Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One of religion's most common mistakes

It's often said by atheists that one of the problems with religion is that it tries to reward people for doing good, when the fact that an act is good should be motivation enough. The Bible agrees with them:

Luke 17:7-10: "But which of you, having a servant who is ploughing or keeping sheep, will say to him, when he comes in from the field, Come now and be seated and have a meal, Will he not say, Get a meal for me, and make yourself ready and see to my needs till I have had my food and drink; and after that you may have yours? Does he give praise to the servant because he did what was ordered? In the same way, when you have done all the things which are given you to do, say, There is no profit in us, for we have only done what we were ordered to do."

If you know that you have a moral obligation to do something, then you should do it because it's right. Whether or not there's a reward is irrelevant to moral obligations. For example, we don't believe that someone who reaches the age of 50 without murdering someone deserves a reward, because obviously it's wrong to murder.

I think that God rewards people for doing the right thing not because it's an arrangement that religious people have with God, but merely because God is a generous person and generous people are generous. In no sense would God reward a religious person, I think, for doing the right thing in any other sense.

This is one of the mistakes that religious people often make: assuming that being loving and doing God's will deserves a reward as if it was not an obligation.

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