Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Ethics and Atheists
If you profess yourself as Atheist and then fall prey to some temptation and commit some injustice or harm then at least you are LESS hypocritical than someone who professes themselves as a devout member of some divinely revealed religion and then you fall prey to the same temptation and human weakness. Each person is born with a unique personality and physiology. Some people by nature dislike tobaccor, alcohol and drug intoxication and are drawn to exercise and healthy diet. Some people have a very low libido and do not become sexually active until late in life. Other people are born with tremendous appetites, .... all this has little to do with some ideology or professed faith. Think of all the Muslims who drink, yet Hitler was a vegetarian tea-toteler. Someone remarks: that was the best argument I've heard for eating meat and boozing it up! I reply:
People who lack a broad foundation of education, lack a fluency in several language, lack a familiarity with several religions, cultures, historical periods, and are not trained in critical and methodical thinking may easily be convinced by their simplistic views and conclusions.
We have all heard the term "karma" although not all of us understand the widespread implications of karma.
I want to give two illustrations of how karma, the cause and effect of our actions and choices, contain in themselves rewards and punishments apart from the issue of whether or not there is some Deity.
We remember the recent, tragic demise of Christopher Hitchens. For years he URGED young people to smoke, drink, over-indulge, since this life is ALL THERE IS. In his last days, he changed his mind and apologized for those remarks. I think if he had it to do all over again he would have led a healthier life, NOT that doing so would escape our mortality and death, but he would have been active intellectually perhaps into his 80s or 90s.
My second example comes from a lecture I attended, given by a medical social worker to an audience of hundreds of men and women of all ages from teen to elderly and all on hemodialysis. She made the analogy of our daily life as a little molecule in a container filled with fast moving molecules. When the little molecule ventures OUT from the corner of his/her medical regimen then he/she is strut by those other molecules frequently. BUT if the sickly molecule stays in the protective corner of their medications, diet, dialysis then they suffer much less. So, you see, a Christian alcoholic (to take a random example), a Protestant one, anyway, might say "Well, yes, I am an alcoholic BUT I am a FORGIVEN alcoholic and I am guaranteed the eternal security of my salvation." An Atheist alcoholic might reason that there is no future life and no dread judgment seat of Christ BUT the suffering of alcoholism is very real and forgiveness is meaningless UNLESS once speaks of forgiving oneself and loving oneself enough to "do the right thing" - and we know what the right thing is EVEN if we believe in no God. Now the Protestant alcoholic finds consolation in the though of forgiveness and salvation, but other denominations look carefully at Paul's words that drunkards will not enter the kingdom of heaven.