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Gremlin's avatar

Could a belief in God somehow drain some of the good in the world?

Asked by Gremlin (216points) December 10th, 2017

I just watched a few minutes of Christian television. In the episode, a man was talking about how he had fallen on hard times and had no way of buying Christmas gifts for his three young children.

After explaining that God must have been aware of his problems and sent some miracles his way, he went on to list these miracles: A neighbor had brought over a box of old toys, a friend was giving away a kids’ bike, etc.

To me, these are acts of kindness. They’re admirable and should inspire everyone to be charitable. If you believe that all the good in your life is God’s doing, do you lose some admiration for your fellow humans?

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12 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Nope, it expands the possibility of kindness.

While I don’t ascribe gifts from others to God bestowing things upon me directly, I do see it as part of the Divine working through people, and making me realize I need to pay it forward, return the kindness, be charitable.

Kindness is not a zero sum game, with a limited supply; it is multiplicative, and the more kindness that gets out there, the more it spreads.

Zaku's avatar

Well the real world is more complicated than would allow reduction to such a calculation.

However I would say that the frequent appropriation of natural kindness by many peculiarly-Christian people does seem to me to probably have a negative effect on overall goodness, in my particular (admittedly very skeptical of pop-Christianity) assessment.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Only if such believe lead one in to believing that women are second class citizen or that genocide toward disbelievers is justified.

In your case, the problem rises from the perception of that particular believer. Even among the believers some are more religious and more often to link every good things are from the God, while others simply think of the good things done to them are simply the product of good human nature. The good of the world is still there, never been affected by the perception of some people.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The belief in one God, or the other, has been a massive anchor on humanity. Anything positive accomplished by humanity, was done so in spite of, not because of organized religion. It has been the root cause of most wars, and is the biggest hurdle to world peace. It is a cancer. If it is ever removed, in all forms, we will see how quickly the human race thrives as a whole.

It’s worse than a drain, it’s a loaded gun in a room full of unattended todlers…

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t think that a religious person would believe that the reason for the gifts is that God planted the idea in the neighbor’s head. If you were to ask the man just what God did to cause the gifts to be given, he would be at a loss for words. The idea that God will make things right is comforting, and should not scrutinized too carefully. Was the kid who was killed by a stray bullet an evil person who deserved to die? Best not to contemplate such things.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think that a belief in religion is a crutch to avoid responsibility for ones’ own actions. Waiting for god to solve a problem is a cop-out when a person should help themselves.

Sort of like this snarky parable: link

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Religious people really do see such acts of kindness as divine intervention. Some directly from god and others more like the universe conspires in your favor. Some call it Karma. Regardless if kindness comes from religion or pure generosity it’s still good.
When people are condescending or hateful to those who believe or don’t believe that’s not good. Either way it is driven by individuals and how they treat others.

kritiper's avatar

Of course! Just look at all of the atrocities that are committed in the name of God.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it bothers me that some people think that without God they’d become some sort of immoral, violent, selfish rapist or something. It bothers me that some people think that the only reason they treat others decently is because of their belief in God.

I am the exact same person today, as an atheist, as I was when I was a practicing Christian.

rojo's avatar

I suppose the correct answer is perhaps.
There are several factors that would have to be addressed

What are the requirements or conditions of this particular god? What does said deity demand from a worshiper in order to be considered a true believer? How strict are the tenets and how much leeway does a worshiper have to adhering to them? How does this god say to treat those who are not “true believers”? Are all people to be treated the same? Are non-believers considered to be less worthy and therefore their lives are of less value? What about the treatment of those inhabitants of the world who are not human? What about the world in general? These and many other questions would need to be answered in order to consider in a specific deity would cause followers to actually drain good from the world and that is without even getting into whether there is good or evil or whether each is merely derived from our own perspective.

Just for grins, I looked up the basic tenets of the Christian faith, they are as follows:
1 –Jesus Christ is the Only Way to Eternal Salvation With God the Father (Or the only way you get a reward is to believe that someone else can get you in, you cannot do it by yourself and will be punished if you don’t believe. Morality? Ethics? Conduct? Evidently not important.)
2-We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith – Not by Works (Or it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you believe what you are told so morals, ethics, conduct be damned; anything goes.)
3 –Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Or therefore kind of a god in his own right. Addresses only the deity, not morals, ethics or conduct.)
4-The Incarnation of Jesus Christ (Or a guy was made by a god then turned into a god and this is a one time event so again, the son is the most important figure, gods intermediary. And again, morality, ethics and conduct not a consideration)
5 –The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Grave (Or “Look what god could do for everyone if he so chose” but let us play life out instead)
6 –The Ascension of Jesus Christ (Or “Hey look! The dad let the son into heaven”. A miracle but again, doesn’t tell you how to live only what to believe)
7 –The Doctrine of the Trinity (Or we suddenly realized we are not really worshipping one god and we said there is only one so we must combine all three incarnations and call them one)
8 –The Holy Bible is the Inspired and Infallible Word of God (Or this is our holy text and there are no mistakes in it at all. If something doesn’t make sense or contradicts itself you do not yet understand and look on the bright side, you can pick and choose the parts you like that suit your particular moral and ethical bent.)
9 –We Are Baptized With the Holy Spirit at the Moment of Salvation (Or when you agree to this and begin believing our way then you can get your “get into heaven free” pass. Again, anything goes now that you have this.)
10 –Regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Or believing as we do will make you a better person and this is the only way to be a better person and anyone who does not have this is scum and will be punished and therefore less than you)
11 –The Doctrine of Hell (Or very simply if you don’t believe as directed you will be punished but you don’t have to worry about it [see Tenet 9]. Full of non-believers regardless of their behavior).
12 –The 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ Back to our Earth (Or everything will be better at a later date and it will be brought on by someone else, not ourselves so nothing we do really matters [see tenet 2]except whatever we can do to make it happen sooner than later)

I can see how these tenets could be misused by clergy or even the individual for their own ends. I know that they are fleshed out in religious texts but they seem rather focused on the deity itself rather than the actions of the followers.

stanleybmanly's avatar

where’s the harm in it? I suppose there’s the danger in such thinking of stumbling over the logical corollary that if God is responsible for all the good and kindness befalling the wretched man, why are the evils associated with his penury orphaned from devine will?

flutherother's avatar

Confusing God with Santa Claus is a mistake often made by televangelists.

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