Godlessness

An interesting article came up on rappler that provoked me to write a bit to help me organize my own thoughts. The article was entitled, "On being godless and good: Irreligious Pinoys speak out". It takes a healthy mix of urbanism, development, education and open-mindedness in a society for such a movement to come out, especially here in erstwhile conservative and onion skinned Philippines. For that, I must tip my hat out of respect to the brave gents and ladies of the Philippine Atheist and Agnostic Society.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with them.

Their battle cry,

"'God is not necessary to be a good human,

is a highly complex moral and philosophical quandary. I for one, would like to get to the bottom of its validity.

To ascertain the claim's truthfulness, we must, first of all, try to define what is a "good human".

As an aside, I have still to meet a person who claims to be "evil". I've met murderers and thieves, and though they may know that what they may have done is - in the eyes of others, evil, they always end that phrase with a "but" or a "because".

"I did this evil act - BUT - this guy is more evil"
"I did this - BUT - he deserved it"
"I did this - BECAUSE - my significant other was also doing it"
"I did this - BECAUSE - everybody is doing it"

On the other hand, I've also met religious people who are just outwardly dancing to the music and playing the game. Outside, they hold on to their beliefs and go through the motions of religious tradition, but you'd see in their own lives the contradictions and the outwardly perceived hypocrisy.

That notwithstanding, the core foundation of most Christian beliefs - is fallibility. That's the first thing that happened in the Christian bible (save for creation of course) , Adam and Eve's fall from grace.

We have all fallen from grace. 
We have all sinned. 
We all need to seek redemption - no matter what others think.

There are things that we do or think, that only ourselves will ever know - unless there is a God.

What is a "good human"?

Take away everything and strip down one man or woman of all the vanities and all the knowledge, place him on an island and try to ask that question again.

What will make that person on an island, by himself, a "good human?"

The description of "good human" is always societal in context...

Without a God, there would always have to be two or more people who have to agree on what is good. Without a God, they would always have to agree to describe a particular characteristic, a trait, an act or a thought as "good". The problem with that scenario, is that it turns the definition of "good", into a "belief" reliant on affirmative plurality. (Sorry, too much gobbledygook.... I'll try again)

Let's go back to the island with one man who is trying to be a good human. It's hard to define him as such by himself. So let's add another person. For convenience's sake, let's make the second person a woman.

The island has a few coconut trees, some fruits, some vegetables and a few animals. At first they just ate and ate, but then the food supply eventually started to dwindle - it was a small island. After quite some time, there were only a few pieces of fruit left since they ate most of the animals and most of the vegetables.

One day, the woman wakes up to see no more food. The woman slaps the man on the face for eating all the fruit. The woman says, you are a "bad human" for eating all the fruit. The man says, "No, I am not. I was very hungry so I had to eat all the fruit."

Is the man justified for eating all the fruit because he was hungry?
Is the woman justified for slapping the man who ate all the fruit?

For their future mutual survival, they would have to agree that should food somewhat ever appear again, that they would have to share the food. They would also have to share in the work to produce it.

In this sense, a "good human" is something agreed upon by two or more parties. Because if one or the other do not agree then it really doesn't matter. One, the other, or both would be dead simply because they would be competing with each other for the limited supply of food.

It gets morbidly complicated when you have 8+ billion people

Today, right now, while you are reading this, a child soldier is cleaning his AK-47 rifle in Africa, a special operations soldier is en route to 'neutralize' a high value terrorist target somewhere in Iraq, an employer is beating his employee to make him work harder, politicians are debating where money should go, a man is getting drunk, a husband is making love to a woman who is not his wife, a young child is watching pornography, a man is looking at the ceiling while he smokes marijuana, an enthusiastic young woman is packing his bags to volunteer to help build houses in a third world country, a minister of a church is receiving donations from the Mafia, a city councilor is planning on how to shave a little from public coffers to help him buy a Ferrari...

The question is, who gets to say that I am a "good human?"

Is the Past, Present and Future You a "Good Human"?

Are we our past, present or future selves? Empirically, since we are mortal, finite and most importantly bound by time - a decision has to be made in a given time. A person may be a good father, but a bad husband today on June 5, 2015 12:03 AM but what about tomorrow?

Who made that decision?
Who is qualified to form that belief?
What makes their belief valid

As a good father, that decision can be made by the children, by himself, by his wife or by anybody who could form an opinion, given that they have enough information so they could form a "belief" on what is a "good father".

*I know a thief, and his children see him as a good but imperfect father

My problem with this approach is it makes coming up with an approach of describing - being a "Good Human" irrelevant in the greater scheme of things

It turns relationships into temporal and temporary transactions that can be altered and changed from time to time, as it suits the person's needs.

If for one person, you are a "good human" yet to another a "bad human", then what does it make you?

Philosophically speaking, I know, that the smarter minds out there can defeat my approach.

But what if a Being that can make that absolute judgment with finality create a semblance of sanity or even coherence to our existence? The opinions of others, our own opinion of ourselves become immaterial.

And in my own humble personal opinion, this deference, this humbling, helps us live our lives without having to over-think things on whether we are good humans or not.

I am an imperfect man, in an imperfect world.



My father and my mother named me "Daniel". In Hebrew, it means, 

"God is my judge"