Tag Archives: secular morals

12 Things Christians Have To Worry About That Non-Believers Don’t

People who don’t believe in religion face all the big questions of the universe alone. Not knowing those answers can be scary, and searching for them can be daunting. The existential crisis you uncover when you remove the Band-Aid of religion can consume a lot of time thinking and worrying. The fear of that burden drives many people into the arms of religion, which promises easily accessible and authoritative answers.

Granted, there are psychological benefits to believing in Christianity, but  it also comes loaded with a whole new set of contrived sources of worry that eat up irreplaceable time in the lives of believers that non-believers simply don’t have to worry about, freeing up a lot of time over the course of their lives to devote to answering life’s questions, growing or just enjoying life. Here is a list of things Christians have to worry about that non-believers don’t.

1: Going to Hell

Christianity tells you that it will give you closure over the issue of death by promising you eternal bliss in Heaven. However, it also introduces you to the existence of Hell, which is where people who don’t believe in the right interpretation of the Bible spend eternity after they die. It’s supposedly worse than the worst place imaginable, and every human being deserves to go there to be tortured for eternity. But even after you get saved, you still have to spend the rest of your life knowing that you deserve to go to Hell. And you keep reaffirming how much you deserve to burn in Hell by constantly breaking Yahweh’s schizophrenic rules. So the threat of eternal damnation looms over your head for the rest of life. That’s a traumatic fear to instill into someone. It’s a recipe for deep-rooted anxiety, and the worst thing about it is that the source of this fear isn’t based on reality.




2: Being unworthy, despicable scum

The Bible teaches that you’re a worthless piece of scum who isn’t fit to live in order to convince you that you need to believe that you need to be saved. Not only do you have to worry about what’s going to happen to you after you die, but you also have to worry about the fact that right here, right now, you are a flawed, horrible, disgusting, unworthy, pathetic, worthless scumbag who deserves to burn in Hell for eternity. Christians have to carry the shame of their lack of self-worth with them through the rest of their life. This shame will nag at them and pull them down relentlessly. Every second spent thinking about this is a waste of time and an insult to the grandeur and beauty of life.



3: Loathing pleasure, fighting temptation and feeling guilty for “failure”

Sometimes Christians can distance their mind from the abusive message of self-loathing that the Bible teaches by focusing on the contradicting message that God loves us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins. However, the Bible also teaches that doing pretty much anything that makes us feel good is evil, sinful and shameful.

This fact is particularly harmful because our brains and bodies are designed to feel these emotions. We were designed (by whatever or whoever created us) with these feelings to motivate us to increase our chances of survival and maybe even enjoy ourselves a little. We can’t turn these bodily functions off. Trying to do so will only result in increased levels of anxiety. And when the anxiety reaches a breaking point we end up doing drastic, irresponsible things (as any child-raping priest can attest to). Most Christians don’t rape children, but all Christians have to wrestle with the shame of feeling the things their bodies naturally tell them to feel, and they have to wrestle with the shame of failure when they inevitably give into their bodies’ natural desires. This is a waste of irreplaceable time and thoughts.



4: Making amends for non-existent crimes

Since the Bible has set Christians up for failure by placing impossible demands on them that conflict with their bodies’ natural design, Christians are doomed to feel like failures. It’s only natural to want to make amends for disappointing God. Inevitably, many Christians have adopted masochistic ways of punishing themselves. Early Christians adopted the practice of flagellation, where they beat themselves with leather straps. The much acclaimed Mother Teresa didn’t beat herself, but she worshipped suffering and lived a life of self-imposed exile from any physical comforts of joys in life. Christians who “celebrate” Lent pick something they enjoy and force themselves to live without it for a few months. Each Christian must find their own way to make amends for the crimes the Bible teaches them they’re committing, and every one of those self-imposed punishments degrades their quality of life for no reason that’s based in reality.


Picture of a man praying in church, with the caption, "Contrition: Apologizing to God for the way He made you."


5: Evangelizing

Since the Bible teaches that everyone deserves to go to Hell and the only way to avoid this fate is to believe in the salvation story of Jesus, Christians are burdened with the responsibility of evangelizing. Many Christians have argued that The Great Commission officially orders all Christians to evangelize. Some Christians have argued whether that’s what The Great Commission really meant, but at any rate, Christians should want to save the people they love, which should be everybody. In addition to the emotional trauma that this responsibility inflicts, it takes a lot of time and energy. Every second you spend evangelizing is an irreplaceable opportunity to grow and enjoy life for what it really is that you squandered. Every second you spend engaging other people in conversation about your mythology is irreplaceable time you’re taking away from both of your lives. That time could be better spent engaging with problems that actually exist.

To make matters worse for Christians, non-believers don’t want to hear about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins because that story isn’t true. So Christians have to struggle to balance their desire to save people and their desire not to create socially awkward situations. Most Christians more or less keep the story of salvation to themselves and accept that everyone around them is doomed to the darkest, blackest, most evil place in all of existence forever. Their failure to save their loved ones saddles them with varying degrees of guilt. But 100% of that guilt wasn’t necessary, and non-believers are free to live life without that weight on their shoulders.


6: Everyone else going to Hell

The Bible teaches to love everyone, and it also teaches that everyone is so evil that they deserve to spend the rest of eternity being horrifically tortured unless someone tells them the magic salvation story that will save their soul. Christians have to spend their lives surrounded by people who they believe are destined for eternal torture and will be missing out on Paradise. Even if you wasted your entire life evangelizing you still wouldn’t be able to save everyone. If you truly loved everyone you should spend the rest of your life eaten up with guilt over this fact. If you’re not then you must have found some method of cognitive dissonance to convince yourself how you’re not responsible for the deaths of your loved ones. This emotional trauma and the mental gymnastics you have to use to diffuse this anxiety are all senseless.


Picture of Anne Frank, with the caption, "According to the bible, she's now burning in Hell for not accepting Jesus as her savior... of course, it's like he saved her or anything."


7: The Bible gives you reason to dislike others

The Bible says that you should love everyone, but it also says that anyone who doesn’t follow the teachings of Jesus is so wicked that they deserve to be tortured forever. In addition to all the other negative repercussions of this double standard that have already been mentioned, it also sets up Christians to dislike and even hate people who reject the teachings of Jesus.

It would take an entire library of books to cover all the historical incidents where Christians have persecuted homosexuals, fornicators, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, heavy metal bands, and every other group of people in the world who aren’t Christians. Sure, you could argue that the Bible says you’re not supposed to do that, but that’s what happens when you teach one group of people that they’re God’s chosen people and everyone else is demonic scum. Even if you choose not to persecute others, you still have to spend time doing mental gymnastics convincing yourself to love people who God has deemed worthy of death and trying to distance yourself from all the Christians who do persecute sinners and non-believers.


Picture of Christians holding signs that say Star Wars is Satanic, with the caption, "Christianity: Refuge of the truly insane."


8: Trying to make sense of the Bible’s teachings

The Bible is full of passages that contradict each other, contradict science and history, glorify violence and injustice or just don’t make any sense at all. The few Christians who bother reading the entire Bible and take it seriously face a monumental task of trying to make sense of all its absurdities. How could this really be the word of God? How do you explain inconvenient passages to non-believers? Which rules do you apply to your own life and which do you ignore? How do you justify ignoring some passages?

The truth is that it’s impossible to find coherent, unifying answers to these questions because the Bible is a chaotic collection of speculations, stories, rules, philosophies, and opinions written by hundreds of different individuals who lived in different cultures over the course of thousands of years. The only coherent, unifying explanation that makes sense of all the Bible’s teachings is that it’s a work of primitive mythology. Christians who can’t accept that fact must spend the rest of their life doing mental gymnastics trying to make sense of an incomprehensible book that conflicts with common sense and modern values. This is a futile endeavor that will only yield anxiety.


9: Talking to God and waiting/looking for an answer

Christians tend to spend an incredible amount of time praying to God seeking answers to life’s questions, but prayer doesn’t work. It’s nothing more than talking to yourself, and if you do it enough you’ll get an answer, but that answer will be one that you came up with yourself and that you’ll have to make sense of yourself. Sure, you can answer your own questions, but it would be far more effective to ask these questions like a scientist using a tried-and-true method of intellectual inquiry instead of cultivating a split personality or imaginary friend that you have schizophrenic conversations with.

At any rate, why would you have a conversation with an omniscient being who already knows everything and is actively shaping the world according to its inconceivable genius? Prayer should seem even more futile to Christians than to non-believers. Use the gifts God gave you to do what’s in your power to do instead of wasting time mentally masturbating.


Picture of George W. Bush praying, with the caption, "Prayer: How to do nothing and still think you're helping."


10: Explaining  how God works in mysterious ways

Your prayers will never be answered by anyone but you. However, sometimes things will work out in your life in a way that seems like your prayers have been answered. However, even if that immaculate event never happened, something else would have, and that thing would have seemed like God answering your prayers. More often than not though, nothing will happen, and you’ll have to explain to yourself why nothing happened.

Many times, horrible things will happen to you and to other people, and you’ll have to explain to yourself why God would let horrible things happen to you or anyone else. When reality doesn’t fit your expectations like this you end up telling yourself, “Well, God just works in mysterious ways.” So basically, whenever something you want to happen happens, you tell yourself “God answered my prayers.” When something you didn’t want to happen happens, you tell yourself, “Well, God works in mysterious ways.” This is textbook cognitive dissonance. This is mentally unhealthy and unproductive. Your thoughts would be better spent actually solving problems yourself and not doing mental gymnastics. In fact, the only way problems ever do get solved is by people solving them. So by praying and waiting you become the reason nothing ever gets done.


Picture of God's face, with the caption, "Works in mysterious ways... mysteriously similar to random chance."


11: Justifying to yourself how you can live such a luxurious lifestyle and still call yourself a Christian

Jesus repeatedly stressed the importance of living a life of austerity. In Matthew 19:21 he said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.” Yet the chances of you ever finding a single Christian who has given away all of their money is basically zero. Christians will give you mind-bending excuses for why they don’t have to follow the repeated instructions in the Bible that say to give away your possessions and live a life of poverty, but that’s just yet another example of how Christians have to waste their time and thoughts trying to find creative ways to bridge the gap between reality and fantasy.


Picture of the Pope sitting alone in a luxurious private plane, with the caption, "If this was Jesus, he'd put seats in all that wasted space and invite the poor to fly with him."


12: Giving money to the church

You won’t find any Christians who have given away everything they own, but it’s easy to find Christians who give menial donations to churches. The vast majority of that money will be spent building and decorating churches or padding the bank accounts of clergymen. If all of that money was given directly to the poor there would be no poverty or homelessness. Even if every Christian had just kept that money for themselves they could have lived more fulfilling lives and passed more money to their descendants to build a better life with…. just like non-believers do.



If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


Secular Living
The Bible is mythology
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Christian Culture
My Tweets About Religion

10 Benefits Of Christianity You Can Achieve Without Believing In Mythology

Go to any Christian church and ask the congregation what the benefits of believing in God are, and they’ll give you a long list. You’ll hear testimonies of how their relationship with God turned them into better people and even saved their lives from the path of self-destruction. These testimonies may sound powerful enough to make you believe in God, but there’s a fundamental flaw in their premise. The flaw is that, regardless of whether or not God actually exists, the Bible wasn’t divinely inspired. Christianity is a primitive mythology.

When a person’s life is improved by Christianity it’s not because they found a way to tap into the power of the creator of the universe. Their life was transformed by a simple change in their perspective, which was inspired by words they read in a man-made book. Since all of those changes happened within their own mind, independent of God, that means you can achieve those same results by tapping into the same secular processes that were actually responsible for the transformation. And you can do that without experiencing any of the negative consequences that come along with believing in mythologies invented by primitive, chauvinistic, slave-owning, bloodthirsty tribal theocrats.


"The Holy Bible: 66 fairy tales written by 40 authors in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents, over approximately 1600 years."


1: Purpose

We’re all born so lost that we don’t even know we’re lost. By default our minds are set on auto-pilot, operating on mental shortcuts that allow us to navigate through life without fully tapping into our capacity for critical thought. When you go through life taking the status quo for granted, mimicking those around you and basing your actions on whimsical decision-making skills, then your life will be tossed aimlessly according to the social tide. When you live the life of a sheeple you’re living without purpose and are almost guaranteed to be led over a cliff to a bad place.

Mythological texts can give you purpose and direction, and that will give you a reason to live and more concrete direction to follow. This can give your life structure, which can give you hope and peace. However, you won’t be serving God. You’ll be unwittingly serving snake oil salesmen who died generations ago. The functional purpose of your life will be to reenact a watered-down, modernized imitation of their archaic cultural values. While you may take pride and joy in doing that dance, your time, money and effort will ultimately be spent living a lie.

You don’t need a convoluted mythology to give your life purpose. You simply need a philosophy that’s based on evidence and reason. I can’t tell you what that philosophy is, because despite what any snake oil salesman tells you, life doesn’t come with an instruction book. You have to commit to a lifelong quest of asking questions and questioning your answers. It’s not as easy as leaning on mythological texts as a crutch, but you’ll have a better chance of finding more meaningful and productive answers than the ones invented by ancient tribal leaders pretending to be God’s spokesmen to justify their civil authority and pre-existing cultural values. If you want purpose in life, then let the objective quest for knowledge and truth be your purpose and see where that takes you.


2: Hope and peace in death

One of the biggest appeals of mythology is that it provides closure to our fear of death. It promises that not only will our actions and suffering in life be meaningful, but our fate after death will be desirable. This allows us to live without the burden of uncertainty and fear.

However, just as you don’t have to be a prophet to know that the Vikings were woefully misled into believing that after death their warriors would cross a rainbow bridge to Valhalla where they would feast and fight for all of eternity, I don’t have to be a prophet to tell you that you won’t ascend into Heaven and spend the rest of eternity in a vaguely defined paradise above the clouds after you die. The promise of Heaven is nothing more than the projection of another ancient culture’s wishful thinking. If you find that disheartening, the good news is that you don’t have to live in crippling fear of Hell, because Hell is no more real than Valhalla.

So how do you cope with the fear of death in a universe where God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t speak to us through prophets? Just look up at the night sky or down through a microscope. The universe is a majestically elegant place, and the more you understand how it works, the more amazed you’ll be by the inexplicable brilliance of its design. Even if you can never fully understand why it exists or how it got designed the way it did, you can still stand in awe of how the laws of nature shaped the universe into what it is today.

Sure, life is hard at times. Sometimes it may feel like the universe is out to get you, but look at the grand scale of things. Look at everything that’s happened over the past 14 billion years as the universe rearranged itself into a form that would allow sentient life to evolve from inanimate matter. The universe served you life on a silver platter. If life is a miracle then it would be inconsistent for death to be a crisis. At the risk of sounding too theistic, the universe knows what it’s doing. Even without understanding exactly what happens after death, you can have faith that whatever happens is what’s supposed to happen. It couldn’t possibly be any other way.

If you’re ever feeling worried about death, go try to light a small fire. Then try to freeze some water. Then try to break a rock. If all of those things work the way they’re supposed to, then you can take solace that your death is going to work according to the grand design as well.



3: Ethics

Question: How do atheists and agnostics know which rules to follow?

Answer: The same way Christians know which rules in the Bible not to follow.

Morality predates mythology. Theists ignore far more rules in their religious texts than they follow because those religious texts were written by members of primitive, uncivilized societies. The modern laws and personal moral codes we actually live our lives by today come from reason. You already have ethics without religion, and you can improve your ethical framework without religion.


"God is good with slavery: Exodus 21:20-12, Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Luke 12:47-48"


4: Being loved

Life is hard and lonely. Humans crave love like we crave water. Believing that the creator of the universe loves you unconditionally is a powerful placebo. It can carry you through the hardest times, bring you peace, give you confidence and inspire you to be a better person.

Maybe there really is some force out there in the universe that fits some definition of the word “God.” If such a being exists and went through 14 billion years worth of trouble to give you life, then surely you are loved. Feel free to embrace that belief, but don’t assume you have to believe in mythology to believe you’re loved.

Even if there is no God, the universe still went through the same amount of work to bring you here. Love is something you do. From that perspective, the universe loves you just as much as Yahweh… even more in fact, because the universe never gave us detailed instructions on how to sell our daughters into slavery. It never told slaves to obey their owners, and it doesn’t want to torture you for eternity for not prostrating yourself before it.



5: Loving others/selflessness

People all over the world have been loving each other for centuries even though billions of them believe in different mythologies. Even people who don’t believe in mythology still love, and many people who do believe in mythology use their religious texts to justify hating, exploiting, oppressing, hurting and killing their fellow man.

You don’t need a book to tell you to love one another. You just need to understand the value of life, and you don’t need God to tell you what that is. Life is infinitely valuable and thus we’re all infinitely deserving of love regardless of whether or not we’re a member of the tribe of Israel or the Christian church or are heterosexual. We’re all stuck in this great big, mysterious universe together, and all we have is each other. Of course we should love each other. That’s the least profound statement you’ll ever hear.


"Consider it: Every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?" Sam Harris


6: The relief of forgiveness

We all make mistakes. We all do things we regret. We all fall short of our own expectations, and there’s no shortage of people eager to tear us down and make us feel worthless. Even the Bible says that we’re all sinnersEven our righteousness is like filthy rags, and our wisdom is foolishness in the eyes of God. The Bible paints a clear picture that we’re all sinners hanging over Hell by a thread, watched over by an angry God. With that much guilt heaped on our heads, of course we would be desperate for the relief of forgiveness.

But we don’t need God to impregnate a virgin, be born on earth as a human and have himself killed in order for us to be absolved of breaching the cultural norms of a random primitive society. The only reason anyone feels the relief of forgiveness after hearing the story of Jesus is because it convinced them to give themselves permission to forgive themselves.

You don’t need anyone else’s permission to forgive yourself.  A mistake is only a mistake when you don’t learn from it. When you do learn from it, it’s an invaluable learning experience. And you’re not omniscient. Of course, you’re going to make sub-optimal decisions from time to time. That doesn’t make you any less of a cosmic miracle who deserves to love yourself and be loved by others. If you’re having trouble letting go of the past then see a professional therapist. They charge a lot less than the church does. They address the real issues underlying your shame, and they won’t continue to guilt trip you for the rest of your life.



7: A reason and a way to improve yourself

Why get out of bed in the morning much less push yourself to your limits if there is no god and no afterlife? Because personal growth is its own reward. You are your mind. The quality of the reality you experience is defined by the quality of your mind. Personal improvement is an opportunity to improve your quality of life. That’s how life gets better. Your life gets better as you get better. Get it?

Another commonsense reason to become a better person is that the quality of a society is determined by the quality of its members. In order for us to live in the best world possible, we all have to become the best people possible. When we do that we’ll live in Utopia regardless of what political/economic systems are in place. So, if you want to live in the best world possible, you need to be the best person possible.

On a more philosophical note, the universe went through 14 billion years of effort to create us and give us the opportunity to exist as a species, create our own history, discover technology, live comfortably and have fun That’s more than your significant other did for you all year, and you still worship your lover.

I’m not saying you should worship the universe. That would be time wasted that you could have spent becoming a better person. That’s the point. If the universe went through all this trouble to set you up to be the best person you can be, then the best way you can express your gratitude is by becoming a better person and simultaneously doing your part in humanity achieving its full potential.

If you accept the opportunity to improve yourself, you should know that psychology and philosophy offer a better road map to self-improvement than the instructions handed down to us by the megalomaniac warlords who wrote the Bible. If you want to become a better person then study logic. Study psychology, specifically self-actualization. See a therapist to help unravel your past. Study yourself, and get a professional personality/aptitude test done. Study science, and understand how the universe works. Study history. Spend your Sunday mornings teaching yourself how to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Go traveling and see the world. Learn about different cultures so you can better understand all the ways you can possibly live and perceive the world.



8: Admitting helplessness and surrendering your worries to God

When the struggles of life start to overwhelm you, and you begin to collapse under the weight of your responsibilities, you can find profound relief by admitting you’re not in complete control of everything that happens to you and then letting go and letting God be in control.

But God doesn’t grant you the serenity to accept the things you can’t change, the strength to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference. You do that. You possess the capacity to understand that if you can change something, then it’s not worth worrying about, and if you can’t change something, then it’s not worth worrying about.



9: Having faith that everything will work out as part of God’s plan

Believing God is in control of the universe gives you a powerful coping mechanism in the form of cognitive dissonance. When anything good happens to you, you can credit it to God loving you and helping you. When anything bad happens to you, you can chalk it up to God working in mysterious ways and it all being part of His plan. So even if poverty, crime, natural disasters, and genocide seem out-of-place in a world controlled by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful being… the world still makes sense because you can just close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and shout until you block reality out.

You don’t need God to count every hair on your head. You don’t need God to be in control, and there doesn’t need to be a plan. All that matters is that the universe exists, you got the chance to live in it, and you have the opportunity to make the most of that experience. You have the power and thus the obligation to take responsibility for determining your own fate. That’s not a burden. That’s an opportunity. That gives your life meaning. Throwing up your hands and deferring all responsibility to God is squandering your chance to own your life.



10: The power of prayer

It’s comforting to believe that the creator of the universe is on your side and He’ll bend the rules of nature to alter the course of the universe to satisfy your whims if you just kneel on the ground, put your hands together and ask him to. That belief ignores the cold, hard reality that prayer has an equal success rate as random chance, and there are some things that prayer will never be able to do, like heal amputees. The power of prayer has been tested more than any other experiment in history, and it has consistently proven itself to be useless. Praying equates to nothing more than talking to yourself.

Prayer isn’t powerful. It’s crippling. Everything that has ever saved a human’s life and made our lives easier has been accomplished by logic and hard work. If you want your life to be better or the lives of all the starving children in Africa to get better, then spit in your hands, rub them together and then put them to work. Stop letting prayer hold you and humanity back. If there is a God, He’s not answering your prayers. He’s waiting for you to accept responsibility for using the tools you’ve been given.


"PRAY -> Did it work? -> No. -> God works in mysterious ways. Yes -> Praise the Lord"


If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


Secular Living
The Bible is mythology
Christianity is Harmful to Society
Preaching, witnessing and arguing with Christians
Christian Culture
My Tweets About Religion

9 Reasons To Be Kind Outside Of Religion

1: A cosmic appreciation for life

Think about this. Everything that exists in the universe is made of atoms, which are made of energy vibrations, which have been rearranging themselves according to brilliant mathematical equations for about 14 billion years. This energy is inanimate, and yet it possesses the instructions and power to assemble itself into living, breathing, reproducing, feeling, supercomputers that are supported by a growing, healing frame that’s wrapped in layers of pulleys and levers that work in tandem to create an acrobatic range of motion. Human beings are cosmic mysteries, 14 billion years in the making.

Reality is amazing. If you’re not impressed by life or the universe, then you’re not paying attention. To anyone who is paying attention, it’s blatantly obvious that life is infinitely valuable. You don’t need a prophet to tell you that it’s wrong to hurt or kill people. You just need to open your eyes and appreciate life.



2: We’re all we’ve got.

Healthy babies will die in their cribs if they’re never touched. Solitary confinement is considered cruel and unusual punishment even for violent criminals.Nobody wants to spend the rest of their life alone, and everyone’s best memories are of times they spent with the people they loved. We need each other to survive, and we’re all we’ve got.

Sam Harris may have said it best when he said, “Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?”

If you’re looking for a reason to care about people, just go look someone in the eyes, and watch them looking back at you, affirming your existence. If you ever get lonely, you can go talk to that person, and they’ll share a whole universe of ideas and stories with you. They’ll make you laugh, cry, shout, relax, orgasm and all around live. They’re a reflection of yourself and a portal to another world. As cruel as people can be, we all know from personal experience that people are worth living for and protecting.



3: The civilian’s war debt

Countless soldiers have died horrific, selfless deaths protecting your ancestors. Countless civilians have dedicated their entire lives to studying the universe, solving problems and improving the world those soldiers died protecting. Everyone who has ever held a job is a cog in the machine that turned the savage wilderness into cities with electricity and plumbing. Granted, there have been a lot of horrible, selfish people who left the world a worse place than they found it, but that just means we owe even more of a debt of gratitude to the people who carried the slackers’ share of the burden.

Even if our actions don’t have any consequences in the afterlife, it’s still logical to be grateful when someone does something nice for you. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we owe a lifetime of gratitude to every one of our ancestors who fought, worked and died so we could have a better life than they did. The best way we can show our gratitude to them is to continue their legacy and improve the world for future generations. The very least we can do is not be mean and tear down the world we were given.



4: Fulfilling humanity’s potential

It’s not a burden of responsibility to strive to make the world better by doing things as small as being kind to strangers or as big as devoting your life to curing cancer. It’s an opportunity to be a part of something amazing and meaningful. Look at how far humans have come in 10,000 years. We went from living in caves to flying to the moon. Humanity’s knowledge and skills have been increasing at an exponential rate, and we’re very close to reaching a tipping point in technology that will revolutionize civilization more than the invention of the steam engine or the internet. That’s worth being a part of just because it’ll be fun, and it’s not like we have anything better to do. Why not play a part in fulfilling humanity’s potential?

Sure, we might not personally reap all the benefits, but at least we can enter eternal sleep with a clear conscience, and we can rest well knowing our descendants will have a better life than we did. And if you’re having trouble finding meaning in life outside of religion, or you’re still a little worried about your actions being judged after death, you can find relief in making the world a better place. If it turns out that life really is meaningless, and nothing matters, at least you’ll have spent your life feeling good about your actions.



5: A spiritual but not religious appreciation for the divine

Agnostics and people who are “spiritual but not religious” are willing to concede that there may be some force somewhere in the universe that fits some definition of the word, “God.” If there is a God, it would be nice to know it’s true name, but we play the hand we’re dealt, and agnostics are comfortable with appreciating The Artist’s work without knowing The Artist’s name. That simple, general sense of gratitude and respect for a vaguely defined, theoretical God still tends to inspire half-believers to treat God’s creations with respect and reverence.

Many half-believers also speculate that God is everywhere and that humans are a reflection of God. Without outright believing in those two statements, the mere possibility of them being true still motivates some nonreligious people to respect life as much (if not more) than anyone who believes in ancient mythology.



6: Pascal’s Wager (modified)

Blaise Pascal posed the question (and I’m paraphrasing), “Isn’t it safer to believe in Jesus and be wrong, than to not believe in Jesus and be wrong?” This question is illogical for at least two reasons. First, Christianity is easily falsifiable. It’s blatantly mythology. Being a Christian doesn’t require faith in the absence of evidence. It requires active denial of reality in the face of overwhelming evidence.  Secondly, believing in Christian mythology is no more logical than believing in Buddhist or Hindu mythology. So there’s no advantage to picking Christianity over any other random mythology.



Still, the question raises an interesting point. Anything could have happened before the universe came into existence, and anything could happen after we die. We don’t know for sure that our actions will have any repercussions in the afterlife, but why not play it safe and try to behave while we’re here on Earth, just in case?

Of course, that raises the question, how do you know what’s immoral if you don’t have an instruction book written by a prophet? The answer is to think and talk about ethics using the brain and mouth you were given. There are logic-based moral codes out there that are far more humane and productive than mythology-based moral codes.

Atheists may laugh at agnostics for trying to guess what their vaguely defined, theoretical, laissez-faire God wants them to do. I’m not saying atheists are wrong, but they’re faulting people for hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Hope doesn’t cost anything, but hopelessness can literally kill you. And if fear of the unknown motivates people to do what they were supposed to be doing anyway then… that’s convenient.


7: Immediate karma

Our actions may not determine our quality of afterlife, but they do determine the quality of our experiences in the immediate present. If we spend all day being mean to people, we’ll experience an angry, ugly day. If we spend all day being nice to people, we’ll experience a full day of pleasantness. If we’re mean for 20,000 days straight, we’ll have a lifetime of painful memories to look back on. If we’re nice for 20,000 days straight, we’ll have a lovely life to look back on. Being nice will keep us in better relationships, which is the most important factor in happiness and long life.



8: Karmic cause-and-effect

There may not be a supernatural incentive program at work that magically causes good deeds to come back to good people and bad deeds to haunt bad people. However, we do live in the world we create. If you piss off everyone in town, you’re going to live in an unfriendly town. If you’re nice to everyone in town, you’ll inspire everyone to be nice to each other, and everyone will keep “paying it forward,” creating a self-perpetuating cycle of kindness. If we keep being nice to each other, eventually we won’t have to lock our doors at night or carry weapons for self-defense. So, without even getting philosophical, kindness is just practical.



9: Humility

Religions tend to divide mankind into “the chosen” and “the unworthy,” “the good” and “the evil,” “the saved” and “the damned.” Scientific thinkers don’t have any reason to divide humanity into any such categories. From a scientific point of view, everyone comes from the same place. Everyone had their ass wiped when they were children, and everyone’s shit stinks. Everyone’s body breaks down, and in the end, we all die. You can’t level up into a more transcendental being. No matter what we do or believe, we’ll always just be walking, talking puddles of dirty water.

At the same time, we’re also cosmic miracles. We’re biological robots with supercomputers in our heads that are smart and strong enough to reshape the universe itself. A lot of care and effort went into designing us. The evidence points to the conclusion that we’re all equally, infinitely valuable…. puddles of dirty water.

As smart and powerful as we are though, we were born existentially blind. We don’t and can’t know the final answers to life’s mysteries. We’re just stranded in this cold, lonely universe to stand or fall on our own. Since we don’t and can’t know what the point of life is, it doesn’t make sense to punish the hell out of people during life or after death for getting the point wrong. We’re all equally beautiful, and we’re also equally big screw ups. At the end of the day, we’re all family too. The only logical conclusion to come to in life is that we should celebrate, forgive and help each other.



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My Secular Theory On Ethics

This essay was taken from my book, “Why: An Agnostic Perspective on the Meaning of Life,” which you can download for free.




A scientific way to begin explaining the logic of morals is to look at it through a framework developed by psychologist, Lawrence Kohlberg. My theory picks up where his ends, but before I get to that, I’ll explain Kholberg’s theory.



Kohlberg argued that part of growing up involves developing morals. No doubt we can all agree with that, but what he specifically focused on in his research was how our morals develop. In order to find that out he performed a study where he asked people of all ages what they thought the right thing to do would be in the following theoretical situation:

“A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000, which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said, ‘No, I discovered the drug and I’m going to make money from it.’ So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not?”

(Kohlberg, Lawrence (1981). Essays on Moral Development, Vol. I: The Philosophy of Moral Development. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-064760-4.)

Kohlberg didn’t care whether you answered yes or no. He just wanted to know why you gave your answer. Go ahead and answer this question for yourself and see what Kohlberg had to say about your level of moral development.

He found that humans (have the potential to) progress through six stages of moral reasoning. Pay special attention to the last two words of the previous sentence, “moral reasoning.” Morals aren’t just answers to be remembered. Morals are a thought process, a formula to be calculated.

The first level of moral reasoning is most common in young children. They do what they’re told by authority figures because if they don’t they’ll be punished. That’s as far as their reasoning goes.

The second stage is basically defined by selfishness. Children at this stage believe that they should do what’s best for them even at the expense of others. The only time they’ll help someone else is if there’s something in it for them.

The third stage develops in adolescence. Here the individual is primarily concerned with social approval. If everyone else is doing it then it’s okay. In addition to basing morals on social standards people at this level of moral reasoning also tend to think that good intentions justify destructive behavior.

In the fourth stage, the individual believes the world has rules, and it’s responsible to follow those rules because those are the rules, and the rules are good because…those are the rules. This level of thinking is typical of older high school students.

The fifth stage is a little more abstract and is easily spotted among college students. People at this level believe that laws are social contracts we make to keep us safe, but rights are more important than laws, and laws can be changed if we change them in a democratic way. People at this level of moral reasoning also say laws should do the greatest good for the greatest number.

Kohlberg said very few people, if anybody, reaches level six, which involves abstract thinking and a commitment to following rules only because they’re true and not because the outcome will have any empirical consequence to the individual. This level of reasoning also follows that rules are made for people; people are not made for rules, and if a rule ceases to help people, then the rule is no longer valid and can be morally broken.

So what’s the secret to reaching the highest level of moral reasoning? Sure, you have to think logically and abstractly, but that statement is basically vague to the point of being useless. We can be more precise than that.

In order to think at level six you need a logical, systematic, empirically valid measuring stick. The ultimate measuring stick is the meaning of life since the value of everything you do can be measured relative to how it helps/hurts you/others fulfill the meaning of life.

Once you decide what the purpose of life is then you can judge any action relative to whether it helps or hinders accomplishing that goal. Even if you can’t figure out the meaning of life, the fact still remains that an objective system of ethics must be built relative to a goal. If you can’t decide what the objective meaning of life is then you can still decide for yourself what you think the value of life is and what you believe is the most important goal to accomplish in life. Once you have that you can reverse engineer a system of ethics around it. Without that, you’ll never be able to build a coherent, logical system of ethics.

I can’t prove that my theory on the meaning of life is the end-all truth, and my goal isn’t to convince you it is. My goal is to demonstrate how you can reverse engineer a system of ethics relative to a proposed meaning of life.

My theory is built on the assumption that the meaning of life is to fulfill your potential. Let’s see what kind of ethical measuring stick we can reverse engineer out of that.




My system of ethics is based on four principles:

1. A living creature’s worth comes from the fact that it’s alive. All living things are equally valuable.

2. The meaning of life for every living thing is to fulfill its potential.

3. Every living thing needs to eat other living things to survive. Every living thing must vie for the same resources to survive.

4. The most basic need in life is survival. The second is safety. The third is self-actualization. The fourth is free will.

Let’s take each of these four principles and look at them a little more in-depth.


1: A living creature’s worth comes from the fact that it’s alive. All living things are equally valuable.

Every living thing is infinitely valuable, period. This also means that every person is equally valuable regardless of what they’ve done, what level of education they have, or what rank anyone has bestowed upon them.

One implication of this is that murder is inherently immoral as is the death penalty as long as the option exists to keep a murderer in prison. This rule also validates the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If everyone is equal then whatever you do to one person is morally equivalent to doing it to anyone else, including yourself. If you hurt someone else it’s the same as hurting yourself. If you kill someone else it’s the same as committing suicide.


2: The meaning of life for every living thing is to fulfill its potential.

If the meaning of life for every living thing is to fulfill its potential, and everyone is equal then preventing or helping someone else fulfill the meaning of life is the same as preventing or helping yourself fulfill the meaning of life.

This means you’re morally obligated to fulfill the meaning of life for yourself, and to the extent that you’re obligated to do that you’re equally obligated to help everyone else fulfill the meaning of life.

An action is only responsible if it helps you accomplish the goal of surviving and fulfilling the meaning of life in the long run. An action is only moral if it helps other people accomplish the goal of surviving and fulfilling the meaning of life in the long run.

Every society has rules that have no relationship to morality. For example, cuss words have no effect on fulfilling your potential as a living being. This means there’s no logical justification for considering cuss words immoral or punishing people who say cuss words on television or radio. The only basis for the supposed immorality of cuss words is cultural ignorance. The same thing goes for the taboos against masturbation, nudity, homosexuality, polygyny, etc.


3: Every living thing needs to eat other living things to survive. Every living thing must vie for the same resources to survive.

It sounds very idealistic to say that all living things are infinitely valuable, and we should help everyone and everything achieve its potential, but those ideals hit a snag when applied to the real world because every living thing needs to eat other living things in order to survive. Every living also needs to compete for the same resources to survive. This means we’re acting immorally every time we take a bite of food or collect a paycheck. How can we ever in good conscience go on living knowing someone or something else has to die so we can live?

In order to get past this, we need to take emotions out of the equation for a moment. The fact is this is the world we live in, and the survival of the fittest is one of the rules of the game. If every living thing is equal, then it we all have an equal right to consume each other in the fight to survive and grow. In cases where one living thing must die for another to live the one that should live is the one who is able.

Remember, this philosophy applies only to cases of life and death. Saying that the strong should survive is different from saying the strong should exploit the weak. Remember, we’re all equally valuable. This means we’re equally obligated to help those we can when there’s no immediate conflict for survival. Regardless of how strong you are, it’s still immoral to needlessly hurt or exploit those less powerful than you.

Look at how this applies to war and self-defense. If it’s wrong to kill then what do you do if a mugger or an army attacks you? Given that both your lives are equally valuable you would be justified in either defending yourself or allowing them to kill you. However, if you knew that your attacker was going to kill someone else after you then you would be obligated to try to disarm them by the least violent method possible. If it’s impossible to disarm them without killing them then they’ve forced your hand and made it moral for you to kill them in self-defense.

What about abortion? According to this concept, abortion would be wrong if your only reason for getting one was avoiding the responsibility of being a parent. However, if having a baby threatened the mother’s life, or if food were so scarce in the local environment someone else would have to starve in order to feed the baby, then you would be justified in aborting it.

Let’s apply this to stealing. Why is stealing inherently wrong? There has to be a more concrete reason than “because God said so” or “because it’s against the law.” Why would God or the lawmakers say it’s wrong? It all comes down to resources. You traded your infinitely valuable time to work for the money you have and the things you’ve bought. Stealing money or possession is the same as stealing life. However, this means there’s no inherent immorality in stealing what has been stolen. Furthermore, you would be morally justified to steal if it were the only way for you to survive. However, that doesn’t mean the law should let you steal either. The law has to protect people’s rights. Of course, if we all managed and shared our resources wisely in the first place nobody would need to steal.


4: The most basic need in life is survival. The second is safety. The third is self-actualization. The fourth is free will.

When a conflict of interest exists between two living things the one who should be allowed to proceed with their interest is the one whose interest addresses the most basic need. When the conflict of interest is equal then the creature who should be allowed to proceed with their interest is the one that can. If there’s ever a conflict of interest where it’s possible for both beings to be reasonably accommodated without one trumping the other, then they should take the path of accommodation.

Let’s apply Kohlberg’s moral dilemma to this list. Is Heinz right to steal the medicine from the crooked doctor to save his spouse’s life? That depends.


1. The most basic need in life is survival.

If the doctor was overcharging so he could buy medicine to save his own life from another terminal illness then the doctor was right to overcharge, but Heinz would also be right to try to steal the medicine.


2. The second is safety.

Suppose the doctor was overcharging solely to secure his retirement. Even though this still equates to a battle for survival the wife’s immediate survival would trump the doctor’s future safety. Thus, Heinz would be justified in stealing the medicine. However, stealing the medicine would only be justified as long as his wife’s illness was terminal. Even then, if he had to take money out of his own retirement fund to heal his non-terminally ill wife then he would be justified in stealing for the sake of his and his wife’s future safety. However, if Heinz ever came across an abundance of money in the future he would be morally obligated to pay back the doctor so he could secure his precarious retirement as well.


3. The third is self-actualization.

The doctor is as morally obligated to achieve self-actualization as he’s also morally obligated to help everyone else achieve self-actualization. Regardless of whether or not Heinz’s wife was terminally ill, by the doctor overcharging patients for his medicine he’s limiting the resources they can use to help themselves achieve self-actualization. If the doctor is merely overcharging to hoard profits he’s guilty of theft with no excuse and should be held accountable. If nothing else he should be forced to charge a fair amount for his medicine.

As for Heinz, he should steal the life-saving medicine and leave enough money in the doctor’s office to pay for the true cost of the medicine with maybe a little bit extra if he can afford it.


4. The fourth is free will.

The case of the Heinz V.S. the greedy doctor doesn’t extend this far into morality since it’s only about life and death. But once someone has secured their survival and achieved self-actualization their only obligation in life is to exercise their self-actualization by doing whatever it is they want to do (as long as that doesn’t break any of the previous three tenants of morality). Though if anyone else around you is suffering or in need, their plight takes precedence over your fancies.


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You Already Have Ethics Without Religion

When people ask, “How can you have ethics without religion?” what they’re really asking is, “How can you have ethics without mythology?” Because religion is mythology.

So, how can you have ethics without mythology? Very easily. We’ve been doing it the entire history of our species, and everyone still does it today. Before Christianity was invented people didn’t spend their days wallowing in the mud having rampant cannibalistic orgies with their families. We were building cities, navigating the globe, curing diseases, and developing the sophisticated languages we would later write religious tomes with.

Humanity has been writing its own rules since day one. Look around you today. Your entire life is controlled by rules that nobody claims God was responsible for. There are rules for how to behave in a department store. There are rules in school, rules at work, Robert’s Rules of Order, rules for sports games, rules for war, rules for taxes, international law. Moses was an amateur. The IRS makes wrote 1000000000000000000000 commandments and counting, and those commandments have real, life and death consequences in this world.



Where do these rules come from? They came from the practical need to establish best practices to accomplish practical goals. 10,000 years ago we just needed to get firewood and food. So the practical needs of our lives were pretty simple. As society progressed life got more complicated, and we needed more practical rules to address the new practical problems standing between us and our personal goals.

We understand society’s rules and why they exist, and we still follow them even though we know we’d have to play Six-Degrees-to-God to give any deity credit for saying your car has to come to a full stop at a red light. We even have our own personal philosophies on which rules we have to acknowledge as valid and which ones are bullshit and we don’t have to follow. Every member of every religion uses their personal philosophical system to dismiss parts of the religion they profess to base their life on. Every Christian has their own personal ethics that guide which passages in the Bible they cherry pick and how they interpret scripture to conform to their existing biases.

The following experiment would prove my point: Take 100 people who claim to be religious. Have them carry a notebook with them everywhere they go for a week and have them write down every place they go and every person they talk to. Have them record a short explanation for why they decided to go and do each of the things they did that week. At the end of the week, you might have 2 or 3 actions among thousands that were directly motivated by Biblical doctrine. Yet you’ll notice they got through the week relatively okay and probably accomplished a lot of good things by following rules that were publicly and unapologetically invented by humans.

You’ll find these people even made up rules on their own, broke their own rules, broke other people’s rules and broke Christian rules without their week devolving into a cannibalistic orgy with their family. Why did they behave like such heretics, yet still manage to live a happy, kind, productive life? They used common sense to identify the most productive ways to maximize their goals according to their values.



We all do this every day, effortlessly. You put more thought into calculating your personal system of ethics than a supercomputer puts into calculating the world’s most complicated chess game. You might respond to this by pointing out that the world is in chaos and pain, but I believe that is due more to people holding onto irrational beliefs and customs than people using reason.

Bad rules stay on the books because ordinary people don’t believe they have the right to decide right from wrong for themselves, even though we’re all already doing it. When we take what we’re already doing to its inevitable conclusion, and all become unapologetic thinkers and problem solvers, then we’ll be able to agree on an upgraded social contract that effectively addresses society’s problems. But we can’t do that as long as we’re living in the past.



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The Non-Believer’s 7 Deadly Sins

1: Ignorance

Money is not the root of all that kills. Ignorance is the root of all that kills, and knowledge is the basis of wisdom. Every action is the product of a thought, and every thought is a mental equation. Just like with mathematical equations, you can’t get the correct answer without knowing all of the variables. So if there’s ever a problem in your life, you’ll have a better chance of solving it by gaining new knowledge than by praying. You should also be wary of faith-based religions that tell you that it’s taboo to learn about certain subjects. Ignorance will only cripple your ability to cope with the harsh realities of life. As Isaac Asimov said, “If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”



2: Irrational Thinking

Intelligent people still make mistakes even when they have all the information they need to solve the problems in front of them because in order to answer questions you have to know how to ask questions. You have to analyze the variables in the equation and calculate their logical conclusion objectively. Failure to do so will yield incorrect results. This is as true in math as it is in life. Thinking illogically will cause you to act illogically. Acting illogically is the definition of screwing up in life. When a large group of people acts illogically, they screw up the world. So be very wary of anyone who demonizes logic or reason. They’re a danger to themselves and others. People who think logically solve problems. People who solve problems make the world a better place for everyone.



3: Selfishness

Sometimes humans harm each other unintentionally or with good intentions. As atrocious as these transgressions may be, they weren’t done in malice. So we can say they were wrong but not necessarily evil. Legally the difference between manslaughter and murder is intent to kill. But what causes someone to want to kill someone else? I would argue that the most common cause is selfishness. Even when you’re committing a non-lethal crime such as stealing, fighting, trolling, slandering or abandoning someone, you probably have a selfish motive. There are times when it’s good to be selfish, but as a general rule, the more selfish a person is the more likely they are to harm others intentionally or unintentionally.



4: Anger

Sometimes people hurt others with selfless and good intentions. A good example would be parents who beat their children to teach them responsibility. There are very few instances in life where anger will improve your judgment and help you make the wisest decision. More often than not it will cloud your judgment and undermine your intentions. Even in the situations where anger is warranted, it’s best to channel that anger into motivation to analyze the problem in front of you logically and enact a well thought out solution.



5: Irresponsibility

Responsibility is doing that which will help you the most in the long run. This definition contradicts what I said earlier about selfishness being a “sin”, because doing what helps you the most in the long run is inherently selfish. I don’t see this as being hypocritical. I see it as being a paradox. I would make a categorical imperative that everyone should do what’s best for them in the long run as long as we add the condition that it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s quest for fulfillment. Whenever any individual fails to take care of their short or long-term responsibilities they lower the quality of their life in the present as well as the future. This causes unnecessary harm to themselves and lowers their life’s overall potential, which is all the more tragic because their loss of fulfilled potential makes them a burden on the rest of society instead of a boon. When a large group of people behaves irresponsibly then they become a massive burden on society.



6: Indifference

We elect leaders to solve the world’s problems, but often times our leaders end up creating more problems than they solve. Sometimes, we just fail to assign someone to solve very important problems. Then all of society goes on watching television wishing those problems would get solved while saying to themselves, “but it’s not my responsibility.” The world’s problems are everyone’s problems. That makes them everyone’s responsibility. Also, we all possess the capacity to think and to act. The ability to solve problems makes us responsible for solving them regardless of whether or not anyone else has blessed us with the authority or permission to solve them. We’re still responsible for solving problems even when we’ve been ordered not to by our leaders. Indifference to the world’s problems is complicity in the world’s problems. Failing to help others in need is morally equivalent to actively hurting them.



7: Faith

Your life is full of problems, and your life is your responsibility. Your world is full of problems, and your world is your responsibility. In order to solve any of these problems, you have to learn as much as possible and question everything objectively. The answers to life’s questions are too important to take on faith. At any rate, nobody has the authority to tell you that you can’t seek answers to life’s questions for yourself. Taking answers on faith makes you a slave to the people who sold you those canned answers. You’re capable of more than that, and you have a responsibility to fulfill that potential, which means you have a moral obligation to not base your beliefs on faith.



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Should Science Be Legally Recognized As A Religion?

Religion is defined as:

“1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing amoral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.”

Science is defined as:

1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.

2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.”

People who claim to hold Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist beliefs enjoy special privileges under the law. They can demand special treatment at work to accommodate their beliefs. They can refuse to partake in activities that conflict with their beliefs. They can demand that other people alter and censor their behavior in their presence so as not to offend their religion. Religious organizations can still operate tax-free and pay their board of directors as much as they want.The military even hires chaplains to provide ethical and emotional guidance to believers and provides deceased soldiers with free tombstones in the shape of religious symbols.



Getting a religion legally recognized is a serious thing. The freedoms and advantages it gives to organizations and individuals effectively put them in a higher class of citizenship than those who can’t claim a legal religion on a human resource form. This leaves atheists and agnostics at a disadvantage in society. To a small but significant degree, atheists and agnostics are literally second-class citizens to Christians, Muslims, Jews, Mormons and Hindus since they don’t have a religion. Yet if you look at the definition of “religion,” you’ll see most atheists and agnostics do practice a set of beliefs and customs that are very compatible with that definition:


1: Science has a widely believed creation story

Scientists have used the scientific method to construct a far more elaborate and reliable explanation of the universe than any religious prophet. The scientific creation story has been printed in countless books that are sold in the nonfiction section of bookstores. Granted, we don’t know exactly how it all started, but we know more about the big bang than we know about Jesus. The point is that anyone who adheres to a scientific understanding of the universe holds beliefs on par with religion. Why should atheists and agnostics be punished for believing in an explanation of the universe that has independently verifiable evidence to back it up?



2: Science has widely practiced unique rituals, rites, and customs

Every religious organization has rituals, rites, and customs that define them as a unique and identifiable culture. So do scientists. By following the scientific method, scientists from different countries, who speak different languages, can collaborate on solving extremely complex problems. Science students and entry-level professional scientists get crash courses on using the scientific method to ensure conformity of behavior. These are uniquely identifiable behavior patterns that fit the legal definition of a religious organization.



3: Science has a “divine” language.

Theists may argue a belief system can’t be recognized as religious if it doesn’t have a book written by God. Though not all scientists would say math is the language of God, many have. Math is a collection of truths that predate humanity, which scientists discovered and transcribed into books. Regardless of if you believe math is the language of God, science textbooks still fit the same legal criteria religions use to justify their holy books as worthy of special honors, setting a legal precedent that science books deserve the same treatment.



4: Science has widely practiced codes of ethics.

The members of scientific organizations go to great lengths to incorporate consistent ethical values into their lives. Those organizations themselves will fire members who don’t live up to their organizational bylaws. So people live, prosper, suffer and die by secular ethical codes written in books that are already endorsed by the government.



According to the definitions of the terms “religion” and “science,” and the precedents set by protected religious groups, science should be recognized as an official religion for the purpose of honoring the rights, privileges, and freedoms due to practitioners of those beliefs and behaviors. If you think this is nit-picking and anal and not that big of a deal, then you should have no problem letting this insignificant little issue get passed into law. Or maybe we should just stop pampering people because they believe in fairy tales and let everybody be equal under the eyes of the law.


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If You Don’t Believe In God, What Do You Do Now?

Cyanide and Happiness comic of two people talking by a tree: Person 1: There is no God. Our existence is without purpose. Person 2: Oh, definitely. We are adrift in an uncaring void indifferent to all our mortal toil. Person 1: Exactly! In the end, nothing we do matters. Person 2: Totally. Person 1: We just... why are you climbing that tree? Person 2: Because the future is an adventure! Come on! Person 1: But... Person 2: Hey! I found squirrels!


Even if there really is some force somewhere out there in the universe that fits some definition of the word “God,” that doesn’t change the fact that all of the religions humans have written into books are mythologies. They’re based solely on ideas human being made up, not divine intervention.

You shouldn’t cling to a belief system that isn’t based in reality. That’s immature. Part of growing up is understanding reality and acting accordingly. The reason being sane is mature is because thoughts and actions based on reality are more meaningful and more productive than thoughts and actions based on fantasy.

Granted, at least mythology is something. It feels safe and secure. It gives your life some kind of structure and purpose even if it’s twisted. Like a drug, once you get used to it, the prospects of living without it can be terrifying. Without it, you can easily feel completely lost, like you’re doomed to walk the earth with no direction, purpose, hope or motivation until you wear out and die… for no reason.

That’s a legitimate concern that everyone who stops believing in mythology has to face. What do you do with your life if you’re not basing your decision on an instruction book? These questions may seem dizzying at first, but there are answers to life’s questions, and a lot of them are basic common sense.


If you’ve left religion and are feeling lost, here are a few things you could be doing to bring structure and meaning to your life outside of religion.


1: Commit to finding your own answers.

If you’ve stopped believing in mythology I would strongly advise against resting on your laurels and spending the rest of your life patting yourself on the shoulder for figuring out that the universe wasn’t created by a bi-polar unicorn as you go about your business simply commuting back and forth to a job you don’t really like and spending your evenings watching television, giving yourself diabetes, and popping out children to make you feel like at least something good and long-term came out of your life. Granted, going with the flow and ticking off all the boxes society tells you to is still preferable to believing in mythology, but there’s more to life than that.

If you’ve stopped believing in mythology, then the first thing you should consider doing is donning the responsibility of figuring out life for yourself. To this, you might reply, “But nobody knows or will ever figure out the meaning of life. I’m certainly no Socrates. So where does that leave me?”

Even if it’s true that you can’t conclusively prove the meaning of life, you’re still here. You still need to figure out some kind of philosophical framework that explains what you should do here despite the fact that you can’t know the ultimate meaning of life. To this, you might reply, “But that’s so vague and really hard.”

To that, I would reply, “Welcome to the universe, life and growing up.” That’s the hand we’ve been dealt. The sooner you stop complaining about it and start addressing it the sooner you can chisel out some meaningful and useful answers.

To this, you might reply, “You still haven’t explained why I should do any of that. What’s the point if we just live in an inanimate universe and that’s it? Why should I bother accepting this supposed responsibility of becoming a philosopher?”

To that I would reply, “Have you ever looked up at the night sky? The universe is a mind-blowingly vast yet intricate place. It’s nothing short of awesome. And the fact that organic life exists at all, let alone organic life capable of contemplating its own existence and deciding its own fate, makes the universe all the more amazing. Life is so surreal and amazing we should all just be sitting around all day staring at our hands in perplexed awe asking ourselves, “How is this even possible?”

Life is the rarest, grandest adventure. It’s not something to be mourned, feared or ignored. It’s there for the taking. Everything good is laying out there before you. It’s up to you to take it. You’re responsible for embracing that responsibility in the same way that if someone gives you a free all-expense-paid trip to the best amusement park in the world, you have a responsibility to not let that opportunity slip through your fingers. It’s not like you have anything better to do.

You can’t make the most out of life if you don’t understand it. So if you’re feeling lost, a great place to start getting your bearings is at school… or anywhere you can learn something new.



2: Define the value of human life.

If the prospect of figuring out life for yourself seems overwhelming, it may just be because you’re making it harder than it has to be. The corner-stone of any overall life philosophy is the value of human life. Once you establish what that is then a lot of things will fall in place. So figure that out. Then write your answer on a piece of paper and stick it to your refrigerator door with a magnet.

To this, you might reply, “Oh, well that’s easy. Life is infinitely valuable.”

To that, I would reply, “See. That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

But make sure you articulate a reason why life is valuable. The more concrete your reasoning is, the more useful it will be. The vaguer it is, the less it will mean anything to you, and the easier it will be to act contrary to that belief.



3: Create a logical system of ethics.

Once you’ve established the value of life, then you can ask yourself what logical implications that has on how you should treat others as well as yourself. The more you explore that question, the more guidance you’ll have in life. You can and should constantly question your answers and update your code of ethics. The more you improve your system of ethics, the more useful it will be. The less you define it, the more haphazard of a life you condemn yourself to.

Some of the ideas you come up with may already be written down in one or more mythological texts. Feel free to take those concepts and ignore the bad ones. Consider every idea you find regardless of the source, but don’t take or reject any of them on faith.

Write your conclusions down. That forces you to articulate them, and if you can look at all of your ideas on paper it will be easier to update them, fill in the gaps, see where they’re going and add to them, consolidate them, share them and get feedback on them.



4: Achieve self-actualization.

Even if we don’t know the meaning of life, we still know we exist. We’re proud of the fact that we’re the only beings in the universe who know we exist, can articulate that fact to ourselves and have unique names and identities. We’re proud to be alive, and we’re proud to own our own identity. Who you are is priceless, and you knew that before you ever learned to read. The thing about that is, if it matters who you are then it matters who you become. You have the potential to become more you, and that’s a big deal.

The more you grow and find/create yourself the easier, more enjoyable and meaningful life will become. Growth is its own reward, and it affects every aspect of your reality. After all, your mind is your reality. Everything you know and experience happens in your mind. When you improve your mind you effectively improve your entire universe. If you want your life to be ten times better than it is now, then learn ten times more knowledge. Reflect on your life ten times more. Ask ten times more questions. Become ten times more self-actualized, and your life will get ten times better. Even if there are external forces like shitty bosses and unmanageable bills that are making your life suck, you’ll be ten times more likely solve those problems once and for all if you become ten times more self-actualized.

If there really is any such thing as a soul that maintains your unique perspective after death, then it must be based on your identity… or at least, that’s what we hope. We hope that the conscious sum of our identity and perspective continues to exist after we die. Well, if you’re so worried about what happens to your soul after you die then you should be putting an equal amount of emotion into cultivating who you are before you die and don’t have any more chances to improve the one thing you expect to take to eternity.



5: Do what you will, harm no one.

What do you do with your life if there are no ultimate answers and we were all born doomed to wander the earth so lost we don’t even know how lost we are until we finally die a meaningless death that is unaffected by our mortal deeds?

Well, have you ever tried swimming? If you’ve never been swimming, it’s pretty fun. You should try it. If you have tried it, and you liked it then you should think about doing it again. Sex is also good. I highly recommend safe sex. And if you ever make it to Italy, try the gelato. It’s to die for.

If you’re still looking for something to do, there are plenty of rewarding hobbies available on earth as well. If you liked swimming you could get into scuba diving. Other things that a lot of people find really rewarding are: hiking, skydiving, drawing, painting, sculpting, making music, theater, construction, teaching, designing… the list goes on.

Life is here to be lived, and there are a lot of fun, rewarding things to do out there. Go do them. That’s living. That’s where happiness comes from. You don’t need to be a prophet or a professional philosopher to know that it’s important to enjoy the world we were given.

More importantly, having new experiences and doing the things you love is half the process of finding/creating yourself. So if you don’t know what else to do in life, go have some fun. You might find yourself along the way.

Just don’t hurt anyone. You may have the might, but you don’t have the right.



6: Make the world a better place.

If you just can’t make heads or tails of life and are completely confused about what to believe or do, the very least you could do is try to make the world a better place. And it’s a safe course of action if you believe there’s any chance that reincarnation, karma or the afterlife are real. If you’re gripped with fear over what happens after you die, you should consider exerting that amount of emotion into making the world a better place. If you think the answers may be out there but we’re just too primitive to grok them, you should consider devoting some of your time and energy to making the world a better place for future generations to set them up to fulfill humanity’s potential. If you value life at all you should devote some of your life to making the world a better place.



If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


Secular Living
The Bible is mythology
Christianity is Harmful to Society
Preaching, witnessing and arguing with Christians
Christian Culture
My Tweets About Religion

The Non-Believers’ 10 Commandments

Etching of Moses holding the Ten commandments over his head as lightening flashes overhead and people flee in fear below him


Religious believers often ask where non-believers get their morals without God. This is ironic, because to the non-believer, all religions are tantamount to mythologies. So to them, it’s like being asked, “Where do you get your morals, if you don’t believe in mythology?”

The answer lies in the question, because if all religious rules were written by men, then the only way anyone has ever defined any moral rules was by making them up. That doesn’t mean no rules have any value. The value of a rule isn’t determined by who says it, or how they came by it, but by how useful it is.

For example, it’s no accident that multiple religions and governments all around the world had already invented the rule, “Do not murder,” before the authors of the 10 Commandments. Anybody tasked with making rules for a society would immediately come to the logical conclusion that forbidding murder should be one of the first rules on the list.

At the same time, the authors of the 10 Commandments also list human beings as things that can be legally owned as property, but any rational person would come to the immediate conclusion that legalizing slavery dishonors the value of life and should be forbidden.


"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17


Nobody speaks for God. Every moral rule you’ll ever encounter was created by existentially lost humans, but that doesn’t mean we’re helpless. We all have cosmic supercomputers inside our skulls, and rules are nothing more than guidelines or best practices for accomplishing goals. So if you can use your brain to figure out that people should wear safety goggles when operating a table saw, you can invent useful rules for any and every aspect of your life.

If you don’t know where to start, try looking at other people’s rules and finding what you like or dislike in them. Use that as a springboard to developing your own list of life’s best practices. You can start by constructively criticizing mine:


1: All life is infinitely valuable. Treat it accordingly.

You don’t need God to tell you all life is infinitely valuable. Even if there’s not enough evidence floating around the universe to deduce why life exists, there’s enough evidence lying in plain sight, a child could come to the conclusion that all life is infinitely valuable.

The universe may seem like a savage, cruel place, but that’s just because it’s indifferent. The universe is operating on autopilot, and it might seem like the universe is out to get you when it runs you over, but if you step back and look at the grand design, you’ll find so much elegance and perfection you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that the universe is too elegant and genius for a human being to comprehend.

From what we know, the universe shouldn’t even exist at all, let alone life. Yet we live in a universe that has been meticulously designed to sprout life on giant, spinning balls of compressed matter that perpetually rearrange themselves according to fixed rules. The universe is an inexplicable life machine that shouldn’t exist. Every living thing is lucky to be here, and we only have a flicker of time to make the most of the privilege. Value life according to its rarity, elegance and the amount of work that went into creating it. Treat your life and others accordingly.



2: Your life is your responsibility.

The universe is not out to get you or help you any more than it already has by giving you the universe and the tools to make the most out of your life. You don’t deserve, and will not receive, any miracles, bargains or any other entitlements from the universe.

You may receive aid and instruction from people, but you’re not entitled to any. Society doesn’t owe you anything you haven’t signed a contract for. The responsibility to make sure your life is good and complete falls entirely on your shoulders.



3: You are lost. It’s up to you to find life’s purpose.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but you have all the tools necessary to find answers, and ultimately, purpose, in life. Your life will only be as effective and meaningful as the purpose you live towards. Nobody can decide your purpose for you, though many will try. You must find it yourself for it to be yours. Choosing not to find purpose is choosing to live without it.


4: Consider and honor the cost/benefit analysis of your actions.

The value of your actions are determined by how productively they accomplish a goal. Ultimately, the value of all actions are relative to how productively they fulfill the meaning of life. Whatever you do, ask yourself if the benefit to the end goal outweighs the cost. Take risks at your discretion, but always honor the cost/benefit analysis of your actions.



5: Never stop learning and studying.

You are your mind. The quality and quantity of your mind is relative to the information inside it. Never stop learning and teaching yourself so that you may never stop growing.



6: Think rationally.

Mastering the art of thinking is a moral imperative because every mental and physical action you’ll ever perform are based on decisions you calculate in your mind. The more effective your reasoning skills are, the more effective you’ll be at everything.



7: Put everything you learn to the test of truth.

Nothing is true by divine authority. The truth of a fact is determined only by the quality of the evidence supporting it. So question everything, especially your answers, because the more reality-based your beliefs are, the more effective they’ll be in the real world.



8: Find and define yourself

Some aspects of your personality were set at birth, and others you get to pick. Discover what makes you who you are, decide who you want to be, and then become that person. The more you, you are, the more you exist, and the more able you are to fulfill your purpose. The less you, you are, the less you exist.



9: Take care of your body.

Your mind and body are parts of the same machine. The better you take care of your body, the better your mind and body can do what they’re designed to do. The less care you take of your body, the less you can do and the harder everything is.



10: Enjoy the moment.

No one knows why we’re here or what happens after death, but we do know we’re here now. If we can’t know anything else about life, we know the current moment is an opportunity to enjoy yourself. No one has found any irrefutable reasons why we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves. If you take nothing else from this life, find ways to take joy out of it before it’s too late.



If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:


Secular Living
The Bible is mythology
Christianity is Harmful to Society
Preaching, witnessing and arguing with Christians
Christian Culture
My Tweets About Religion


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