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Punishment and reward without an afterlife

I believe in a religion(you can assume any) but i am interested in becoming an atheist. Please answer the following questions using common sense

Are killing, robbing and raping considered bad by atheists? If yes, why?

Assuming these are bad things, imagine that I raped a woman or robbed a person, and managed to escape capture by the police.

Suddenly I died, now who will compensate those victims? and who will punish me for the bad I did?

Posted: July 13th 2011

Daniel Midgley www

From the top:

Are killing, robbing and raping considered bad by atheists? If yes, why?

Simple reciprocity. If I don’t want to live in a world where I could be killed, robbed, or raped, I’d better not allow that to happen to others.

Suddenly I died, now who will compensate those victims? and who will punish me for the bad I did?

I know religious people like to think that everything will be evened out in the end, but this is a fiction. No one’s going to come and make everything all right. If there’s going to be justice, it will be because of us.

Questions like this remind me that religions impede adult-level thinking. Getting rid of this nonsense in your thinking is something of a prerequisite to being a grown-up.

Posted: July 16th 2011

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Mike the Infidel www

Assuming these are bad things, imagine that I raped a woman or robbed a person, and managed to escape capture by the police.

Suddenly I died, now who will compensate those victims? and who will punish me for the bad I did?

Robbery? It depends on the situation. And rape? Nobody. That’s the reality we live in. Ultimate justice can only be given in this life. And it doesn’t matter whether you find that emotionally satisfying or not; all that matters is whether or not it’s true.

Religious models of ultimate reward and punishment aren’t an escape from this, by the way. In Christianity, for example, your behavior is utterly unrelated to your outcome; all that matters is your faith. You could spend your life raping, murdering, and stealing, then convert on the deathbed and be given an eternity of reward. If anything, that’s even worse than the reality we have to deal with, where there’s no guarantee that good will be rewarded and evil will be punished.

Posted: July 14th 2011

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Eric_PK

Belief isn’t a choice; you might become an atheist if you determine that you no longer believe god exists, but it’s not like trying out different churches.

Which makes me think that you aren’t sincere in your question, but I’ll answer anyway.

If you can’t figure out why those things are wrong from an atheistic perspective, then you are a sociopath, and encourage you to get some help.

As for your last question, if there is no god, you don’t get punished. If you are a christian and you ask for forgiveness, you don’t get punished either.

As for victim compensation, I don’t think there is any in either scenario.

Posted: July 14th 2011

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Dave Hitt www

Are killing, robbing and raping considered bad by atheists?

No, not at all. We love that stuff. At the meetings, after we get done eating live babies, we go on rampages where we rape, pillage and burn. (First we tried to burn, rape and pillage, but that didn’t work too well, so we changed the order.) And we never get caught, as is evidenced by the fact that 10-15% of the US population is atheist, but only .2% of those in prison are.

Either that, or we’re far far more law abiding than average.

Sometimes rotten people get away with doing rotten things. While that offends or innate sense of justice, it doesn’t change that fact that we have to decide if we’re going to be rotten people or not.

Posted: July 14th 2011

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brian thomson www

The last part of the question is the most informative: you seem to believe there’s some form of “universal justice” – as if evildoers must be punished and victims must be compensated. Really? A look at history, even recent history, will put the lie to such an idea.

In January 2010 more 200,000 people died in and around the city of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The vast majority of them were Christians. Why so many, compared to the much smaller numbers after other earthquakes? An earthquake of similar magnitude hit San Francisco in 1989, and the death toll then was 63.

Shoddy buildings in the city had much to do with it, as detailed here : completely unable to withstand any kind of earthquake, multi-story apartment blocks just “pancaked”, crushing everyone inside. Who’s to blame? The builders who threw those buildings up are long gone – assuming they survived the earthquake.

I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough about the notion that justice “must” be served. Who invented the notion of “justice” anyway? We did. Life is not fair: the guilty go unpunished, victims go uncompensated, and that’s the way it is unless we do something about it. Allow me to quote Death, from Terry Pratchett’s books:

There's no Justice. There's just Us.

Posted: July 14th 2011

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Philip www

Why on Earth would you need a god to be good is the question you should be asking yourself – if something causes suffering, pain, misery it is most likely that something is wrong and it is easily recognisable as being so. If you cannot be good without the belief that an invisible being will punish you for it and that without it you’d go on the rampage then there is something deeply disturbing about you.

You have to live with your actions, if you do bad things then you have to take responsibility for them. You kill someone, that is your fault, you did that, you caused pain, you have caused their loved ones to suffer, it’s all down to YOU.

No-one will punish you for the evil you did, you’d be dead – if you were an atheist you’d understand that once you are dead, that’s it, finito.

You want to be evil, go right ahead, you’ll have no love from others if you do, if you think that being good is better for humanity and do all you can to help then there may be love given by others in return. The consequences of your actions do have an impact on how your life will turn out, but there is nothing supernatural about it, it’s just if you kill, murder and rape chances are your life is not going to be as good as if you went out of your way to be nice to those who need or deserve it.

The purpose of life is to live it the best you can because it is all the time you have, that is your existence, what you do with it is YOUR responsibility.

Oh yes, whilst I am thinking about it – go and look at a few books or articles written by notable atheists such as Richard Dawkins – is there any incitement to cause direct harm to others based on gender, sexual orientation, belief etc? Have there been any declarations that raping, murdering, robbery are all good things? Any direct and sincere provocations towards war, mass genocide, rape or torture of those different to us “special” atheists?

My point is you can be a completely evil bastard in life or you can be good – you do NOT need atheism to accomplish this, you cannot use atheism for anything. It is just a non belief in gods and supernatural, it doesn’t give you any special rights or privileges. It doesn’t change what kind of person you could be, only you can do that.

Posted: July 14th 2011

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