Funk500 wrote:Now what got me thinking is.. I'd say my value system is pretty similar to that of Christianity.. but is that due to Christianity having such a huge influence on our society that it shaped our thinking beyond religion to such an extent that a person can follow the basic tenets and not be a Christian/Muslim or whatever? Or is it that religions are based on common sense?
I'm confused now. What could it be?
In response to Funk
's initial question. My
It is indeed true that Christianity has had a great influence on the society we were raised in. For this reason I agree with Andre Comte Sponville who in "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality" respects the way in which this particular religion has shaped his world. (He at the same time denies its claims for truth, as well as objecting to those who feel we need religion to be moral.) And I can understand why Mother Theresa
would be reading those bedtime stories. Christianity informs our literature, art, movies, and speech.
I don't think this influence is the reason you hold similar values though. I would never call what makes people of all religions and those without religion sometimes be nice to each other "common sense", but there is something innate. As Sam Harris holds "The pervasive idea that religion is somehow the source
of deepest ethical intuitions is absurd ... Concern for others was not the invention of any prophet ... we each want to be happy; the social feeling of love is one of our greatest sources of happiness ...." I think people learned a long time ago that to survive they needed to be nice to each other. But even if you don't believe there is some predisposition to goodness, most of us surely simply learn our values from parents, mentors, and teachers - who successfully or partially or imperfectly instill ideas of caring for others.
Funk, your question does remind me of something I at times consider. Everybody who holds the Bible dear are adamant that it is The Good Book. I feel they simply do this because that is what they have been brought up to do or that they have been instilled with this idea while converting through their own need to believe in something. But for me it's not such a good book at all. God really is a nasty in the Old Testament. The genealogies are horribly boring, and some will claim that the book is riddled with contradictions (see below - I don't recommend anybody read this rambling book, but it certainly provides thousands of instances that should worry Christians who also hold reason dear). So, I've always wondered how an adult of reasonable mind, who had no invested interest in salvation, would respond when reading it. I assume there would be bemusement at certain of the tales, and then a sense of horror when informed that a large proportion of the world actually believe the stories.
Well, I have read the good book (The Bible, that is - not all of the one above) and the inconsistencies in it always disturbed me. I tried to believe the footnotes (I think the Bible I used most was called the NIV Study Bible) that attempted to explain things such as the call for Isaac's sacrifice. Now, no longer relying on the book as a moral compass, I'd just like to say that I have not run amok deflowering virgins or ravishing my neighbors' wives (or husbands). It's true that churches can be a great source of charity, but I don't feel that the goodness in people (Christian, atheist, Wiccan, or Jedi) has much to do with religion.