I just ran across this blog post on a subject close to my heart. It is about the book Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment, by Phil Zuckerman (New York University Press, New York and London, 2008.)
What I noticed first was that the title of the book is ‘Society Without God’ not ‘Life without God’ or some such nonsense. I've always found it curious that while many people would readily admit that their lives could be happier and certainly more convenient without a constant presence looking over their shoulder (aka “God”), the very same people are reluctant to admit that society itself could be better off without Him. It’s the ‘holier than thou’ attitude that always manages to annoy me. As in “I’m good enough that I don’t need a moral compass but the rest of humanity sure does!”
Which reminds me of a sentence from the book ‘The Necessity of Atheism’ by David Marshall Brooks. In the book he asks ‘If religion really helps us be better people, why is it that the percentage of believers in jails is far higher than the general population would indicate?’ Good question. Now if only a believer would care to answer that one for me…
One of my friends, when he found out I don’t believe in a deity, wondered aloud just how do I manage to be a good person? Apparently either I’m lying about my beliefs or I’m not a good person! or rather more logically, both.
Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other ‘sins’ are invented nonsense. - Robert Heinlein
I quite simply refuse to acknowledge that a belief in god is necessary to be a good person.
The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy - I mean that if you are happy you will be good. - Bertrand Russell
Truer words were never spoken. All this makes me want to read this book really bad. I’ll post a review if I can get my hands on a copy. Apparently, the author is careful not to extol the absence of religious belief as preferable for a society, while arguing strongly that when religious belief (or dogma) is absent, society can crank along just fine. I’ll personally have no problems extolling just that.