I’m happy anytime anyone does some kind of charity. This includes when charity is done by the religious, but what bothers me about a lot of religious charities is that in one hand they offer help, but with other hand, they offer them their religious beliefs. Why not stick with just doing good works not for Jesus and not with expectations that the needy might come to Christ due to said good works. Why don’t people just do good works for the needy; because well, their human we’re human and we all deserve a decent quality of life. In other words if someone notices a child needs new shoes just buy them new shoes. It is not necessary to then invite them to church or preach to them. If there are starving children in Africa, just send them food. There’s really no need to send missionaries to proclaim the gospel.( I mean really there’s already a lot of Christians in Africa to begin with.) I feel like pushing religion on the needy is in some sense is taking advantage of them. I remember going to soup kitchens back when I was homeless, and every Sunday they sang gospel tunes. Also every once in a while, the Mormons would show up in suits and serve food, and they’d really stare at everyone, which was embarrassing. I’m not trying to complain I usually(there’s a long story there) got food that didn’t have the potential to also make me sick. I’m thankful for the food that they provided, but I didn’t need Jesus. I needed food, a home, electricity, heat, and job. Also the only clothes I had were from back when I was high school, so I suppose clothes to wear for job interview would be nice for the homeless as well. (By the way, I’m just listing my needs at the time, and I’m not expecting the soup kitchen to do all that for me.) My point is: it is already embarrassing to need help in the first place. Please don’t also try to convince me of your religion. The person being charitable is in a position of power over the needy, and preaching at them is taking advantage of their position. Just my two cents.
When it comes to Christmas, I’m a bit of Scrooge. I have one young nephew, and a small family that I travel 16 hours to see. I’m always happy to see them, but I’m the only atheist in the family. Also, I don’t feel like being a Grinch and robbing people of their Christmas joy, so I put up with annual happy birthday Jesus song. I may even be in Church this with them this Christmas. Every Christmas they get more and more religious about the season, which is great for them but alienates me.
I could make a point of not participating in the religious parts of their celebrations. However, it’s one time of the year, and I it’s not hurting me. I’m quite opinionated when it comes to the different religions, but then again I’m the only atheist in the family. The rest of my family our fundamentalist Christians. You know the type young earth creationists, hell fire, etc. Perhaps, I’m a bit of wuss. However, bringing up unwillingness to take part in their religious traditions would dampen their holiday spirit, and for me it’s just an annoyance. So, I’ll just have to suck it up.
Like I said I’m a bit of a Scrooge. I enjoy having enough time to actually go see family. On the other hand I’d be happier if we just watched the dr who special, drank some egg nog, and opened a few presents.
I know there are probably a few people out their that think I should stand my ground about the religious stuff. I choose not to, but only on Christmas. As full of pagan elements as Christmas is, it now largely a overcomercialized Christian holiday, and I can’t change my families beliefs. I also only see them once a year. My advice for atheists, if you can avoid all the religious nonsense go for it, but if you’re in a situation like mine try not to be a Scrooge. I’m not saying don’t try to get out church and other religious aspects. What I am saying is focus on what Christmas should be about, being with your family and getting along with your fellow-man.
I think most of us try to be moral; although, none of us are perfect at it. However, I think we’re starting run into problems in our modern society. These days we live in a global society, so we need to have global morals not just isolated cultural ones. What should our morals be? As an atheist, I do not believe we should get them from any holy book. I propose that our main concern should be to never harm verbally, sexually, emotionally, or physically anyone. I also think we should all strive to be fair in our dealings with other humans. Other types value are of less importance.
However, I don’t think morals should be a set of simple rules. Maybe, we should distill moral values to a set of rules, when teaching children, but I think otherwise a set of rules is problematic. The problem is that it is very easy to run into grey areas. For example if someone threatens kill you if you don’t rape the next woman you meet, is it okay to rape? (For the sake of argument, we are assuming you can not defend yourself in any way, and the person threatening you will really kill you if you don’t meet his demands.) So here’s what I suggest: We come up with an axiom system for morals. Now, I’m not suggesting we turn morals into mathematics. I suggest to build this axiom system we get our terms from variety of sources: psychology, sociology, neuroscience, anthropology, moral philosophy, and et cetera. We need to know what is the healthiest way for people to live. We need to know what causes harm, and we need to be able to place some type of value for an amount of harm for each bad deed in a particular situation. For those, that are skeptical of putting values on harm let me give an example. If I don’t like spiders and someone pours a bucket of rubber spiders over me, that’s a prank. If I have a phobia of spiders and someone pours rubber spiders on me, that’s mean. Clearly, one will cause emotional distress.
The point is, I think we need to have a whole field of study for morals. Currently, there are many people discussing what constitutes morals from different backgrounds. I think the different backgrounds are complimentary. I think it may be awhile before we get a complete axiom system, but I genuinely think we should do this. I think morals are important, and I don’t think we should descend into moral relativism. I think there are things that are just wrong. Something may be viewed as moral in one culture and not in another, but I think culture can be wrong. If in some culture people sacrifice children to the sun god, I’m not going to say that’s okay. I think even without a set in stone axiom system, we can be sure it is causing harm, and I think we can and should say that it is wrong and vehemently oppose that practice.
Just my two cents.