Can I blame a being that claims to be all powerful, all knowing and all good for every bad thing that happens? Yes absolutely. And “mysterious ways” ain’t gonna cut it. That’s not an argument, it’s a cop out. Your god is either not powerful, not all knowing or evil. The reality of our existence proves that your god cannot be all three of those things. Or just maybe…

The truth is that your god doesn’t exist so we need to be good to each other and do the right things because they’re good and right. We need to do it for survival not because of the threat of hell or whatever. It’s not possible to be a moral person and be religious because in the end you’re only acting well based on being threatened or rewarded for your actions.

Okay, now that’s a very good point. Almost.

As long as someone is acting morally, does it matter whether they do it because they understand morality and can reason it through the way you did, or because they think an invisible man in the sky is going to send them to hell if they don’t?

Of course it doesn’t matter why they do it on a case by case basis but minimizing suffering is a much more straightforward reason to be moral than a spiritual belief that causes cognitive dissonance at its core. To be a Christian you must believe that you’re a terrible person and that you can never be good. Even if you can be forgiven you’re still an awful sinner. This is told to children starting at 2 years old. Is it any wonder that Christianity has caused more pain and suffering than anything else in human history? If you tell people they’re awful then they’ll start to believe it. Religion and especially Christianity is rotten at its core which is why it’s impossible to be both a moral person and a Christian. There is too much baggage for the mind to deal with. You have to simultaneously love your neighbor while acknowledging that it was right and good for your god to order the slaughter of infant children and torture folks for eternity simply for not knowing about your god’s existence. Trying to parse these two stances creates psychosis.

Okay, let’s assume you’re right and that is indeed a terrible belief system. What’s your alternative? It seems to me that you are arguing that we should believe that we already ARE good people and we don’t need any forgiveness or grace in order to be good. If anyone disagrees with that and points out something we’ve done that hurt them, we can just tell them they’re wrong because God created us to be perfect and sinless and we don’t need to change a single thing. How does that attitude not lead to blatant narcissism in the long run?

If you don’t believe there is at least a chance that you might be wrong, there is no reason to ever listen to the complaints of other people, and no reason to ever try to find any compromise. It’s simply the law of the stronger. Whoever has the most power makes all the rules because God made them perfect and they don’t need to fix a single thing. Isn’t that exactly what you are accusing Christians of doing? How do you get morality out of that philosophy?

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Yes, unlike you, who is showing great empathy and totally not relying on the concept of pain and punishment by posting a derisive response attacking my character without responding to any of the arguments I made.

Basically, all you have said is “you are bad, therefore you should feel bad.”

I’m sorry that my comment has made you upset, but you haven’t given any clear indication of what was wrong with it, so I’m afraid I can’t help you feel better about it, and instead I can only assume that your being upset has nothing to do with the comment you’re responding to, but is instead just a reactionary expression of your ongoing displeasure about a lengthy discussion we had the other day about a city in Tennessee explicitly mentioning homosexuality in their law about public decency.

Also, I’d like to point out that empathy isn’t the same as sympathy. Empathy is simply the capacity to understand another person’s point of view, it doesn’t require agreeing with it.

You’ve taken so many leaps here that make no sense and are straw manning my argument to extreme levels. Where could you possibly have gotten that I think everyone is perfect and that a god created us that way? Religion, and Christianity in particular, is a terrible belief system and it causes cognitive dissonance and psychosis. Christianity creates pain and suffering and turns otherwise good people into monsters. You’ve not refuted that at all.

My only system of belief is to minimize suffering. That’s it. Morality is obviously complicated but if you keep that in mind with every decision things get a lot more clear. There will always be outliers but if we all attempt to minimize suffering then we will make progress. We won’t always be right and we will have to admit when mistakes are made and correct them.

Where could you possibly have gotten that I think everyone is perfect and that a god created us that way?

Well, you said Christianity is terrible because in order to be a Christian you must believe you’re a terrible person and can never be good (which is incorrect BTW, but we’ll save that for later).

So since you said that this was a terrible belief, and you didn’t provide any alternative, I simply took the opposite stance and showed how that isn’t any better. Also, I didn’t say that this is what you were arguing for, I very clearly asked you what your preferred alternative was.

Religion, and Christianity in particular, is a terrible belief system and it causes cognitive dissonance and psychosis. Christianity creates pain and suffering and turns otherwise good people into monsters. You’ve not refuted that at all.

And you haven’t proven that this is the case either, or do you happen to have any studies that show that mental illness is more prevalent in Christians than in atheists, or at least the population as a whole? Otherwise I assume you’re just working with anecdotal evidence, such as having been raised by Christian parents whom you consider psychotic. Unfortunately, that’s not enough evidence to condemn all of the approx. 2.4 billion people in the world who consider themselves Christian. Even if, say, all of the Christians in the United States were demonstrably psychotic, that wouldn’t be enough evidence to condemn Christianity as a whole (although it would at least warrant suspicion that the two may be linked).

Now, as far as misrepresenting Christian beliefs goes, you said that Christians believe that people can never be good and therefore must always feel terrible about themselves. That’s not the case. It’s rather that people can never be perfect and therefore should always strive to improve. Do you see the difference? One interpretation says “you’ll never come anywhere close to God’s perfection so you might as well give up and not even try”, the other says “you may not ever reach perfection, but you’ll certainly come closer to it if you keep trying.”

It’s not moral to do something only because you are scared of punishment. Having morals would be knowing not to do something because it’s wrong and may hurt others and having empathy for those around you.

Look, clearly it would be preferable if people are moral because they have reasoned things through, because then they won’t be as likely to fall to temptation or be reasoned out of it. Now I don’t know about you, but, I would prefer someone who doesn’t murder me because they believe they’ll go to hell if they do to someone who does because he believes he’ll get away with it.

It’s not immoral to believe in Santa Claus, is it?

I’d prefer if someone doesn’t murder me because they think murder is bad

That’s not what I asked.

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