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Thread: Can religious people be genuinely decent?

  1. #41


    Do religious people - particularly belonging to religions of moral dogma - genuinely care about others well being?
    Some do. Some don't. Though I would argue that everyone has at least few people who he cares about and that implies that they genuinely care about their well-being.

    Or are they simply acting out of their own (Imagined) self interest (Scoring points for their afterlife game)?
    What do you think about religious people who don't believe in an afterlife: why do they care about those things as the well being of others?(if they do,if they don't what do you think might be the real reason they believe in God?)

    How can you know?
    It's debatable if we can know anyone's true intentions (even our own) but IMO if there is something that can be a good indicator of the sincerity of someone's beliefs and the intentions behind them and that is doubt: that is leaving room for doubt and openness to discuss your beliefs.(this actually can be said about all people regardless of what they believe in, if they're religious or not) There is always a chance that our beliefs might be wrong and that by upholding those beliefs and acting in accordance with them we are hurting others instead of forming a loving relationship with others (which is something every religion preaches).
    On the other hand absolute certainty in religious beliefs it's what can make even things like killing other people for your cause justifiable.
    Also almost anyone who claims to know something with such certainty is probably trying to sell you something be it an idea or a specific thing.

    How can they?
    Not sure they can. Not sure any of us can. There is where belief kicks in. Nobody or most people don't believe they're bad or evil, their intentions seem truthful to them(do you think for example that suicide bombers have doubts about what they are doing might be wrong or perceive themselves as bad people:not likely, that's one example of a form that absolute conviction in something might result in). Again this is why I believe if anything can indicate sincerity in someone's belief that thing is having some doubt alongside with it.

  2. #42


    Quote Originally Posted by wildflower View Post
    for followers of jesus God doesn't really reward or accept our actions if we are not doing things from a place of love for others. note especially verse 3 below. so, if someone is a christian martyr but their actions weren't done out of love (i.e. whatever caused them to be persecuted) God is not impressed. if that isn't a high standard of love i don't know what is. also, the very first of the 10 commandments is basically "love God and love others". it's all about love but it ain't easy. personally, i don't know any followers of jesus who do good things for the rewards they may receive in heaven. they are doing good because they are trying to love God and love others as well as they know how. do lots of people of all faiths screw up? yes, definitely. doesn't need to be a person of faith to screw up.

    eta: i agree that the question is quite flawed. why do you assume people without religion can have unselfish motives? i find that rather specious.
    This is a great post but I have a question: what if you do have love and your actions are guided by love but you don't believe in God? It's off to hell as well if I recall correctly.

  3. #43
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    I am not usually much one for church, but I went to the service where my dad plays music yesterday, and after he played, I braced myself for the sermon. It was some passage about weeds amongst the good oats and how at the harvest the reaper will burn the weeds and gather the oats into his house. I was all, oh great, here comes fire and brimstone. Turns out the pastor took it in the direction of it's only God's right to judge weed from oats and maybe God has a plan for turning the weeds into oats, and it's not our right or our duty to judge others but to look at them with heavenly eyes of grace and acceptance and kindness and to leave judgment to God in God's own time. I was like, okay, dude. I can get on board with that.

    Moral being, yeah, I think there are decent religious people. I see religion as pretty secondary to whether someone is a decent person or not. You will know if someone is decent if they treat others respectfully. If not then I guess like pastor dude says then we should try to be kind and patient and encourage them to be more at peace with themself and the world. I believe that there is plenty of capacity for good inside everyone.

  4. #44
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    I think there are genuinely kind people, and there are religious people. Sometimes the two groups intersect.
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daenera View Post
    This is a great post but I have a question: what if you do have love and your actions are guided by love but you don't believe in God? It's off to hell as well if I recall correctly.
    Depends on the religion; but yes, that's one of the conflict points. People who believe that would just say that ultimately if your love is not driven by the version of God they believe in, then all your actions might look like love but are still selfish/empty.

    ...To answer the OP question, my answer is pretty much what many others have said: Yes, there are many decent religious people out there. Take people on their own merits, not based on whether or not they are religious or adhere to a specific religious tradition.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Um, how about the law?

    How do I know that the real reason you don't go around killing people isn't just that you're afraid you'll go to jail?
    Exactly - you don't - unless there are situations in which i could get away with it and still choose not too. In the mean time, you can know that if i am helping someone without any legal benefits for doing so, or choose to avoid causing harms which are within legal limits (Hurting someone's feelings for example), then I am not legally motivated to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    You need to cut them some slack. You shouldn't make assumptions about someone's morality based on their religiosity (or lack thereof). Unless you have genuine reasons to question someone's motives for acts of kindness, it's only fair to give them the benefit of the doubt.
    I shouldn't reach conclusions on people's internal workings according to the beliefs which they claim to guide their internal process? I suppose I should avoid reaching conclusions about their thoughts and feelings based on their expressed thoughts and feelings?

  7. #47


    Quote Originally Posted by Jarlaxle View Post
    An atheist doesn't necessary have a persistent all-encompassing ulterior motive for being good - a religious person does.
    If the only thing keeping you from becoming a cruel being, a murderer, a rapist, is the motivation to believe in god, then I hope for all our sake that you never stop believing in god.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    If the only thing keeping you from becoming a cruel being, a murderer, a rapist, is the motivation to believe in god, then I hope for all our sake that you never stop believing in god.
    If that is the only reason someone doesn't go out on a killing spree then they need psychological help.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarlaxle View Post
    Do religious people - particularly belonging to religions of moral dogma - genuinely care about others well being? Or are they simply acting out of their own (Imagined) self interest (Scoring points for their afterlife game)? How can you know? How can they? Are there any situations in which acting for the benefit of others would not be in their own spiritual interest?

    Disclaimer: I don't mean simply in action, but in terms of intent.
    I believe you are asking if true altruism is possible. The answer is yes, but only by permitting the infinite creator of the universe to act through you by allowing your cup to overflow (Imagine a cup overflowing with liquid life force). A truly altruistic person will never know he is altruistic. He or she enlivens all of those around them without necessarily knowing that that is what that person is doing.

    But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, -Matthew 6:3
    The truth is, peace will probably come to the middle east when everyone suddenly comes to the realization they believe in the same shit and are arguing over stupid trivialities. The book of truth (the holy bible) basically says, love your neighbor as yourself and do everything for the glory of god. Anytime someone argues about something being more important than that, you are to basically reject that person as an unholy person. Islam executes anyone who converts to christianity, which is ridiculous because the quran actually urges muslims to read the bible. Are their actions holy? Absolutely not. They are based in fear that their truth isn't actually the truth, and as their fear takes hold over them they destroy other humans and impose their fear on others so that their beliefs cannot be challenged. The punchline is, their fear is causing them to defy the very fundamental law that most if not all religions try to abide by. Love.

    But avoid foolish disputes, geneologies, contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first or second admonition - Titus 3:9

  10. #50
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    I really hope the op is joking.

    Anyway I used to be religious, and am now not. When I was religious I was nice to people because I want people to be happy. I genuinely cared about people (still do). It wasn't because if god, god or not I still want people to be happy, and without suffering. Now that I am without religion I'm basically still the same, just minus the religious views I used to have.

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