Religion, And Why Atheists Aren't Necessarily Sinners
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Religion, And Why Atheists Aren't Necessarily Sinners

By BayAreaObserver following x   2017 May 28, 3:01pm 2,932 views   31 comments   watch   quote     share  


This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by James Waldron Hertsch.

I don't think atheists necessarily "just want to sin." Very few people turn atheist, then grow a goatee, crow, "Now I can sin all I want!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!" and then rampage across the countryside. But I think there are a couple open items:

The "sin" of impiety. A polite atheist isn't going to go out of his way to insult a religious person. But at the same time, an atheist is not likely to attend church, pray, honor the name of a god, or participate in any sort of religious ritual. If you define this sort of lack of piety as a "sin," then yes, the atheist sins by omission every minute of every day. While some of us are glad to have Sunday morning free (if you're in a Christian-oriented country), it's not like an atheist sets out to be as impious as he can. It's simply an aspect of who he is ... of who I am.

What is a sin? Atheists and theists, I think, agree that some acts constitute "sins," as it were. Murder, robbery, and rebooting Full House are all awful acts. But religions, especially fundamentalist sects, tack on other "sins." Homosexuality, close proximity to a member of the opposite sex, and refusal to submit to a male's authority have all been classified as "sins." I can't speak completely for other atheists, but I categorically reject the notion that any of these acts are "sins." Rather, they strike me as man-made laws ... and (esp. the rules re: women) rules that are sexist to boot.

Religious leaders' sins. This sort of thing put me on the path to atheism, and I think it turned others there as well. In Christianity, greed is a sin. A huge sin. And it's considered virtuous to give to others. Yet you have people like Jim Bakker, who embezzled money from his ministry, and the aptly named Creflo Dollar, who sought donations so he could buy himself a private jet. Not to mention every instance of a religious leader who preached sexual purity, yet had his own indiscretions, or religious leaders who preach "do not kill," unless it's in service to their interpretation of the deity.

This kind of hypocrisy turns people off ... and it starts one thinking. If these people act inconsistent with their religions laws -- even laws they putatively believe, then is there any truth to those laws, to those words? It's a powerful question.

More including video link: http://www.ibtimes.com/religion-why-atheists-arent-necessarily-sinners-2544691

Link to Quora and the question - Do atheists just want to sin? https://www.quora.com/Do-atheists-just-want-to-sin

Note: 100 plus replies on the Quora site link. Interesting reading.

#Religion #Atheist #Sin

1 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 28, 4:51pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

BayAreaObserver says

What is a sin? Atheists and theists, I think, agree that some acts constitute "sins," as it were. Murder, robbery, and rebooting Full House are all awful acts.

Sin is violating god's commandments, but since there is no god, there is no such thing as sin.

Evil, however, is quite real, but it should not be anthropomorphized. Good and evil, morality and immorality can be mathematically modeled and explained in perfect detail in terms of game theory, evolution, and cooperation within a social group. No need for supernatural nonsense.

Morality is best taught with increasing precision as children get older. Do this right, and by the time they are in high school, they will be able to understand the math behind morality. Then in college, they will be able to engineer morality like any other system. The result would be that our society would be able to resolve the complex moral dilemmas it faces from animal rights to economic rights in a globalized economy.

BayAreaObserver says

Do atheists just want to sin?

As an atheist, I don't even think about the stupid notion of sin. Instead, I think about right and wrong. I have a very well-developed and refined moral code that is based on rational consideration of others, including non-humans, and empathy. I can happily say that I've never hurt anyone in my life and would not do so, except in defense of myself or others if it were necessary.

Put simply, I follow the mantra of do no harm, and try to help when possible. This moral code does not require, and is not even helped by, the belief in supernatural entities or religion or the threat of torture from some all-seeing god. All it requires is good parenting. Children raised with this idea will become adults who are helpful, not harmful. It's not that difficult.

If anything, atheism enhances morality by removing the selfish motivations of an afterlife. If you are doing good to benefit yourself, it's not really a selfless act.

2 curious2   ignore (1)   2017 May 28, 5:42pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

Mark 3:29 says that "he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." (See also Luke 12:8-10, Mark 3:28-30, Matthew 12:30-32.) "The one sin that is unforgivable is unbelief or rejection of Christ."

Also, according to Saudi law, atheists are by definition terrorists, for "calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based." And, the Saudis are leading their own coalition against terrorism, including a Muslim world plan against blasphemy.

By definition, atheists deny both the Holy Ghost and Islam. But, take heart: in Christian doctrine, everyone sins, and let him who is without sin (i.e., no one) cast the first stone. There, again, you can see a basic difference between Christianity (which says to love you) and Islam (which says to kill you).

3 Strategist   ignore (0)   2017 May 28, 6:24pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Dan8267 says

Sin is violating god's commandments, but since there is no god, there is no such thing as sin.

God and religion have violated my personal commandment of.....Thou shall have no slaves. Only an evil being would support slavery in any form. God is evil.
As for religion, all i can say is.......Those who do not ban slavery, need not tell others what morals are.

4 Ceffer   ignore (1)   2017 May 28, 7:40pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Religion makes sin fun. No guilt, no getting away with shit, no fun.

5 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 28, 8:59pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

Dan8267 says

Sin is violating god's commandments, but since there is no god, there is no such thing as sin.

Evil, however, is quite real

See you can't have it like that Dan, for a self proclaimed man of logic, you say some stupid stuff.
If there is no god, than there is no evil. They are of the same base. You can't have one, but not the other.

All you have without religion is legal and illegal. Nothing more to it, morality isn't universal.

6 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 28, 9:43pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

FortWayne says

If there is no god, than there is no evil.

That's the dumbest thing you ever said, and it has a lot of competition.

Are you saying that if god doesn't exist, raping babies wouldn't be morally wrong? How fucked up are you?

This is exactly why Christianity is harmful. It screws up even basic thinking in people.

7 georgeliberte   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 7:05am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

If there is no god, than there is no evil.
What an incredibly arrogant statement. That is the basis of re;religion, the concept that you somehow have hit upon all the great truths and answers; but ut can never be questioned because they were given to me by an invisible sky wizard. And if someone does not believe like you they are sinners and the most horrible things you do to them ate not sins any longer?
Evil is a human concept and can be defined in a number of ways. Any way, sin and god's law do not seem to stop religious people from being evil. It is hard to find greater evil than ISIS, but, they whole heatedly believe in god.

8 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 8:31am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

georgeliberte says

If there is no god, than there is no evil.

What an incredibly arrogant statement. That is the basis of re;religion, the concept that you somehow have hit upon all the great truths and answers; but ut can never be questioned because they were given to me by an invisible sky wizard. And if someone does not believe like you they are sinners and the most horrible things you do to them ate not sins any longer?

Evil is a human concept and can be defined in a number of ways. Any way, sin and god's law do not seem to stop religious people from being evil. It is hard to find greater evil than ISIS, but, they whole heatedly believe in god.

Where is the moral standard going to come from, without god there isn't an ultimate authority on moral behavior. And moral behavior is subjective without Christianity.

Kim Jong Un thinks it's morally right to starve and murder people, nazi's thought it was morally right to burn people in concentration camps, Dan can't wait for all the "white slavers" to die, ISIS thinks it's a good thing to blow up Americans.

The only solution is Christianity. Without Jesus, your kids will be doing all the "evil" you wouldn't imagine of doing yourself even.

9 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 8:32am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

Dan8267 says

Are you saying that if god doesn't exist, raping babies wouldn't be morally wrong? How fucked up are you?

You still don't get it, clueless as usual.

10 Strategist   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 9:14am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

FortWayne says

If there is no god, than there is no evil.

That would be a good thing. We don't need either.

11 Depo   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 9:56am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

FortWayne says

Where is the moral standard going to come from, without god there isn't an ultimate authority on moral behavior....The only solution is Christianity

I am good friends with both a Hindu, and a Buddhist. They are WITHOUT QUESTION the most morally grounded people I know. They know nothing of Jesus. They know nothing of Christianity. How did they get to be so morally grounded then?

12 georgeliberte   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 10:16am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

here is the moral standard going to come from, without god there isn't an ultimate authority on moral behavior.
If your moral standards are grounded in a invisible and nonexistent being, they are underground. Saying that I have no morals because I not believe in nonexistent beings is both incorrect and sanctimonious. I am willing to wager that few here believe in Odin, and are there fore atheists, poly atheists actually because they do not beieve in many of the thousands of available gods, I am merely a complete atheists also not believing in th one true nonexistent god.

13 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 10:47am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Depo says

FortWayne says

Where is the moral standard going to come from, without god there isn't an ultimate authority on moral behavior....The only solution is Christianity

I am good friends with both a Hindu, and a Buddhist. They are WITHOUT QUESTION the most morally grounded people I know. They know nothing of Jesus. They know nothing of Christianity. How did they get to be so morally grounded then?

You missed the debate some members been having for a while. It's about religion vs not having any at all (Dan's position). My point is simple, without moral authority of "good" coming from faith, there is no agreed upon definition of "good" and hence society falls apart very fast.

14 Strategist   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 10:54am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

FortWayne says

You missed the debate some members been having for a while. It's about religion vs not having any at all (Dan's position). My point is simple, without moral authority of "good" coming from faith, there is no agreed upon definition of "good" and hence society falls apart very fast.

My point is even more simple. My morals are superior to that of any religion.
FortWayne, where do you think my morals came from?

15 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 11:27am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Strategist says

FortWayne, where do you think my morals came from?

Learned from society that has laws rooted in Christian principles. A lot of that is just ingrained into our society so much that we don't even appreciate it on a daily basis, but take it for granted.

In North Korea there is no god, and putting society into bondage is just fine for their leadership. On the other hand if you or I grew up in one of those ISIS territories, we'd be no different than whatever comes out of there... would probably hate America and dream of the day we can commit bad things here.

16 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 12:24pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

FortWayne says

Where is the moral standard going to come from, without god there isn't an ultimate authority on moral behavior.

This is the fundamental lie of monotheism. You have to have a god to be an ultimate authority. You can't have more one than god because they might disagree. Oh, and since that one god never reveals itself, I'll speak for him. What bullshit!

This mindless assertion that morality has to be absolute and dictated by one entity or it's entirely arbitrary is utterly discredited by every single science. There is no absolute authority on the laws of physics, yet physicists everywhere observe and verify the exact same laws of physics. There is no supreme mathematician that governs how math works. Countless mathematicians independently reach the same conclusions because reality is self-consistent.

Morality is mathematical. It requires no single authority figure to be self-consistent. There is no need for a god because mathematics does the job of modeling morality just like it models everything else in the universe.

FortWayne's proposition is utterly ridiculous as illustrated by this consequence of it. If the Christian god told people to murder babies by bashing their heads against rocks, which he did in the "unerring holy book" they call the Bible, then brutally murdering babies in this matter would be moral and good by definition. Is there really anyone so morally deprived reading this that would agree that bashing the skulls of babies is moral and righteous?

Christians are always saying "god is good". Well, if that's the case then good, not god, is the a priori condition. If you define god as all good then good can't be defined as god's will. That's a circular definition.

17 Strategist   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 12:37pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Dan8267 says

FortWayne's proposition is utterly ridiculous as illustrated by this consequence of it. If the Christian god told people to murder babies by bashing their heads against rocks, which he did in the "unerring holy book" they call the Bible

FortWayne.....How can you claim such a God to be an ultimate authority on moral behavior?

18 curious2   ignore (1)   2017 May 29, 12:57pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

FortWayne says

My point is simple, without moral authority of "good" coming from faith, there is no agreed upon definition of "good" and hence society falls apart very fast.

FortWayne says

The only solution is Christianity.

You do have a point, as the happiest and most successful countries in the world have nominally Christian majorities, but you overstate your point. Morality is rooted in evolutionary biology, and Christian countries have only excelled above others in the centuries since allowing the Enlightenment to embrace science.

Most people agree on a great many things, because we are genetically programmed very similarly. Most people agree it's easier to see in daylight than in darkness, but blind people might disagree because they can't see either way. Most people would agree Beethoven sounds better than fingernails on a chalkboard, but deaf people might disagree because they can't hear the difference. Most people would pull their hands away from a painfully hot stove, but some don't because they can't feel pain. Most people agree that murder is wrong, but psychopaths and sociopaths might disagree because they can't feel a difference, and religious people (especially Muslims) have tended to fabricate long lists of imaginary pretexts to kill people. The founders of the republic believed in natural law, i.e. the law should allow morality to develop along natural lines rather than establishing religion.

Several countries with Christian majorities have tended to implement these Enlightenment principles, and thus to advance better than other countries during the same period of time. Some countries with Christian majorities replaced one authoritarian doctrine with another, e.g. Russia went from tsarist to Marxist (right to left, but your life belongs either way to whoever is placed over you, as Paul would say), and they did less well.

Similar to other totalitarian doctrines, Islam says that your life is not your own, and commands believers to impose Sharia. For this reason, Muslim countries have tended not to embrace the Enlightenment, with only rare and brief exceptions. They have tended therefore not to improve as much as countries with Christian majorities.

The solution is not establishing any particular religion, but guarding against those who would impose their particular religion, e.g. those who believe what Islam says.

BTW, I saw someone Disliked my comment above, even though almost every word of it is quoted verbatim from linked sources answering the OP question. In other words, someone dislikes the messenger: "I Dislike those facts." The Bible says what it says, and Islam says what it says. You don't have to believe either of those doctrines, but part of growing up requires learning to accept facts that we don't like.

19 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 1:11pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)     quote        

curious2 says

the happiest and most successful countries in the world have nominally Christian majorities, but you overstate your point.

This statement is not true over the long course of history. Dark Age Europe was the most Christian and the most miserable collection of societies in all of history. Pre-Christian antiquity was paradise in contrast.

You are making the mistake of ignore a lurking, or confounding, variable, specifically science and technology. The real correlation and causality is that scientific knowledge and technology is precisely what makes a society successful and happy. You can see this throughout all of history, spanning religious territories. This is why ancient pagan societies like Egypt, Greece, and Rome were successful.

It is entirely scientific and technological advancement that makes modern America and Europe so nice. Remove that and life here would be far less pleasant. Add Christian fervor and it would get even worse. It would be a return to the Dark Ages. There literally would be burning of gays at the stake and drowning of "witches" with trial by water.

20 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 1:15pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (3)     quote        

curious2 says

BTW, I saw someone Disliked my comment above, even though almost every word of it is quoted verbatim from linked sources answering the OP question. In other words, someone dislikes the messenger

This happens all the time when trolls dislike posts they don't even read. This is why the dislike feature is useless. I've seen posts that are literally copy-n-paste FAQs of Health Saving Accounts get disliked.

The only way dislike could be useful is if it took into account who was disliking whom and weighing the score accordingly to each viewer. This is essentially what Amazon, Facebook, and everyone else does. If user A hates everything user B and C posts, and user D likes what user B posts, then user A's dislikes of C counts as likes of users B and C for user D, and thus B's posts get recommended to user D. After all, D likes what A dislikes. Likes and dislikes can only be useful if used in this manner.

21 curious2   ignore (1)   2017 May 29, 1:38pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Dan8267 says

This statement is not true over the long course of history.

Something seems to have caused you to overlook the meaning of the present tense, and to react before even reading the sentence immediately following the one you quoted.

curious2 says

Morality is rooted in evolutionary biology, and Christian countries have only excelled above others in the centuries since allowing the Enlightenment to embrace science.

In consequence, you posted a long comment agreeing with what I had actually said, while calling it a mistake. You might be in some sort of disagreement mode, and might benefit from a glass of Soylent or some better alternative.

BTW, did you find a better alternative to Soylent?

Dan8267 says

Likes and dislikes can only be useful if used in this manner.

Alas, another false absolute. Likes and Dislikes are also useful in calculating trollishness scores, and identifying spammers.

22 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 4:42pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

OK, if you want to disregard 97.5% of Christian history and only take a look at the past 50 years, then let's do that. Let's compare regions of the United States that are very religious to those that are very scientific. Clearly, the states that are most religious are poorest.


Source: Gallup Poll


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2009

Notice the very strong correlation between religiousness and poverty within a society. Is it a surprise that scientifically educated people are more economically productive and also less religious?

Now let's look at modern Christian countries. We can ignore all the non-Christian ones if you want, but they paint the same picture.


Source: Washington Post


Source: Washington Post

Notice that with the exception of the United States, religion and poverty have an extremely strong correlation. Even the Soviet Union proves this point. Within the United States, religion and poverty also have an extremely strong correlation. So clearly, the non-religious U.S. citizens are the ones responsible for the wealth of the U.S.

Once again, I submit the quite obvious fact that wealth is built on technology, and technology is built on science, and science is built on the rejection of the supernatural and the understanding of nature. Science is literally the study of nature, and it is utterly incompatible with religion. Science yields technology, and technology yields wealth. South America is far more religious than the U.S. and they are dirt poor because of it. Everywhere religion takes hold becomes impoverished because religion and faith are regressive.

In conclusion, whether we look at the long story of history or just the present, it is quite clear that religion causes poverty, not economic prosperity. This is also confirmed whether we look at all nations or just Christian nations or just the United States. The evidence is overwhelming.

People who believe that god decides who lives and dies do not find the cures of diseases. People who believe that god determines who is rich and poor, don't innovate and invent. People who believe that morality is whatever god wants it to be, don't think about moral dilemmas and try to solve them. People who believe that they will have an eternal afterlife that will make this short existence look like shit no matter how good you have it, don't make the world or their lot a better place. Religion does not motivate progress.

23 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 4:55pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Strategist says

Dan8267 says

FortWayne's proposition is utterly ridiculous as illustrated by this consequence of it. If the Christian god told people to murder babies by bashing their heads against rocks, which he did in the "unerring holy book" they call the Bible

FortWayne.....How can you claim such a God to be an ultimate authority on moral behavior?

Dan misunderstood everything as usual. He likes to pick things out of context and take extreme positions.

24 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 5:09pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

FortWayne says

Dan misunderstood everything as usual. He likes to pick things out of context and take extreme positions.

No weasling out of this. Your Bible, the unerring word of god, explicitly states that babies should be murdered by bashing their heads on rocks. This is not being taken out of context. Here is the exact quote. Psalm 137 in its entirety.

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Your god advocated horrifically murdering babies by bashing their heads against rocks for no reason other than revenge. That's the context. If this is an extreme position, then it is your religion that is extreme.

So my point stands. If good is defined as god's will, as you claim, then bashing those babies heads against the rocks and murdering them is good. That's why you and your religion is sick, and the entire idea that a fictional character written by Bronze Age barbarians is the ultimate moral authority is both ridiculous and dangerous.

You can't square this circle. You can't cover up the truth with your lies. This is what you call the unerring word of god.

25 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 5:28pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Dan you are taking it out of context. You don't understand bible, verses can't be taken out of context.

That story explains the life where eye for an eye philosophy prevails. It doesn't advocate murder. It speaks of horrors humanity creates.

You are really really clueless

26 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 6:14pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Bullshit. I quoted the whole damn passage. So how the hell am I taking it out of context. In exactly what context is murdering babies an OK thing to do? The fact that you are defending this monstrous passage demonstrates how much Christianity harms America even today. It is utterly immoral and despicable.

27 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 7:19pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Dan8267 says

Bullshit. I quoted the whole damn passage. So how the hell am I taking it out of context. In exactly what context is murdering babies an OK thing to do? The fact that you are defending this monstrous passage demonstrates how much Christianity harms America even today. It is utterly immoral and despicable.

You misunderstood the story completely Dan. Typical you.

28 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 8:08pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Oh please do tell us your bullshit version of the story and how it should be interpreted so that it upholds your notion that we need a single moral authority called god to make right and wrong meaningful. Go on.

29 FortWayne   ignore (0)   2017 May 29, 8:28pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

Dan you just really have no idea what you are reading. Because you completely misunderstand everything you read in the bible.

Your best bet is to go to church and have a pastor explain the passages. The way you are interpreting the bible is an equivalent to claiming that Harry Potter promotes child murder if you take a few paragraphs out of context the same way.

30 HEY YOU   ignore (7)   2017 May 29, 8:39pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

There is no right or wrong,good or evil.
Wait! It's all in your head & others that share your value system.

Do or Don't, both based in FEAR-False Evidence Appearing Real.

FUCK YOU! HEY YOU!
That's too complex.

31 Dan8267   ignore (3)   2017 May 29, 10:01pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote        

FortWayne says

Your best bet is to go to church and have a pastor explain the passages.

Oh no, you don't get to run away like a coward. If you are saying that the above passage doesn't contradict your thesis that the Christian god is a moral authority and the only reason there is a difference between right and wrong, YOU must explain how there is no contradiction. Go on. We're all waiting.


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