Field of Science

Who takes responsibility?

In the comment thread of an article about Seventh-Day Adventist colleges and their requirement that creationism be discussed (my take on that story here) in every class that evolution is, I found this one:
The problem here is if creationism is true then many people will have to take responsibility for their actions. Why do you think they fight so vehemently against it???
It's not an uncommon argument. "Atheists just want to do whatever they want (i.e. sin), without anyone judging them in the next life." No. We don't think there is any next life. We fight against supernatural beliefs because they are oppressive, counterproductive, and false. They are childish.

Rather, it seems to be that belief in creationism, afterlife, and God results in those people not taking responsibility for their actions in this life. Many (but not all) of them don't care what happens in this life, as long as they go to Heaven when it's over. And all the bad things happening in this world (pollution, climate change, wars, environmental catastrophes, death and disaster) are omens of Christ's return, and therefore not particularly something to fight against.

Besides, as a matter of fact, atheists and do take responsibility for their actions at least as much as everyone else. Atheists are at least as moral as everyone else. Atheist nation are more peaceful, church goers more likely to steal newspapers, and priests sin too.


  1. So, this got me thinking... Obviously comments like this are made because the people making them cannot possibly fathom how we could hold the worldview that we do, and so they make up crazy reasons that must be motivating it us to act like this is our worldview even when it isn't.

    But is it only wrong people who do this? I'm not so sure.

    The other day, my wife and I were talking about gay marriage opponents, and she made a comment along the lines of a lot of people who claim to be disgusted by gay people in public have repressed homosexual feelings themselves. I'm not so sure about that... I suppose it's possible, but I doubt it is a common motivator. But hey, who knows...

    It hit me while reading this post that maybe part of why these explanations are so tempting is because we can't fathom an anti-gay worldview. It just doesn't even make sense to me that somebody could actually think gay marriage should be illegal -- so it becomes easier to invent crazy reasons why they must be motivated to adopt the appearance of being so vehemently anti-gay. "Oh, they are repressed, so they have to act that way to avoid having to face it!" But isn't this the same as saying that an atheist only feels that way because she "hates God"?

    Without strong evidence, probably we should take people's expressed positions at face value. And I think this applies equally for positions that are defensible, as well as for those that are completely indefensible and bigoted and stupid.

    Just got me thinking...

  2. There are definitely cases of homophobic people who turn out to be just hating themselves (e.g. Ted Haggard). I like to think that Fred Phelps is another. I would like to hear of anyone who is atheist because they want to sin.

    But, I think you're right that premature conclusions about "the others" are common because they are easier.

    So, why do people really dislike homosexuality? Because they find the idea of sodomy repugnant? Because they have been indoctrinated to think it's wrong? Because they all independently arrive at that conclusion by reading the Bible?


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