OBVIOUSLY, being an atheist or alike does not automatically make you a satan worshiping anti-christ, regardless of what Fox News might tell you. We are real people with real thoughts, hopes, dreams and feelings and our ability to feel empaty and sympathy for those less fortunate is certainly not hampered by our lack of belief in deities or the supernatural.

Despite this, if you take a devout fundamentalist Christian or Catholic or Muslim and an Atheist on an aid mission, their reasons for being there are likely to be completely different.

Having been a fundamentalist Christian myself and being filled with the 'holy spirit', I can attest to the fact that any seemingly altruistic act of charity or aid is simply not.

When a religious person performs a charitable act, it is with an undertone of intention of gaining favour with their supposed creator.

When an atheist performs a charitable act, it is done to for truely altruistic reasons.

While obvioulsy this is not a reflection of all religious people, this is an accurate depiction of many.

What do you think?

Tags: altruism, atheism

Views: 27

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I think you're correct, Jake. To give simply for the sake of giving, recognizing our shared humanity, and not to score points with an unseen entity or as an attempt at a PR campaign for your brand of religion is a beautiful thing.
I'm not sure I agree, although I'm of two minds on this topic. Yes, I believe your actions would be MORE altruistic should you be doing something for others without the added desire to please a nonexistent entity. But isn't altruism really just doing something for others so you feel good about yourself? If you didn't get that good feeling after helping others there would be one hell of a lot fewer people helping others. Not that their motives are bad in any way, just that there isn't any TRUE altruism.
"When an atheist performs a charitable act, it is done to for truely altruistic reasons."

While it's lovely to bask in the warm glow of moral superiority, such a view is not supported by any evidence.

Not only do atheists not share common or moral or ethical standards,it is not possible to ever be certain of the motives of any given human act.(often including our own)

Humans are only animals,who act primarily (invariably?) from self interest.The values we hold are as often as not used to justify behaviour after the fact.

To perform an act to feel good ,or avoid criticism, or to attract praises remains self interest. Unless a conditioned response,say like reading or writing,most actions involve some emotional response.The giving of charity,implies a range of emotions, such as pity and duty. My perception is rarely (if ever) do humans perform a right action ONLY because it is right,without emotion of any kind (the essence of altruism)


I have yet to see any evidence to show that atheists AS A GROUP have any claim to superiority of any kind over theists AS A GROUP.
This doesn't have to be seen as moral superiority, Tarquin. There are surely theists that perform selfless acts as well. Jake said so:

While obvioulsy this is not a reflection of all religious people, this is an accurate depiction of many.

The point being made is about motivation. To want to help another for the sake of helping, in contrast with a begrudging attitude of just doing what's expected or to garner favor to be called in at a future date, is not any less significant because it produces a feeling of well-being in the giver. It bears repeating, there are theists that act with this motivation. However, it would be difficult in most cases to convince them that they would do the same were it not for their godly devotion.

Not only do atheists not share common or moral or ethical standards,it is not possible to ever be certain of the motives of any given human act.(often including our own)

Very true.
"However, it would be difficult in most cases to convince them that they would do the same were it not for their godly devotion."

On what evidence is such a claim based. ? I ask because it's the opposite of my opinion. IE: that religions are reflections of the societies which create them. In practice religious beliefs reflect the needs and character of the individual believer,it creates neither.

My view is based on the staggering range of religious beliefs,even within the same, faith or sect. There is no such thing as a typical (or "true) Jew,Christian, Muslim,Hindu or Buddhist,etc.

The unfavourable comparison of the motives of Christian with those of atheists was imo,most definitely a moral judgment,supported only by a facile generalisation.
Humans are only animals,who act primarily (invariably?) from self interest.

It seems natural to almost everyone to give a few minutes of our time to strangers looking for directions, so they don't lose hours of theirs. No immediate reward is expected for this, not even an emotional response like "I helped this person because it made me feel happy", athough you'd probably expect (consciously or not, I'd bet most people don't even think about it) others to help you just the same if the situations were reversed. This kind of behavior is widespread and happens all the time, but I wouldn't go as far as labeling it 'primarily self-interest': it's certainly beneficial to individuals on average, but it can actually be detrimental to some (the more altruistic the person, the more likely it'll be detrimental), while it's without a doubt beneficial to the species. So to speak, in the case of reciprocal altruism, self-interest is less a factor than common interest, not the other way around.
"It seems natural to almost everyone to give a few minutes of our time to strangers looking for directions, so they don't lose hours of theirs"

That it seems natural to you means only that it seem natural to you. I would and do label such behavior self interested.This position is called 'egoism'. Look it up if you're interested.

My position is that there are altruistic acts, (judging by the action and what we can see of the likely outcome) but there are no altruistic people.


"So to speak, in the case of reciprocal altruism, self-interest is less a factor than common interest, not the other way around."

I think we need to agree to differ.My observations have led to the opposite conclusion;that self interest is THE prime motivator for ALL human behaviour. It is of survival benefit (self interest) for social animals such as humans to co operate with others under certain broad circumstances.

On a daily basis I act from motives of self interested pragmatism,not some lofty ideal of 'the common good', about which I care very little.Of course I've been guilty of moral,even altruistic acts from time-to-time. As far as I'm aware I've never acted from altruistic motives in my life, and am unaware of ever having met such a person.
not some lofty ideal of 'the common good'

This 'lofty ideal' is what many evolutionary biologists call an 'evolutionary trait', and it's important to them. I don't oppose self-interest to common interest like you seem to imply, in this case both goes hand in hand. My point is the self-interest part in reciprocal altruism wouldn't do social species any good, and probably lead them to extinction, if it didn't serve common interest. Evolutionary success means survival of the species, not survival of its individuals that are most concerned with their own self-interest.
My position is that there are altruistic acts, (judging by the action and what we can see of the likely outcome) but there are no altruistic people.

As far as I'm aware I've never acted from altruistic motives in my life, and am unaware of ever having met such a person.

So you say that there are altruistic acts but not altruistic motives?

You also said that "it is not possible to ever be certain of the motives of any given human act(often including our own)".

Is it possible that you've both acted from "altruistic motives" and have also met others that have done the same but not been aware of it, motives being difficult to ascertain?

You use disdainful expressions like lofty ideal and moral superiority in relation to altruism. It's almost like you're decided on adversely judging the motives behind altruistic acts. Sometimes kindness is just kindness. Are there purely naturalistic reasons for it? Absolutely. But selflessness does exist.
This is actually a philisophical problem that was addressed by.... someone, If I had my text book I could tell you. The thing about this is that the Judeo-Christian ideas of morality are forced upon a given believer with fear, whilst someone who follows "good for good's sake" are not afraid of being smited, and therefore more honourable, because we are doing it out of altruism, not fear.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

Latest Activity

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service