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Can atheism harm a person?

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    Can atheism harm a person?

    It's true that a lot of religious people are nuts and Religion can really harm a person. I don't think anyone can deny that.

    But I think atheism can harm a person to.

    If a person believes that they at any time could die and be held accountable for their deeds it can motivate them to do good deeds that are in line with the golden rule, and it can discourage them from doing things like molesting children, killing people, stealing, lying, raping, pillaging, and causing all types of misery.

    If you are certain there is no life after death and no entity greater than yourself that will reward your good deeds and punish wicked deeds, why not just be like the kids at Columbine and just shoot a bunch of people and then shoot yourself, if that is what your inclinations and desires keep telling you to do?


    The Colmbine shooters , if we assume there is no life after death or judgement of our souls, essentially suffered no consequences for their crimes. Sure they put bullets in their heads, but that is just a quick way of going into a painless transition into nothingness that we will all enter into one way or the other.

    As an atheist, you essentially have one thing to look forward to in life. Nothing. Whether you do good deeds or bad deeds, it really doesn't matter. You return to nothingness and decompose in a hole.

    Without faith in some sort of intelligent higher power greater than ourselves, life just becomes rather pointless. Whether you were good or bad, it won't matter once we're all dead.

    When atheists claim to be honest and follow the golden rule of altruism, I feel skeptic and mistrustful, but it's possible.

    Thoughts?

    #2
    You answered the thread question in the beginning of the thread, so there is not much work left to be done...

    How does an atheist develop a moral compass without the prospects of judgement in the afterlife? Seems to be your overarching question here and a common concern by theists. I'm going to respond with the assumption that we possess free will.

    Being that this life is all that we have, it's up to us to create meaning in life and strive to be the best people we can be. Since we are social animals, most of us strive for acceptance, or at least respect from others, therefore morality is primed to be a part of our mental modules. Morality is a nuanced subject, murder is more severe than lying for instance. Murder is strongly antisocial behavior so I think it's deeply innate in us to view it as immoral. Lying is a bit more complicated, but without an afterlife or say reliance on a confessional booth, it goes back to being that person you strive to be and I think through socialization we learn there is more benefit to being upfront with people, certainly in terms of how it weighs on ones conscience.

    Morality is an evolving process as we grow as well, for instance, there are things we cannot expect a 4 year old to understand that we expect a 30 year old to understand. We view a 4 year old stumbling upon a gun and shooting someone as having a different level of culpability than a 30 year old stumbling upon a gun and shooting someone. I bring this up to push back on the "inclinations and desires..." part in the OP. It seems as if you're envisioning acting out on sadistic whims to be the default in the absence of belief in the afterlife, this overlooks the fact that morality is developed over ones life. And while I don't think it's the primary factor in striving to be moral, legal ramifications start to factor in around the time we can really contemplate moral issues, so it is an additional deterrence often with consequence. Even if the immoral thought crossed the mind, most reasonable people are going to have at least a couple other competing thoughts that are going to prevent the person from acting on a whim.

    Innate morality, socialization, personal development and legal ramifications are how a moral compass is developed and shaped for an atheist.


    I think Kant provided the best moral blueprint for secular morality with his Categorical Imperative. The idea that people should act out their will only if they they think it should become universal law and treat interactions with people as an end and not means to an end and that morality can be achieved rationally.

    I'll link some analysis on Kant if you would like to delve deeper into these ideas.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/k...ral/#AimMetMor
    Last edited by Audiogen; 10-15-2020, 04:56 PM.

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      #3
      Humans are kind, empathetic, helpful, considerate, and altruistic because of human nature, not because of the existence of God.

      And they are greedy, dishonest, uncaring, sadistic, and murderous because of human nature, not because of the lack of the existence of a God.

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        #4
        I don't think it's ubiquitously dangerous. The only danger I see is in how it seems to be the realistic approach, but actually isn't at all.

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          #5
          I don't think atheism can really harm anyone as a person, unless they think there are no repercussions to bad actions.

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            #6
            I do know people whose attitudes could use a little fear of God, however.

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              #7
              Originally posted by Meliai View Post
              Humans are kind, empathetic, helpful, considerate, and altruistic because of human nature, not because of the existence of God.

              And they are greedy, dishonest, uncaring, sadistic, and murderous because of human nature, not because of the lack of the existence of a God.
              Thing is, as an atheist I had no empathy. The ability to feel empathy came through prayer

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                #8
                i'd say if you're naturally a sociopath and religion helped you, then it's not that atheism harmed you, just that religion helped.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by ill Duce View Post

                  Thing is, as an atheist I had no empathy. The ability to feel empathy came through prayer
                  What do you mean by empathy in this context though? Because to me empathy is inherent. Like for example, one of my earliest memories is just being so sad because 3 year old me hurt someone's feelings and I could feel I hurt her feelings and it hurt me. This was before I understood the concept of God or even understood right from wrong. (And I'm just using this as an example to show why I think empathy is an inherent trait, i'm not trying to make a point about myself)

                  But I think compassion can be taught. Religion can teach people to recognize when others are less fortunate and how to help them. This can also be taught outside of religion.

                  As far as empathy and being able to feel and sense the pain and emotions of others, I think most people are born with it but a certain subset of the population is not

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by Meliai View Post

                    What do you mean by empathy in this context though? Because to me empathy is inherent. Like for example, one of my earliest memories is just being so sad because 3 year old me hurt someone's feelings and I could feel I hurt her feelings and it hurt me. This was before I understood the concept of God or even understood right from wrong. (And I'm just using this as an example to show why I think empathy is an inherent trait, i'm not trying to make a point about myself)

                    But I think compassion can be taught. Religion can teach people to recognize when others are less fortunate and how to help them. This can also be taught outside of religion.

                    As far as empathy and being able to feel and sense the pain and emotions of others, I think most people are born with it but a certain subset of the population is not
                    I mean the ability to feel compassion or the pain of another was absent

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                      #11
                      I didn't wake up one morning and decide I didn't believe in the christian god. I was raised in a christian home and went to church because my folks and my school teachers told me about god and the bible and Jesus. When I became a man started questioning what I had been taught. I read the bible from cover to cover and only then made my choice. It was clear to me that no entity called god, yaweh or allah could create the universe and everything in it. I later learned that the bible had been put together by mostly the Catholic church and that it only contained parts of the gospel that would enslave humans and make lots of money for the church..
                      There is no god, never was, isn't and never will be. Our so called "Gods" came from afar and created nothing except maybe some cloning of humans.
                      "The embers of our past lives lie smouldering within us awaiting the winds of remembrance to fan them in flames of reality." Dax.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Meliai View Post

                        Because to me empathy is inherent. Like for example, one of my earliest memories is just being so sad because 3 year old me hurt someone's feelings and I could feel I hurt her feelings and it hurt me.
                        I don't see how it's inherent. Babies are not empathic.. we learn it. Most people refuse to even try to empathise with someone they can't also sympathise with.. because that ISN'T taught. We're taught that certain people are bad because they do evil things, and you can be seen as an empathic person without showing empathy to those people.
                        If that memory is one of your first, I think it's quite likely there were times in the lead up to it, where the idea of empathy was explained to you. A toddler mindlessly steals another kid's toy.. kid cries.. adult says "no don't steal! that's made your friend sad. you wouldn't like it if she took your toy."
                        and then one day, it clicks.. you hurt someone and recognise that without an adult telling you.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by Jessica View Post

                          I don't see how it's inherent. Babies are not empathic.. we learn it. Most people refuse to even try to empathise with someone they can't also sympathise with.. because that ISN'T taught. We're taught that certain people are bad because they do evil things, and you can be seen as an empathic person without showing empathy to those people.
                          If that memory is one of your first, I think it's quite likely there were times in the lead up to it, where the idea of empathy was explained to you. A toddler mindlessly steals another kid's toy.. kid cries.. adult says "no don't steal! that's made your friend sad. you wouldn't like it if she took your toy."
                          and then one day, it clicks.. you hurt someone and recognise that without an adult telling you.
                          Empathy is an emotion. Someone feels bad so you feel it too. Do you think other emotions are inherent or taught?

                          I suppose there's a nature versus argument to be made either way. We do know from studies done on orphans that not having human contact as a baby and a child can be very traumatic for the developing brain and can result in not being able to process emotions in the same way that those raised with healthy attachments do.

                          On the other hand we're social animals and our brains are hard wired for social contact and all that we learn from it, which makes an argument for the inherency of emotions, I think.

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                            #14
                            I have found that animals are empathetic, a family pet knows when you're depressed or down. Have seen this in my life a few times. They will come lay with you and you can tell they're empathetic. It's kind of cool, really.

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                              #15
                              As civilisation starts to turn to atheism over religion ask yourself, has the world gotten any better?

                              No.

                              /

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