A respondent to my survey, which I encourage atheist and agnostic readers to take here, elaborated on some of her answers in an email. This person was kind enough to let me reprint a portion of that correspondence:
“I just wanted to express that the desire or belief in doing good exists in me, as an atheist. And though I do not believe in any religion in particular, it is still a fundamental part of who I am and my life. I tend to see the worst of people who claim to be religious, those who say they only follow those tenets of doing good to and by others as a product of fear of their higher power punishing them if they do not. And many view atheists as not having that impulse to be good. I believe doing good because you care about others, as stronger than only trying to do it for fear of punishment.
Anyway, I know that does not apply to the majority of religious people and I have great respect for people who do good who have belief in the main.
I just happen to be a non believer and feel I can do good and be good, without having those beliefs and hate the combativeness that arises between atheists and religious persons.”
I share the concern for the combativeness that too often dominates the relationship between religious and non-religious persons. My hope is that this blog can contribute to bettering the tone and closing the relational gap between us.
A question: by an atheists’ accounting, how would an “impulse” to do good come to be? Especially for the evolutionary biologists who (sometimes) wish to explain everything by survival of the fittest, this seems like an interesting question. Just curious. Thanks for reading and sharing.