With Whom Would You Rather Be? - Filipino Journal

With Whom Would You Rather Be?

With Whom Would You Rather Be?

(On a Discourse about the Irrelevance of Religion and Gods in a Person’s Ability to Be Good)

Sabi ng isa kong katrabaho, kaya raw pagrabe nang pagrabe ang kalagayan ng mundo e dahil dumarami na raw ang mga eteyista, o mga taong hindi naniniwala na may Diyos.

Because I was not in the mood for a discourse—besides, the workplace especially during work hours is not an appropriate venue for such a discourse on delicate and controversial issues like atheism and world economy, I did not react to her claim that the increasing number of atheists is reason the world is continuously deteriorating morally. I made sure that I did not show any sign of agreement either. In short, by not responding, I was able to drop the conversation right away.

If we were at a plaza in the time of classical philosophers like Plato, I would have certainly took my turn to utter my logical piece. However, a break time of 30 minutes is obviously insufficient for hammering issues like that. I thought to myself, Hmm, I’ll just write an article about it in my literary column in the newspaper one day.

Evil People Are Not Always Godless / Godless People Are Not Always Evil

God-Believers Are Not Always Good / Good People Are Not Always God-Believers

Many religious people always blame the evils of the world to atheists, to people who do not believe that the God or any other deity exists. They arrogantly claim that the world is being saved from disgrace and human follies by religious and God-believing people such as themselves. I strong disagree!

I am not claiming that all atheists are good and responsible individuals; and in the same manner that I certainly disagree that all religious people are automatically good and kind.

I am simply emphasizing that a person’s ability to be good and to avoid evil does not necessarily depend on her having a belief or even fear in the God or whatever supreme being s/he believes to exist. In fact, if one is to open her eyes—she might be shocked to learn and realize that a big percentage of wars, crimes against humanity, discrimination, bigotry, and evil deeds in the world are instigated by people because of religion or their blind faith in their respective gods.

The Folly of One-Sided Righteousness
How many religious people claim that homosexuals should be put to death? How many religious people claim that their religion is the only single correct path to righteousness, failing to acknowledge the existence of a diversity of religious beliefs? How many religious people would literally kill for their gods? How many priests have been accused and proven to be child molesters? How many religious leaders—despite preaching humility and promoting helping the poor and the hungry—live lavishly in their extravagant quarters in their mansions, donned in their expensive bejewelled clothes?

This is not a battle of the religious versus the irreligious. This is simply a rebuttal to the claim that atheists—or people who do not believe in the God or in the existence of any supreme being—are the cause of the world’s moral deterioration. In fact, if one is a wide reader, she would have long known that many of the most revered thinkers, authors, scientists, statespersons, and artists in the world are atheists: In Literature—Isaac Asimov, Charles Bukowski, Arthur C. Clarke, Anton Chekov, Richard Dawkins, George Eliot, Christopher Hitchens, Clive James, Franz Kafka, Philip Larkin, Ursula K. Le Guin, H.P. Lovecraft, Pablo Neruda, George Orwell, Terry Pratchett, Marcel Proust, Philip Pullman, Ayn Rand, Salman Rushdie, Maurice Sendak, Robert Louis Stevenson, Gore Vidal, H.G. Wells, and Virginia Wolfe.

In music: Björk. Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips), Kim Deal (Pixies, The Breeders), Ani DiFranco, Brian Eno, Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Paul Heaton (The Housemartins), Stephan Jenkins (Third Eye Blind), Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), Geddy Lee (Rush), Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Shirley Manson (Garbage), Andy Partridge (XTC), Jim Reid (The Jesus & Mary Chain), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Robert Smith (The Cure), Tracey Thorn (Everything but the Girl), Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd.

I am not claiming that atheism is the only path to righteousness. I’m just saying that there are many atheists who lead lives that are more admirable than those of many believers. I am not claiming that to be religious or to believe in a god is wrong or that all religious people are bigots. All I am saying is that a person can have the ability to be good and avoid evil with or without a belief in a god. Having a religion or a belief in a god is not an assurance of an individual’s being compassionate and responsible. There are good atheists as well as there are good religious people; in the same manner that there are evil atheists as well as there are evil god-believers.

Sa Madaling Salita
Ang pagka-makatao, pagpapahalaga sa kapwa, at moralidád ng isang indibidwál ay hindi kinakailangang palaging nakaangkla sa relihiyón o paniniwala na may diyos. May Diyos man o wala, ang bawat tao ay may karapatan at kakayahang maging mabuti at responsable sa kanyang sarili, kapwa, at mga mahal sa buhay. At dapat natin itong tanggapin at respetuhin.

Or, in Simple Words
An individual’s sense of humanity, compassion for his fellows, and morality should not necessarily be grounded on religion or a belief in a god. With or without religion or a god, a person has the right and the capability to be compassionate and responsible to himself, others, and especially his loved ones. We have to acknowledge and respect that.
As a broadminded God-believer friend of mine asked contemplatively: “With whose company, do you think, I’d rather be: a kind atheist or an evil priest?”