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Good Without God 4: Good Without God: A How-to Guide

10/20/2010

There is no good but between people. . . a good God, in theory, would have to be one that did good things for people, too (108).

Important insight. If God commanded all to go to hell for eternal suffering, even if this was, as theists would say, ‘good by definition,’ it would seem to drain the very concept of ‘good’ of all worth. Even if something can abstractly be labeled ‘good,’ then why should we strive for that very good that damns us? Good seems only to be meaningful in relation to human beings, or at least conscious beings. It is meaningless as some sort of metaphysical abstract concept.

. . . any tradition that puts forward an idea about what is ‘good’ is ultimately talking about what is good for human beings (111).

Epstein looks at various religious traditions and sees the same above pattern. ‘Good’ as a concept, even among religions, has to do ultimately with what helps humanity.

. . . also in the sense of facing reality, being honest with ourselves about what the world is really like, while having faith that we will be able to handle the truth. The fact that this is so important and so difficult is one of the main reasons I’m so comfortable calling Humanism a faith (124)

Gosh, this causes problems for me. It’s not Epstein’s point that is problematic, but the very word faith, with it’s thousand meanings and emotional baggage is an unwise word to choose. Sure it may be nice to borrow some of that emotional appeal, but at the same time, we are using the wordfaith’ in a very different way than many religious people do. Epstein is muddying up the waters, making things more difficult for future generations of Humanists to explain what they believe. Go for more clarity, not less.

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