Tag Archives: Good and Evil

Dear Socrates: Are People Innately Good or Bad?

I must admit that sometimes the whole tenor of religious argumentation astonishes me. Let us return to your idea of the importance of immortality for morality. In an interview in a magazine, a prominent religio made the following admission: “If death is the end, shoot, I’m not going to waste another minute being altruistic.” Now, however disarmingly modest that statement may seem to many people, it struck me as an indictment of this person’s virtue, and, in fact, his religiosity. But I don’t believe his self-assessment is even correct. Essentially, the psychology it presumes is false. There are as many good, empirical reasons to believe that human beings are as innately altruistic as that they are innately selfish, both from observation of how we behave and from the theory of how our behavior evolved.

My examples are merely of bad religious arguments. They do not show that religion is of necessity irrational. There can be bad philosophical arguments too. Therefore I recommit myself to truth and reason, and welcome religion to the dialogue.

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