love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

To live rightly…

It’s not living, as such, that’s important. It’s living rightly.”~Zeus

I have heard some christian evangelists say that an atheist/agnostic saying “to live rightly” would be an oxymoron. That an atheist has no grounding with which to build “rightly” living. What is right? Is it all subjective as so many claim? And yet most atheist have a sense of “morality” a sense of “right” and “wrong”.
Many feel outraged when they hear of “horrors” , of injustice….

When I heard the quote from Zeus, on The Immortals I was immediately struck with …”LIKE”. I liked it very much. The connotation that one can just go through the motions, just exist…or be more…
That there was in fact different types of living that could be compared. Living….JUST living…or more…
living rightly.

It also brought to mind this quote by Marcus Aurelius,

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

When someone asks how a person who does not believe in a god, (or rather does not believe there is enough evidence to warrant belief in a god/gods) believe their IS way to live rightly? ….or “live a good life”? how is “good” then defined?

Romans had a specific set of virtues, (as can be found http://www2.hawaii.edu/~lanning/maximus.html .

I propose that anyone can develop a standard for “right” living, and that many will even agree in our current society upon many virtues.

In the Immortals, Zeus is specifically challenging Theseus to live for more than just himself. To widen his circle beyond himself, and his mother. To care for all of mankind. We have that ability as well.
To make our circle as small or large as we like. And we have the ability to leave rippling effects upon the pond around us…or walk alone….

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14 Comments

  1. Christians love to nitpick the wording of things to combat arguments and twist meanings to create them.

    It’s pretty easy to get away with, really. Most people lack the time and the focus to notice it.

    • Well, having been one myself for many years, I do remember once upon a time actually wondering how and why atheist were motivated to….”live rightly”….
      It was an honest (if not completely ignorant) wondering…Fortunately I was met by some patient and willing to express their point of view kind of atheists….

      Now on the other side i have run into some humdinger apologists who caused me to question my own ability to justify morals/ justice/ etc….

  2. Apologists, I feel, use rhetoric more than reason. It can be convincing sounding stuff, if you are of the mind to be convinced … which, unfortunately, most of us are. It’s still lonely to be skeptical.

    • Ah, the lonely…that can be true.
      “Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.”
      😉
      Sometimes my questioning the questions/and doubting the doubts becomes….daunting…or…exhausting…
      but it is still
      a journey

  3. The way people seem to be talking these days though, I am cautiously optimistic …
    People are becoming less and less afraid to call bullshit.

    I think he’s in the transition stage of disbelief … but, this guy kind of inspires me … http://threedims.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/atheist-in-the-foxhole-part-2/

  4. The whole morality question can be puzzling enough even without throwing religion into the mix. It seems to create a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to fanatics. Personally, a base “moral” rule of thumb for me is “if it’s not harming anything, you can just leave it alone.” It’s not the beliefs that are dangerous; it is the action spawned from such beliefs.

    • that sounds a bit like live and let live. I tend to agree. And that is spot on…not the beliefs, but the actions spawned from such that are dangerous. Though some beliefs give cause for such actions… 😉

      • That’s true – but not always, fortunately. You might be interested to read Demon Haunted World by the ever-excellent Carl Sagan. He largely talks about actions and events spawned by acting on irrational beliefs. Also, he does not condemn such beliefs – only the actions. As long as a person can willfully acknowledge that their belief is not rational, it’s ok to hold those beliefs.

    • Yes, it’s on my list. I have read sections of it. I think the problem with irrational beliefs is “the faith element”. If one feels required to act on such beliefs to live by faith…?

  5. Quoting Zeus… brilliant! Definitely worth following 🙂

  6. “To care for all of mankind.”

    And there’s a great start for a standard of “right living”. We know of it naturally, without instructions from any deity, most of whom demand we care only for those who worship the “one true god”. Whichever one that might happen to be.

    I feel it’s what virtually all of us would want to do were we not pulled and pushed and manipulated like puppets by a few who seek to rule over all.

    Worst of all, I think the theists were the first of the puppet masters in our short history. They laid the foundation for the male dominated, hierarchic societies that have led us to the edge of the abyss.

    Just my opinion.

  7. Argus

    I live according to ol’ Marcus as you quoted him above. (And he should know what he was about—he was a god …)

    As for a standard to live by, you could do worse than go to one of the vilified ‘alternate’ religions: Wicca. Their creed resonates “If it harms none, do as thou wilt”. A lot of wisdom in just eight words although it does require a degree of judgement for we nitpickers—for example I don’t mind at all if what I do harms war-mongers or torturers. In fact such would delight me …

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