X-Message-Number: 20146
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 11:44:05 -0700 (PDT)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: Mr. Dee's Challenge

Hi everyone.

What I would like to point out about this theist vs
non-theist morality debate is that the theist tries to
identify non-theist characters in history that have
been responsible for atrocities, and then says he
doesn't want to live in a world with these kinds of
secular ideals. As if murderers, rapists and thieves
are embraced by the secular community because of their
moral acts and their secular ideals. 

Obviously, their are crazies in both camps, but ...

The point is that large groups of secularists are less
likely to be persuaded to engage in some irrational
mission cooked up by some nutty sociopath to conquer
or kill nother people. Secularists are by nature a
rather skeptical bunch and harder to convince to
participate in projects that are morally suspect.
Whereas, religious types are more follower-oriented
and hence more subject to manipulation by misguided
zealots who they perceive as inspired authority

Another important point I'd like to make is that I
believe the virtuous non-theist is a more moral person
than the virtuous theist. Why? Because the virtuous
theists are at least partly motivated by the the
believe that they will be judged in the afterlife and
possibly denied their heavenly reward if they aren't
virtuous here on Earth. In other words, their morality
is extrinsically motivated by their beliefs in heaven
and hell. 

For non-theists, there is no such carrot being dangled
in front of them. They are virtuous because it's the
right thing to do and the only reward is in the here
and now, and the better world that is created by
acting morally. Non-theists are intrinsically
motivated, taking personal responsibility for their

It is this intrinsic moral compass in the non-theists
that immunizes us somewhat against immoral group-think
behaviors as compared to the theists who are less
skeptical of their religious leaders and thus more
prone to being swept away by the rhetoric and the
promises of eternal bliss.

Just my opinion.


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