.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
Name:
Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Defenders of the Faith

A cool editorial in the NY Times by Slavoj Zizek, the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, is the author, most recently, of "The Parallax View." The editorial is primarily about the importance of the atheist legacy in Europe and how that legacy can inform the concerns about Muslim integration in Europe and the rest of the world:
During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: "Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God." Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.

Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill God's will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God's favor; I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way, when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God's existence.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Tony said...

While that is an excellent opinion piece about morality's independence from belief in the supernatural, the author is mistaken about David Hume.

When he wrote "David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way, when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God's existence." he was missing an "un" in front of believer. David Hume was a skeptic and an atheist. His Alma Mater http://www.ed.ac.uk/history/davidhume.html and Wikipedia confirm this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume/

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 4:13:00 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Yeah, I wondered about that a bit when I read it. I thought I had read somewhere that Hume wasn't a believer. Unfortunately, I am not terribly familiar with Hume so I didn't know this for sure. I should have looked it up too. Thank for the info.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 4:31:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home