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The buck stops everywhere

“Humanists who do not believe in God or a future life have been in a stronger position to insist on the urgency of making things better at once, in this one. If this is the only life that anybody has, then the fact that many people must spend it in such misery becomes more obviously and inexcusably scandalous. Salvation is needed now; it can’t be put off to some vaguely planned future state.” – Mary Midgley, Science as Salvation

Published inEconomicsLit & CritMary MidgleyPolitics & Law

4 Comments

  1. Yes! It always baffles me to hear the religerati say that without god we have no morality. I feel my morality more strongly for the lack of personal interest I have in my salvation; and anyway, if the end goal for doing right by another person is to improve one’s chances in the afterlife, how can the act itself be purely selfless? My experience with other atheists is that they are more devoted than usual to fairness, equality, conservation, and kindness. I’d call it morality, and a rigorous one at that.

  2. No, but the balance can be tipped. My ex is fond of saying that he’d rather believe and be wrong than disbelieve and have God turn out to have been there all along. To me that’s not belief. That’s bet-hedging. I used to get so irritated at the reasons he’d give for common acts of compassion, as if all that mattered were the points to be tallied in his favor.

  3. Alastair Alastair

    In response to Averil, isn’t there an important sense in which there is an “afterlife” in how we manifest in the lives and thoughts of others, especially our children, after we are gone?
    It strikes me that the secular atheist humanism alluded to by Mary Midgley, in the above quote, is (and I would venture that this is one point Midgley would go on to say) prone to dogmatism notwithstanding its renunciation of religion. A claim to knowledge of History, for example, became dogmatic in “scientific” Marxism. Belief that one has knowledge is very easily translated into belief that “I know what is best for you”.

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