On the subject of christian vs. atheist morality. Specifically, missionary aid. They say that they go to third world countries to help others and they say that it is to ease the suffering of the people. I know many go on these missionary trips for that reason alone, but what about the missionaries who go under questionable pretenses. They go to these countries offering aid and instead of food, clothing and medicine, they give bibles and false hope. I am glad for missionaries who sacrifice much of their lives in devotion to the betterment of societies which have trouble supporting themselves. I am not glad of the others. The former do good for all while the latter do good to get brownie points from their sky-grampa. Religionists have no real argument against why atheists do good things. We obviously don't do it to get gold stars in some other-worldly notebook, we do good things because we have a genuine concern for the well-being of our fellow man. Obviously, I could go on about the subject of the ulterior motives of many Christian good deeds, but I'll hear other peoples thoughts.

Tags: Missionaries, aid, ethics, foreign, morals

Views: 16

Replies to This Discussion

I believe that most religious missionaries embody some combination of humanitarian good will and a desire to indoctrinate. But I agree with you that most theists have trouble explaining how an atheist could be moral. Some will say that even if we deny God, we are the products of a predominately Christian culture and we reflect those cultural values. But I think the root of morality is easily explained within nature. Altruism, compassion and generally treating each other with respect are characteristics that help any society function more effectively. Just as we evolve specific attributes to help the individual survive (lactose tolerance for example), we evolve attributes at the group level that promote the survival of the group. Compassion, cooperation and respect for authority are just a couple examples of attributes that help a society function effectively. Once evolution is understood to operate at every level from the gene to the group to life as a whole, it becomes clear that morality is a natural product of that process, and is not presented as a gift from on high.
I could not agree more. In the example of firefighters and policemen; they don't save lives or uphold the law based on their beliefs in god, they do it because it is the right thing to do regardless of what religion they may or may not feel. I give homeless people money all the time because it's the right thing to do. I love helping people because not only does it make me feel good, I know I helped make a difference in peoples lives. And not because of the society I grew up in.
I have some friends here in Texas, who support friends of theirs who are missionaries in...

wait for it...


Italy!

Their purpose is not humanitarian at all. They are there to save souls.
My (former) church, is a fairly liberal methodist congregation and is very active in missionary work. It always involves serving the poor, disabled, homeless, disaster stricken etc. Not once did I see or hear of proselytizing activities beyond maybe an short prayer before a meal or workday. This humanitarian side was the only reason I could stomach continued association with them until I finally made it out of the closet with the immediate family.

One day my daughter was telling school friends about a mission trip to Mexico helping build houses for the poor. They were all surprised to hear that she actually worked on the mission trip, as all of their many mission trips only involved "spreading the good news", proselytizing and handing out bibles and other literature on street corners etc.

The mission work is the one thing I miss about the place. It's not as easy to find true secular mission opportunities, especially here in Texas. Anyone know of any clearinghouse for information about charities, missions, aid groups etc that are 'atheist friendly'? If there is not one, there should be.
Do missionaries ever go anywhere w/o proselytizing? I believe this is the major point of their aid. Sure they may build a well or give food but it is always, I believe, secondary to their main conversion goal. They are no better than the conquistadors in South America or the missionaries who tried to 'reform' the Native Americans. I believe they are disrespectful and demeaning at the very least.
I can't quite go that far. Although they are obviously 'doing god's work' they are also people. And if humanity has an altruistic trait then everyone has that trait. I wouldn't even pretend to know what percentage of their effort is religious but doing good is still good, even if it's a byproduct of another intention... and... I do believe these people are happy to be doing good regardless of the religion. Pushing bibles, praying and other religious b.s. is another matter and the more time spent on that the less real humanitarian work they're doing.

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