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7/12/2011

Whet Your Pitchforks: Atheism 102

I guess everybody is a bit religious. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in a god to have some sort of yearning for meaningfulness. Sometimes having strong feelings towards "the Good" and "the Bad" are enough to fulfill the necessary requirement, assuming that there is a right and a wrong way of living your life. Let me tell you why I think it's enough to qualify as religiousness.

Question.
Universally speaking: Do you think it would be good or bad if our planet would just seize to exist from one day to the next? You may answer (and so did I, at first): it's bad, because we wouldn't exist. In your mind (and mine), existence is rather good than bad.

But what about a universal standard, not just yours or mine. Would it be good for the universe if the Earth continued to exist? Not necessarily, but we really wouldn't know. And most importantly, we cannot decide on that. (I know, I slightly depart from my earlier statement that universal consequences may matter, but hey, I changed my mind!).

So, back to the topic. The only moral measurement we can safely apply is our own. Our standard.
Planet Earth being there is good for us humans, because we like what it implies (living!).

But that's not what this post is about. If what is good for you is the only thing that matters to you, then congrats, you are much more advanced (or retarded, I cannot decide) than me.
As a human, you sometimes try to think beyond the point of personal needs.
And you may even sometimes think about life in general.
Yes, we like living. Yes we are sad, when someone dies.
But we are talking about a universal standard, for why it may be good or bad to live, in a much larger scale.

So, that is what always happens to me when I try to think big. I get in serious trouble, morals-wise. And then I completely lose it, because it is so hard to hold on to that thought. Marbles, gone.

Imagine our little planet just wasn't there anymore and every living thing on it was perished. It wouldn't be bad for the beings who aren't there to feel bad about it anymore. They don't have to suffer the consequences because they don't exist. So, for whom is it bad if that really happened? We are out of the picture. Other planets, the solar system? There may be consequences, good and/or bad ones, but we cannot be sure.

I would not like (as a living thing) not to live anymore, that's all I can safely assume at this point and that is the only statement I am willing to commit to. I don't apply a further universal judgement, because I don't believe it makes any kind of sense.

This implies: Good and Bad are mere definitions without further (cosmic) consequence.
There isn't much to be said against judging other people by your own standards of Good and Bad, but be aware, that the only judgement that we as a community agree on is defined by law. This is the one that counts.

I am not saying, because we agreed on it, that it is good. But it's our societal take on what we think is reasonable in case something goes wrong. And yet, it is just an arrangement we make (nationwide) to ensure that living together as a society goes as smoothly as possible. It's wrong by our German standard to murder another human being. I didn't say kill, because in some cases, that's permitted, and that's where the trouble starts. Other country's legal systems even disagree on the murder-part.

So what I wanted to say was, when there is no common earthly standard not to kill, why would we even try to make assumptions about a universal one?

With having said that, there really is no need to pass any kind of assumed divine judgement on your average murderer. He won't go to hell. That was your idea.
He will go to jail. That was our idea!

As long as you keep your thoughts about who will and will not go to hell to yourself, it's fine with me. But don't preach it as if it was a common denominator. It is not. I don't agree! Religious people, be aware it is your and your belief alone, and we may even be able to happily co-exist!