9.19.2008

atheism equals no accountability

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

ac·count·abil·i·ty
Function:
noun
Date:
1794
: the quality or state of being accountable ; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions
3 a: a statement explaining one's conduct b: a statement or exposition of reasons, causes, or motives c: a reason for an action : basis

I recently wrote, in the posting previous to this that, "Atheism, or anti-theism, is the desire to escape accountability of one's own actions", and I stand by this. The response to this is, "I answer to myself." In other words, "I am accountable to myself." As we see in the definition of this word, account, accountable, and accountability, one cannot be accountable to one's self. If this the case the action of answering to yourself completely negates the meaning of the word. If you are accountable then there must be someone that you answer to. Try telling your employer that you answer to yourself and you will find yourself quickly unemployed. Regardless of your stance on God we are all accountable in our lives, even if we do not acknowledge it.

So this being the case, the question still stands; if there is no God who do you answer to?

29 comments:

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

It is interesting that you base your argument on a dictionary definition of accountability, yet you redefine what Atheism and anti-theism to your own liking.

As an atheist I don't have a belief in god. I am accountable to myself my friends, my family, my employer, the larger community. I am accountable to the set of agreed laws that governs us all.

You just happen to put one more rung in that ladder.

Who I answer to? Well you have answered that already. It depends on the situation. There are different levels and forms of accountability.

In the end you have to be able to live with yourself the actions you commit, the hapiness or sadness you cause. This is I suppose a type of accountability. We all have an image of ourselves what we hold ourselves to be, to ourselves and to others. It's to this idea of ourselves that we hold ourselves accoutable.

So please stop errecting strawmen. Go out and meet Atheists talk to them, befriend them, act in a christ like fashion instead of defining what other people are according to what you would wish them to be, based on your own blinkered view of he world.

Peace

ryan said...

I do know a good deal of atheists, one of which is living in my home. Even though these thoughts of mine may come across as I see them as fact, there are still my opinions and how I see things.

Samuel Skinner said...

That would be me. As for being only accountable to myself...

An obligation or willingness to accept responsiblity is a personal choice as is giving an explanation. Only you, and you alone, can make that decision. Sean holds himself accountable to others, but that is only because he has choosen to. As it is you are accountable only to yourself (although your parents will almost certainly disagree- they get stuck with the blame after all).

ryan said...

I think that we can agree on one thing, that we disagree on almost everything! However I also think that we can agree that we enjoy hearing from the other side and TRULY having an intelligent, respectful and thoughtful debate/arguement on key issues. I would be interested to see your (this of course goes to anyone) thoughts further down the page.

Samuel Skinner said...

Someone has also read The Phantom Tollbooth. Write your thoughts and I'll knock 'em down. What? I first did this looking for objections to my view, but by now I have tread the same path a hundred times.

Rune said...

Hi Ryan,

I am accountable under the law of the country where I live. Fortunately it is not a country where the law is an arm of a the prevailing religious belief.

I do not live in fear of losing my head for offending an imaginary being. I am obviously talking about Islam here, but imagine a country dominated by unchecked Christianity. You don't have to go back very far in history to see the effects of this. Losing your head would have been a positive relief during "medieval" Christian justice.

Accountability to god didn't seem to equate behaving in a humane manner.

Stalinism, Communism and probably any other ism you could mention are equally as terrible. But these are personality cults and are actually closer to religion than religious believers care to admit. The leaders simply want to take the place of god.

Non-religious law is a far from perfect, but there are enough good people who strive to ensure that the law functions fairly as it evolves.

I am also responsible for my own actions, I have undertaken this obligation using references from a combination of my education, my parents and peers, and so on. Again it is an evolving accountability.

My argument with you here then, Ryan, is that when you adhere to an absolutist position such as the literal, unquestioning authority of a religious text, you absolve yourself of accountability.

ryan said...

Rune,

First off I was pleased to see that you dropped by. I greatly enjoy your perspective, appreciate your opinion and I enjoy a civil disagreement.

I do agree with you that unchecked religion can be and is a problem. However I don't believe that its the religion thats the problem, its the person. For instance, its not the handgun that kills the innocent, its the user of that handgun.

Christianity offers that of a relationship with God and not a religion. If you look in the Bible Christ himself was a thorn in the side of the religious of the day (Luke Ch. 11).

And yes you are correct that we are ALL responsible for our own actions, if only everyone had that same outlook Rune I know this world would be a lot better off. However that only last through this season that we call life, what about in the end? What about when we die, what then? If there is no God and no heaven or hell, why live even a good life?

If you are correct that there is no "after-life" and our souls decay just like our bodies the Christian is alright. What I mean by that is this; the Christain has lived a life loving others and serving his/her fellow man, never seeking a level of personal gain for themselves. But if Christianity is correct and there is a heaven and there is a hell, what then?

Rune said...

Hi again Ryan,

Thanks for the welcome. I should have introduced myself, I often forget this because of the informality of the whole blogging thing (which I'm new to).

I'm not a scientist, my background is the arts and philosophy but make a living from bits and bytes. I tweak the nose of danger and raise conspiracy theory, UFOs, superstition etc.

My only real objection to religion is if it seeks to gain influence over me. I will fiercely reject this from any group including other atheists. So I'm probably more against organisations.

I'm am perfectly happy for people to believe in whatever they want. Problem is that certain Christians and most Muslims in particular are insulted by this.

I'm very worried by religious fundamentalism.

To be honest, I cannot compete in debating the intricacies of the texts, as I'm not really motivated by this.

I like the bigger picture, if you like. So the afterlife intrigues me, although I cannot make the jump to religion.

Anyway, I look forward to looking through the articles on your blog.

Please forgive any future sarcasm in advance.

Lee said...

Ryan,

Why do you think we need a 'big brother' in the sky to be good?

If the police were not watching you, would you go crazy and start stealing, raping and killing?

No?

Then why do you suggest that without an 'invisible policeman in the sky' that atheists would do such things?

If the only reason you have for being good is the fear of the wrath of God and hell, or the carrot of reward with heaven - then you are not truly being good are you.

Rune I tweak the nose of danger and raise conspiracy theory, UFOs, superstition etc.


At least you didn't mention astrology this time... :-)

Lee

Lee said...

oh, and hello Ryan.

I followed you from Rune's BTW

Lee

ryan said...

I am very much looking forward to all of this. And I'm even more excited that we all disagree!! Unfortunelty right now I have neither the time nor the stamina to do anything. Just woke up and i'm out the door.

One thought. Lee, Christianity doesn't look at God as the 'invisible policeman in the sky'. Rather, we see God for what He is, Love. I know I know that this is going spurn a great many comments. "How can a loving God send people to hell?" or "How can a loving God let the innocent die." etc.... and all of these I hope to answer when I have had my morning coffee! Take it easy.

Rune said...

Lee,

If the police were not watching you, would you go crazy and start stealing, raping and killing?

Actually, I might.


I followed you from Rune's BTW


I that that wasn't a real electricity van outside.

Everyone,

So we're going to be fighting over here as well?

I'll never get any sleep.

ryan said...

the question was never answered. what happens after you die if there is no God?

Rune said...

Hi Ryan,

I'd like to put forward a view that might be surprise you.

I cannot remember not being alive. During this time, I have been conscious during this time except for sleep.

It seems difficult for me, therefore, to believe that I will die.

If you knew me and I died, you would experience my death. I wouldn't be around any more. I may experience the initial stages of my death, but because I am only aware of my existence through my consciousness, I will not know that I'm dead if my conciousness ceases.

I can't experience oblivion without conciousness. No conciousness, no awareness

This explanation obviously precludes religious afterlife and is my way of working out the end in an atheistic sense.

So taking the above statement into account, I might already be dead.

ryan said...

Rune,

Do you believe that we a soul? I know that seems a very strange question but if you do believe this then what happens to that?

If your soul becomes an exterior force after death what then happens?

Rune said...

I think that we seem to be more than the sum total of our parts.

We have an ability to analyse things such as motive, morality, ethics, aesthetics and so on.We can speculate on big picture issues such as our place in the universe.

I think that the soul is a by-product of this intellectualising of things.

It's ironic that followers of religion call atheists arrogant but when you think of it, as an atheist I have an understanding of the insignificance of my existence.

This doesn't bother me or frighten me.

I can't rule out the existence of some phenomenon currently thought of as soul that will be explained one day by, say, neuroscience.

But I still don't think of it as the traditional religious soul.

Have you thought of the end of consciousness? How will you know that you're dead?

ryan said...

Have you thought of the end of consciousness? How will you know that you're dead?

This is something that I think of often but not in this way. The Christian view of death is actually the begining of life.

How will i know when I'm dead? This is a hard question to answer really. I think I'll feel complete peace in everyway to be honest. There are hints of that in life right now but I think it will be complete when death comes.

See to the Christian death is in no way something to fear (please understand Rune that I'm not trying to put words in your mouth here and say that this is the way that you feel) rather I look forward to it. Not that I "want" to die but when it does come I won't be afraid of it.

Rune said...

Ryan,

Another thing just struck me about the title of this post "atheism equals no accountability".

Surely Christians go into Church, confess their sins and are absolved of them.

So really a Christian has got a get out of jail free card.

Lee said...

Hi Ryan,

Catching up... sorry for the delay.

Just for the record, I have never been a believer in any god or gods so I am trying to understand why people believe what they do (and this includes myself.)

So you know where I am coming from...

One thought. Lee, Christianity doesn't look at God as the 'invisible policeman in the sky'. Rather, we see God for what He is, Love.

OK – I’m confused now, so I need you to help me out to understand your position.

You asked “if there is no God who do you answer to?”

What do YOU mean by ‘answer to’ and ‘accountable to’

These were your questions you put to the atheist.

I was using an analogy of a ‘police state’ because it seemed to me that you were suggesting that you are good because you ‘answer to’ and ‘accountable to’ something that ensures you do not ‘break the rules’.

This something is ‘god’ in your case and the rules are created by.... you tell me.

Would you prefer if I used the analogy of “Santa Claus”/’Father Christmas” – he has a list and knows if you have been naughty or nice?

Are you good then because you feel you will get a reward, rather than thrown in prison if you are bad?

This is the question you are asking isn’t it – or have I missed something in my confusion.

I know I know that this is going spurn a great many comments. "How can a loving God send people to hell?"

No, my question would be how you can believe that your God is all-loving if He also created Hell? It doesn’t make sense to me...

But I do not want to get into the problem of evil yet – this would be off the original topic.

Lee

Lee said...

Hi Rune,

RE: ”If the police were not watching you, would you go crazy and start stealing, raping and killing?”

Actually, I might.

Really??? So you don’t have any morals? Just do what you do out of fear of getting caught?

I don’t think I would go crazy... after all, I don’t want people to steal from me, rape my wife or kill my children.

This is not to say that I could not be pushed by society to do some bad things... in times of war for example, people are killing one another all the time - and most people do not think this is morally wrong (at least at the time)

However my point was merely that the Ryan seems to be suggesting that the reason why the religious do not do bad things is they have to ‘answer to’ some higher power.

My analogy was with the police force to give an example we can all believe in.

Surely Christians go into Church, confess their sins and are absolved of them.

So really a Christian has got a get out of jail free card


Good point, but is that just the Catholics? Don’t know.

It does seem rather strange that God will allow into heaven a confessed rapist, robbing, murdering Catholic but not a good man who has done no such crimes in his life apart from question the existed of Jesus?

Doesn’t make sense to me.

Lee

ryan said...

its off to bed tonight gentlemen. take it easy.

Lee said...

...But it is still early.

Oh, different time zone :-)

Lee

Rune said...

Hi Lee,

The raping, looting, and murdering response was entirely frivolous.

I retract it unreservedly.

:)

Rune said...

"What'll I tell him, when he comes to me for absolution
Wouldn't you know it?
I hope I don't make a bad decision.
Hey, don't look now but there goes god
In his sexy pants and his sausage dog
And he can't stand beelzebub because he looks so good in black.

Crowded House - There Goes God

ryan said...

As far as absolution from sin that is totally Catholic. There is nowhere in the Bible that this is taught, in fact I could say that it's taught against. There is no, what I like to call, middle man between myself and God.

Regaurding a "get out of jail free card" this is not the case. The grace of God is not something to manipulate and abuse. Someone who lives a life in this fashion I wonder if they ever truly came to God in an honest way. Another way of putting it, "Should we sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!" You'll be interested to know that this issue is a very common point.

And Lee I thank you so much for your next question.... "No, my question would be how you can believe that your God is all-loving if He also created Hell? It doesn’t make sense to me..."

Hell was originally made for the fallen angels and Lucifer. It was never intended for man. However, as the Bible says, those who follow Satan (Lucifer) will be cast into Hell with him. I think that a very important point here is that God doesn't send people to hell. Does a teacher force a student to fail or is it the students choice that gives them the f?

God's love extends so far that He will allow us to fail. Nothing is forced onto us. If I so choose I could right now return to my booze and live in adultery and God would not stop me. It is my choice. Fortunelty, I have lived that life and I know how desolate it all is.

I truly look forward to these "talks" gentlemen.

Ryan.

Lee said...

Rune The raping, looting, and murdering response was entirely frivolous.

You should have said... oh, you just did :-)

I didn't think you were serious, but it is hard to tell on blogs what is a joke and what is serious. I still wanted to address the point made though

Lee

Lee said...

Hi Ryan

And Lee I thank you so much for your next question.... "No, my question would be how you can believe that your God is all-loving if He also created Hell? It doesn’t make sense to me..."

No problem – my questions come “free of charge”, though if you like to make a donation... :-)

Hell was originally made for the fallen angels and Lucifer. It was never intended for man.

Can you help me out here...

Firstly do you have the bible references you used to come to this conclusion (or any other sources) for my education.

Secondly, and more importantly – this doesn’t address the question.

Is God only ‘all-loving’ to mankind? Is this your point?

You still seem to be freely admiting that God created Hell (which isn’t a nice place I am told) and this to me goes against the idea that God is all-loving.

However, as the Bible says, those who follow Satan (Lucifer) will be cast into Hell with him.

Again, I would be really interested in your references if you have them so that I can learn more of the bible.

So the Hell God created will have certain members of mankind sent(cast) to it?

This still leaves the question open then...

Why did an all-loving God create it, I assume you think God is all-knowing as well so can see this coming a mile away?

I think that a very important point here is that God doesn't send people to hell. Does a teacher force a student to fail or is it the students choice that gives them the f?

If I were to say, break 1000 glass bottles and leave the remains over the high street (with a rather small sign that said “Beware of broken glass ahead” just 10 metres up the road)

Am I free from any blame if someone drives their car over the broken glass and has a critical accident by hitting the lamppost at 40 mph or something?

I mean, the driver did have a warning? He must have chosen to drive over the broken glass using your logic – right?

And I must be a good “all-loving” type person since, although I did create a “pit of broken glass that would cause pain and suffering” – I didn’t actually want anyone to go into it... I gave a very clear sign. Very important that bit.

Does this analogy help you see where I am coming from?

I think you will feel that my act of creating the broken glass (with or without the sign and desire of any car accident) was NOT a nice thing to do.

I say to you then, that a God who created Hell cannot be all-loving for the reasons I just gave.

I truly look forward to these "talks" gentlemen.

Ryan,

If you really like these discussions, as I do, can I ask a couple of question about your beliefs so I know where you are coming from. It will help our discussions

Sorry to have to ask but as you will know, not all Christians believe the same thing on certain issues and I do not want to argue for something that you already believe in – so this will save time.

How would you describe your version of Christianity to a layman like me? Should the bible be taken literally for example, or as a guide?

Do you accept the findings of science in relation to the Big Bang theory that states, amongst other things, that the universe is around 13.5 billion years old?

Do you accept the findings of science in relation to the theory of evolution, that states that life evolved from simple to more complex life forms over hundreds of millions of years?

Hope you don’t find these questions insulting or anything.

To be clear, I do not wish to change the subject from your original question – just understand your position further without having to second guess it.

Many thanks

Lee

ryan said...

Lee,

I will answer the questions to the best of ability. Now I must warn you that on the topic of science I am a layman. I wish now that I had paid more attention in science class. So forgive me if I don't, or can't, answer your questions concerning science, I'm rather convinced that my brain doesn't work that way!!

How would you describe your version of Christianity to a layman like me?

I do not have my own version of Christianity. I guess if you had to classify me I would be an evangelical Christian. All that means is that I believe the Bible, I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and I believe in the Holy Spirit. So, in very basic terms, I believe the bible.

Should the bible be taken literally for example, or as a guide?

Both.

For instance; if I took the Bible literally all the time I would think I was literally the seasoning that is salt.

Matthew 5:13
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?

I would also think that I was a light bulb walking around shining on everything.

Matthew 5:14
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Rather, what these two references are speaking of is being the positive voice in an all too negative world. In more comparative terms, to be light in darkness. In a society that is focused on self, Christianity says to love all people, even your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).

I also believe that we (I) can take it as a guide for life. Take the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-21) for example. If you follow these ten principles in your life its safe to say that you'll keep your nose clean and live a Christ like life. Later on in the New Testament Christ brings into play the fact that these things, murder and adultery, begin in the heart and are no longer just an issue of the action but now a matter of the status of one's own thought; ref Matthew 5:21-30.

Do you accept the findings of science in relation to the Big Bang theory that states, amongst other things, that the universe is around 13.5 billion years old?

Like I have stated prior, you will have to forgive the following answer, or attempt there of.

In the book of Genesis 1:1-31 the history of creation is laid out quite simply. I am of the school that believes that the world was created in a literal six days, on the seventh day God rested. I take this literally because I have the faith in God and in His written word.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Do you accept the findings of science in relation to the theory of evolution, which states that life evolved from simple to more complex life forms over hundreds of millions of years?

No I do not. Seeing is that I believe that God created all things if I were to also believe in the theory of evolution it would completely discredit my faith in God.

Lee,

I do not find any of your question insulting. I hope that all of this helped out. Take it easy.

Lee said...

Hi Ryan,

I will answer the questions to the best of ability.

That’s what I always try and do :-)

Now I must warn you that on the topic of science I am a layman.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to test your science (as such). But I think my science is pretty good, so you are free to test me.

If I don’t know something I will let you know.

I wish now that I had paid more attention in science class.

Never too late to learn :-)

So forgive me if I don't, or can't, answer your questions concerning science

I was only asking for your opinions on a couple of 'basic' science questions – just so I know where you are coming from.

I do not want to take this topic off the rails – but it might open up new lines of discussion for later talks.

I do not have my own version of Christianity.

I suppose in hindsight I should have asked which church – but I feared you would tell me your local church which I have never heard of.

We got there in the end though – I now think I have the information I was looking for.

For instance; if I took the Bible literally all the time I would think I was literally the seasoning that is salt.

My poorly worded question... we will leave the pillar of salt to Lot’s wife(?)

I also believe that we (I) can take it as a guide for life. Take the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-21) for example. If you follow these ten principles in your life its safe to say that you'll keep your nose clean and live a Christ like life.

Erm... I could question this further, but as I said, I don’t want to take this off topic.

Later on in the New Testament Christ brings into play the fact that these things, murder and adultery, begin in the heart and are no longer just an issue of the action but now a matter of the status of one's own thought; ref Matthew 5:21-30.

This just gets worse... now we are onto ‘thought crimes’

In the book of Genesis 1:1-31 the history of creation is laid out quite simply. I am of the school that believes that the world was created in a literal six days, on the seventh day God rested. I take this literally because I have the faith in God and in His written word.

For me to comment further would certainly change the subject... I will leave it up to you if you wish to continue.

No I do not. Seeing is that I believe that God created all things if I were to also believe in the theory of evolution it would completely discredit my faith in God.

... but I have to ask one quick question.

What about those Christian’s who are not against the theory of evolution – you know, like the Pope? They are least think they are Christian - why are they wrong?

I do not find any of your question insulting. I hope that all of this helped out.

It does, I now have a better picture of where you are coming from.

Take it easy.

You too...
(isn’t that an Irish Rock band?)

Lee