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December 7, 2012
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The aspiration of reward in the afterlife.

:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
Too often I encounter the accusation that those who do not believe in God and an afterlife must not have morals because they do not believe that their actions in this brief mortal existence holds any personal consequences for all eternity afterwards. To more extreme cases, the assumptions go on to deduce that those who do not believe in a particular sect's deity could only be doing so out of immature rebellion; wishing to live a life of decadence and sin without the thought of infinite punishment for finite crime. Or perhaps in spite of it.

In any case, the association of moral code and segregation in the afterlife too often comes down to two conclusions: A finite existence is meaningless, and acting like a morally upstanding person is meaningless unless there is viable threat of punishment or a promise of reward for it. If these motivations hold true, then does that not mean that acting like a morally good person for the expressed purpose of achieving immortality in paradise after you die is in fact, an act of greed and selfishness? If one requires to believe in an afterlife, the result of which is directly contingent on your actions while alive, to feel the need to have morality, then does that mean that the only reason to be a good person is for personal gain? Not unlike a toddler who's only incentive to not misbehave is because they expect Santa Clause to give them presents each year.

In conclusion. If your only reason for not being a selfish dickhead to everyone around you is because you expect to be rewarded for it with immortality in paradise when you die, are you really a good person?
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:iconspudfuzz:
Spudfuzz Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I had a debate with my friends earlier today where we all agreed that if religion died suddenly for whatever reason and a good number of charities disbanded because they found their religion to not be true (by extension they found being "good" meaningless since there is no "god" watching them) - that the world would be a much better place without these charities. It's not like you can feed a starving third world kid with a bible anyway. I think this subject is truly dead and tired though. I wish more people would start addressing the complete non connection between the hypothetical existence of a God and 'religion' itself. :shrug:
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:icontearahk:
Tearahk Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I believe our morals should come from our actions and what we believe is better for not just ourselves, but for the people around us. I for one have no interest in religion. That said, I'm not atheist. I just don't care if there is a god or not. What I do care about is how my actions effect the people around me, and how I can change those reactions to better ones.

I may not be religious, but that doesn't mean I don't have morals. People these days seem to think, like they did back in the day, that you need an incentive in order to be nice. My thought on that is this, why not just be nice? Why not just do it out of the kindness of your heart, rather than some misplaced sense of obligation?

But this may all just be me, who really knows?
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:iconalzircon:
alzircon Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
At first we need to establish that morality has always been and always will be subjective based on what time, country and/or culture you live in. Back when the bible was being pieced together it was totally cool and moral to own slaves. It was totally cool and moral to kill people in the name of a certain deity and in some countries it's still totally cool and moral to consider women as property.
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:iconmagicmoonbird:
MagicMoonBird Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think its scary how some people talk and think about the after life....they dont even care if their loved ones die, its crazy! O.o ...we should enjoy our life on earth to the fullest, you never know what will come afterwards...no one knows
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:iconcarusmm:
carusmm Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Anybody who gets his morality out of a book is simply a dickhead.
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:iconwilliamrobertrussell:
WilliamRobertRussell Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I dont believe in anything, yet i treat everyone around me equally and respectfully, and i have no desire to be a selfish dickhead. So where does that make me stand?
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
An empathetic human being who does not need to be bribed or threatened into being nice to other people?
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:iconkillianseraphim:
KillianSeraphim Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Student General Artist
Considering heaven is guaranteed upon conversion in my book, I think that would be a rather pointless aspiration. Granted, in my book, conversion also initiates transformation, so the part of you that wanted to be a selfish dickhead is no longer at the forefront of your reasoning.
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
You wrote a book?!
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:iconkillianseraphim:
KillianSeraphim Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Student General Artist
I have. It had nothing to do with this subject though.
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:iconpuppy-dangerous:
puppy-dangerous Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Well, when it comes down to it, the only reason any of us aren't total dicks is because it's what is best for us. Everything is selfish in the end.
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:iconkamal-q:
Kamal-Q Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I think the question some religious people ask is how can morality be defined in the absence of a god...rather than claiming all non-believers are incapable of doing things that are moral. What is it to be 'moral'? Is it selflessness? Or is it selfishness (in disguise)? Then is every selfless/selfish act 'moral'? Why?

In any case, the association of moral code and segregation in the afterlife too often comes down to two conclusions: A finite existence is meaningless, and acting like a morally upstanding person is meaningless unless there is viable threat of punishment or a promise of reward for it.

Hmm...This finite existence, if it is the basis of an eternal afterlife, would be infinitely meaningful, no? With the second point, I think most religious people see morality/piety/upright character as means of drawing near to their notions of the divine - which I suppose could be a way of avoiding hell, but it's not the same as acting one way rather than another to avoid an angry father...the intentions are quite different.
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
I think, if you really look at it. Morality is what is seen as actions by an individual which are beneficial toward a community as a whole. Essentially contributing to your society rather than just yourself. And as social creatures, this can clearly be seen as a keystone in our evolutionary dominance.
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:iconkamal-q:
Kamal-Q Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
If you're defining morality as that which is most beneficial to all - then, if the suffering of one child guarantees the happiness of the majority, is it moral to inflict that child with suffering? Would it be immoral for the child to reject the suffering? Or is it immoral for an individual to shirk away from responsibilities that benefit others but not him/herself?

And what mechanism is used to say a certain action is 'beneficial' for the community? Who defines 'beneficial'?
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
I guess it depends on the scope of what is being given vs what is being gained. If a child suffering equals to 10 people being cured from a fatal disease, then the kid's suffering is morally justified. If the kid's suffering means that 10 people get the day off, then it is not morally justified. It is entirely subjective and not something that can be summed up in a simple "this is right, this is wrong" analogy. One of my arguments against Biblical morality is that it paints morality as a list of clear rules literally set in stone given to us by upper management. Morality changes based on the situation and the desires of the populous.
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:iconkamal-q:
Kamal-Q Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I don't think traditional/"biblical" morality is about simple rules set in stone - but rather axioms to live by, their simplicity makes the task of 'morality' quite a bit easier. One only has to look at the Jewish legal tradition and the varying opinions within it to see how rich /non-uniform the 'biblical' moral system is.

It is entirely subjective

I think that's the problem most have...a sociopath's definition of right/wrong would be just as valid as the Dalai Lama's in that case, no?
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:iconblack-allison:
Black-Allison Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
You know, I like those odd religions like Tengrism, which are exactly like Christianity in many ways, except atheists don't automatically burn in hell.
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:icontotally-dead:
Totally-dead Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You should read some social psychology. You would find it interesting.
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
I have looked into sociology in the past. I often saw books on it when I used to frequent the library back when I lived in Ottawa. I just never had the time to really get into it any more than a curious indulgence.
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:icontotally-dead:
Totally-dead Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Not quite the same as sociology. Sociology is certainly not psychology, whereas social psychology essentially is. Some would say that it is an individual explanation of sociological phenomenon, but mostly it is the study of the everything social on an individual/inter-individual level.
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:iconcooldas:
cooldas Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"If your only reason for not being a selfish dickhead to everyone around you is because you expect to be rewarded for it with immortality in paradise when you die, are you really a good person?"

No. If someone claims to be a Christian and is only doing good things to get rewarded, that person missed the point. But in the Christian worldview, nobody is really a "good person"--everyone is broken and capable of doing evil.
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:iconbullet-magnet:
Bullet-Magnet Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
Capable of doing evil is not the same as being broken or not being a good person. That's just insulting.
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:iconcooldas:
cooldas Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
In the Christian worldview, people were originally created to be good. That's what I meant by "broken".
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
Perhaps it is that we are taught to believe that we are broken that we feel there is nothing we can do to help each other and better society. To which the only worth while goal a person can achieve is to deny their own humanity under the promise of entering heaven. I often feel deeply disturbed when I hear people say that they are looking forward to the Biblical rapture. As if they are so disgusted by the world around them that seeing it bathed in fire would fill them with glee.

Yes, humans are flawed. If we weren't flawed then we'd be nothing but mindless computers. If the idea is that humanity is broken and therefor capable of doing evil. Then I have to ask you... what is evil? Chances are that anything you would consider to be evil the God of the Old Testament has either done it or ordered his followers to do it. But the God of Bible isn't supposed to be broken or flawed. The argument is often that God is simply better than us and understands more, so whatever God does that may seem like an act of evil, must be good. It's a convoluted double standard.

But evil only exists as a subjective social construct, not as a set of inflexible rules set in stone by a deity on high. What is evil for our culture and era is not the same for another. Prime example, what is your opinion on slavery? The God of the Bible condones it, in fact, he gives instructions on how to go about doing it including selling your daughter into slavery. But, by the influence of your culture, is slavery good or bad?
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:iconbullet-magnet:
Bullet-Magnet Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
Created ill, commanded to be well.
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:iconunclegargy:
UncleGargy Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't believe in any God but it does not stop me being a good person, when I want to be. Religions that promise rewards in Heaven or punishment in Hell are just giant cults!
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
Agreed. There's something to be said for plain old human empathy that religious orders like to teach you doesn't exist or is somehow bad.
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:iconsmkiller:
Smkiller Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist
I had thought of making a thread very similar to this recently. I just couldn't figure out how to word it correctly.
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:icondidj:
Didj Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012
How was my wording?
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:iconsmkiller:
Smkiller Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist
I think your wording presents the idea sufficiently. Definitely more-so than anything my mind was coming up with at the time I was trying to think it out.
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