gifts from gods


My best blogging buddy, The Ark, is a popular chap. He’s always inviting religious folks over to his blog for a cosy chat about their beliefs. If you’re religiously inclined, and you haven’t met Ark yet, pop over and say hello.  Tell him Violet sent you.

Last time I was hanging out at The Ark’s spot, I bumped into one of his Christian friends, Mark. We got chatting about morality and I thought it might be nice to clear up some basic Christian misunderstandings.

Empathy: a gift from the god God

Empathy is the thing that helps us understand and care about how other people are feeling. It does not come magically from a deity. It is not a moral law. It is a naturally evolved characteristic humans have that helps us form relationships and work together. We learn a large chunk of our empathic responses, like most behaviours, through imitation. Some children may lack the necessary input and may have difficulty as adults understanding the feelings of others. Other people may be born with disorders that give them atypical empathic responses. If someone hasn’t learned or can’t learn empathy, it’s not their fault and it’s not a ‘sin’. They are likely to be socially conditioned to follow what other people usually do, but may not have what are considered normal responses on all occasions.

Love thy neighbour – a gift from the god God

Everyone wants to live in a nice world. Because it’s obvious that a nice world is a better place to live – for us and any offspring we have. When we allow suffering, injustice and discrimination, we are increasing the likelihood that someone we know and care about will suffer. It’s nice when people treat us well, and we can only expect people to treat us well if we treat other people well. This is frequently called ‘The Golden Rule’ because loads of ancient philosophers across many cultures stated the same thing, and no religion can claim exclusivity for such a basic and common sense understanding of life.

Absolute Rights & Wrongs – a gift from the god God

Even Christians don’t truly believe there are absolute rights and wrongs. According to their rule book, stealing is wrong. But stealing a piece of bread to feed a starving child, in the absence of any other access to food, is clearly not. Why? Because if a child dies of hunger, it suffers (empathy), its family suffers (empathy) and if you were starving you would want someone to give you food (nice world), and if your child was starving you would want someone to them food (nice world). Stealing is usually ‘wrong’ for similar reasons – I don’t want someone stealing from me (empathy and nice world). But balancing the outcomes of stealing the bread and not feeding the child, there’s a bigger, badder outcome if the starving child doesn’t eat. That’s not absolute. That’s logic.

Logic – a gift from the god God

Only joking!