Skip to comments.A Crisis of Faith: Morality in an Amoral Society
Posted on 02/21/2014 8:46:17 PM PST by jxb7076
If you were given unquestionable proof that neither heaven nor hell existed no rewards or punishment after death and no afterlife - how would you live your life? Would right or wrong really matter? Would morality be an issue or would amorality be the norm?
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I know, I just read it and came away with the same “wow” wonderment. This person has no idea what Christianity is all about - but he’s not alone, unfortunately.
I think this very flawed piece would be better if the writer had researched some serious Christian thought. The idea of buying one’s way into heaven through good works is, well, massively incomplete.
No the reasons Christians do good works is 1) out of gratitude to our Savior for what He has already done for us, 2) "we love Him because He first loved us while we were yet sinners," and 2) because we truly are learning to love our neighbors.
To be fair there are some rewards. Several crowns mentioned in scripture as rewards for certain behaviors. And we know the opportunity to serve even more is a reward for jobs well done. The Bible is pretty vague about what rewards might be, but we know access to Heaven is a gift, and depends neither on our past nor future morality only on our acceptance of the gift.
Would I live differently? Perhaps. First, many of my values are based on scripture. And while I've come to understand the why of many commandments, there are still some that I don't fully understand.
It's entirely possible that without scripture, without an owner's manual from our Creator, that my value system might shift. Without scripture, I'd rely more on my own understanding, which is clearly inferior.
For one, my political stances would probably shift. I might care less about the morality of my country, and more about what directly affects me. I believe God rewards countries here and now based on their behavior and obedience. And He gives them wisdom accordingly. Thus I often vote social causes more than economic causes.
I might care a lot less about abortion. Without scripture telling me to love others. And without scripture indicating that life begins at conception, and without fear that God will have our collective hides for our behavior, then I might just decide that my neighbor's aborting their kids just leaves more resources for my descendants and is otherwise none of my business.
I might care a lot less about gay special rights. Without scripture warning that it's an abomination and not to allow it, I might take a far less critical look at that behavior. After all, what's it to me if others behave in perverse manners? My opposition to such behavior would be based solely on the spread of disease and on the extent that homosexuality can be shown to breed more pedophilia and the effect of that behavior on society.
I'd like to think that a lot of morality would survive intact. That I would still choose to treat others the way I want to be treated. Though without God's instructions that learning to love others should be my priority, that morality might depend more on game theory, than love of others.
Another agnostic roommate came home after withnessing a classmate humble a hooker in a local bar, and proceeded to tell me how wrong it was. I asked him, "If there is no God what's wrong with it?". He said, "I don't know but that goes against my grain." I said, maybe you were "designed" to understand that it's wrong.
It's not the reward of heaven and hell as much as it is the existence of God and our being His creation that drives Christian morality.
I doubt there are "millions" of athiests who live better moral lives, but clearly there are some great moral and loving people who are atheists. Their works will not save them, unless they never sin. For if they sin there is nothing they can do to make amends. They need a savior.
Our sense of morality would be very similar to Eden pre-forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve had no sense of shame or anything else that comes from knowledge of good/evil or right/wrong.
What is our real nature and how would it be presented in a world were God played no part?
I am not a Christian
I am not an atheist
There are other paths
Welcome to the real world
/Know a lot of amoral Christians
//every atheist I’ve met is a sad, sad person rebelling against religious parents
I beg to differ with this author. Jesus said that He only did what the Father told him to do. He did not say not to follow himself. He even prayed to His Father about those who were given to him(self) as disciples and followers. To claim that Jesus rebuked people for following after himself is wrong. He did say hard things and people left him all along the way because they didn’t want to do exactly as He said...”lay down your lives (or forsake all) and follow after Me”. And the inference that Christianity came to the western world as if the western world was what is is today is absurd. Christianity MADE the western world what it became, and our lack of godliness and seeking of pleasure, instead of God, has caused our society to coarsen. Christianity civilized the western world. Godlessness is changing our culture back into depravity and debauchery.
Not possible in a universe governed by quantum dynamics.
The closest we could come is imagining that we don't exist.
Piytar - I really appreciate your response and fundamentalist viewpoint on the subject. However understand that God will not punish you for thinking beyond tradition. The books of the bible was selected by a group of men hand picked by constatine for socio-political reasons. As a result what you defend as the ‘gospel’ omits critical information which help the ‘christian’ better understand his god. There are many resources ommited which, if explored will help you move from a fundamentalist viewpoint of religion into the light of truth. However, I empathize with your need to critize - its mainly because your fundamantalist viewpoint will not allow independent thinking. Nevertheless, thanks for your input and observation. I can always count on you for a honest response....such as it is.
You make a good point. Also, re-reading what I wrote, I was overly harsh. Apologies.
You really do not agree. You’re just afraid to dissagree for fear of being labeled a heritic and an outcast from this site. Its ok, feel free to be independent in your beliefs.
I do have to comment on this: “its mainly because your fundamantalist viewpoint will not allow independent thinking”
Believe me, I do plenty of “independent thinking.” However, on many points, my own thinking leads me to agree with the “fundamentalist viewpoint.” That is opposed to buying into a viewpoint that clearly runs counter to scripture as well as the writings of virtually every Catholic and Protestant scholar who has commented on the subject. Sorry if I choose to agree with their writings over yours. If that makes me a “fundamentalist” in your view, so be it.
If you attend church services and pay a tithe because you feel you will be blessed - you’re buying your way into heaven. If you do good deeds because you want to be recognize by man as a good person- you’re buying your way in to heaven. What christians think and what christians do are very seldom the same. Christianity is a culture based on a single belief that doing good will be rewarded. This is what Jesus taught. Therefore, if do not believe in the teachings of Jesus on the subject would you continue to do good?
Great and excellent thoughts however you miss the point. These thoughts have little association to what christians actually do. The bible is full of instructions for living a moral life and I can list a few thoughts you left out. Its all good. BUT - the article is not based on what the bible says - its based on what people do, and what they (we) do is opposit of biblical teachings. Thanks for the feedback.
Amen! When people come to your realization there will be need for religion! Thank your for your openminded insight.
I know you are an independent thinker or you would not be on this site expressing your viewpoints. I really do appreciate your feedback and I respect your viewpoint. At the end of the day we’re all independently responsible for our relationship with Jesus which will determin our fate in the flesh and in the afterlife. Take care my friend and be blessed problem-
Scientific viewpoint!? I like it. Thanks for the feedback.
Im sorry, you are a very intelligent person and I guess I expected more from you. You must either be tired on not really interested. :) nevertheless, thanks for the feedback.
I re-read your article. You clearly put some real effort into the piece and you did provide food for thought. If that was your intent, you did succeed.
Exhausted and out of sorts. Not your fault.
Admin mod, can you zot my posts 2, 4, 5 and 16 in this thread? I was overly harsh to jxb. Thanks! (Had a lousy couple days and am out of sorts. Posting while annoyed at certain people - not Freepers but business associates - is not good. Sigh.)
What if the fundamentalist viewpoint is true?
Whether or not God exists, we can observe the history of human behavior.
I would argue that the only thing suppressing the prevalence of evil acts is Christian morality. In other words if we didn’t have entire societies founded on Christian morals, the human condition—as determined by the way we treat one another—would be a lot worse than it is.
I think it’s extremely important to understand what is meant by the phrase “to live a full life,” or “to live life to the fullest.”
I would argue that this phrase is most often if not always used in ignorance of what it really means or what such a lifestyle entails relative to what it is assumed to entail.
The world is not amoral, it is totally immoral
One of the greatest failures in atheistic thinking is what appears to be an ignorance of the fact that worldly pleasures truly bring more misery than they bring “happiness.”
What is the suicide rate of multimillionaires? It’s not low. Interview a high-end real estate agent and ask him what he observes about the emotional and psychological state of his clients. He will tell you the lives of the super wealthy are at least, if not more, chaotic and miserable as those of the middle and lower classes.
What about pursuit of sexual pleasure? I would say the amount of disappointment, regret, emotional misery as well as physical suffering it brings is entirely contradictory to the assumptions within pop culture and from an areligious perspective.
And as for alcohol? Drugs?
A very strong case can be made that earthly pleasures—those equated with happiness—in truth bring great despair.
Let’s not forget: being labeled a Christian is not the same as abiding in Christ.
Here’s some cognitive dissonance for you.
Atheists very passionately desire to believe hell doesn’t exist. But I would assert that deep down they know such a belief is irrational.
An interestingbut more than anything, tragicobservation of atheist behavior is that they will speak of the afterlife in terms of heaven but rarely will they mention hell.
It makes a lot of sense to me that this is explainable by the fact that atheists dont want to think about hell.
When they do speak of hell, it seems to me they almost always do so with a tone of sarcasm or ridiculethis is a psychological defense mechanism.
What if hell is real?
Yes, that was the intent - and nothing more. I do not claim to have any greater knowledge of biblical or spiritual matters than the next person. I just believe in challenging the status quo for a better understanding. In the proccess I found that Im right on some challenges but wrong on others. I just want the benefit of attempting to discover more about God begore my time in the flesh is up.
Thanks piytar for your request to admin however, I would encourage Admin to keep the posts as I truly appreciated the feedback - good, bad, indifferent! Its all good!
Without God I would live a very different life. The life I now live I live by faith in God. Living this life without Him would be impossible.
I'm very aware of the real world and of many of the paths others take. I have found that religion does not have as much of an affect on how people act as some would think. I've known some pretty vile and amoral/immoral Christians and some Atheists who acted more like you would expect a true Christian to act. I went through several phases before I became a Christian at age 50, and still had a working conscience.
Being a Christian who believes in the Bible and that Jesus is Lord and Savior, it pains me when really good people (bad people too, but especially good people) will not also accept Him as their Savior. While I know folks take other paths, the Bible is very clear that belief in Jesus is the ONLY path to eternal life in Heaven. Unlike other sources of doctrine/religiosity, it is the only divinely inspired and true Word of God. If, like me, you don't believe that religions have much to offer because they were designed by fallible mortals, then perhaps you might consider that the "alternate paths to Heaven" theories/doctrines were also devised by fallible humans just as much as any other church doctrine you might not agree with. I'm non-denominational because I have been through several religions and find that, as the Bible indicates, all the religions lay out their own "laws" that must be adhered to and trying to follow those laws is akin to falling from Grace by trying to be worthy via one's own "powers".
If you attend church services and pay a tithe because you feel you will be blessed - youre buying your way into heaven.
How about when I do the good deeds because I think the deeds, the ability to do them, the understanding to discern that they are good, and the desire to do good are themselves blessings? And I believe further that they will lead to further blessings. I do not barter this step that I may take the next step, do I? Is my lifting today a barter for more strength tomorrow?
Catherine of Siena, arguably the greatest lay Dominican, said something close to:
All the way to heaven is heaven, for Jesus said, I am the way.
That may help present the difficulty I have with the barter idea of virtues and good deeds. For one thing, they are not mine to begin with.
When, forty years ago, I hung with those tending in a "neo-Orthodox" and strict sola gratia view of things, the general opinion was that good works were blessings given rather than tokens of exchange. That way of thinking about it survived my becoming a Catholic.
And I think that approaches an answer to your question. It is hard for someone who's been a convinced Xtian monotheist for a long time to entertain the notion of good works without a good God. The question strikes me ALMOST as if you were asking, "Would you do good works if there were no goodness?" But I'd answer that if justice were the only good I saw or could think of, I would try to do justice.
(In this connection, it's probably good to point out that the Scholastic 'tag' for justice is "to render what is due to him to whom it is due." Therefore worship and those acts connected with it are just, because God is due praise at least as much as the sunset which seems to require of us that we invite others to come outdoors and say, with us, "Isn't it WONDERFUL?" Beauty, Justice, Goodness, when apparent, exact an eagerly paid tribute of praise.)
In any case, to say that
Christianity is a culture based on a single belief that doing good will be rewarded. This is what Jesus taught.MAY be true of a CULTURE influenced by Xtianity. But to attempt to make that, as expressed, a pillar of Xtiaity is like making the observation, "The sky is blue on fine days," a pillar of meteorology. It's not that it's false; but it seems superficial and it seems to have the whole question upside down and backwards.
There are two aspects that get my attention:(1) the goodness of the works themselves; (2) The place of good works in the "spiritual life."
The first is interesting because different approaches are related to different conceptions of reason. Monotheists who think that reason is essential to the nature of man and that it deal with truths and realities tend to think that God is Goodness itself, and what he commands is good. For support some might point to the existence of "God-fearing" gentiles and converts to Judaism in New Testament times. It is unlikely that they were drawn to Judaism by clothing, dietary laws, and rites of purification so much as by the chastity, justice, and integrity they saw in the Jews.
As for the "spiritual life," Aristotle says that virtue is a "habit." And just as the person who walks every day is healthier than the couch potato, so the person who is merciful, temperate, prudent, and brave every day will be happier and more "whole" than he who doesn't.
Many of us, though, who make even a half-hearted attempt at righteousness are amazed to find out how lousy we are at it! This realization prepares the ground, so to speak, for receiving the concept that good deeds are not things of our own that we can barter for heaven but are rather gifts and foretastes of heaven.
And this is why the notion expressed by Paul:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The deeds of justice are prepared for us, and we enjoy them by doing them. And these "walkings," this 'way' (Hebrew: "halakha") are, so to speak, morsels of the heaven toward which they lead.
GReat observation - thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.