One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”
The Master responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”
“This means,” the Master continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”
—Martin Buber, Tales of Hasidim Vol. 2 (1991)
mm101 Note: My 'share-repost' does not work beyond my own flist now, so I had to cut and paste this post from another LJ user whom I am not naming for a particular reason, no offense to her.... Now, regarding the subject: I feel that the goodness of the Atheist is more mature than that of the religious person, who may act a tad out of obedience, fear, selfishness, disingenuousnous, etc. I have always thought that there is no need to go around with a (secret) sign on one's chest, saying, "I am a Christian," in order to do good, basically.
And, if there is the conventional Christian God, then it would be perfectly withing His character and doctrine to NOT GIVE A DAMN whether an act of goodness springs from religion or belief or not. God would not care whether you believe in him or not. I would venture that such a god would rather get behind the person who does good directly, naturally, rather than by promptings from others, guilt, circuitous dogma, or so forth. Good is good, and best when shorn of any agenda or design which, like tarnish on silver, could only be something less than good, by some degree.
And, after all, isn't it presumptuous to insist that the good from an Atheist is not good, great or divine, when none of us knows what it was that inspired that person to act, or what it was that he/she believes when, for all we know, it could be but a chair or a tree or a meal in that Atheist's existence which speaks to him/her in a way perhaps identical to the way god is said to speak to Christians. Honestly, as I heard one Irish woman say about the Catholics versus the Protestants: "I really don't see any difference between the two, lol."
In my view, the point is to take one step beyond the pain of life, the entropy of nature, and the fatality of time, and do good. Paradoxically transcend dead-end existence through the irony of compassion. In my view, there need not be a whole, often stiffling, construction of ideology, morality or authority, to tell one why, when and how to do this. But, some people, certainly children, and closet psychos, seem to need that direction. And, in a world of diversions and addictions, there is psychological sense in hewing to strictures, for some. Suffer them.
While the religious should look more compasionately on those, "militant atheists," atheists, pantheists, and people of any other religion or persuasion, should look more compassionately on those who walk the path of orthodoxy, obedience and simplicity, because, after all, the word, "RELIGIOUS," can merely mean, "Being responsible to a regular schedule." Yes?
Again, we need not see a difference between the two. We are all a bunch of fucking monkeys, and should rejoice in our shared majesty and pathos.
I basically have a problem with this: Those who shield themselves behind groups live lives sheltered from many of the slings and arrows that fly towards the likes of atheists and other marginals, sometimes from the bows of other so-called human beings, yeah? What bothers me about religion - and bothers most of the fallen - is the mass groupism which fuels conspiracies of blame and persecution and war. That is a little different than just, naturally, doing, good.