Author Topic: So we've talked about people doing good because god will reward them...  (Read 649 times)

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Offline drunken_scot

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or similar e.g. http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=7240.msg164644#msg164644, not doing bad because they will be sent to hell if they do, but what about the reverse.  Are a person's actions infinitely more praiseworthy than those of a no-afterlife-believer's if the former believes he may well be sentenced to eternal damnation for doing actions deemed good?

Offline wheels5894

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Mmmm, Scot, this is one I have thought about for a while. Broadly, you seem to agree with me that: -
  • The religious do the right thing, mostly, out of fear of an afterlife in hell
  • the non-religious who do good , do it out of altruism not fearing anything or any afterlife

Obviously the latter are more meritorious as what they do is for the thing itself and not for fear of punishment or reward. I am very happy to agree with this view but would love to see Christians come and give their version. As I understand it, they do the 'good works' 'out of love' for god or Jesus and I suspect they will not admit to the obvious truth that the main motivation has to be fear or hell.

Of course, altruism may be a motivating force for the religious or non-religious but I can't see it is the only one.

Over to Christians to comment
 
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Anfauglir

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Are a person's actions infinitely more praiseworthy than those of a no-afterlife-believer's if the former believes he may well be sentenced to eternal damnation for doing actions deemed good?

IF any believer truly believed that, then yes, I would agree: actions are always more praiseworthy (I feel) if there is no expectation of reward/punishment for the good/bad act.

But I doubt it would happen in practice: you would have to find someone who wholeheartedly believes in a supreme being who only rewards behaviour that he (the believer) considers wrong.  Given that so many believers equte the dictates of their creator with being "good" by definition, I doubt you'll find anyone who falls into the category you suggest.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline kin hell

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Like atheists, most theists do good, because they are good people.

Like atheists, theists don't need god to give them morals, and don't need the threat of hell to not do bad.

There are good and bad in all camps.

But in heavenly stakes, whoever doesn't believe in god/hell but still does good has to get more reward points. ;)
"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline gonegolfing

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or similar e.g. http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=7240.msg164644#msg164644, not doing bad because they will be sent to hell if they do, but what about the reverse.  Are a person's actions infinitely more praiseworthy than those of a no-afterlife-believer's if the former believes he may well be sentenced to eternal damnation for doing actions deemed good?

As a former theist, I can remember doing good for the sake of good, but never once did I not also think at the same time that god would be a keeping record of that good deed and somehow it would work in my favor in the end. It's impossible I believe, for the theist to not think that god either lead them to do the action, or that god would take notes and reward that good deed. Either way, god is never removed from the good works of a believer and is believed to have caused it or will reward it.

Are the good works of a nonbeliever more worthy that those of a supernaturalist ? Absolutely ! The good works of a nonbeliever are motivated by a completely different mindset. Nonbelievers do good actions out of compassion. Believers do as well, but their minds are also implanted with this idea of a divine command to do all those good actions as well. Unfortunately, some gloat over this and take on the attitude of moral superiority because of this DCT and think of their actions as of higher value than others because of the supernatural involvement.

This is wrong of course. If it could be proved that the supernatural exists, then eternal and supernatural value applied to good works would be a topic of discussion. Since there is no proof, then we have to consider that the believer is simply trying to take advantage of this claim to take a position of moral superiority, and that this action in and of itself is selfish and therefore good deeds are done with interests other than for the sole benefit of the recipient of the good deed.

Actually, thinking about it as an atheist now, the christian can never take credit for a good deed because Paul clearly states that it is no longer the individual that lives but christ that lives in them. Individualism is gone and therefore all good deeds must be considered done by christ at this point  ;) 

The nonbeliever then, possesses the moral high ground and is worthy of compliment. They do not claim that someone else resides in them and does all things in their stead, and so they do all their good actions of their own volition and relative to their compassion for humanity.

All good actions are worthy of recognition. However the motivations for those actions, is another story and some definitely do not deserve respect or praise at all.   
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline drunken_scot

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Are a person's actions infinitely more praiseworthy than those of a no-afterlife-believer's if the former believes he may well be sentenced to eternal damnation for doing actions deemed good?

IF any believer truly believed that, then yes, I would agree: actions are always more praiseworthy (I feel) if there is no expectation of reward/punishment for the good/bad act.

But I doubt it would happen in practice: you would have to find someone who wholeheartedly believes in a supreme being who only rewards behaviour that he (the believer) considers wrong.  Given that so many believers equte the dictates of their creator with being "good" by definition, I doubt you'll find anyone who falls into the category you suggest.

In this post -- http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=6430.msg145742#msg145742 -- nogodsforme talks about doctors performing tubal ligations even though it may land them in hell.  Given that the women involved can't support more children and want this operation, most of us would feel he is doing good, and the doctors feel they are doing good on earth.

Offline InvisiblePinkUnicorn

Your question and proposed answer have all been explained by Kohlberg's morality scale:

http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm

(Gilligan has a slightly different take that I find interesting, but it is similar:  http://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/classes/handbook/Gilligan.html)

Summary of these concepts:

Lowest stage of morality is acting a certain way because of fear or punishment or desire for reward.

Highest stage of morality is acting a certain way DESPITE certainty of punishment.


Yes, religion acts at level one and tries to LOOK like the highest level.

All edits in my posts are for typo correction unless otherwise explicitly stated.

"In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion more seriously than the practitioners."

-Jonathon Miller

Offline mram

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The elderly woman I take care of and myself were discussing something in a similar vain today. She moved to Texas 53 yrs ago and had been partially paralyzed giving birth and her neighbors at that time all went out their way to help her out as if it was their civic duty.. all good things out of compassion with no preachy speeches..
Now days if the same thing happens they have to run to the TV station so the whole damned town knows they did something good for someone instead of just doing it.
Anyone here in the DFW area who has seen the news in the past few days will remember the story of some little town where there is a 5 yr old girl who is terminally ill so the "whole town" decorated everything Xmassy so the little girl can have a last xmas even though it's the middle of July, but they just HAVE to get themselves all on TV news to announce it.."See? We do GOOD things for someone.. Aren't we just special now?"
If a Xtian does something good for someone they have to announce it to the world so we all know they have their special moral high ground and the rest of us are just uncaring hellbent demon baby eaters if we don't chip in for Santa...They have to make sure everyone knows they do good things even if it's meaningless drivel such as in the little girls case.. Xmas in July.. How about just her parents being with her and telling her they love her? Would she be in any worse shape then? i don't think so.
Imagine gaining favor with "Darwin's"...kind of like praying, huh?

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Offline drunken_scot

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Your question and proposed answer have all been explained by Kohlberg's morality scale:

http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm

(Gilligan has a slightly different take that I find interesting, but it is similar:  http://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/classes/handbook/Gilligan.html)

Summary of these concepts:

Lowest stage of morality is acting a certain way because of fear or punishment or desire for reward.

Highest stage of morality is acting a certain way DESPITE certainty of punishment.


Yes, religion acts at level one and tries to LOOK like the highest level.



First, are you asserting that the doctors were falsely claiming to do what they felt is good despite its potential damning potential?  Second, how is religion trying to look like the highest level?  Is it in the sense of persecution complexes?

Offline mram

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You could look at it this way..
Either take care of this sick and dying old lady or I'll kick the crap out of you..
or
Take care of this sick and dying old lady even though I'm going to kick the crap out of you..
or
I'll take care of this sick and dying old lady just because it's the right thing to do regardless of the outcome.

I take care of an elderly woman who will someday die and i curse at the big Chicken Little man in the sky almost daily.. I do it only because 1. She's my best friend and 2. I want her life to be just a little more pleasant...No other single reason..
I don't have to do it and if i didn't there would be no consequence to me personally other than just feeling rotten.
Those who would do it out of fear of punishment and doing it then for purely selfish reasons. They would do it to avoid prosecution by chicken little man. (gawd is chicken little man..the sky is falling, the sky is falling! for those who didn't get the reference..)
Imagine gaining favor with "Darwin's"...kind of like praying, huh?

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Offline drunken_scot

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You could look at it this way..
Either take care of this sick and dying old lady or I'll kick the crap out of you..
or
Take care of this sick and dying old lady even though I'm going to kick the crap out of you..
or
I'll take care of this sick and dying old lady just because it's the right thing to do regardless of the outcome.


What about "If you take care of this sick and dying old lady, I will kick the crap out of you.  If you do not take care of her, that will not affect any future decisions about kicking the crap out of you?"

I take care of an elderly woman who will someday die and i curse at the big Chicken Little man in the sky almost daily.. I do it only because 1. She's my best friend and 2. I want her life to be just a little more pleasant...No other single reason..
I don't have to do it and if i didn't there would be no consequence to me personally other than just feeling rotten.
Those who would do it out of fear of punishment and doing it then for purely selfish reasons.

This brings me to two questions I want to ask.  First, what about those who do good things because it feels good, or, alternatively, so they can look at themselves in the mirror?  Does this count as selfish?  What about those who believe in such things as the law of threefold return or "you reap what you sow?"  Similarly, what about someone who hopes when helping others that his kindness will be remembered should he need help some day?

Offline mram

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You could look at it this way..
Either take care of this sick and dying old lady or I'll kick the crap out of you..
or
Take care of this sick and dying old lady even though I'm going to kick the crap out of you..
or
I'll take care of this sick and dying old lady just because it's the right thing to do regardless of the outcome.


What about "If you take care of this sick and dying old lady, I will kick the crap out of you.  If you do not take care of her, that will not affect any future decisions about kicking the crap out of you?"

I take care of an elderly woman who will someday die and i curse at the big Chicken Little man in the sky almost daily.. I do it only because 1. She's my best friend and 2. I want her life to be just a little more pleasant...No other single reason..
I don't have to do it and if i didn't there would be no consequence to me personally other than just feeling rotten.
Those who would do it out of fear of punishment and doing it then for purely selfish reasons.

This brings me to two questions I want to ask.  First, what about those who do good things because it feels good, or, alternatively, so they can look at themselves in the mirror?  Does this count as selfish?  What about those who believe in such things as the law of threefold return or "you reap what you sow?"  Similarly, what about someone who hopes when helping others that his kindness will be remembered should he need help some day?
I'll take care of her regardless of any crap kicking. ;)
Being able to look at yourself in the mirror has a very small element of self preservation, sure..so does not running in front of a speeding train. ;)
I don't buy and have never bought the 3 fold return thing. I heard the same thing except it's 10 fold. I've done a lot of nice things for people, but have yet to have it all come back in any wonderment of any consequence or noticeability unless NOT having rotten things happen count which i doubt..
I get a bit sick though of every time we as atheist do something good some Xtian wants to say god is working through us... what can someone do to get credit for their own actions?
Imagine gaining favor with "Darwin's"...kind of like praying, huh?

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Offline drunken_scot

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I'll take care of her regardless of any crap kicking. ;)

This is the situation I was speaking of with regards to the doctors performing tubal ligations: punishment for doing something good.  Given that the punishment in question is infinite, does this put their moral standing infinitely above those who do good for the sake of doing good?

Quote
Being able to look at yourself in the mirror has a very small element of self preservation, sure..so does not running in front of a speeding train. ;)
I don't buy and have never bought the 3 fold return thing. I heard the same thing except it's 10 fold. I've done a lot of nice things for people, but have yet to have it all come back in any wonderment of any consequence or noticeability unless NOT having rotten things happen count which i doubt..

The situation I wished to present was a case in which there is no entitlement in receiving good.  What if we change the belief to "we treat people how to treat us," as espoused at least at one time by Jay McGraw and his father?  Here, a person who wishes to be treated well by others treats others well, believing that being nice is a requirement, not a guarantee. 

Quote
I get a bit sick though of every time we as atheist do something good some Xtian wants to say god is working through us... what can someone do to get credit for their own actions?

That's easy: do something they consider bad, but not so bad they blame Satan and/or demons.

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