Author Topic: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?  (Read 834 times)

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Offline Truth OT

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Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« on: February 13, 2013, 05:57:12 PM »
We've all likely heard it said or may even believe that to believers no rational argument, no set of data, or amount of evidence can convince most of them to discard their 'delusions', deal with the facts, and base their view of reality on what's actually objective and can be substantiated.

I agree to a large degree with the above premise, BUT I think a HUGE exception is make when believers get information from a clergyman. A preacher that would stand in front of a congregation and expose the Biblical writings for what they are and call spades spades without treating the writings as mystically 'holy' may in fact get people to see somethings they previously were blinded to.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2013, 09:16:32 PM »
Ive  thought about going back to Sunday school and teaching a class...

Offline Irish

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 09:38:53 PM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.
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Offline rev45

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 10:48:53 PM »
I would think it unethical if a person pretended to be a religious authority when they are not. 

Say you were out on the town and you meet this really awesome beautiful lady.  You hit it off, you're drinking, dancing, having a great time together and then she asks if you want to go back to her place.  You say yes after a quick thank you to The Flying Spaghetti Monster and when at her house things get hot and heavy.  However, when the clothes come off you're hit with something you never expected.  Your lady friend is no lady but a man.  Would you be angry?  I would say yes not so much that she is a man, but I would be angry that I wasn't told before that what I was expecting, in reality, is the complete opposite.  I was sold on what I thought was a woman and not once was I told or hinted at that I was wrong.

Silly analogy I know but that is how I see what you're talking about.  If a church were to higher a minister who was secretly an atheist, I can image their anger at being sold on a lie when the truth were to come out.  Not only angry but distrustful of any future atheists they might encounter.  And to take it further, the whole plan might backfire and because of being lied to, they might entrench themselves further in their religious position.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 03:36:56 AM »
If a church were to higher a minister who was secretly an atheist, I can image their anger at being sold on a lie when the truth were to come out. 

Depends - is part of the job description to believe in a praticular god?

That's a serious question.  Does every single minister, in any religious strand you care to name, believe in exactly the same god?  I very much doubt it - any argument to the contrary must perforce (for example) assert that every Catholic priest all the way up to Pope holds the same opinion on molestation as the few priests who actually carried out the crimes: that in some way god would be okay with it.  That's demonstrably not the case, so not all persons leading congregations have to hold exactly the same beliefs.

"But they must all believe in god!".  Again, no.  I forget the title, but I have a book at home written by a Catholic priest who interviewed a number of his colleagues who had lost their faith, but who continued to preach and be employed by the church.  Would it be the position of a church that a priest who loses faith be immediately fired?  I very much doubt it - if he was doing the job and bringing in the sheeple and the offerings, he'd be allowed to continue in post.

So a person who did not believe, but who toed the party line, should not present a problem.  The point of course is when a person gains a post with the deliberate aim of not fulfilling the specific requirements of that job - namely, to preach the Good Word....but even then, as I've said above, not EVERY priest will be giving exactly the same message.  At the grossest level, you will have some priests in a church teaching aspects as literal, and some teaching them as metaphor.

I guess the real question is: how far can a person legitimately go in the pulpit to say that all the stories are no more than stories?  An interesting question...but I definitely agree with Truth OT's point that a minister saying "this story is metaphor and not fact" would win more converts than an atheist telling them the same thing.

Perhaps we all need to get ordained?
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 03:45:34 AM »
I think you can preach or teach w/o telling people exactly what to think.

For example I can teach the "original sin" story in a method where the sheeple can come to the conclusion that yahweh lied and the snake told the truth, without telling them that explicitly. Would that be against the requirements for the job? I know Ive heard plenty sermons where the speaker gives a disclaimer that we may not like what will be said, but its "the truth" and must be said. Whats the difference? All I wouldnt do after my lesson is somehow try to rationalize it and let people's obvious conclusion speak for itself.

Offline Nam

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2013, 04:43:41 AM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.

Then get fired.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

Offline Fiji

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2013, 05:16:08 AM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.

Ethics aside, how is the bolded different from what a genuine preacher does?
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Offline Nam

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2013, 06:01:22 AM »
Well, for one they think or are led to believe it is the truth.

But I get what you're saying.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2013, 07:10:34 AM »
Well, for one they think or are led to believe it is the truth.

But I get what you're saying.

-Nam
Not necessarily. Dan Barker says otherwise...

Offline Nick

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2013, 09:30:34 AM »
A con is a con as long as the money comes in.
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Offline Tykster

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2013, 10:09:54 AM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.

Ethics aside, how is the bolded different from what a genuine preacher does?

Thank you for this, I was going to post the same thing...
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2013, 11:01:37 AM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.
Do you really think a priest who engages in homosexual acts or worse,pedophilia is not being deceitful? The televangelist who cheats on his wife but still manages to pull the wool over his flocks eyes?

 They are all liars on some level
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2013, 01:15:04 PM »
Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
No. The job is to guide, marry, bury and baptise your congregation in the way you (or your Church, if it is a franchise) see fit. The skills of doing this are mostly transferable - A rabbi could do the job of an Imam, a pastor, that of a priest. No two priests/pastors/rabbis/Imams are the same, one who is not of the faith could still do the job. For the most part, priests/pastors/rabbis/Imams trot out what they believe of the Bible and draw real life exampkles to illustrate their points. An atheist preacher who preaches Jesus could do the same and what is received would be, in substance, the same.

Quote
BUT I think a HUGE exception is make when believers get information from a clergyman. A preacher that would stand in front of a congregation and expose the Biblical writings for what they are and call spades spades without treating the writings as mystically 'holy' may in fact get people to see somethings they previously were blinded to.

Occasionally this happens - a public loss of faith.

On the broader stage, there are two ways of looking at it:

1. All preaching is snake-oil, does it matter whose snake-oil it is? If you have a fake Rolex, does it matter if it is made in China or Vietnam? - How can you cheat someone who has already been cheated? Is it right to show them the real article but say, "I'm afraid you will have to spend some time thinking/saving up in order to appreciate this."?

2. They went to a show to hear Jesus - you are giving them a show about something else. You buy tickets for Heavy Metal but you end up with a folk singer who doesn't like Heavy Metal? (i) Do you feel cheated? (ii) Have you been cheated?
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Offline Jontom10

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2013, 03:15:31 PM »
I would make a good preacher. A lot of people can talk the hind legs off a donkey but I could persuade it to go for a walk after. I think I could easily create my own version of christianity, get a few followers and then get tax exempt and keep the cash rolling in.

But as for ethical? I think not. As an atheist I would know that what I am doing is a con job and nothing more than that. I am giving people false hopes and the promise that Jeepers will love them if they give me enough of their money to spread the true word of Jeepers.

L Ron Hubbard springs to mind. He knew what he was spouting was garbage but he most certainly profited from it and look at the CoS now!!
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Offline Irish

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2013, 06:27:50 PM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.

Ethics aside, how is the bolded different from what a genuine preacher does?

Thank you for this, I was going to post the same thing...

So the premise to get religious people to accept the message of atheism is to use the same tactics used by unethical, lying preachers?  Yes, preachers have a great prowess to lie, manipulate, and compartmentalize some aspects of an irrational lifestyle away from a more rational living.  But are we insinuating that we (atheists) do the same in order to get our message across?

Rational ideas don't need the help of a "wolf-in-sheep's clothing" (the atheist pretending to be a Christian clergyman) to be substantiated.  If the rational idea is not accepted by rational means then it is not to be expected to be accepted by irrational means.  If the person listening to the idea doesn't want to listen I can't accept tricking them or conning them into listening.

I guess that's a more complete exposition of my side.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 06:33:20 PM by Irish »
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Offline Irish

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2013, 06:37:23 PM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.
Do you really think a priest who engages in homosexual acts or worse,pedophilia is not being deceitful? The televangelist who cheats on his wife but still manages to pull the wool over his flocks eyes?

 They are all liars on some level

I never said or suggested otherwise.  Yes, those actions are deceitful and, in the case of pedophilia, immoral.

But why stoop to the level of a liar in order to expound a rational idea?
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 06:40:44 PM by Irish »
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2013, 10:10:22 PM »
People here are assuming that you have to lie in order to teach... not so. If you get up there and tell the truth, what is the problem?

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2013, 11:01:02 PM »
Yes, I do find it to be unethical.  It's misrepresentation and lies on a large scale.
Do you really think a priest who engages in homosexual acts or worse,pedophilia is not being deceitful? The televangelist who cheats on his wife but still manages to pull the wool over his flocks eyes?

 They are all liars on some level

I never said or suggested otherwise.  Yes, those actions are deceitful and, in the case of pedophilia, immoral.

But why stoop to the level of a liar in order to expound a rational idea?
I was taking the approach that they don't really believe in God themselves,more than being deceitful.....how can you believe in God,yet carry out acts directly in conflict with said God's rules
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Offline Jontom10

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2013, 07:32:33 AM »
People here are assuming that you have to lie in order to teach... not so. If you get up there and tell the truth, what is the problem?

An atheist teaching about God would be a liar unless he was teaching the truth that God does not exist but I think the OP was implying the former.

Too many people prefer lies, half-truths and BS to the truth as often the truth is too painful.

Preacher - Yes, you'll see little Timmy once again when you die and go to Heaven.

Truth - Timmy is dead, you'll never see him again.

Which would a heartbroken parent choose ?

Imagine the millions of Xtians suddenly going for the truth that there is no god. I imagine the ensuing mayhem would be quite a spectacle.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Would Becoming A Preacher as an Atheist Be unethical?
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2013, 08:38:29 AM »
People here are assuming that you have to lie in order to teach... not so. If you get up there and tell the truth, what is the problem?

An atheist teaching about God would be a liar unless he was teaching the truth that God does not exist but I think the OP was implying the former.

Too many people prefer lies, half-truths and BS to the truth as often the truth is too painful.

Preacher - Yes, you'll see little Timmy once again when you die and go to Heaven.

Truth - Timmy is dead, you'll never see him again.

Which would a heartbroken parent choose ?

Imagine the millions of Xtians suddenly going for the truth that there is no god. I imagine the ensuing mayhem would be quite a spectacle.

But, what I'm saying is I can teach the "original sin" story without injecting my own commentary and letting the listener come to their own conclusion. I can do that without deceiving. I can even go to my interview and stress the fact that I am a bible based teacher that sticks strictly to the bible and probably get hired without being deceitful.

I think people are thinking you have to engage in apologetics in order to preach. It simply isnt the case.