Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Atheist and The Confederate Flag.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote how I had found myself in agreement with "a guy that sports a tattoo on his neck" in our mutual dislike of Pat Robertson. As I wrote then, atheist Dan Arel isn't a fan of the televangelist and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and neither am I - albeit for different reasons.

After coming upon a post Arel had published on patheos.com, I learned that he and I share a similar disgust for the Confederate flag currently flying in South Carolina's capital. Although his post contained a bit of snark, we both agree that the flag is a symbol of racism and does not deserve our respect.

However, I don't understand why he is opposed to the Confederate flag. As a Christian, I know why I oppose it and I have no trouble explaining my opposition.

Christianity teachings us that we are all children of God, that we are all created in His image. I listen when Christ says, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me". I believe when we mistreat our brothers and sisters we are mistreating Jesus as well.

I realize that some will counter that some Christians have used their misunderstanding of the faith to justify their racist beliefs. That does not, however, address the question I have for the atheist.

If one does not believe in any God - whether we're talking about the Christian deity, or Allah or even Vishnu, for that matter - if you do not believe in the existence of any Supreme Being or Creator, the only alternative is the belief that we are the product of a random collection of material "stuff" that accidentally came together without any "purpose" behind it all. If we were not created by a "creative intelligence" then we are the end result of a cosmic mishmash.

If the atheist view is the correct one, why does it matter in the least how we treat other human beings?

I know why I believe racism is sinful. I just don't understand why the atheist thinks so.


Louis Sipher said...

Former Believer Here: So this question comes up a lot "If no one is watching, if there is no right or wrong why do the right/moral thing"? This actually says a lot about a person who can not find this answer within themselves relatively quickly.
The better question might be what's the point in worshiping a deity who knows the only reason you do "good" is b/c you're being watched and judged 24/7 with the possibility of eternal damnation if you fall from His grace. Here one's "good" deeds or ANY sacrifice that is made is made with the forethought of personal benefit or preservation (heaven).
But to answer your question directly why do I act "morally" or why do I protest injustice...it's b/c it make me feel good. All decisions I make (and I think anyone makes) are selfish ones that act to my benefit as far as my mental self image, but not necessarily my physical benefit. For example: Giving to those in need when I can help, or protecting those in danger if I can make that difference is not physically beneficial to me but if i didn't I would suffer the personal regret of unfulfilled opportunity and ultimately know I was as coward and failed at the one chance to be bigger than myself.
Side Note: You may want to brush on your Old and New Testament as far as where you think your getting your moral motivations from.
(Leviticus 25:44-46)
(Exodus 21:7-11)
(Exodus 21:20-21)
(Ephesians 6:5)
(1 Peter 2:18)
(1 Timothy 6)

Robert Simms said...

You need to read the post again. You think you've answered the question,but you haven't. You may feel good while you're doing the "good deed" but that's beside the point.
I'll ask again........if there is no God, no Allah, no "creative intelligence" then we are merely atoms that have come together by accident. If we are just material "stuff" then there is no right.....no wrong. Doing something because it makes you feel good doesn't answer it. A sadist may feel good while he's torturing someone. It's not about "feelings".

Louis Sipher said...

Robert I apologize for my misunderstanding. I did not treat your question with the proper depth it deserved.
You asked if there are no gods "why does it matter in the least how we treat other human beings?" And then you answered your own question quite accurately I think, t doesn't matter...to anyone but you (the temporary observer of reality). Just like kids who know no one is keeping score we play the game for the pure enjoyment of the sport, not to win, not for dad's admiration. There is no right or wrong only cultural norms that swing like a pendulum as time and a culture moves forward.
I agree with you totally Hedonism is an unstable moral compass, but undeniably it's what's driving our every move. Nothing we do is above this "law" it seems. Each observer has to decide what to do to satisfy themselves the most and some times that's going to be what you and I consider really wrong based on the fact it negatively impacts us physically or emotionally.
Now I don't want to come across shallow minded, I am not some emo Atheist so arrogant to think in my limited time here on Earth that I can set the limitations on all that CAN BE in existance. I am an non-believer in the only deity I was exposed to, specifically the God of Abraham. It wasn't till my third decade of life that I fully worked my way through the bible. After reading it coupled with hundreds of hours of lectures the bible could just could not hold up to critical review. And even if this is the one universe where (despite all the constrictions in the bible) Yahweh is real I would still choose not to cower and serve the deity described in the bible given the choices he's made.

If you're still reading I am very curious on your take on the scriptures I brought up on slavery. You said your belief in the Christ guided you to oppose slavery, but Jesus chose Paul to really establish what you and I call Christianity and Paul in all his piety was not in any way against owning other human beings. Thanks for your time.

Robert Simms said...

If you believe that "there is no right or wrong only cultural norms........" then your complaints about anyone's "bad" behavior is pretty much meaningless.
The idea that truth comes from the Bible alone is a Protestant idea and is not a part of Catholicism, which teaches that truth comes from 3 sources - Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium.
The Bible is a complex collection of books written over several generations. It's the rare person, indeed who can understand everything written in it.
Following the teachings of the Catholic Church (without proof texting isolated passages) it's clear that we are all God's children, As I wrote,"I listen when Christ says, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me'. I believe when we mistreat our brothers and sisters we are mistreating Jesus as well."

Louis Sipher said...

I understand looking at ones religion critically can be troubling but I don't think you are really trying.
My complaint is meaningless as far a trying to get a ref to throw a flag over "bad behavior" b/c he's not there. But it's not meaningless as far the actions I'm willing to take to preserve my and my families happiness and safety.

Not sure what you were getting at with the Protestants or suggesting "truth" could come from an organization with the background of the Catholic Church past or present.
At this point it seems you are not interested in sound discourse over Christianity as you refuse to talk about actual scripture that I have brought up twice now.
Keep reading through it all, you'll get there.

Robert Simms said...

If I refuse to agree with you, then I'm not taking the discussion seriously? OK.