2006-03-27

Atheism is a legacy worth fighting for - Editorials & Commentary - International Herald Tribune

Atheism is a legacy worth fighting for - Editorials & Commentary - International Herald Tribune: "This argument couldn't have been more wrong: The lesson of today's terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted - at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the 'godless' Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted, since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.

Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill God's will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God's favor; I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. David Hume made this point poignantly when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God's existence."

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