Post Hoc and the Good Person Question

Lorena had a great question on her blog last week. For those of you who aren’t interested in following the link, she has a friend who said the following and she wanted to know how other non-theists would respond to it:

I had a classmate in high school. He was a pastor’s kid and did all the right things. He was courteous, loving, kind, friendly, etc. If religion can make a person like that, then I see nothing wrong with religion.

Here’s what I would say:

  1. That sounds post hoc. There are wonderful and terrible people in every religion. That doesn’t mean that one causes the other.
  2. Are some individuals influenced to become better human beings by their beliefs? Of course.
  3.  I’ve also seen some people’s beliefs lead them to act much less loving, kind and compassionate than they would otherwise behave.
  4. Is either phenomenon limited to Christianity? Heck no. Any group with more than one member is bound to include at least one jerk.
  5. What about people whose behaviour isn’t tied to what they believe? Some of us have (de)converted to other labels without growing horns or a halo.
  6. There’s nothing wrong with being religious. There’s also nothing wrong with not being religious. What matters is how you treat people. Everything else is neckbearding.
  7. The only time I get irritated with other belief systems is when they’re shoved into areas in which they don’t belong. See: every U.S. presidential election I can remember.
  8. Why is everyone arguing about this? Let’s all go out for lemonade and cookies instead. My treat. 🙂

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