Dear Selfless Atheist,


You can do the same selfless acts that a Theist can do and even more if you determine to, but can you really be selfless? You may say as another Atheist said,

Can you explain why my disabled, unemployed friend, who is a Christian, can’t find anyone to help him move his belongings from his storage unit to his house, so I, an atheist, am going to borrow a truck and spend a second day, (a day that I desperately need to be working) moving stuff for him?

There’s a bit of pride and selfishness in this oddly self-serving statement. Notice how this man’s “I” is better than the “I” of the man who’s not helping to move the man’s things. Self is magnified here when it should be diminished. Selflessness actually takes more than most of us are willing to give. A man may serve another man and be selfless in his acts, but selflessness goes beyond acts. It means that your “self” is abandoned in order to promote the “self” of another. Your “Self” or “Identity” is lost in the process. Who you are means nothing compared to the person you are serving.

But, why would you give up your “self” for another human being that is just as flawed you? Each man is just as capable of lying, cheating, stealing, murder, rape, and abuse as every other man. None of us are prefect. Why would you, as a flawed man, lose who you are in lifting up another flawed man? Certainly, it is good for mankind to serve one another, but the only selflessness that is worth practicing is toward a perfect individual. Therefore, I conclude that losing my “self” to the “self” of God, who is perfect, is the only worthwhile selflessness worth practicing.

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10 thoughts on “Dear Selfless Atheist,

  1. “Why would you, as a flawed man, lose who you are in lifting up another flawed man? Certainly, it is good for mankind to serve one another, but the only selflessness that is worth practicing is toward a perfect individual.”

    I don’t want to nit-pick, but this seems unclear to me. How does he ‘lose’ who he is by helping a flawed person, and why is the only selfless act worth practicing toward a perfect individual? If you could expand on your ideas there it would help.

    As for the gist of what you are saying, I think that the difference between the Christian (or you say Theist, and that doesn’t necessarily apply to what I’m saying) and the atheist is the driving force behind the “act of selflessness”. In the atheists’ case, it is the person doing it, and therefore they can take pride in acting ‘good’. In the Christians’ case, it is the holy spirit moving them to act that way, so the Christian cannot say that “I have done well” but rather that “God has…”. This removes pride from the equation as far as I can tell, and makes for a big difference.

    1. There are levels of selflessness that are legitimate for human to human practice. Parent to child being one of them. Usually the mother puts all of her self into her child’s wellbeing (the father can as well, it’s just not as typical). The only problem is that this relationship of “giving of self” is not reciprocated 100% back. Consequently, the self of the mother (or father) is not taken care of like it should be. Hopefully, this is where the spouse sees the need for more care to be put into the self of the other spouse and acts accordingly.

      Another example of selflessness between humans is the marriage relationship. Here the ratio of the giving of the male self to the female self should be 100%:100%. If either self is held back even a little, the other self isn’t taken care of like it should be. This is a legitimate 100% giving of self example.

      “why is the only selfless act worth practicing toward a perfect individual?”

      It would seem that this assertion of mine should not have been a 100% statement, seeing as how there are examples of 100% giving between human to human relationships. (Or at least that is the way it is supposed to work in marriage. Whether it happens or not is a different story)

      What I was trying to suggest was that there is a deeper level of giving of self that can be done towards a perfect individual (God). Although marriage partners give 100%, the spouse is not able to receive all of that is within us (body, soul, spirit). We are able to give God every bit of ourselves because he is able to receive such things. There exists a superiority of relationship between man and God that a human to human relationship can never reach. Perhaps God knew we were giving more than we should to each other when he said in Mat 10:37 “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. “

  2. There’s a bit of pride and selfishness in this oddly self-serving statement.

    Christians don’t engage in this? I call baloney. I see believers do this all the time, and far more smugly.

    Why would you, as a flawed man, lose who you are in lifting up another flawed man? Certainly, it is good for mankind to serve one another, but the only selflessness that is worth practicing is toward a perfect individual.

    I don’t know about you, but I feel good when I help others. I would also like to think that others would do the same for me. It’s as simple as that. What I don’t understand is why Christians don’t get such a simple concept.

    Self is magnified here when it should be diminished.

    Why? This is like that so-called ‘miracle on the Hudson’ where everyone was so quick to praise god and completely ignore the pilot and air traffic controllers and their training. Had I been the pilot I would have been insulted that my abilities which lead to the safe water landing were completely discounted.

    Modesty is one thing. False modesty is another and should not be aspired to. What is so wrong with taking credit were credit is due? Even if I were a believer, thanking a deity for something where it was only the actions of people that demonstrably had an effect is silly.

    1. You can’t call “baloney” on something I didn’t say. You just assume that I think Christians are better than other people.

      “I don’t know about you, but I feel good when I help others. I would also like to think that others would do the same for me.”

      “feeling good” and “reciprocation” are still selfish motives. Think about the concept of selflessness a little deeper.

      “What is so wrong with taking credit were credit is due?”

      Nothing. But to disavow your maker, the one who gave you the abilities to think, reason, see, and the ability to fly the airplane is selfish. In essence you are saying that you don’t need God and you could have done it without him, forgetting that he gave you all these things in the first place. Take credit by all means, but in your heart give thanks to God.

      I’m going to venture a guess here and say that “self” is in the highest place of authority in your life, Shamelessly Atheist.

      1. All humans have selfish motives–I would be willing to bet that the reason 95% of people worship a deity is so that they will not be punished in the afterlife. How many Christmas and Easter Christians do you know who are trying to hedge their bets against going to hell? Purely selfish.

        In that vein, doing “God’s work” can also be considered selfish. After all, you’re doing it to build up treasures for yourself in heaven. So how is that any more noble than doing it just to feel good about yourself?

        Animals are selfish; living things are selfish. It’s biology.

  3. Daniel, it has become obvious that even the most simple communication between you and I is nearly impossible. Do we even speak the same language?

    There’s a bit of pride and selfishness in this oddly self-serving statement.
    Are you actually accusing me of being proud that I helped when no one else offered? News flash – I didn’t want to help, but I did. Others probably didn’t want to help, so they didn’t, and still others may have wanted to help, but couldn’t. But in order to actually tell you of the experience “I” had, “I” have to use the capital letter “I” to indicate that “I” was in the story.
    Perhaps you would have found it acceptable had I of pretended that I observed this as a third person.

    You make this entire process futile. I give up.

    1. Bob,

      On a fundamental level, you and I view everything in life differently. I would say that even though we use the same words, we do not speak the same language. Even words have different meanings for us. Perhaps this speaks of the radical change that God has in a person’s life.

      What did you think the outcome of our conversation was going to be on this blog? I take a stand for what I believe, and I respect all others who do the same even though I may not think they are right. People who say “I just don’t know” and then try to pick at the stand other people take, I believe, are not doing a good thing. I’m not going to back off or give up my “guns”, so to speak, even though you call them blind, disingenuous, and without reason. You don’t see things the way I see them, and I understand that. However, I do not believe that your stand on the phrase “I just don’t know” is a stand at all. You can reason anything you want as long as you have that mantra. There is a right and wrong way and the people who say it’s all relative because we “just don’t know” are avoiding the issue.

      “You make this entire process futile. I give up.”

      Maybe you should if your intent is to knock me off of my stand in any way no matter how small. However, If you can agree to disagree we may continue. The advantage of this would be to better define what each of us think truth is in this world. If you’re not up for it I understand. This has gotten emotional at times and made me quite weary.

      1. “Perhaps this speaks of the radical change that God has in a person’s life. “
        Perhaps not. It is very simple – you make truth claims (about Christian and atheist behavior and morality) that are not true. Your religious mindset hinders your ability to discern between reality and truth with regard to your religious beliefs. I have shown that in numerous responses in which you either tell me I should stop looking at the actions of Christians, tell me it was a philosophical argument, or ignore my response all together.

        “People who say “I just don’t know” and then try to pick at the stand other people take, I believe, are not doing a good thing.”
        If you and I discovered a giant obelisk standing in the woods, and I was sure it was erected by aliens, would your argument that my claim was completely unjustified not have merit even though you yourself had no idea who erected the object?
        If two doctors are examining a patient’s tumor, one claims it is the result of to much bloging, would not the other doctor be justified in pointing out that his belief is ONLY that – his BELIEF, even though the other doctor wasn’t sure what caused the tumor?
        I contend that, if you want to believe, as you clearly do want to believe, feel free to do so. But when you claim, publicly, that your beliefs are indeed truths, and based on facts (which you only believe, but do not know), I, and others are completely justified and right to point out to you that your beliefs are only beliefs, and you are confusing those beliefs for actual knowledge.

        “There is a right and wrong way and the people who say its all relative because we “just don’t know” are avoiding the issue.”
        Actually, if “I don’t know”, and I admit that I don’t know, I am being honest, which is a good thing, correct? I don’t know if your God actually exists or not. You claim to know that your God exists, which you obviously do not know, but only believe. You either can’t or won’t recognize and admit that. I am not sure which. But in any case, it is you who is “avoiding the issue”.
        I know that I don’t know. I know that you don’t know. You either can’t, or won’t acknowledge the fact, and this leads you to make all sorts of truth claims, many of which you obviously do not know are true. For some reason, in math, science, and history, this is inexcusable, but in religion, it is the norm.

        “The advantage of this would be to better define what each of us think truth is in this world.”
        I am reasonably sure, based on hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of experience, that this will not happen. In your mind, you KNOW the existence of your God is a truth. In my mind, you don’t know, but only believe. There is a thick, leather bound barrier that runs between reality and your belief, and I doubt that you, like most Christians, are emotionally capable of recognizing that.

        Anyway. . .

  4. Bob,

    There is a difference between the faith that mankind has and the faith that God gives. The latter is evidence that he exists. I can build an argument from the ground higher and higher to the end that it would reach God (like the tower of Babel), but even those who follow me there still will not reach him. Man’s faith is wholly inadequate to believe in him. God still must come to you personally. I’m thankful he called my name and gave me the faith to believe in him. I could not have reached him on my own. I experience him daily and you can never take him away from me. He is real. I know him and not just believe in him. In fact Bob, if God gave you faith to believe in him, and you chose him personally as your God back when you were a Christian, no matter how far toward atheism you went, you would still be his. If God did not give you faith, then it is completely reasonable to leave him seeing as how you were never with him, especially after seeing the way his children act. As long as you keep your eyes on men, you will never see God unless he comes to you. I can’t help but ask, however, will you be so focused on men and other things when he calls you that you will not recognize the call?

  5. In fact Bob, if God gave you faith to believe in him, and you chose him personally as your God back when you were a Christian, no matter how far toward atheism you went, you would still be his.
    This reeks of the “you were never a true Christian…” that so many of the faithful spout. Sorry, but I will not dignify it with a response.

    As long as you keep your eyes on men, you will never see God unless he comes to you.
    Well then, we shall see if he shows up, I guess.

    I can’t help but ask, however, will you be so focused on men and other things when he calls you that you will not recognize the call?
    Come now Daniel, if he is as loving and powerful as you claim, he can overcome any distractions I have with human beings, don’t you think.

    As per usual, you completely ignore every single point I made in my previous response, and chose to deliver a brief sermonette. Thanks but no thanks.

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