HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

God using us as means not as ends?

Everybody has their pain and everybody is at risk of dire suffering.  It is hard to be happy.  Telling somebody God has a plan and knows what is best insults how they feel and accuses them of forgetting that and not of being grateful.  So as we try to give them meaning we hurt them and thus defeat the purpose.

Nagle argued that if you think life could be meaningful and demand that it should be then it will become meaningless and painful for you.  Demanding and trying to make it have meaning only paper over that it really means nothing to you.   The more you try the worse it gets.  Trying to get meaning from belief in God is a gimmick and will backfire.  It could be the reason believers are so keen on violently oppressing believers who differ from them.

God and the doctrine that he is good goes with the idea that God knows what is best for us.  People get a buzz from thinking God has good intentions towards them despite all the evil and suffering in the world.  Many seem to regard the intention as the end in itself.  Even in life some are able to face suffering despite believing that it will only get worse and there will be no hope as long as they sense others have good will towards them though it can do them no good.

Is intention, especially God's good intention, overrated?  Intent does not imply or suggest a purpose or a better purpose. And mental illness can simulate intention so unless you literally talk to God you have no right to assume he intends things in the usual meaning of the word.   Religion holds that God is very different from us.  Intention with a human being means the person can have any one of a number of them and has to decide which one to go for.  God does not deliberate and just does what is right.  Intention with God is a fiction.  God acts not intends.  God's intention is a metaphor for God's action.  The word should not be used for it tricks believers into feeling comforted.  

Intention is often confused with having a purpose.  Oxford Dictionaries define intention as an aim or plan and purpose is defined as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.  There can be no purpose when God creates for he does not need anything.  One way to help understand the difference is that the intention/aim can aim towards what is not really the reason.  You can aim towards getting loads of money while the real reason you do it is so that people may look up to you.  A plan can be made for the sake of making a plan and in that case the plan is the purpose.  And the reason the plan is done out might not be achievable.

Intent does not go with purpose or suggest purpose. Even if it does there is no warrant for assuming it will be a purpose that is better for us.  We see that it is not really divine intention and divine purpose that seduce believers.  It is the notion that this intention and purpose will suit them. 

Even if the two could be the same intention may or may not involve a long-term purpose.  It is odd that religion will not suggest to a person with seconds to live who is in a crippling depression that the purpose of it has been accomplished there and then.  The purpose could be that the person is still experiencing being treated as important by others and God though he cannot see it.  The way a purpose is always put in the future is plainly manipulative.  It also ensures that you will dismiss the proof or evidence that there is no future purpose or long-term good purpose.   Religion knows fine well there is no excuse for what is happening to the person in our example.  The immediate purpose is the one that matters and if there is none there is no future one either!

The doctrine that God has a plan to bring about the best possible overall result suggests that suffering people, not suffering but suffering people (think out the difference!) are means to a good and justifiable ultimate end.  This is patently degrading.  It is bad enough to use a person but a suffering person is just abominable.  Doing good to people means nothing when that is your attitude to suffering for anybody can suffer and does suffer.

Christians strive to answer that and their attempts are shamefully unconvincing.  They have to feel ridiculous when they open their mouths. 

Christian Richard Swinburne stated that it is okay “to use someone for the good of others if on balance you are their benefactor, and if they were in no position to make the choice for themselves”. 

He means that if they owe you a favour you may use them.  But what kind of favour are you doing people if you think it entitles you to use them? What if you are a would-be benefactor but cannot be?  It is not your fault that you cannot deserve to use them by doing something for them so it follows you can still use them.

Then he says you may use them to bring about a good result if they would choose it but cannot.  But the good result would need to be about them.  God's good result might not benefit you at all. And when man cannot do a great job of judging what is best for another what gives man the right to judge when somebody suffers and then benefits after that God used the suffering to bring about those benefits?

Clearly those who claim to be doing good because their faith in God motivates them have to be wrong or lying.  It explains why the huge majority of Christians are like those who Jesus criticised as doing nothing praiseworthy for they only help those who they think loves them.  The doctrine could be to blame for the lethargy most Christians have when it comes to the suffering and bleeding stranger.

The good purpose argument is what attracts people to God and to religion. But why assume God will have to make things work out for the best? What if it is not possible or too risky meaning that it is safer to work for a neutral result? What if God’s plan when looked at in full is not good or evil but both, that is neutral?  The good purpose attraction is driven by wishful thinking and arrogance and selfishness.  The unselfish person will hope for a good overall result but will aim for a neutral one and believing in one.  She will not make it about her feeling that she wants it to be so good that she cannot imagine it!  It is not about how she feels!

Consequentialism, the doctrine the main consideration when judging if something is right or wrong is what it will result in, is a necessary evil.  That is why we should not sanction it or make it holy by saying it came from God. Theodicies – attempts to explain how God can be good and let evil happen – always work from consequences. They assume that doing harm is fine if the consequences are good enough. Christians argue that God is working in accordance with the principle of double effect.  But the fact remains nobody wants to believe in a God who treats you as a means even if he is forced to and there is no other way.  People are manipulated by the Church and God-believers so that they fail to see that if they want a God that a using God is all that is on the menu.

Make no mistake: the doctrine of God is not only not about us or what we need or want but is against us.

Life becomes meaningful when you mean something to others. But do you really mean anything to God?  No.

The means and ends stuff is very difficult to get away from.  Human nature can be contradictory.  The best you can do is to treat a person more as an end than a means.  Those who talk the loudest about human dignity still in fact also think of people as means to an end.  The person who says you have total dignity and then also treats you as a means is nothing but a hypocrite.  Sadly we have to be hypocrites in this.  Take those who say that torture to get information or confessions from terrorists is wrong.  They never say it is just against human dignity.  They might say it is against human dignity BECAUSE it does not work.  In other words, if it worked okay or even scarier was always superb at getting results it would be okay.  Read between the lines when a moralist speaks.  The because or the consequences always matters to them more than bare human dignity.  Even if it worked and you could not use it because of human dignity it would follow that you think: "Pity!"  A grudging endorsement of human dignity is meaningless.