You Don't Have to Be Religious to Be a Good Person
You don't have to be a believer in god or some holy book to be a good person. You can base your attitudes to life and other people on your own knowledge, and beliefs of what is good and proper behavior. In many ways rejecting a religious life for a secular life is better for the world and all its people. I will argue that if everyone in the world adopted a position of respect and tolerance for all people and the environment the world would be a better place. This is more likely to happen with a secular morality than a religious morality because religions often do not preach tolerance and respect for other people or the environment. A religious morality often falls down due to intolerance and a lack of respect for others. Indeed, I go further and argue that a secular morality is better than a religious one because it will produce a more tolerant, respectful world.
A secular morality would obviously not be associated with any religious beliefs. Indeed, reading such holy books as the Bible demonstrates clearly that the morals espoused by most religions aren't very good, and are often antisocial and discriminatory. One only needs to look at the treatment of women and nonbelievers by most religious books' to be convinced that they fall far short of any expression of equality and respect for others. Getting rid of such an intolerant, nonequal, nonrespecting attitude would obviously produce a better world for all, including the religious people themselves.
Most religions claim to teach tolerance and understanding, but what they actually teach is intolerance and discrimination. Mostly they also teach an utter disregard for, and ruthless exploitation of, the environment--much to its detriment and to the disadvantage of the people of the world, both in the present and the future. A caring approach to the environment is another important factor in producing a better world for all people.
Many religious people would claim that being an atheist automatically makes one a bad person, but this logic is flawed. There is no requirement for an atheist to be a bad person. One could counterargue that being religious does not make one a good person. History and reference to the holy book(s) of any religion are very clear in supporting that argument!
Taking a secular view allows us to rethink what is correct behavior, and to establish our own conceptions of what is right and wrong without adopting the often flawed logic of a religion. We can base our actions on logical, rational decisions of what is best for all the people of the world and the environment rather than on the narrow view of what's best for our own religious group. Most holy books do not preach good behavior, only the behavior required for that religion to flourish, and get rid of other religions and gods. That such preachings are not necessarily good for people or the environment is not considered important. The most important aim of religions is that the followers should do what they are told without thinking about it, and follow their god's pronouncements without question.
What would a secular morality look like?
We would see each person as an individual who has certain unalienable rights simply because they are human. We would deal with each person in a way that helps them to develop as an individual rather than as a follower of someone else's dictates. We would see them as having only one life, and help them to get the best from it. If we believe that all of us only have this one chance to do something worthwhile with our existence on Earth, then we will be encouraged to help others achieve goodness in any way that we can. We would try our best to help people to be happy and contented with their lives. We would treat all people with tolerance and respect, and the environment and all that lives in it with respect.
As nonreligious people we would choose our own standards of behavior based upon what we believe is right for its own sake, not because of some religious compulsion. We would treat every person with respect regardless of nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We would treat the world as a valuable commodity that should be passed onto our children in the same state as we received it from our forebears, not as something that should be exploited for the mere monetary gain of the moment without thought for the future.
In this way we could have a 'heaven on Earth' without the need for a religious dogma that promises a heaven only in the next world--a promise which is problematic since there is no proof that any such next world even exists. By living with such a morality people would work for a better world and a better reward for everyone, here and now, in this world, rather than basing their actions on the belief in a reward in some uncertain, and probably nonexistent, afterlife. Everyone on Earth would benefit.
Since the nonbeliever does not have any religious axe to grind he is more likely to be tolerant of other's beliefs. This is obvious when one considers the fact that atheists tend to be tolerant of other's beliefs, including their religious beliefs, but religious people are often not tolerant of atheists or those belonging to some other religious group. Intolerance of this sort is built into all religions and is usually a requirement of its followers.
If all the people of the world treated each other with respect and tolerance there would be much less evil in the world. If everyone treated the environment with respect the world would be a much better place. Both these are ways in which nonreligious people can show religious people a better way to live. It is certain that many people who hold religious values do not hold these values because their religion does not teach such tolerance and respect for others and the environment.
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