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?

 


Arguments that Belief in God gives us Dignity and Worth
 
The Church says that we cannot have any real reason to recognise human dignity or to respect it if we think there is no God who made us all.

If our human dignity is so important, then it follows we enhance it by modelling ourselves and our lives on a being who epitomises our dignity.

God does not do that.

There is every reason why God is not a justification for human dignity. We will see how distorted thinking in one area leads to distorted thinking in others.

- The truth that God exists is made to come first. But in fact the only truth that comes first is that self-esteem is needed for us to live happy productive lives and self-esteem is about how well you performed your successes compared to what you think you should expect of yourself. This allows you to have good general self-esteem while you have low self-esteem in some matters. For example, the good doctor may be a poor actor. Her or his self-esteem with regard to practicing medicine is good and it is bad when it comes to stepping out on stage in a theatre. She or he avoids the trauma by doing what she or he is good at.

- People have emotional needs. They use the idea of God to relieve the upset and pain of having unmet needs. But the problems are still there. They are like a person who drinks to feel better about a problem. But the problem is still there. Nature abhors a vacuum. If people stop doing something they start doing something else. If they are addicts and stop being addicted to God they will be addicted to something else.

- He is good and never made himself good. He is unable to change as he is outside of time. So he never had real free will to choose between being good or evil. We have to make ourselves good. Human nature values goodness that has come from resistance to evil. God cannot be relevant to us. We admire love with its element of risk. You can be hurt by the object of your love. But God loves because he loves and there is no risk. That kind of love is good news for people who want to think God gives them his special protection. But that is selfish of them. They care more for what they can get out of God than about love.

- People who do not believe in God or who believe may be prone to thinking they can have it all. Advertising takes advantage of this illusion. Is the feeling that God is with us guarding and protecting us simply just that illusion in another form? Is it really that illusion that is talking rather than real faith in God? Are those who talk about God really talking about the mystery they think is going to make them get it all and have it all? Are they just hiding behind a word? The illusion should be stronger in one who believes in God. It would be strange to think you could have it all unless you believed in some God or energy or magic power that was working to make you achieve it all. There is no such thing as a person who has it all. The person who has great things in his life or her life got them through saying yes to them. But yes means you say no to other things. Marrying one woman is saying no to every other woman including better women.

- Many people tell themselves that it is easier and better to ignore problems than to face them. But this risks the problem being enabled and continued. The problem needs to be identified and challenged. The risk itself is bad for it is unnecessary and you lose the chance to grow so that you can deal with future problems properly. And problems that you have can and do impact badly on other people.

- Many tell themselves that life should be easy. Many realise that sometimes terrible things that happen to them are not so bad after all and it was their attitude to them did the most damage. Faith in God is a crutch with which you tell yourself, "God will change me inside and help me change my fears and attitude so that I can avoid feeling distressed and hurt if some awful misfortune takes place". Christians say you are entitled to no love or forgiveness or care from God or others. They say that the reward of thinking different will be resentment and bitterness and frustration. They say demanding things instead of merely desiring them is a form of self-victimisation. It is arrogant because you don't like others demanding off you while you are happy to demand. Interestingly, they say you should humbly ask for your needs to be met but without a sense of entitlement for God has programmed you to feel hurt and anger if your needs are ignored by others.

- Thinking you must always have God's approval is as bad as thinking you must have everybody's approval. It is most damaging when you regard God as the only one whose view matters. And when you think you must love others for the sake of God meaning it is really only God alone that you love. Without God's approval, you are in worse trouble than you would be if no human beings at all approved of you. You depend on God for everything. Worse, he cannot be wrong about you and they can. So his approval matters more than theirs. The need for approval comes from our childhood when we needed guidance from others and their approval and didn't get the approval or we thought we didn't get it. If you think it is a disaster if you don't have the approval of all people or most people, the reason is that you think you are so great and amazing that they should approve and you feel threatened and afraid if they don't grant you their affection and approval.

- A real relationship between two people does not mean caring for and meeting each others needs as you keep score. Stop keeping the score. Doing that turns it into rules and ruins spontaneity. It is best to act as if you are owed nothing at all no matter what you do for the other person.

- If God exists and loves and cares despite appearances to the contrary then it must be a sin to be angry or depressed. If God exists and evil happens then it follows that it is right for him to let the evil happen under the circumstances. It follows there is sufficient justification. This means that being angry and sad are sins. The Christians might step in and claim that you have to be angry and sad for it is part of God's plan. But that is no reason to be angry or sad. They are not triggered because some plan requires them - they are responses to situations that should not be the way they are. Real goodness means that you endure evil for the sake of a greater good even if you will never taste any of that good and others will. It is arrogant of Christians to tell you that God uses your sins to bring good out of them for you, that he uses the sins of others to benefit you or that if there is no sin but there are problems they exist so that some good may come out of them for you.

- Love the sinner and hate the sin is said to be, "Okay you have done loads of wrong things. But that does not make you worthless. There is still a lot of good in you." And believers contradict this by saying that if you suffer injury at the hands of some malicious person, that what has happened is a statement about that person, what he or she is as a human being, and not about you. Their intention is to help you avoid the suffering that comes from taking the injury as a reflection of you and taking it personally.

- Anything you do, do it because you want to and choose to not because you have to. Anything you have to do, try and do it not because you have to. Change your motive. That way you will feel free and you will avoid the resentment that comes from doing what you "have to do". There is no dignity in doing anything because it is your duty even if it is your duty. This would mean that you must never serve God or anybody. You do things for them because you want to. Thus your motive is about you. Now that would mean your God is you and God is not God or supreme authority to you. Atheism and human dignity are inseparable. Some say that Jesus obeyed God's law for us to set us free from it. They say he wants us to do good because we want to and out of pure gratitude and not because we have to or because some law says so. But from this it would follow that we have to obey the law and that was why Jesus obeyed it for us. So it does not deal with the problems caused by the "I have to" kind of logic. Also, what about Jesus having to obey? If he degraded himself then we should not be grateful for that! And only a hypocritical mad God creates a law telling you what you have to do and then devises a plan to counteract its obligations. If you do certain things, bad consequences will be waiting. For example, you will end up with no friends if you isolate yourself. Thinking you have to do x or y to avoid such and such a result, is a form of "I have to" thinking. Some suggest that the way to deal with "I have to" kind of thinking is to do something, as long as it is not immoral, as long as it is something morally neutral, that will make others disapprove.

Anna is starving. Do you tell the president to provide food for her? Do you tell him he has to do it? Or do you simply say, "I suggest that you feed her. You don't have to." Why suggest? Do you have to suggest?

- The principle of there being no gain without pain is the most important principle we have. The existence of God cannot be equal to that. It certainly cannot be better than it. A God who gains without pain cannot truly be respected and befriended by us. Rapport is necessary for friendship. How much pain we need to gain depends on our life circumstances. Some people gain with very little pain. Others soldier on heroically to achieve things. Obviously then if we need pain to gain that is an atheistic principle. The person is realising that they need to suffer to gain because of the circumstances and the kind of life they find themselves having to face. It is not a case of poor God who hates seeing us in pain having to let us face it so that we might learn virtue and maturity and benefit. If it were, all people would suffer a lot to gain things. Also, many people suffer to gain things because they have not thought of a less painful way.

- Human nature likes to think we will get good things for nothing and without earning them. Many even like to believe that God gives them good things not as rewards for what they have done but because of his grace. It is aid that God strictly speaking rewards not what you do but what his grace inspired you to do. He rewards his own work. In other words, the rewards are not real rewards and you are getting something for nothing.

- God goes with the as you reap so shall you sow attitude. Lots of people do things and get away with them. Some say they only seem to. The bad they do becomes part of them and bit by bit they become bad enough to slip up and suffer the consequences of the bad they have done. For example, the person who tries to ruin the good name of another by detraction and revealing things about that person, is disrespecting the rules that we must not gossip and spread poison. That we must say nothing about others that is negative unless somebody's good requires it. He is callous and does not think of the damage he is doing. Doing all these things are made worse if he does not realise the damage he is doing. He is sowing the seeds of his downfall.

- It is possible to be infected with the pride that comes from believing you have the truth even if you are right, even if you do have the truth. Your motive could be arrogance rather than love for truth.

- Most believers in God say we are not basically good but basically deceitful and hypocritical and egotistical. Maslow said that we must believe that human nature is basically good for it encourages us to develop our goodness and improve on it. I say it could be that believing this is good for us even if it is not true. There is a risk that you will arrogantly see yourself as a saint and be unable to accept that people are slandering you, and you will be unable to accept hat you ever will do anything bad. You see it is as unthinkable that you might steal or anything. It is a hard problem to treat for saints never admit what they really are. You know them from their polarised thinking - a person is either a saint or scum.

If I value myself only as long as I do things well, then I have failed to separate my intrinsic worth from how well I do things. I will look upon myself as dirt if I fail to accomplish great things. I will only value others for what they do and not for what they are. All of that is very self-destructive.

How do you become a person whose existence is worthwhile for yourself and others?

In fact it really is based on how well you do things but involves having the right attitude to failure and mistakes. If you fail, you see your failures as challenges so they are not failures. The person who hates himself for falling below his potential is trying to have the wrong kind of self-esteem. Real self-esteem celebrates your weaknesses and has the strength to face and admit and learn from them. You aim for the best and move on if your aim is too weak.

Another answer to the question is that, "I am one of the highest creatures, a human person, therefore I have worth." Telling yourself this will have little or no effect. That is why you must have the right attitude to success and failure as outline just a moment ago. Then it becomes real for you. Then you are acting as one of the highest creatures. So the argument is no use as a mere head argument. It only does good and becomes believable if it is put into practice. One objection is that the argument sounds like, "I exist therefore I am valuable." It seems that a rat exists but it cannot be thought of as being as valuable as you. But we have answered that objection. Knowing you are valuable may not help you feel it. You need to experience the power of the argument. Knowing it is not enough. And as for the rat, if its existence gives it value, it does not mean it is as valuable as me.

Another answer to the question is that God alone has supreme and ultimate and complete value and worth so if he makes us then we are valuable. Your worth comes from who made you and that is the perfect God of the universe who is absolute good. Alleged benefits of accepting this are that your worth is permanent and eternal and never ceases. Another is that others are as worthy as you even if they behave a lot better than you ever would.

This argument is based on the notion that the most valuable paintings in the world are valuable not because of how good they are but because of who painted them. My painting will be worth less than Leonardo's even if mine is ten times better. So I am valuable if God made me and I am worthless or worth little if he didn't. But this is obviously a very subjective argument. It will not satisfy the sensible person. It will not satisfy for the reality is that my painting should be worth more than Leonardo's - but we do not live in a fair world. One advantage of basing your value on your creation by God is that it is said to make you the little person who achieves little as valuable as the person who is a huge success. You and the other person are equally valuable as persons but not as achievers so you still have the problem of one person being more useful than another. The advantage is not an advantage after all.

God leads to polarisation thinking. If you sin and fail to repent, the good you do is intended to offend God. Your view is, "I will do good when it suits me, so I do this good though I refuse to repent." So you are either a friend of God or you are not. There is no grey area. Polarisation thinking makes you think you deserve nothing but evil if you sin. Belief in God is unhealthy. The atheist accepts the good you do for him or her regardless of whether you have repented for the bad things you may have done to people in the past. Christians teach that we come into existence morally corrupt - we sin or break the moral law of God not because we happen to sin but because we are sinners. Dogs don't happen to bark - they bark because they are dogs. They clearly try to induce polarised thinking in you. They tell you that you are not basically good but basically sinful. You may wonder how people can like you and love you if you are that bad. The answer is that your sin may often be sweet and charming but it is still sin. The doctrine is not saying you are totally despicable but totally sinful.

 

If there is a God who can create things from nothing and even turn a rock into a child then you are not irreplaceable.  You as you are not of supreme value.  You are if nature made you for nature is not God.

We conclude that loving yourself warts and all is turning on your power to see your life as being of irreplaceable and supreme value both actually and potentially. God is irrelevant - trying to make him relevant is a sign that one is unable to just love oneself properly.