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The problem of good works for atheism


Once again, Mary Eberstadt in her third Loser Letter, writes with keen wit about “The Trouble with Good Works”, for atheism that is.  She writes,

By Regarding the issue of “who does more good for humanity,” I cannot stress enough something that some of You are just refusing to get: We Atheists are much better off emphasizing what the other Side has done wrong than anything we Brights have done right.

She mentions scandals, corruption and hypocrisy among both Catholics and Protestants and concludes,

“we atheists can undermine lots of believers, simply by emphasizing how badly a few of them have behaved.

“But we Brights don’t need to, and in fact shouldn’t ever, take the unnecessary further step of crediting our own Side with good behavior.

Why? “because the actual evidence for claiming that atheism will do as much good in the world as Christianity and other religions is embarrassingly against us. As in, way.”

What is she worried about?

“It’s the Fact that the religious people in the West, generally speaking, take better care of the sick and weak than do secularists and atheists, and they know it.

“Hospitals, soup kitchens, social services, charitable networks; missions, prison ministries, orphanages, clinics, and all those other institutions embodying the distasteful fixation of the believers on the Weak — now how can we atheists possibly compete with all that?”

Check out her full article.

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  1. Samuel Skinner
    June 25, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Fallacy of consequences.

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-consequences.html

    Not to mention it violates the principle of truth and veracity-
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/531787/

    Apparently less religious doctors are more likely to give up high pay to help the poor. It is a four percent differance, so not much, but it seems to indicate that you happen to be wrong.

    And, of course there are other factors, but this gives you an idea of how much BS this is. Unlike charity, choosing to work for the poor is a long time and major sacrifice- the pay is less, the diseases worse and the hours are probably also longer. The benefit? None. You only get that warm feeling inside.

  2. June 25, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Thanks. I know by posting this article I may have given tacit approval to everything that was said. I don’t think the author (and cetainly not myself) is saying that there is no goodness in people that do not follow our faith. I have not looked at the data that seems to be behind her satirical writing. She very well may be overstating the case in some instances. Being in the church for close to 40 years and on the mission field for 20+, I have seen the many wrongs Christians in general and missionaries in particular have done. We are too often selfish and prideful but there is also an amazing spirit and practice of sacrifice and unconditional love that I am grateful to have been pat. Are we better than others that do not follow our faith? NO WAY! Are there self-righteous people who think they are superior because of ther “good-works”? Yep, but I try to dissociate myself from them as fast as I can. Just wanted you to know where I am coming from.

  3. Samuel Skinner
    June 26, 2008 at 5:40 am

    What is wrong with being self righteous?

  4. June 27, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I had to think about this. I guess I equate self-righteous with hypocrisy and arrogance. And, I realize that I am totally unable to produce any level of righteousness that will begin to compare with the righteousness that is a gift from God Himself when i have trusted in Jesus Christ. Other reactions?

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