Wednesday, March 14, 2012


This morning's post is a journal entry from the fall of 2008.  It complements yesterday's notes on values and may even be a bit repetitious, but it does reflect my intense interest and concern about the matter of faith and public discourse.

Is it necessary to believe in God in order to be righteous, moral, honest, loving, and compassionate?  Does the belief in a God provide one with a set of values that cannot be otherwise obtained”?  If so, whose God should one believe in?

For the sake of this narrative I am defining a believer as someone who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ and accepts the bible as the word of God.  A non-believer is one who accepts neither of those propositions.  Agnostics straddle the fence and may or may not accept part of those beliefs.  (There are also the “Christian agnostics”, but that is another matter for another time.)

Beyond the obvious difference in a belief in a higher power, how does a nonbeliever differ from a believer?  Are there apparent character traits or behaviors that makes a nonbeliever easily identifiable as such?  Do nonbelievers live and act differently?  Just how do you tell them apart?

One could point to church attendance and participation, but for years I attended church and was not a believer.  I’m willing to bet that there are many others who have, or are, sharing that experience.

What about personal values, a term that has been so misused and thrown about that it has become almost meaningless; do they offer a clue to a persons belief system? 

Consider the following:

   Love as demonstrated by how others are treated,
   Compassion and forgiveness,
   Moral and ethical behavior in private, public, and business life,
   Tolerance and respect for people and ideas that differ from our own,
   Respect for all life, not just the unborn, but criminals and civilians exposed to war,
   Honesty and integrity,
   Respect and commitment to family and friends,
   Acceptance of responsibility to self and to family, friends, and work,
   Willingness to share and help those in need,
   Respect for the planet.
   Love and service to country,

Is it possible to know someone demonstrating none, some, or all of the above values and be able to predict their “level of belief”?  I think not, and that is what infuriates me when I hear or read that without religion we have no moral compass, no sense of responsible or ethical behavior.   There are people who believe that a nonbeliever is not fit to serve this country.

Believers do not have a monopoly on moral and ethical values.  Behavior defines us far more than our beliefs do.

Fall 2008

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