Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yes, Virginia, you can be good without a god-belief (but there is no Santa Claus)

"If your grasp of right and wrong is so shaky that you can't stop yourself from doing bad things, and you need someone threatening you with eternal punishment to keep you in line, then we wonder how safe you really are to be near."
(from the Web site of the Atheist Community of Austin)

In college, my atheism came up in a conversation with a fellow student. She was shocked and exclaimed in the tone of a terrified child, "But what makes you be good??!!" "My conscience," I replied.

Having said that, here are a few snippets from a December 8, 2009 press release from UC Berkeley News titled "Social scientists build case for 'survival of the kindest'" ...

  • "Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are wired to be selfish. In a wide range of studies, social scientists are amassing a growing body of evidence to show we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive."
  • "Overall, these and other findings at UC Berkeley challenge the assumption that nice guys finish last, and instead support the hypothesis that humans, if adequately nurtured and supported, tend to err on the side of compassion."
  • "This new science of altruism and the physiological underpinnings of compassion is finally catching up with Darwin's observations nearly 130 years ago, that sympathy is our strongest instinct."
Good night,

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