Good vs. God
Late last year and this year several Humanist groups around the world have begun various ad campaigns to promote the idea of being good in the absence of god. Humanism is described by Wikipeidia as
“a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal human qualities, particularly rationality. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition, suggesting that solutions to human social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.”.
In lay terms that means they belive in doing good towards your fellow humans for reasons of logic and morality and not because some books tells you to.
Because of this most Humanists are Atheist, and that seems to be a problem.
In Canada a group called Humanist Canada has decided to take part in the global campaign to promote goodness. In many Canadian cities they have bought bus ads that state “You can be good without God”. This has angered some, in fact Halifax Metro Transit has decided the ads are too controversial and will not run the ads and Vancouver‘s TransLink service has yet to make a commitment.
I’m puzzeled that any one would have an issue with a message to be good, that leaves me only to believe that it is the idea of no God that is causing this upset. But why? There isn’t a person on this planet that believes in every god, we all have an amount of disbelief. I’m certain that if I were to canvass in a local Catholic Church as to how many people believed in Ra the Egyptian sun god, or Zeus, or Thor I’d find that no one believed in those gods. The problem is when you directly challenge thier particular faith.
You see faith is a funny thing, by it’s very nature it requires us to accept without proof. And that goes for Atheists too, although we generally like to be logical and evidence based we cannot prove God doesn’t exist anymore than the Pope can prove he does. In the end it comes down to free will, we must choose to believe whatever idea feels best to us. And people don’t like it when someone else tells them they might have chosen wrong.
“You can be good without God”, it’s an interesting message, in my opinion better than the British version “There may be no God, stop worrying and enjoy yourself”. In the British version there is a direct reference to the idea that there might not be a god. That is an actual challenge and I accept that it would upset people. But the Canadian version says nothing about whether God exists, it just says you can be good without him.
And is there anyone that wants people to not be good, regardless of their personal faith. Even the most devout must accept that there are non-believers, the question is do you want them to respect their fellow human or is it preferable for them to slide into a life that ends in tragedy and suffering? I can’t see how anyone that believes in the goodness of humanity doesn’t want to promote more goodness whether it be in a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Atheist.
Isn’t the most important thing that we are all good?