Thursday, June 07, 2012

Atheists vs. Believers - The Giving Wars

I have been pondering the whole God thing again.  Does God exist?  What about science? 

For those that know me, I am not really wondering if God truly exists.  No, internal truth has been revealed to me long ago.  Instead, I am just drifting through the questions themselves.  There is a lot of aggression on both sides of the debate.  The poor saps on the fence are probably turned off of the whole thing.  I can picture a curious agnostic observing a debate about God and concluding that there is no God, the world is flat, and it is just best to go to bed and dream (which is another version of reality).

For myself, I try to be the adult in the room.  However, I doubt that I am very good at it.  I can only talk with any kind of conviction from my own perception. Still, one has to try lest he gets caught up in the game - the major sporting event that pits the Godless Invaders vs the Superstitious Crusaders.

I recently read an article that compares giving between the religious and non-religious.  The nonreligious tend to be more compassionate in their giving than the religious.  Although the study states that they are not saying that the nonreligious are more generous or compassionate than their religious counterparts, certain aspects of the study would lead one to believe that.

This makes sense to me. I am not going to get into why the religious seem to be less generous or compassionate (I will save that for another time), my comments will be more about those generous and compassionate atheists.  Why would they be either?

Morality has to be based on something. People doing things that are not in their personal best interests flies in the face of "survival of the fittest" ideology.  They may argue that compassion has evolved down to help preserve the overall species and not just the self.  That makes sense . . . except for the part that compassion and generosity seems to be part of an elaborate design to preserve the species.  It isn't too likely that random mutations and chance survival would lead to such a thing.  But what do I know? These same folks are convinced that we humans have common ancestors with turtles and tomatoes.  I am not open-minded enough to embrace that yet.

So what could it mean that it just may be that nonbelievers are, at least, as generous and compassionate as those who champion God as their Creator and Lord?  Doesn't that slide the weights to the side of the secular?  I say just the opposite.  One doesn't have to understand or even believe in something to be effected by it.There have have been people in the past (and perhaps some even today) that do not understand gravity or even believe in this unexplained force.  Yet, they are constantly under its influence.

Such as it is with God. Sometimes things effect us no matter where are mind is.  All we have to do is be.

When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God's yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences. ~Romans 2:14-16 (the Message)

9 comments:

Amel said...

LOVE this post, Jeff. THANKS for sharing! :-D

Jeff said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I am trying to get back into blogging more. It has been tough!

Michelle said...

Hi Jeff

That is very interesting about giving and yes, I can see reasons why religious might be less generous. Or seem that way.

Very thought provoking post! I've shot it across to a Hindu friend. I'm curious to see religious generosity from another perspective. :-)

Jeff said...

Thanks, Michelle.

As you can tell, these things have been crossing my mind a lot lately.

Srinivas Shastri said...

Interesting post, Jeff. Thanks for the heads-up, Michelle.

Guess one's belief depends on where s/he is on the spiritual path. My guru, Sri Ramakrishna, observed that:
| The inferior devotee says, "God exists, but He is very far off, up there in heaven." The mediocre devotee says, "God exists in all beings as life and consciousness." The superior devotee says: "It is God Himself who has become everything; whatever I see is only a form of God. It is He alone who has become maya, the universe, and all living beings. Nothing exists but God."

The inferior devotee might feel that he's beholden only to God and, accordingly, not be that giving.

The mediocre devotee might be more compassionate and giving, since he sees that it is the same Thing that animates everyone. The other person's pain is his. More on this in my blog post Three-pronged App at: http://bit.ly/bsx3pApp

The superior devotee doesn't make any distinctions on the ownership of things. Nothing is his, everything belongs to God and acts, reflecting that wonderful observation by Dashiell Hammett:
| Things belong to people who need them most.

I find this observation by Ramana Maharshi in Who am I? very inspirational:
http://bit.ly/NanYar
| 14.… All that one gives to others one gives to one's self. If this truth is understood who will not give to others?

Jeff said...

I think that there are spiritual truths that translates well across spiritual cultures. I know that some of my Christian brothers would be uncomfortable with that statement, but it is there.

I agree with the principles that you are saying here. Although I wouldn't use the terms "inferior, mediocre, and superior" to devotees (because I believe all are on the place of the path where they belong in their moment), following that path may take you through those "stations" (i.e. those places that can be observed as inferior, mediocre, and superior in devotion) in God's time. The objective, for me, is the "following" and not the stations.

Your final observation, I also agree with - perhaps in a different light. One problem I have with Christian belief is what they do with the following Scripture: . . . lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matt 6:20)

If one's motivation is to have personal gain, then their giving is not from the spirit of God, but the spirit of self. Just being in the spirit of God is it's own reward.

I do feel that the terminology in what you have contributed is useful for pedagogical purposes so I think we are closer in the discussion than perhaps I have represented.

Thank you for participating in the discussion. You have blessed me with it.

Andrea said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I enjoyed it and would love to hear more.

Amel said...

For some reason couldn't figure out how to leave a comment in your latest blog post (maybe you're not allowing anyone to comment?). Anyway, sorry to hear about your mom's condition. (((HUGS))) I hope for the best for your mom and pray that you and your family get some comfort...

What has helped me when I was having trouble with my faith (and having so many questions) was Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam.

Jeff said...

Amel,thanks for commenting. I miss the gang. I am not sure why the setting was that comments weren't welcomed. I changed it now. I guess I will have to monitor the settings when I post. Thanks for tipping me off and your support!