a pretty good role model for atheists. He would initially arouse suspicion because of his masked appearance, as did his trusted sidekick and only friend, Tonto, because he was a Native American. People changed their minds about them after seeing their good works. But the Lone Ranger never hung around for reward money or praise. In each last scene some grateful person would ask, “Who was that masked man?” followed by the answer, “Why, he’s the Lone Ranger.”

Atheists are also sometimes viewed with suspicion, as if they are masking hidden values and questionable morals. When religious believers learn that some of their friends, colleagues, or even family members are atheists, it often dispels former negative stereotypes. But life is not a weekly TV show with happy endings, so good works by a lone atheist usually aren’t enough to change society’s mind. In fact, here are a couple of recent examples from my home state, where organizations refused to allow atheists to participate in charitable endeavors.

Last month, a Spartanburg, South Carolina soup kitchen excluded atheists from volunteering. Its executive director said she’d resign from her job before she would let atheists volunteer and be a “disservice to this community,” adding that her Christian organization that ran the soup kitchen “stands on the principles of God.” Apparently, allowing atheists to help the less fortunate goes against her Christian principles. Instead, the Upstate Atheists raised over $2000 to give care packages to homeless people across the street from the soup kitchen.

My own local group in Charleston, South Carolina, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry has long been active in community building and charitable work. But when we applied this year to participate in the annual YMCA Flowertown Festival, the organizers refused because “We (the YMCA) are a Christian organization.” The legal center at the American Humanist Association pointed out that South Carolina state law prohibits discrimination based on religion in places of public accommodation, and threatened a lawsuit. The YMCA soon reversed its stand “through prayer, consideration and legal counsel.” I leave it for others to decide whether prayer or a potential lawsuit played more of a role in the reversal.

There are dozens of atheist and humanist organizations throughout the country involved in charitable work. A partial list of such charities can be found here and here. Of course, atheists and humanists make charitable donations because they think it is the right thing to do, not because they hope for heavenly rewards. Most are generous without mentioning their views about religion. For instance, it is not well known that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have no God beliefs. But they each individually made the two largest charitable donations in American history.

Non-religious Americans have made strong contributions in all fields, but their contributions are sometimes belittled if their religious views become known. Former football star Pat Tillman may not have been the Lone Ranger, but he gave up a lucrative football contract to become an Army Ranger. When he died in battle, the Army covered up that he was killed by “friendly fire” because they wanted to make Tillman a recruitment tool and poster boy for soldiers willing to sacrifice their lives. Tillman’s family insisted on bringing out the truth, which embarrassed Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich.

Here’s what Kauzlarich said about the Tillman family: “When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don’t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that.” I guess Pat’s risking death for his country counts for “nothing” because he was not engaged in a holy war that would take him to a Christian heaven. There was no record for Kauzlarich ever being disciplined for his insensitive and hurtful remarks, despite calls for such action. He was later promoted to full colonel.

Back to the fictional Lone Ranger, whose writers gave him a moral code that began, “I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one; that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world; that God put the firewood there but every man must gather and light it himself.”

The Lone Ranger sounds like a deist whose actions are those of a secular humanist. The Lone Ranger of yesteryear mostly worked only with Tonto because that seemed to be for him the most efficient way to help tame the Wild West. I like to think that a modern day Lone Ranger would be a community builder to help rid towns of poverty, prejudice, and poor education. He would be happy to include all participants on worthwhile projects, regardless of their religious beliefs. And so would Tonto. Both would value deed above creed, and would change with the times as evidence warrants. Perhaps the Lone Ranger of today would be an atheist, or at least an atheist ally.

Image courtesy of Frankie Roberto.

About

Herb Silverman Herb Silverman is founder and President Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, author of “Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt,” and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston.
  • CCNL

    As long as said atheist groups don’t turn into a money making con for the founders of said non-profits, all should go well.

    Keep in mind that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are atheists. They have given billions to various charitable causes.

  • tombukowski

    As a non-activist, live-and-let-live atheist, I find this entire “us versus them” thing quite tiresome. I’m willing to bet most other atheists are of the same thought as I am. We find no value in this constant bickering, and go about our productive and helpful to others lives quite happily. All I want is religion out of government, and not to have laws based someone elses religious thinking. Stay out of peoples lives, and keep your own house in order.

  • firecracker59

    I don’t think that would happen any more often than Christians setting up their non-profits and duping the rubes for healing and miracles. No one is in favor of people being duped by any group and the methods and enticements vary – none of them good.

  • h5r2

    No atheist groups ask for money to bring about miracles. The nice thing about atheists is that they are reality based, and won’t give money to phony causes.

  • rdpch

    So all you want is something you are completely unwilling to fight for.

  • pelicanwatchcb1

    Hi-Yo, Silver! Awaaaay!

  • veginpost

    Hi-Yo, Silverman! Awaaay!

  • slowe111

    It has been forever true that the underclass, the outsider, the oppressed, rejected, diminished, the cursed, etc, MUST fight for their respect and equality. To just ignore it, sit back and pretend that it will happen or will happen “just because” is naive and weak. Until the religionists adopt a live-and-let-live attitude, we must work to remove the stigma of all underclasses, be it racial, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. To not do so is to give in and accept the less than status assigned to us.

  • SimonTemplar

    I believe the whole presumption that atheists are viewed with suspicion or that they are presumed to be prone to dark and unsavory lifestyles to be a red herring. It may even be a sign of paranoia.

    I think it arises from the logical “Theist Vs. Atheist” debate over the source of morality. Theists argue that if our moral code is not anchored in something larger than mankind (God), then mankind will be free to rework our moral code to fit our own preferences (both on a larger societal level and also on a smaller, though no less consequential, personal level). Somehow, this argument seems to have made an impact as it seems atheists have taken this to heart and now feel compelled to mount this ongoing marketing campaign to convince us all of that atheists are good people too.

    The funny part is that I don’t remember anyone arguing that atheists can not be good people. The argument is not that atheists are bad people but that the long term effect of a godless worldview will have an eroding effect on societal mores and morality.

    I don’t think that most people view atheists with distrusting eyes (Eric Fromm, the atheist who pretended to be a Christian so he could go to Northwest Christian University, rising to the status of Class President, not withstanding). I think theists rightly question the impact of a godless worldview on our culture.

    It is a little odd though, fantasizing (as the above author does) that being an atheist is a little like being a super hero.

  • twmatthews

    I’m tired of Christians, being in the majority, thinking that all laws should abide by Christian principles even though those principles are ill defined and subject to interpretation.

    I found prohibitions against gay marriage to be repugnant in my state of North Carolina because of a personal belief in equality. The idea that it’s now outlawed because the Christian god says it’s bad is a battle worth fighting for.

    The county board of governors here starts every meeting off with a prayer. More than 99% of those prayers have been Christian in nature and different counties have already been sued because of the practice. I would like government to refrain from allocating public time to make me sit and listen about guidance from an imaginary god. I think it’s a waste of tax payer money to spend defending this practice. This too is worth fighting.

  • h5r2

    Simon,

    Does that mean you agree with Christian groups that will not allow atheists to work alongside them to do good works, like helping the poor?

  • MJM85

    Maybe you haven’t seen athiests regarded with suspicion or distrust, although it is just as likely that the attitude is so thoroughly incorporated into your world view that you don’t even notice.

    You really beleive theists don’t modify their moral code to fit their own preferences?
    Haha. hahahahaha…. Really. That is too funny. You should take a history class sometime.

    I can certainly understand the fear theists have about the impact of a godless world view- less power for the church.

  • MJM85

    “As long as said atheist groups don’t turn into a money making con for the founders of said non-profits, all should go well.”

    Oh- you mean like many Christian organizations?

  • TheNaturalist

    What presumption Kauzlarich is making with his comment:

    “Well, if you are an atheist and you don’t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing”

    As if not believing in his god is equal to believing in nothing, or logically, his god is everything. Atheists that I know think of his god as an idea limited by the imagination of a 2000 year old culture—a rather small idea in the scope of human cultural diversity and history, and with the 13.7 billion year old universe in which we all reside.

  • Catken1

    “The argument is not that atheists are bad people but that the long term effect of a godless worldview will have an eroding effect on societal mores and morality. ”

    We know that the long-term effect of a fundamentalist religious worldview has an extremely destructive effect on morality and social mores, leading to oppression, tyranny, murder, even genocide. We see it every day.

    May we not question the moral effect of a theistic worldview on society? After all, if you believe in a god who burns in agony, forever and ever, anyone who doesn’t believe in him, how can you treat anyone other than your co-religionists fairly and without compassion? You’ve already declared it OK and moral to have them tortured – why should they trust your willingness to behave morally to them on Earth?

    Any set of religious beliefs (or indeed unbeliefs) that are forced on people by government will lead to oppression and cruelty. Freedom of religion is the only moral solution, and Christians like yourself argue against that every day, because it is just so COMFORTING to have your government bodies lead you in prayer, making you feel safe and included (while excluding your fellow citizens and making them feel unwelcome).

    ” Theists argue that if our moral code is not anchored in something larger than mankind (God), then mankind will be free to rework our moral code to fit our own preferences (both on a larger societal level and also on a smaller, though no less consequential, personal level).”

    As we always have done, even those of you who say you got your moral code spoon-fed to you in scriptures of a god, because none of you have any evidence that your scriptures are actually from a god, and you still have to choose which scripture to follow based on your own preferences.
    In the long run, we all choose our moral codes, you included. You don’t have a Proven Golden Road to Perfect Morality any more than any of the rest of us have. All you have is your best guess, just like us.

  • Catken1

    Anyway, the truth of theism or atheism is not determined by which has the more “moral” effect on society, whatever your conclusions (and they are more debatable than you think). What is does not cease to be because you don’t think that the reality leads to a more moral society than your preferred fiction.

  • leibowde84

    I always find it amusing when the religious claim that without belief in God (or a power greater than yourself I guess), moral relativism will cause your morality to disappear. It is as if they think that, due to human nature, it is inevitable that we will be an immoral society without faith. That is a travesty, and a misguided assumption. There is a consistent need for reinvestigation of moral codes and moral authorities. Human beings are destined to make mistakes, and the only way to combat this is to work for change.

  • itsthedax

    Well, lets start with the fact that seen states prohibit atheists from holding public office. And conservative political leaders openly express hatred and distrust of atheists. For example:

    “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”
    -George H. W. Bush

    “I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
    -Newt Gingrich

  • Rongoklunk

    I would love to believe in a god who watches over us, and who lives in a place called Heaven where people go when they die to enjoy an eternal after-life. I would be a happy man if only I could believe it. But like most atheists i can’t just make myself believe it anymore than I could make myself believe I have a billion dollars in the bank – when I know I don’t. To make myself believe in a god would be impossible when my brain (and history) tells me that gods are man-made, like Zeus and Baal and Jupiter and thousands more. And in reality all living things die, and that includes us. Surely it’s the fear of death that has people think-up an afterlife, for which there is no evidence. Atheists know that death is death, and have to face that reality because it’s true.
    Nobody ever came back from the afterlife to tell us how great heaven is. That’s because they’re dead.

  • Rongoklunk

    Simon;
    You miss the point entirely. Atheists believe that no gods exist, and that when we die we stay dead. That’s all. We really believe that 100%. It’s obvious that there’s nobody up there. And it’s obvious that like all lifeforms we die and stay dead.
    Debates about morality are totally irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether a religious society is better or worse than an atheist society. What matters is that no gods exist. Maybe you’ve never wondered about such things. There is not a scrap of evidence to justify believing in a god. And there’s a whole lot of evidence that says we humans invent gods – thousands of them. It was a preoccupation of the ancients. They had gods for everything.
    Aren’t you interested in the truth? There is absolutley nothing that says a god exists, except some ancient superstition. Atheists are the rationalists. They prefer to believe what makes sense and has some evidence to back it up. As Carl Sagan wrote regarding religion’s claims; “as far as we know it’s nothing more than wishful thinking.” Amen to that.

  • [email protected]

    Who was that masked man?

  • Louise10

    What kind of morals do people have if the only reason they don’t commit atrocities is that they fear a god?

  • Louise10

    Those who favored civil rights of any kind wouldn’t have achieved success had they not fought for change.

  • SimonTemplar

    Jesus Christ did come back and had much to say on the subject.

  • Catken1

    And Krishna appeared to the author of the Gita Govinda and finished his poem for him.
    I’ve got just as much evidence for that assertion as you have for yours.

  • Counterww

    Your knee will bow to Christ, atheists, but will you do it because you are glad, or because the full truth of his presence will be so undeniable at death that you have no other choice.

    The love of God awaits you.

  • Counterww

    Actually it is the other way around. What kind of atrocities will you not commit due to your adherence to love God and love your neighbor. If you do both you won’t commit atrocities.

  • Counterww

    I am interested in both material and spiritual truth, which Rongo only has half the equation solve. You cannot be 100% confident that God does not exist, as I cannot be 100% confident outside my faith that he does. It’s just the flip side of the coin.

    YOU define what is “rational” and then slap yourself on the back for being so. There is not much to say about that but shrug and wonder about how you can fool yourself so easily.

  • Counterww

    Sorry tw, but Christians are allowed to vote their consciences, and we get a seat at the political table, and if laws reflect our majority views, then so you have to suck it up.

    Washington said in his farewell address:

    Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

  • h5r2

    If I die and get evidence, then I’ll change my mind. Until then, I’m not going to believe something that sounds ridiculous and seems to be only wishful thinking.

  • larryclyons

    Why bow in the first place? If your god is just then you should be welcomed for your good works and deeds. If your deity isn’t just why worship him. And if there’s no god, well you’ve made the world a better place and you will be remembered for that.

    To me that is a pretty good legacy

  • larryclyons

    Why do you need God to be good.

    So what you’re saying Counterww is that you need the threat of eternal pain etc to be a good person.

    How weak and cynical you must be to have such an evil view of people.

  • Rongoklunk

    That’s not quite true. I am 100% certain that no gods exist, as I am that fairies don’r exist, or goblins. Dawkins says that he can’t be 100% sure that there’s no God, he settled on 99.09%.
    He was being technically correct and polite. But I see it differently. The very fact that our ancestors were forever making them up is great evidence that current gods are also human constructions. It’s what we do, or did, back in the days of total ignorance.
    Whether or not a God exists is not a fifty-fifty proposition – anymore than the existence of the tooth-fairy is a fifty-fifty proposition. We can’t argue that maybe there really is a tooth fairy somewhere out there in the cosmos. That is absurd. And to atheists a God is just as absurd.

    I understand why religious folk believe in a God and an afterlife. Not because it’s true, but because it feels so good. It feels great to believe in somebody watching over us, and it must feel wonderful to believe you’ll survive death, and live forever and ever and ever. Atheists know it’s a consoling scam for folks who are terrified of the truth – that all living things die. We are no exception.

  • larryclyons

    Until there is verifiable, repeatable AND objective evidence that your deity exists, the only conclusion a rational person can make is that there is most likely no god.

    So what. I don’t need a God or his threat of eternal damnation or promise of eternal bliss to be good.

  • Rongoklunk

    What it says is that believers try to be good because they want to get into Heaven without any hassle from Satan, who wants them in Hell. They have been persuaded (as kids no doubt) that only good people go to Heaven to be with Jesus and his mom and dad – who, if you stick them altogether – makes one God. Surely the only brain that uncritically accepts this hilarious nonsense has to be the child’s brain. That’s why religions like to get them young – when they are too young to see how irrational it is. Kids will believe whatever adults tell them, even preposterous fairy tales about the creator of the universe who lives in the sky. It’s really a scam that keeps priests employed and often very wealthy – selling a god who doesn’t exist.

  • Catken1

    Who knows, Counterww, maybe you’re the one who will be bowing to the undeniable truth of Thor or Shiva or Amaterasu. Till then, none of you is offering any sensible evidence in defense of your beliefs, so your assertions are not terribly convincing.

  • Catken1

    Funny how rarely the religious are willing to show love to a neighbor not of their faith, mind you. Not that their god appears particularly to love those who don’t fawn on him enough, or aren’t obedient to his every arbitrary command, or don’t pick the right name to believe in or set of commands to obey…
    We see religious people commit atrocities all the time, very frequently in the name of their religion. Religion doesn’t seem to stop people from behaving hatefully, cruelly, even criminally. Moral people tend to be moral whether motivated by religion or simple compassion or basic reason – immoral people tend to find excuses for their behavior whatever religion they end up in. There doesn’t seem to be much statistical justification for the idea that religion makes people better, morally.

  • Catken1

    “Sorry tw, but Christians are allowed to vote their consciences, and we get a seat at the political table, and if laws reflect our majority views, then so you have to suck it up. ”

    Not exactly. The Constitution does, like it or not, protect the right of ALL Americans to have religious freedom, which despite your apparent belief, does not mean “the freedom to conform our lives to the majority’s religious beliefs, or be punished for it.”

    You do not have the right to use government force to push your religious beliefs on others, or require them to live their lives by your dogma, even if your “conscience” requires it. (After all, someone else’s “conscience” might demand that they require you to live by Muslim or Jewish or Hindu laws, too…)

    The Constitution protects minority civil rights against the intrusion of the majority. Period. You can’t vote away the rights of a minority even if your “conscience” says they shouldn’t have rights.

    And Washington, while he believed the “little people” needed religion to keep them moral, was not all that religious himself. He never took Communion, and rarely attended church at all, and tended to use generic terms when he spoke of deity. But he lived in a much more religious time, and needed to use religious language to appeal to other Americans. Anyway, he certainly wasn’t a deity himself, and was wrong about a number of topics (he did, after all, own other human beings – would you argue that slavery is moral because Washington did it?).

  • Counterww

    God infuses consciences in people , believers or not. You said it was out of fear. It is out of our adherence to loving God and HIs commandment to love our neighbor which means not hurting others. YOU said it was about fear, which is what many of you foolish atheists say. It’s about LOVE which it appears you guys will never figure out. The Spirit of God will work on you and continue I pray to see the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Counterww

    Yes, catken people do commit atrocities, in the name of religion. Many try to accuse or point to Hitler as one of them, but he obviously did not turn the other cheek and had a world view of domination for Germany and his race. God loves everyone, all people, and wants all to come to him and receive Him. Some , like you , R, and larry refuse to open your eyes, and Jesus did tell us that the more you know – the more accountable you will be. God will judge justly when it come to eternal judgements, and I am confident it will be just. Washington had it right. For a nation that walks away from religion- Christianity being the only true way to God. Problem you have is what is “moral” changes over time and you have no moral compass as what is moral now versus in 20 years from now will be two different things. You just sway in the wind as to what is moral and not moral, instead of adhering to God’s edicts and guidance .. its an excuse to just do your own thing and be “free” when it is not even close to being truly free.

    Washington farewell address excerpt :

    —-

    Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.

  • Counterww

    Last part of his address:

    Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both FORBID US to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

  • Counterww

    You guys have no idea of how our country was really born and how Christianity was primary in its founding.

  • larryclyons

    Actually we do. The United States was never formed as a Christian nation. That was made very clear in the Constitution and in the first major treaty signed by the US outside of Britain and the revolution. This treaty was ratified unanimously in the Senate where many of the signers of the Constitution sat. President John Adams wrote this:

    Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.
    —-
    And to remind you of the contents of Article 11:

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
    ——

    So what to try another Christianist lie? That one doesn’t work any more.

  • Catken1

    Anyway, the idea that religion is important as a support and enforcer for morality is dangerous. If you are taught that religion is the only foundation for morality, and that there is no rational reason for moral behavior, only the desire to comply with God’s wishes so he’ll give you a happy afterlife, what happens if and when you find evidence that your religion is untrue and/or your God not real? Whereas, if you base your morality on reason and compassion, you can hold to them without the need for some myth or other to have an actual basis in fact.

  • larryclyons

    Personally I think its Phred, the Demon in charge of incompetence. You see his works everywhere. His influence is ubiquitous.

  • Gloria2

    Rongoklunk – “Atheists know that death is death…” You don’t REALLY know that, it is what YOU believe. I believe in God, but if you don’t want to believe in Him that is your choice.

  • barbaranecker

    to Tombukowski: Yea brother, I’m pretty tired of these religionists trying to shove their ideas down my throat too. If they’d leave me alone, I’d be more than happy to leave them alone.

  • barbaranecker

    CCL — if there is a money-making con coming out of charity, it’s most likely perpetrated by Christians. The christian group that refused to allow atheists to help were there to whisper their propaganda into the ears of the folks they were helping. Even the Salvation Army does that, I’m told. Ya get a good helping of god for dessert with every dinner they serve you.

  • barbaranecker

    I hate to be critical of you WAPost, but wouldn’t it be more logical to place comments responding to a specific preceeding comment adjacent to it?

  • h5r2

    One doesn’t “choose” to believe in God any more than one “chooses” to believe in the Tooth Fairy. Some of us can’t believe something that sounds ridiculous to us.

  • Louise10

    That’s what a secular democracy is all about. Believe what you want as long as you don’t force your beliefs on others.

  • Gloria2

    h5r2 – and you sound ridiculous to me!

  • PhillyJimi1

    There is NOTHING good or moral about the god of the Bible. He sends bears to kill teenagers for making fun of some guys bald spot? Really? The 10 commandments are a joke, a 6 year old could make up better rules. You would think a god could figure out some more important then silly graven images or using his name in vain. How “Thou shall boil all drinking water before thou consumes it”. How many innocent children would of been saved from horrendous and painful deaths?

    God in the OT = Jesus. They are one in the same. If god of the bible appeared before me I would no longer be an atheist but it doesn’t mean I would worship that kind of immoral monster. I would spit in his eye and tell him his bible is evil and I would never worship such a monster and incompetent buffoon. Just look at the tower of Babel, the flood, killing Job’s family and the zombie son for starters. It isn’t the work of a god that could crate our Universe.

    If you weren’t raised in a tradition of faith, and first heard the bible stories when you were in your 40′s you would laugh at someone trying to sell you the “Jesus died for you, 2000 years ago then became a zombie” sales pitch.

  • Joel Hardman

    But you’re forgetting that everything bad in the Bible is a metaphor! or something.

    I mostly agree with your assessment of the god of the Bible, but I do think there are some valuable moral insights mixed in with the other stuff.

  • h5r2

    The problem is that too many Christians take everything literally, and come out with a lot more bad than good.

  • sciencelady1

    big hug to all the humanists!
    Come out, come out, wherever you are.

  • laboo

    It’d be nice if we could unlink a belief in an anthropomorphic God from a belief in persistence of consciousness after physical death. Just because religions are the primary purveyors of this notion doesn’t justify tarring it with the same brush; it’s a stand-alone concept. Persistence of human consciousness isn’t the property of religionists.

  • gillyala

    Some parts of the bible may be metaphor, but other parts are very clear stating Yahweh’s bloodthirsty decrees.

    Actually, the Harry Potter books have better morality in its pages, and they have dragons, talking snakes, dead people walking around and witches also…just like in the Bible!

  • astrolabe26

    Who do I trust more?

    1. The person who commits time, energy, and wages to good deeds because they simply want to help others.

    2. The religious person who does good deeds because they fear a deity?

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My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

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Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

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The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

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Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

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Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

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An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

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Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

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Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

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Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

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“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

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Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

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From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

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Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

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God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

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The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

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Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.