Good Without God Is…

I’m trying to interpret this (real) church sign:

Skeptical Rockhead asks some good questions about it:

Does it mean atheists are worthless?

Does it mean you can’t have good without a god?

Does it mean goodness without a god is meaningless?

I’m not sure what the intended meaning is.

All I’m getting from it is that whoever wrote the sign can’t understand why non-Christians could, would, or should be good.

Isn’t that just frightening…?

I can’t understand why anyone would continue to attend a church that prides itself on such ignorance.

(via Skeptical Rockhead)

  • http://www.myspace.com/_age_of_reason_ Donavon

    They have a facebook page, maybe you can ask them directly.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    My first thought was that maybe some letters fell off.

    Then, after looking at it for a while, I think it’s supposed to be a spelling joke. If you take the letters g, o, and d out of the word good, all you have left is one o. I don’t know what the message is, though. Maybe the o is supposed to be a zero, representing nothing and/or meaninglessness?

  • Shawn

    I think it is “Good without God is atheist”

    0 = nothing

    (since they think atheist believe in nothing)
    nothing = atheist

    So atheist do good without god.

  • Bob

    Then I can only think that the Pledge of Allegiance is worthless without the words, ‘under God.’ After all, it was just a piece of claptrap written by a socialist.

    Seriously, what’s so bad about ‘O’? It’s different than ’0,’ which is what I think the folks at the church were trying to say.

  • Daniel

    Well, if “the big o” is an orgasm, than I take this sign to mean that being good without god is orgasmic.

    Yay!

    (I’m sure they were going for the zero implication, but I like mine more ;p

  • Steve

    Yes, it’s saying good without god is zero, someone was bored that day!

    We get “ch–ch, what’s missing, U R”, very droll, not!

    Don’t Christians feel other emotions, why pick on non believers?

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    These church people don’t know the difference between “oh” and “zero”! This proves they are inadvertently worshiping satan. (Let them try to prove they are not.)

  • Anonymous

    I think Sharmin has it right. It would work better if GOD had spaces between the characters to draw attention to the letters, but I don’t know why they didn’t go with the more obvious phrasing ‘You can’t spell “Good” without “God”.’ Tired, yes, but ‘O’ as a single line looks like the other letters fell off, not like a play on the O/0.

  • James Lyman III

    So good without god is o, not zero. o is a letter with no numerical value(denotative meaning that is). The statement is bunk, and it really is upsetting that some theist still believe that atheist/non-theist have no morels. Consider the fact that only ~0.2% of prison inmates in the U.S. are atheist/non-theist meaning that the other 99.8% are theist of some kind, while ~9% of the U.S. population is atheist/non-theist, that is a big size difference by ratio.

  • gski

    I took it to mean that you can’t be good without god. Which says much more about their weakness of character and proclivity to be evil than it does about atheists.

  • WingedBeast

    I think what they’re trying to say is that worship of God is essential to goodness and that feeding the poor, healing the sick, tending to those who have suffered or taking steps to make sure that they don’t is all meaningless unless you’re doing so in obedience to an all powerful law-giver.

    Or, in other words, morality itself is meaningless and only serving your part in this co-dependant abusive relationship with the omnipotent matters.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    I had a co-worker at a previous job who liked to post a little statement to the counter where we worked: “Without God I am nothing.”

    I removed it during my shifts.

    The point, to me, seemed to be that these devout Christians think that their god and their relationship with him are all that matter. That’s obsessive, if you ask me.

    Of course doing the math leads in the same direction:

    Me – God = nothing

    or
    nothing + God = me

    This seems to say that they ARE their god. A more arrogant sum in logic would be hard to find.

    Then some Christians insist that they were created by their god. To me it goes more like this: They believe they were created by nothing less than a GOD. Arrogance empowered by myth.

  • Jordan

    Christians love simple, insulting linguistic tricks on their signs. That isn’t anything new. Something like “You can’t spell good without god” would be similarly satisfying to them. Here, they have a joyous, heaven-sent double entendre which is sure to send them to their knees squeeling with glee over their One True Faith.

  • http://www.NoYourGod.com NoYourGod

    Simply add a “K” after the “O” in the last line, and I’m fine with that.

  • Grimalkin

    I was actually thinking of 0 as in “the O face.”

    Kinda like saying “Being good without God is oooooh, mmm, oh yeah…” but with fewer letters.

  • Grimalkin

    OH OH! What if the O symbolises everything? It’s a fairly universal symbol of inclusivity and all-encompassingness.

    So what they are actually saying is that we are all good without God – some of us just acknowledge the fact.

  • http://www.rockeddy.com Tom Corey

    What is the deal with these church marquees now? They are all the rage. The churches in our country always have something up on them, often a play on words akin to a title for a country music song.
    I like the old days when churches were not so “in your face” as you drove down the highway.

  • MIDVALCRE

    whoever wrote this is ready to write scripts for SNL.

  • Arizona Keeling

    Although still very poorly written, I assumed it had to do with the new book “Good Without God”.
    Sorry…can’t remember the author off hand at the moment, but NPR interviewed him the other day.

  • http://awesomethingoftheday.tumblr.com t3knomanser

    It’s “O” as in “Ohhhh…”

  • Steven

    I was raised in a Church of Christ. They make Souther Baptists look like Unitarians.

  • http://skepticalrockhead.blogspot.com/ Rockhead

    I took it as meaning zero. There are church signs all over the place around here, and this particular church has always been one of the wackiest. Past signs: “If Man Evolved from Monkeys, Why are there Still Monkeys?” and “Big Bang? You’ve Got to be Kidding!”.

    I was thinking about sending a note to the paster asking what he meant, but the last thing I want to do is end up on their mailing list.

  • Richard Wade

    I think it means that while people can be good without God, it amounts to zero. It doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter.

    Keep in mind that Christianity keeps most people at Kohlberg’s lowest two levels of moral development, only being good to avoid punishment and gain reward. They’re told to “be as little children,” and their motives for good behavior are the same as those of little children: avoid the spanking and get the cookie. Being good just for goodness’ sake is beyond most of their understanding.

    I think the emphasis on belief over good behavior was started centuries ago when holy men realized that having a populace that just behaved well didn’t result in the people feeling compelled to come to the temple and bring their money. In fact, living in a happy, well-functioning society probably reduced their interest in turning to invisible beings to make things better. Business at the god store was slow.

    So the holy men eschewed good behavior as “filthy rags in the eyes of the Lord” in favor of devout belief, which is difficult to maintain without getting constant reinforcement from the professionals at the temple.

    The strategy worked. Business picked up. Everyone had to live in a community that was less happy and less healthy, but the holy men got rich.

    The preacher who put up this sign is just trying to protect his income.

  • http://stochasticmutters.blogspot.com/ Aaron

    I thought it was “Good without God is Oh, wait a second, that makes sense!” but he ran out of sign.

  • noen

    “I’m not sure what the intended meaning is.”

    It’s pretty simple. I means that without a belief in god there is no good. I’m not sure I agree with that but that’s what they are getting at.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristopherTK ChristopherTK

    Good without god is not really good because it was not done for god?

    The church’s statement displays little concern for humankind. To proclaim Good equals nothing without god, implies one should do nothing good without a reward for the action. It is difficult to accept that some people believe this to be true.

  • http://www.twitter.com/manielse manielse

    It means Priests without God are unemployed. To them, that’s not good.

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    I actually blogged about the exact same sign (from a different organization, but the same message) last year. You can find that post here, if you’re interested. As a Christian, I have some pretty strong opinions about such signs.

  • Stephen P

    So if you’re a Dutch speaker, being good without god is 2.71828. I’m sure there’s some deep significance here.

  • http://skepticat.blogspot.com/ Skepticat

    I think Richard Wade is right in his interpretation of the sign. Also keep in mind that this is a Church of Christ. Many of them think other Christians are going to hell too because they weren’t baptized right or because they use musical instruments during worship.

  • Sackbut

    I don’t think there is much meaning to the sign. It’s sort of like the other meaningless sentiment “You can’t be good without God”, and it’s oh-so-clever, so they vaguely agree and don’t think about it anymore. A common problem in religion, when you get down to it. Vague feel-good statements that don’t make sense when you think about them.

  • noen

    Sackbut Says:
    “You can’t be good without God”

    It is difficult to see how moral realism is possible without some higher power or authority saying what is or isn’t a morally praiseworthy act. An atheist is pretty much forced to adopt Nietzschean moral nihilism.

    The typical appeal to evolution as a source of morality simply begs the question and commits the naturalistic fallacy. Just because some moral code evolved doesn’t mean it’s right.

  • jose

    It is difficult to see how political realism is possible without some higher power or authority saying what is or isn’t a politically praiseworthy act.

    Go totalitarianism!

  • Richard Wade

    Julie,
    Thank you for your well-said remarks in your post last year. It takes courage to speak out against the negative biases of your own religion while still being an adherent, and I admire you for that. I hope that your efforts help to popularize a more mature attitude about good behavior, kindness and generosity, so that more Christians can get beyond this primitive level of moral development.

  • Richard Wade

    noen,

    Just because some moral code evolved doesn’t mean it’s right.

    Your use of the word “right” in that statement sounds like you’re stuck inside your assumption that what is “right” can only be defined by a superhuman authority. There are other ways to determine a general “rightness,” such as what pragmatically works in a society.

    This is why so many Christians who are so fond of referring to scripture for authoritative definitions of what is “right” conveniently ignore huge portions of those admonitions because society has grown far beyond much of the barbaric mores of that time, and it just wouldn’t work if they tried to actually adhere to them.

    If you really have to fall back on some “higher power or authority,” then it can be the general consensus of society. That’s the one you’re probably following 99% of the time, whether you try to attribute that to a spook in the sky or not.

  • D-train

    This is from somewhere, the church down the street from my apartment had this exact sign up two weeks ago but they put “good without god” in quotation marks.

  • noen

    Richard Wade
    “Your use of the word “right” in that statement sounds like you’re stuck inside your assumption that what is “right” can only be defined by a superhuman authority.”

    No, you’ll recall I used the phrase “moral realism” which means that moral statements are, or should be, objective and universal. That for instance stealing isn’t just wrong because we say so but because it is an objective feature of the world that it is so.

    “There are other ways to determine a general “rightness,” such as what pragmatically works in a society.”

    Pragmatism is fundamentally anti-realist and cannot fix moral statements in an objective reality. It denies that there is any such thing as objective reality.

    I’m agnostic. One of the things I am agnostic about is the scientific positivism of today’s atheists.

    Sooner or later you’re gonna get in bed with Nietzsche.

  • Don Rose

    Loosely translated, it means “christians are idiots”.

    Everything christians say leads me to that same loose translation.

  • Charley

    “I’m not sure what the intended meaning is.”

    I may well be wrong, but I have a feeling that in writing this blog post you spent more time thinking about the intended meaning than the person who came up with the sign. They probably never got any further than someone asking “What do you think of this sign idea?” and getting an “Oh, that’s clever!” and deciding to do it.

    I’m not saying the people who put up the sign are unthinking or stupid, I just doubt they expected it to be picked apart. And we’re obviously not their target audience.

  • sailor

    It means good without god is nothing. Such good does not matter. You have to get into their mindset. Only one thing matters: eternal salvation, forget this world, just concentrate on the next (and pay your tithes).
    Doing good does not matter – only one thing matters that you accept, believe and obey and do god’s will in the name of JC (which includes paying your tithes). Come on we atheists are supposed to know more about religion than the religious guys. Seems easy to me.

  • allison

    I’m with Daniel. It’s an O for Orgasmic. The “big O” is an orgasm, after all!

    Or they’re idiots who can’t tell the difference between a letter and a number, since o and 0 are different things.

  • Danielle

    Dog is ‘god’ spelled backwards. I guess my dogs are god?

  • Greg

    So I actually live in Monteagle and drive by this sign every day. It’s always got some cute little message on it (the last one i remember said, “honk if you love Jesus, text while driving if you want to meet him”), and when I saw this one I couldn’t help but laugh. The blatant ignorance of it brings me some form of cynical joy, similar to the feeling I get when I see the “Sarah Palin 2012″ stickers. Like Skeptical Rockhead said, I can’t imagine anyone would want to go to a church that prides itself on such magnificent ignorance.

  • jose

    Political statements are, or should be, objective and universal. Go totalitarianism.

  • Edmond

    Honestly, I thought it was clever! I disagree with the MESSAGE, which requires no deciphering or interpreting, but as a reader-board cutesy-ism, it shows creativity! So, one thumb up, one thumb down?

  • Richard Wade

    noen,

    No, you’ll recall I used the phrase “moral realism” which means that moral statements are, or should be, objective and universal.

    Well guess what? They’re not objective and universal, are they? You can stand astride a line on the ground that is visible only on a map where on one side a behavior that is considered moral and proper is considered immoral and reprehensible on the other side.

    And there you stand, insisting that they should be objective and universal, but which side are you going to say has it right and which side has it wrong, and who are you to dictate that? All you can do is to decide on which side of that line on the ground you want to live. Once you’re safe in the territory where the majority more or less agrees with your take on what is “right,” you can continue to wish that these mores were universal, BUT like almost everybody else in the world, you will probably insist that your own personal values and moral rules are the ones that should be the model for the rest of the world. Meanwhile, on the other side of that border, somebody with just as much or as little claim to authority as you is saying the same thing about the opposite behaviors. To whom should I listen?

    As for “getting into bed with Nietzsche,” you make it sound so oooh scary and disgusting. But don’t worry. After hours of reading him, I had to admit I really didn’t understand him much at all. I guess I’m just not smart enough or dumb enough or noble enough or vile enough; whatever quality you think one needs to like him, I guess I ain’t got it. Besides, I really hate that mustache.

  • ludovico

    Good – God = O(prah)

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    It means that they are really bad at math.

    It’s like saying 1002-102 = 0.

  • Steve

    Of course “getting into bed with Nietzsche” is scary and disgusting for a religious person. It sounds sexual after all :) And it’s doubly disgusting of that person is male

  • noen

    Richard Wade said
    “Well guess what? They’re not objective and universal, are they?”

    Thank you for conceding my point. Because in the absence of objective moral laws all you have is your opinion that murdering six million Jews is somehow “wrong”.

    “And there you stand, insisting that they should be objective and universal, but which side are you going to say has it right and which side has it wrong

    Exactly. Who am I to say that pedophilia is wrong? How can I possibly object to slavery?

    “Once you’re safe in the territory where the majority more or less agrees with your take on what is “right,” you can continue to wish that these mores were universal, BUT like almost everybody else in the world, you will probably insist that your own personal values and moral rules are the ones that should be the model for the rest of the world.”

    You are so right. There are no absolutes. Every cultural practice, no matter how heinous we might think, once seen from the light of it’s own values these practices are completely defensible. The Inuit used to cannibalize their girl children. Which might seem wicked to us but once you understand that food is scarce and the survival of the tribe comes first. Well then… it’s positively heroic isn’t it?

    “After hours of reading him, I had to admit I really didn’t understand him much at all.”

    Nietzsche basically said that since there is no objective morality you can just do whatever the hell you want. Well, not you, only supermen can do that. But all is not lost! Nietzsche also said men like yourself can be petty thugs and bullies. Things are looking up!

  • sailor

    “It is difficult to see how moral realism is possible without some higher power or authority saying what is or isn’t a morally praiseworthy act. An atheist is pretty much forced to adopt Nietzschean moral nihilism.”

    “The typical appeal to evolution as a source of morality simply begs the question and commits the naturalistic fallacy. Just because some moral code evolved doesn’t mean it’s right.”

    No it is up to each person to decide what is right an wrong using their knowledge and feelings. If you have some self-confidence and are not a terrible person, you will probably not do a bad job for the society you are in. When you go with a “higher authority” that is not in anyway more right, you are just depending on some other human’s judgment which is probably far worse than your own.

    Ideas of right and wrong do evolve, there are no absolutes for all time.

  • Steve

    “Exactly. Who am I to say that pedophilia is wrong? How can I possibly object to slavery?”

    Then you can’t claim to have any morals, no matter what source. You are completely amoral. What does it say about you as a human being, when you have to think whether it’s permissible to rape a child or own another human without appeal to a higher authority or only act so because that higher being threatens you with eternal punishment? Nothing good certainly.

    Sure, there are some issues that are debatable. There are gray areas in morality. That’s what makes the subject interesting. But the really basic things that are written down in the Ten Commandments for example are blatantly self-evident. Any society of even simple complexity naturally comes to realize them. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Treat others well, because you depend on them. Society couldn’t function if some simple rules of basic decency weren’t followed. And humans are ultimately social creatures.

    And those simple things are usually all that religion really offers, when you go by the ancient texts. It has no complexity. All the complicated things are constantly being interpreted and reinterpreted. They are what causes all the strife between various sects, because all of it is man-made.

    Oh, and (child) rape and slavery were once perfectly fine with Christianity. In fact the Old Testament demands them. Slavery in the United States was justified like that not so long ago. So much for god-given “morals”. It’s when you look to religion that you can justify any evil imaginable. Someone just has to tell you that’s it’s your god’s will.

  • sailor

    “Exactly. Who am I to say that pedophilia is wrong? How can I possibly object to slavery?”

    No you misunderstand. You are You to say what you believe is right and wrong. Your particular views should matter to you, and may or may not matter to society as a whole, (if you believe pedophilia is right and act on it you will get in a lot of trouble – interestingly way more trouble than had you lived about 80 years ago) but basically it is the sum of peoples feelings about what is right and wrong that give society a sense of morality.
    For example, slavery would be wrong today and we think it was wrong a few hundred years ago, but back then, those in power though it was right and it was defended in the courts and church and became acceptable to most people (except of course the slaves who did not have a say). It was of course fully acceptable back in the time the bible was written. There is morality, there is no absolute morality, it is a function of society.

  • spink

    clearly a sign for those who failed math and/or spelling. it may count as literature, though, with its cryptic-ness and many possible awesome interpretations listed above. a good laugh!

  • Sam

    They aren’t saying that is wrong to be Good as an athiest. They are saying that there are certain steps that need to be taken to be saved, and if you do not take these steps, your efforts will not pay off on Judgement Day.

    For instance, to put it into a metaphor, imagine you are upset because you are growing a garden, and you pay thousands of dollars every year on fertilizer, but you aren’t watering your garden. You may ask, “why am I not yielding? I am investing so much into this!” But the fact is, it takes more than just fertilizing to yield.

    The same goes here, it takes more than being “good” to get into heaven.

  • Sinfanti

    I like to think a “K” fell off the very end. At least that’s what makes the saying right.

  • noen

    Sailor boy says
    “No it is up to each person to decide what is right an wrong using their knowledge and feelings.”

    Yay!!! I get to decide what is right and wrong!! Yippiee!! I’m going to have fun, but it’s gonna kinda suck for you isn’t it? Because you are going into the ovens first.

    “If you have some self-confidence and are not a terrible person, you will probably not do a bad job for the society you are in.”

    That’s fine with me. I’m not a terrible person, I’m a good German and will dutifully follow the mores of my society. My culture says that since you are a Jew you’re not really even human so I feel not the slightest twinge when I chuck you and your family into the abattoir. Yay for me!!!

    “When you go with a “higher authority” that is not in anyway more right, you are just depending on some other human’s judgment which is probably far worse than your own.”

    I totally agree with you there Sailor boy. Who are those evil Americans to tell us, the master race, what we should do? I didn’t vote for them, they are certainly not a “higher authority”. What gives them the right? No one! There is no higher law.

  • noen

    Steve says
    “You are completely amoral.”

    Calm down there young man. I’m just pointing out the absurdity of your position.

    “What does it say about you as a human being, when you have to think whether it’s permissible to rape a child or own another human without appeal to a higher authority”

    It says nothing about me because I don’t believe that. It does say everything about your claim that there are no objective morals yet you then turn around and appeal to them. You assume the very thing you presume to deny. Notice what you say here: “when you have to think whether it’s permissible”. Here you assume that there exists some “Other” who gives you permission and yet your argument is that there is no one who can give anyone “permission” for anything.

    If there is no god, everything is permitted. — Nietzsche

    “But the really basic things that are written down in the Ten Commandments for example are blatantly self-evident. Any society of even simple complexity naturally comes to realize them.”

    No, they are not self evident. There have been plenty of societies who’s moral codes resemble nothing like the ten commandments.

    “Oh, and (child) rape and slavery were once perfectly fine with Christianity.”

    I thought you said it was self evident that such things are immoral? Is it really that hard to not contradict yourself in the same comment?

  • noen

    sailor boy also said
    “It was of course fully acceptable back in the time the bible was written. There is morality, there is no absolute morality, it is a function of society.”

    I totally agree. Morality is just whatever a society decides it is. In Biblical times slavery was morally acceptable and that was good. Today slavery is not acceptable and that is good too. My point is that YOU have no basis whatsoever in judging cultures that enslaved people as morally inferior to those who did not.

    If in the future our society decides to take humans and interbreed them with animals creating monsters right out of a video game. Well then that would be just peachy keen wouldn’t it?

    If aliens were to come down from the sky and enslave us or cut us up for meat that would also be morally praiseworthy. What would we say to the aliens? Stop stop, our sky fairy says you can’t do that?

    If you were put in charge of arguing for humanity against the aliens what would you say? “There is no absolute morality, it is a function of society”? I think they might reply “You are as insects to us, we need you for meat, our values trump your values. Tough shit for you.”

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    “honk if you love Jesus, text while driving if you want to meet him

    i gotta admit, that made me laugh. but it also made me wonder: why don’t more xtians off themselves? seriously? why wait to “meet Jesus?” the world is “filled with sin” and “oppresses the righteous” and allows unbelievers like us to thrive, right? so why not just say “f*ck it! Jeebus, I’m coming home!” and kill yourself knowing that because you’ve accepted him and all that, heaven awaits you? the pain of eating a shotgun is minor compared to a lifelong struggle with godless heathens and First Baptists and islamofascists and dirty homosexuals and suchlike. why suffer this horrible world a moment longer, when paradise awaits the faithful?

    the fact that there aren’t more xtian suicide cults tells me all i need to know about the strength of most believers’ “faith.”

  • Richard Wade

    noen,
    Do you have a suggestion or a solution to all this that you find so absurd? You’re busy arguing with others’ remarks, but I’m really getting confused about your own position. I’m sincerely wanting to understand, so if you could keep the annoying snark out of it, I’ll be able to listen carefully.

    Simple terms for a non philosophy major, okay? Thanks.

  • trixr4kids

    Noen: There have been societies that were OK with murder, theft, and dishonesty?

    Tell me about them.

    Yes, our morality evolved. Social animals need to get along together in order to survive, after all. At some point the sense of empathy evolved–which sense leads to that moral rule which roughly translates as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    I’m told this “rule”, variously expressed, can be found all over the world, in hugely different cultures. When it isn’t followed–as when people permit slavery, or other forms of cruelty–the people who benefit from it will try to defend the cruelty, and others will argue against the cruel practice, but few non-interested parties will describe cruelty as “morally praiseworthy”, even if they’re conservative pragmatists who don’t want a revolution over it.

    Intelligence clearly correlates with sociality. A race of sociopaths just isn’t going to survive.

    If your hypothetical aliens need us for meat, yeah, they’ll eat us. If that ever happens, it will suck to be us. I doubt however that the aliens will claim that their predation is “good”, or “morally praiseworthy”, though. They’ll say it’s necessary, or morally neutral because we’re barely conscious and not-very-bright and therefore what happens to us doesn’t matter. In other words, they’ll perceive us as beneath or outside their concern, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t have concern for (other) others, or some basic morality that most likely will, broadly speaking, resemble our own.

  • Greg

    I really don’t have time to get into an argument, but I just have to point this out to noen:

    It is difficult to see how moral realism is possible without some higher power or authority saying what is or isn’t a morally praiseworthy act.

    No, you’ll recall I used the phrase “moral realism” which means that moral statements are, or should be, objective and universal.

    Those two statements are contradictory. By definition, if a higher power or authority says what is a morally praiseworthy act, then morals are subjective.

    They are subject to the higher power. If they were objective, then the higher power could not dictate what they are since that necessitates being able to change them.

    So morals are clearly subjective with a god, as for the whole are morals subjective without god thing, well, first you have to define morals. If you have a solid definition for morality, than yes, of course they are objective.

    If for example, your definition for morality is something along the lines of:

    A moral action is the action which causes the most well-being, and the least harm, for society.

    Then it should be obvious that morality is in fact objective. You can always rank actions in terms of the best things to do, given all the facts. Now, it may be when making a decision it is impossible to know all the facts, but that is irrelevant, our decisions are merely our subjective attempts to reach an objective standard.

    Note that I do not necessarily subscribe to the suggested definition, above (I just used it because it was nice and short; and simple, too…), I am merely showing how easy it is to have objective morality, and how it must be without a god.

    Note, too, that if you start saying things like:

    “But how can you know that defining morality as ‘X’ is the right thing to do.”

    then you have completely missed the point.

    Asking the question: “Is it right (implication: morally right) to define morality as ‘X’?” is like asking the question: “Is it scientifically correct to define science as ‘Y’?”

    Before we can say what is moral or not, we must first define morality. This is just like defining any other word. Once you have done so, then asking if morality is moral is clearly trivially true.

    If you like, you can argue that the initial definition for morality is subjective, but you cannot argue that once that initial definition has been agreed upon, there are not objectively best and worst actions within that definition.

    Indeed, arguing that way is the most trivial of truisms, because all definitions of any sort whatsoever are subjective in the same way – it is one of the necessities of language: we must decide upon the definition for words in order to use them, hence those definitions are subjective.

    Anyway, like I said, I don’t have time to get into a more detailed discussion on the subject, feel free not to reply, because I won’t be able to reply to any replies anyway, I just had to get that off my chest.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    This is the entire thought behind the sign:

    GOOD – GOD = GOOD = O = 0

    “You’re nothing without God” / “There is no good without God”.

    “Aw, isn’t that clever!” thought the smug Christian.

    That about sums it up. ;)

  • Sailor

    “I totally agree. Morality is just whatever a society decides it is. In Biblical times slavery was morally acceptable and that was good. Today slavery is not acceptable and that is good too. My point is that YOU have no basis whatsoever in judging cultures that enslaved people as morally inferior to those who did not.”

    Neon, I think this is an interesting point, but not quite correct. I DO have a basis for judging, as do you. Our own feelings based on the society we live in and our observations.
    I think the exciting thing about morality is that it is a function of society and evolves, and we contribute to that evolution by our thoughts and actions. In my lifetime there has been a huge change in the way we regard homosexuality and lesbianism, still a contentious issue. When I was very young it was illegal, I was told it was unnatural and disgusting. Just to confuse things I was sent to single sex boarding schools where teachers were sometimes predatory pedophiles, so the idea of homosexuality and pedophilia were not only conflated by me but by society as a whole. Now generations later we are happily close to completely accepting gay couples in a completely open and even manner.
    I can and do judge that as being far superior to the old anti-gay days. This judgment is rational and I can argue and support it. Not everyone agrees. That is the nature of morality, like life itself it is a vibrant ongoing discussion of how we deal with each other and the world.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Noen,

    I’ll play along and assume some of your positions and then ask some questions.

    Assuming there is absolute morality (always a right answer to any question transcending all time and culture), my question is how do we know what it is? Is the absolute morality available to anyone who can think clearly? How do we know when we have it right?

    There are some who claim that the absolute morality is written in the bible. How can anyone have the knowledge that the authors of the bible got it right? Hardly the position of most agnostics I know.

    If you believe that there is an absolute morality but it remains just outside human understanding (like the basic questions of the existence of a Deistic god) then what does the belief in absolute morality really buy you? You still have to make human decisions on what is right and wrong and these decisions will largely be guided by cultural norms and expectations.

  • ButchKitties

    Best church sign I’ve ever seen was advertising a fish fry: “Our cod is an awesome cod.”

  • David

    I’m taking it as removing the letters g o d from g o o d leaves the letter o. That sort of “humor” is typical of many of the church signs I see.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    I’m rather partial to Daniel’s interpretation!

    Chicago Dyke, because many believe that suicide is a mortal sin that sends you directly to hell. That’s it; that’s all. I would think that was funny except I cringed at it thinking how many that must have encouraged to text while driving (indirect suicide doesn’t seem to count). Irresponsible of them even though they were trying to be responsible.

    Hemant, best church sign to date and one you would have loved: I used to live around the corner from a local Greek Orthodox church that has an annual Greek Festival every year. Couple of years ago, they put a sign out front advertising it inviting:

    “Come eat. Bring the children!”

  • http://thirdworldnetwork.org Gwydion Frost

    Why try to interpret someone’s “clever” church sign, when we can simply make our own…? ;)

    Around here somewhere, I printed one off that read: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! GOD HAS SPOKEN!”

  • Barrett

    I drove by a sign that said the exact same thing at a church in central Texas.

  • Ben Finney

    It’s clearly a message in support of atheism.

    As others have pointed out, it’s obviously not a zero; that isn’t something that was ever in the word “GOOD”, so it can’t remain after taking letters away.

    No, the letter that remains is a capital O. But that’s a big circle, which represents the whole world, our finite planet and the universe in which it sits.

    So the church sign is saying that, without any gods, goodness is entirely material and natural, enclosed within the circle of the natural world.

    Any other interpretation would leave the sign’s author as either stupid or spiteful or both. Obviously they wouldn’t leave a sign with that kind of message up, so my analysis is the best.

    Who knew that they could be so tolerant of naturalism? I think atheists should visit that church in huge numbers and thank them for their support.

  • Fritzy

    Everyone’s confusion at the exact meaning of this is understandable–it’s pretty much a fail.

    But obviously, the general message is that atheism is a failed basis for morality and morality, frankly, is moot anyway, as salvation comes from faith, not acts. Telling. Attack the strong point of the atheist argument–that you can be good w/out god (an idea which is gaining acceptance) and you take away the chance that other believers will start to agree and fail to see a reason to maintain a belief that is astoundingly difficult and labor-intensive to maintain.

    What I get from this is that dualistic religions are incredibly successful at keeping the sheep loyal only by constantly feeding into the dualism. There has to be an “us” and a “them;” someone has to be demonized, hence the inability to be content with personal salvation and respecting the wishes of the non-believer to be left the hell alone.

  • Fritzy

    Noen;

    Your argument is old, tired and unsupportable. You use snark in an attempt to hide weakness and inconsistencies in your arguments. If you’re going to piss on other people’s territory, I suggest you get your own beliefs straight, explain them concisely and realize that when you essentially accuse a group of people of being amoral you are basically dehumanizing that group.

    Incidentally, I suggest you brush up on your understanding of terminology. “Agnostic” is a term meant to explains knowledge. “Atheist” is a term explaining belief (or, rather, lack thereof) in a god(s). You can be both an agnostic and an atheist (such as myself). If you are, as you claim, an agnostic of any kind (either atheist or theist) you cannot really make claims to knowledge of absolute or objective morality, as agnostic by definition means unknown or unknowable. Only a gnostic could make a claim that absolute morals are bestowed by some kind of deity, let alone what those morals are.

    As for atheists being nihlistic; ludicrous–society will not allow me to do anything I want. And I can learn what is right and wrong based on what society has determined is beneficial to the social order, as well as through a personal examination of what is beneficial or detrimental to society and it’s members (the latter being the reason for change in social mores throughout history.) This is the way most people exist in society, be they religous or not.

    Scoundrels throughout history have been making the claim that “objective morality” exists and that they have a connection to the divine that provides them with exclusive knowledge of this morality–and most of them probably believed it as did their followers. And millions have died horrendous, tortuous, unneccessary deaths as a result. So tell me, Noen, what is this objective morality and how did you obtain possession of this knowledge?

  • Abbass Zammannii

    Way too deep guys.

    “Good” without “G” is “ood”. “ood” without “od” is “o”. “G”+”od”=”God”. Thus “Good”-”God”=”o”

    Q.E.D.

  • Marty

    The correct interpretation is that all good things come from God. Whether you want to believe in God is up to you but God always believes in you and continues to bless you with good things

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Marty

    The correct interpretation is that all good things come from God. Whether you want to believe in God is up to you but God always believes in you and continues to bless you with good things

    Seriously? Have you not read the news recently?


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