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Does religion make people lazy?
Today at the grocery store there was a woman in front of me that had difficulty paying her bill. When she realised her total payment due was over the amount she had, she told the cashier that to put back the butter she had gotten so she could pay the remainder of her bill. She looked quite upset and like she was going to cry. So I paid for the butter. The guy behind me had this to say:
Him: It’s nice to see Christians doing the lords work
Me: I’m an atheist for your information, an unemployed chronically ill one who get’s paid under the poverty line every two weeks while trying to maintain my health so I can return to work. You stood in your fancy business suit and watched the lady nearly cry in desperation because she didn’t have enough to pay for 5 items. The ham you have in your trolley costs more than her entire bill. I’m sure your god would be pissed off at your apathy. Go fuck yourself.
I left the store quite angry, not only had this person assumed I was a Christian but he assumed I was a Christian purely because I had done a good deed. It seemed to me that his aim was to take the opportunity to highlight his belief that only Christians can do good deeds while sitting back and staring at a situation that called for a good deed to be done. He had no intention of helping the lady out but he was willing to reap the benefits of me helping the lady out by attributing the good deed to Christianity and thus making himself feel superior about being a Christian.
Rayne says no.
We all know atheists can be good without god and the ability to do good deeds isn’t defined by the community you affiliate yourself with, so affiliating yourself with religion or being religious doesn’t automatically make a person decent or moral or have the ability to do a good helpful deed. Indeed I have argued in this post that if a religious person only does a good thing because their god wants them to – they aren’t doing a good deed, they are following an instruction.
The whole incident got me thinking, does religion have the capacity to make a person lazy and lack empathy? The answer is a no-brainer. Yes. (Fortanetly not every religious person is a jerk like the guy above).
Time and time again theists have made the assumption that atheists cannot be good with god. That without god, there would be no morality and no ability to determine right from wrong. I’ve countered this argument many times with reference to an atheist ability to self police, our ability to feel empathy for other things and the mantra “Treat others how you would like to be treated” which determines our moral compass. As Richard Dawkins points out “Morality isn’t found in the bible, it is our own moral compass that determines which parts of the bible to ignore”. If it were true that the only way to be moral was through following the bible, stoning non-virgins would be common place and gays will be stoned.
What really annoys me is the misconception of religious people automatically being good combined with religious practices that encourage religious people to be lazy. Prayer for example. Prayer is the laziest invention that I have found. Why do something proactive and help someone when you can just pray for them in your head? It takes the responsibility off you and places it onto your god to do something to help the person in need while making you feel good about doing nothing at all.
“I Give God 10% Why do you get 18?”
I’m not sure about you, dear reader but that’s a pretty low act. The pastor is basically implying that because they serve their invisible god, they don’t have to do any good deeds. That they are somehow exempt from proactively helping people. This is pretty arrogrant and does not display any sort of compassion or empathy at all. Quite the opposite. The waitress could have been living off the tips she makes and the pastor denied her income. Meanwhile churches ask for donations from members except if you don’t give money – other members emotionally manipulate you and guilt you into given up your cash.
Now before the religious apologists start commenting, religious doctors go on missions overseas to help the poor – because their god says so. It’s helpful but done for the wrong reasons. Religious people go overseas to poor countries to spread the word god – not helpful. Food and shelter are helpful. Using church tax exempts to feed the poor would be helpful. Not preaching against condom use and enabling the spread of AIDS would be useful.
As an atheist I follow no god. I take no instruction from an invisible entity. I self police and treat others how I would like to be treated. I have no ability to say “I give 100% to a higher power, that’s my quota done”. I can’t wiggle out of doing good deeds without looking like an apathetic jerk.
And neither can religious people.
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