Skip to main content

Doing Good for Goodness Sake? An Atheist's Game of Scrabble Comments

In the order of being, there can be no natural moral law without the existence of God.  In the order of being, implicit in the belief of a natural moral law is the existence of God.  A moral law makes no sense without a Divine Legislator. Continue Reading

51 - 60 of 72 Comments

  1. Juneau Alaska
    2 years ago


    There was a time when I read encyclicals. I daresay I've read most, if not all, of JPII's. I have only perused Spe Salvi, but I've seen enough. I am currently reading Steven Pinker's gargantuan tome called, The Better Angels of Our Nature. As a result of Pinker's evidence-based work, I am truly skeptical of the pope's claims about so-called "atheist ideologies" leading to the "greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice." Thank you for the recommendation, however. Cheers! ~Mike

  2. chrisdbarry
    2 years ago

    @Andrew Let me rephrase - the logic is spurious. I won't call it "your" logic because it isn't yours. It belongs to the Catholic Church and you are merely regurgitating what you have been taught.

    As I concluded in my first post, you seem not to have read alternative philosophical positions to your own, nor examined any of the arguments against your own position (including against Aquinas). I can understand this both from your position in the Catholic Church and the general philosophy of theists, who tend towards seeing things in terms of black and white. Using the 800 year old philosophies of a Roman Catholic priest as undeniable truth in your starting point to a philosophical discussion leaves you with nowhere to go. Beginning with your premise and looking for evidence to support that premise is a poor way to reach truth. It is the opposite of rational investigation.

    I am not going to discuss all the arguments here as a simple trip to the library (or even easier, a Google search) will deliver them for you. I will say that Aquinas' arguments have been refuted by either modern science or modern philosophers. Do your research, understand the arguments against your position and understand the logical fallacies that both you and Thomas Aquinas share. An article discussing the philosophies of Aquinas, arguments against and the Catholic Church's arguments for would have been far more interesting than one simply stating them as law.

    I think you misunderstood my discussion about debating philosophies and you misunderstand atheism at its most basic level. Atheism is the simple lack of belief in a supernatural god or gods. Nothing more, nothing less. Arguing against atheism is not what you are doing. You are claiming that a simple statement: "do good for goodness sake", to which you have spuriously ascribed numerous attributes, is common across all atheists. In the logical fallacy game we are playing, this is called a strawman. It is a strawman because not only do you falsely ascribe your meaning to a single statement, you go on to ascribe that meaning to all atheists, which is patently false.

    Agnosticism is the claim that the existence of a god or gods is currently unknown and leaves the door open if evidence is presented to the contrary (essentially this is a scientific position, because all science works on a tentative basis with lesser or greater certainties based on the evidence).

    Agnostic atheists live their life as if there is no god but are happy to change their minds if presented with the evidence. Many atheists would claim this position, especially those that came to atheism down the scientific/rationalist road. Bertrand Russell provides the most famous example of this with the "celestial teapot". He argues that although it is impossible to know that the teapot does not exist, most people would not believe in it. Therefore, one's view with respect to the teapot would be an agnostic "ateapotist", because while they don't believe in the existence of the teapot, they don't claim to know for certain.

    There are also Agnostic THEISTS, who believe that one or more gods exist but argues that the existence or nonexistence of such is unknown or cannot be known. There are also Gnostic Theists.

    So who are you arguing against? It is not atheists.

    This is why I suggested arguing against a philosophy that has an established and well defined worldview, a defined set of beliefs, an actual alternative. I suggested Humanism, to be more precise, Secular Humanism. Write this article - it will be far more interesting.

  3. Juneau Alaska
    2 years ago

    Vance, you are confusing secularism (which is the principle that defends the first amendment's Establishment Clause to keep State and Church separate) with atheism. It's a common mistake. Secularism = keeping religion out of public politics; atheism = lack of a belief in gods/supernatural. Two different things. Cheers! Mike

  4. Vance
    2 years ago

    Bulbajer, yes I know atheists. I worked with many throughout the years. The common denominator among them is they are more 'in-hate' with God rather than not believe in him. They say they do not believe to justify themselves. Their bases for morality is dictated by their libido or whatever suits them. Notice the Nativity Scene haters. They say they are atheists and God and religion mean nothing to them. BUT notice how they are militant against cross and Nativity Scenes in the public arena. Notice their aversion to things holy, charitable, virginity, and things wholesome. There is no such thing as a nice guy atheist.

  5. Andrew Greenwell
    2 years ago

    My argument did not have to do with the God of revelation (Yahweh), but with the God of philosophy or natural theology (the First Cause). I don't see how man can give himself his own law. Who is "mankind"? It is an abstraction. Moreover, if it includes our species in the future, who can we know what that mankind is? We can't know the future. Again, a law requires mind on both sides. Although individual men and women have minds, mankind does not have a mind.

    If mankind is defined to be individual men separately (who have minds), then we give ourselves our own law? The majority? That means no law effectively. If we are our own law, then it is no law because we can change it at will. A pure autonomy (self law) is anomie (no law).

    What man (or majority of men) could not declare that men may rape women? Who is another man to contest it, being that the other man is his equal? If there is no divine Legislator behind your law "do good for goodness' sake," then you ultimately have no moral law, no objective standard, no morality at all.

    Whether you like it or not, deny a divine Legislator and you have denied moral law, though I doubt very much that you can ever act against the fundamental principle to do good and avoid evil. Even your disbelief in God--whether God as Yahweh or God as First Cause--is something you have convinced yourself is something good, though you are in error about it.

  6. Diane
    2 years ago

    To Bulbajer- you say" a lot of Athiests in the world are athiest because they see(and experience) all the pain in the world ..." Sorry about that, but thats a description of Jesus Christ,not a non-believer in Him.

  7. Juneau Alaska
    2 years ago

    In the interest of time, I'll give the author what he wants: He wants me to concede that there must be a moral law-giver. While I reject the claim of moral "laws" in principle, let there be a so-called law giver. But hold on a second, instead of his Yahweh being the Law Giver, I would simply counter, why can't it be mankind? Let the author demonstrate that without Yahweh, my moral positions can't exist and I'll reconsider my views. Cheers! Mike

  8. DLL
    2 years ago

    "Evidence wins over faith every single time". Doesn't it take a lot of faith to accept the evidence? To draw the conclusion is based on the evidence,but also on faith that the evidence is correct. Without faith even evidence is debatable. If I think I have evidence based on the basis of intelligent design. I stand by that based on the faith that it is correct. The simple fact that 2 people can communicate with each other is a fact for proving that that takes a high degree of intellegence.Simply life is non sense without intellegent design. Without intellegent design 2 people could not communicate at all. A random sense of creative design or intelligence is wishful thinking at best and it is illogical because the whole sense of being is based on logic. Evidence is based on logic and faith if it is to be accepted as reasonable at all. God is as He Himself claimed him self to be to Moses when He told Moses in fact his name is "I Am"! So God Is because He says his name is" I am "there is the evidence that He is. God Exists! He says He does! I for one would not and am not arrogant enough to call God or Moses a liar by saying both were what some person or persons would claim to believe them to be and that is their idea of a myth.

  9. Andrew Greenwell
    2 years ago

    @Chrisdbarry: With respect to your comments, I make the following observations. First, I don't understand what "leaps of logic" are. If the arguments I make are logically connected, they are not "leaps." If there is no logic between them and I have made illogical leaps, then there is no logic. The notion of "logical leaps" sounds like an oxymoron. I'm not sure how using an oxymoron as the basis of your arguments is very convincing.

    You say that Thomas Aquinas has been "debunked already." Really? By whom? Who made that judgment? I dare say that Thomism is alive and well, and, from an intellectual standpoint, quite virile. And in the area where I have invoked him--on the self-evident nature of the fundamental principle of morality--I do not know of no conclusive "debunking." In fact, you cannot really "debunk" a self-evident principle, since any effort to "debunk" it self-defeating. But you can show that denying this foundational self-evident principle of morality--that we ought to do good and avoid evil--leads to absurdity.

    Atheism is as much of a belief as theism (because there is no conclusive empirical proof that God does not exist), though I believe it is a less reasonable belief than theism. In fact, I think atheism is ultimately unreasonable. But whether you believe theism more reasonable or not, it is impossible honestly to say that theism is unreasonable. There are philosophical proofs of God. There is such a thing as natural theology. So I do not understand why you think that theism is somehow not a philosophically supportable position. Theism is philosophical alternative.

    I don't understand why you think that atheism is a "null proposition" or not a "positive philosophical statement of belief." It is a positive negative, if you will. There is no God is an affirmative proposition negating God's existence.

    I will repeat what I told my reader whose comment inspired by article. Atheism is, at heart, not an intellectual problem. Atheism seems to me to be a rationalization, and, at heart a symptom, a reflection of a moral fault, one that comes from refusal to accept one's contingency, one's moral faults, ultimately pride.

    There is one thing that is certain--we have not made ourselves, and we are obliged to seek the cause of our being here, and when He is found, to give him honor.

    Lift up your heart to the Lord. It is right and just.

  10. Diane
    2 years ago

    To Bulbajer- I didn't say athiest were selfish, I said they were childish. Also believers see athiests inflict alot of pain in the world as well as believers. Because human nature is weak and fallen doesn't mean you should blame God or refuse to believe in His existence. Why He allows evil, pain and suffering is part of the Mystery of God. We can know that He loves us and helps us and He does reveal Himself. Athiests will just have to accept that pain is part of life. Also if a believer inflicts pain they can always and should pray for the graces of repentence and atonement. It is part of the "walk" of a believer. You might be shocked to know how many believers do pick themselves up from a fall into sin, get back on the road of actually following God and make amends to others. You and the athiests you mention don't notice that because these many believers do this on a daily basis and quietly. Believers in God know this, no pain no gain. Athiests are basically fearful and childish. Do you know any believers?

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second time. 'Up!' ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths. ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:29-31
What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become limited, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

January 25 Saint of the Day

St. Peter Thomas
January 25: Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was born ... Read More