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Why do your actions matter if your an athiest?

I'm not passing judgement but I just want to know; if you don't believe in a religion than why do you care what you do?


A little side question for thought. What is it about kindness that makes you kind?

Update 2:

I'm not making an accusation, I know athiests can still be kind, I'm just asking "why?".

(Even I have little doubts in religion here and there.)

26 Answers

  • AiW
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Because my actions directly effect my well being. Doing good just feels good.

    "My creed is this:

    Happiness is the only good.

    The place to be happy is here.

    The time to be happy is now.

    The way to be happy is to help make others so."[Robert G. Ingersoll, Motto on the title page of Vol. xii, Works]

    Dr. Steven Pinker (MIT) came up with a good analogy that i will paraphrase..

    In our past, we didn't have refrigerators. When we killed an animal, we realized that we couldn't eat it all before it spoiled. So we learned that the best place to store the excess meat was in the stomachs of our neighbors. The neighbors remember that we had fed them would do the same for us when they killed an animal. The ones that figured this out were the ones that left more offspring and eventually dominated the gene pool.

    If you lost your belief in god tommorow would you go around killing people?

    "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." - Albert Einstein

    "I believe in honesty and truthfulness, not because I fear a god or a devil, but because I think it is the best way for people to live together. I believe in helping others because when we cooperate with our neighbors we make life easier for all. I believe in treating others as I want to be treated - but I certainly do not believe in turning the other cheek and the truth is I never knew any Christians who did either." [James Hervey Johnson]

    "[Religious morality] divorces the pursuit of values from their natural consequences and relies instead on sanctions, both physical and psychological, to motivate obedience to its moral rules. In Christiantity, hell is the most prominent physical sanction; and sin, the psychological equivalent of hell, is the most common psychological sanction. With its emphasis on obedience, enforced through the inculcation of fear and guilt, Christianity has transformed morality into something that is generally considered ominous and distastful. With its emphasis on punishment and reward in an afterlife, Christianity is largely responsible for the notion that morality is impractical, and has little or nothing to do with man's life and happiness on earth." [George Smith, "Atheism: The Case Against God"]

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  • 1 decade ago

    The first two posts are insulting. Just because someone doesn't believe in a 'god' doesn't mean they don't live by the same code of conduct as most human beings. If 95% of the world believes in a god and there are literally millions, maybe billions of murderers, rapists, child molesters, robbers, terrorists, etc., then there are plenty of people who believe in a god who can't even live by their own religious code of ethics.

    Humanity is not a concept solely reserved for those who believe in a god. The first two posters sound like the nuns from Catholic school who said non-Christians were damned to hell....which is probably why I am now an atheist (NOT amoral, just not someone who believes we were created by a higher power, but that we evolved naturally).

    Those ignorant of atheism (not the poster) should at least read some information before passing judgement. If I did believe in god, I would say those first few comments were not very god-like at all.

    So sorry, why do I care what I do? Because I care about people. I want my legacy to be how I lived my life as a good, honest, loving, respectable person, not that I went to church every Sunday. And although I don't believe in anything after death, I still have to function while I am alive and I choose to do that a moral way.

    It is as difficult for believers in a god to understand those who don't as it is for atheists to understand those who do. This question will never be resolved but tolerance (as the poster's questions indicates) is appreciated.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It's human nature, which is as much a product of evolution as a bird's wing or a seal's fur, and just as successful. Would we have the highly organised, complex, co-operative society we live in now, if we had never evolved character traits such as empathy, compassion, gregariousness, the ability to defer short term gains for long term welfare, and so on? Clearly not. Moral behaviour exists because we are the products of an unthinking, undirected process in an uncreated universe, and religious belief has nothing whatsoever to do with that.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Why do you need to depend on a religion to have just actions. You do not have to be religious to be righteous. I'm an atheist, and I threat others the way I want to be treated. With respect, and common courtesy. Not because of some supposedly Boogey Man in the sky that's gonna get me if I do wrong, but I do it because it is the right thing to do. Common courtesy goes with common sense. Which there is a tremendous lack of in the world.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I am a member of the human race .This is where we get judged

    Our actions ,our kindness ARE SEEN by others .

    They are witnessed and are believed because what we do is REAL.

    We all want acceptance by our peers .We need to be liked .

    We do personally care what happens to others .

    We have a sense of pride and when we do good ,we feel happiness.

    We don`t need stories to keep us in line .Our parents gave us our values not some 2000 year old fairytale.

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  • N
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I care what I do because I realize that my actions have the potential to make a difference in this world, for all of the other creatures in it. I believe that human beings have a great capacity for good, to help one another, to achieve great things, to love--I just don't believe that capacity necessarily comes from some "higher being."

    I do not base my actions off of some supernaturally promised rewards or punishments, but rather because I feel (both emotionally and intellectually) that they are right.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Not every one needs a religion to tell them the difference between right and wrong. And being an atheist means we alone are responsible for our actions, we do not revert to blaming our actions upon "we were born sinners", a cop out. Nor do we revert to a Savior when we have really screwed up, we take the necessary steps to make it right.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You make a very good point, but keep in mind that the atheists can fire back at you with some points of their own. I know where I stand as a Christian, but there are still things that I cannot answer. In other words, if they're brave enough to say "I don't know" in response to your question, chances are that they're still going to be atheists.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Just because one is not religious does not mean that one has no principles or morals. I am atheist, and I hold my morals very dearly. Personally, I do not need the threat of eternal damnation to frighten me into being "good."

    Also, since I only have one life, I might as well leave a positive legacy for people to remember me by!

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  • Because simply because you don't believe in god doesn't mean you don't believe in other people and don't have feelings. As a matter of fact, countries with a high ratio of athiests often have lower crime rates and better social wellfare.

    Don't equate 'not believing' with 'not caring'.

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