goodness without god: a struggle with logic

In the Baltimore Sun’s “In Good Faith” blog, Dr. Chris A. Brammer makes some interestingly nonsensical statements with regard to whether or not people can be good without god:

I would first need to ask, does anyone really know a million people, let alone know them all well enough to know that they are good people? We are not saying that they don’t do good things, but are they good people without God? Many good things have been done for selfish, self-serving, self-centered motives. These motives would certainly discredit any person’s good deeds from contributing to a reputation of being a good person; actually this person could be considered wicked — for the religious or non-religious thinking person.

First of all, you don’t have to know millions of people to know that millions of people are confirmed atheists, and that, statistically, they have remarkably low rates of criminal convictions, higher education levels, lower divorce rates, etc. He then goes on to explain the trouble the reader might have understanding why it’s not necessarily good when these unusually fortunate individuals do good: those deeds may just be self-serving (and good deeds so often are, aren’t they?), so the people who do them are still wicked. He does not make any judgment on good deeds done by people who believe they are saving themselves from eternity in a fiery pit, because that’s not self-serving at all. And just in case being good without god might actually refer to deeds done with purely altruistic motives by godless heathens, Pastor Brammer goes on:

The non-religious person’s view of goodness without God in no way eliminates the existence of, and the need for God. Their belief simply means that they choose not to deal with the possible reality that his or her goodness is not solely theirs after all.

So there you have it – people who do good deeds but fail to believe in his god are either wicked and self-serving, or simply unaware the presence of god in their lives. There, that wraps up all the possibilities.

I’d love to do a better job pointing out the logical fallacies in Dr. Brammer’s statements, but it’s been a very long day, and this level of arrogance and narrow-mindedness makes my head hurt.

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