Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

How saving a baby from a fire gives lessons about how suspect human morality is
A house is burning fiercely and a baby is trapped inside. You know that if you get in you are unlikely to get out alive and will suffer severe burns and a life of horror if you survive at all. You burst in to get the baby.

Whether you succeed in saving the baby or not, your act will be admired. Why do you admire your act? Why do others admire it? It is because you feel strongly about helping the baby. You will not be admired if you made yourself do it though you didnít want to.

It is not your fault at that moment in time if you are not inclined. You donít have time to think and feel better about it.

Thus you should be praised for acting.

Should you be praised more for acting against your inclination?

The answer is yes for it means you have a bigger struggle than those who want to do it in order to do the right thing.

Should you be praised as much for it as you would be if you wanted to do it? No. That would suggest that what you want to do matters more than the good you do because you want to.  That would suggest that wanting to help is good in itself - meaning it is good in itself and its being good as in getting you to help if you can is good in another way.  Even if it is not the main thing

You donít want the baby to be in pain or die. What if you want to think of yourself as good and that leads to the desire to help the baby? It seems that a self-centred motive leads to an other-regarding motive. But how other-regarding is the other motive? If you were really that caring you would put the other regarding motive first. You would just care because of the baby if you really cared.  You are still giving a mixed message. You make it both about you and the baby. It is more about you for you have to care about yourself before you get any interest in helping the baby.

If you are the person saving the baby what must we conclude? We conclude that those who praise you are usually in fact insulting and judging you. They care more about the emotional inclination to help the baby than the baby. People can seem good and have warped values.


You are in a bad situation. A baby is in the burning house. Two instincts are compelling you to act. The self-preservation instinct wants you to protect yourself. The compassion one wants you to sacrifice yourself to help the baby. Some say that is an example of how moral values are above and beyond you and sometimes above and beyond each other. They are said to point to a God who creates moral value.

That is an odd argument. It means that if you value self-preservation you are treating it as a moral value even if it is the wrong one. Nobody says that you need to choose the right moral value all the time to honour moral value.