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I said any atheist that holds to moral standards is self-righteous. Observation 1: I have had many conversations with atheists and many times a very interesting line of reasoning comes from the atheist. Many atheists reason that they are more righteous than theists because they do not need a god to be moral. Well, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that is the definition of self-righteousness: the belief that one is morally superior than another.

The Problem of Evil

Are you an atheist and think that you are better than theists because you do not need a god to be moral? Then whether you are willing to admit it or not, you are self-righteous. I challenge you to admit this the next time you get high and mighty when looking at your life compared to someone else. Just admit that you are self-righteous and move on. The next time you hear an atheist say that he is morally superior to you because he does not need a god to be moral, call him out on his self-righteous claim.

Every time I have done this the atheist honestly has no idea how to react. They usually just refuse the title. But it is true.

If you think you are morally superior because you do not need a god, then you are self-righteous. Observation 2: Most atheists do not just decide on a personal morality; they also conclude that other people ought to live by their moral standards. This I find to be remarkably incoherent. Even though their own worldview would state that morality is defined by the individual, they still insist that others are wrong if they come to different conclusions. I am amazed at how many atheists I meet who claim that morality comes from the mind of the individual and yet still chide others for a weak morality.

This simply does not fit. By the way, the belief that morality comes from the mind of the individual is called moral anti-realism. It basically states that morality does not exist outside the mind, or it is mind-dependent. This is what many atheist philosophers believe, granted not all, and it is what the majority of people in America believe.

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The Interior Life of Atheism: Perfect Storms, Pushing Buttons

Some atheists may claim that since this is an objective goal, then the individual does not choose right and wrong, the individual must live to the above mentioned standard. First, the definition of morality is: the discussion of the principles of right and wrong. Morality does not make any moral claim itself; while morality discusses right and wrong, it does not actually describe what is morally right and morally wrong. By defining morality as the goal of maximizing happiness while minimizing harm, the atheist has redefined morality to include a moral claim.

The atheist who defines morality in the above way is not describing morality in general, but instead describing a form of morality called utilitarianism. Morality cannot be placed into such a corner — there are many competing views of morality, even inside atheism.

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Second, maximizing well-being and minimizing suffering is certainly not objective. There are many areas in life where well-being is not easily measured. If well-being were merely physical, then it would be easier to determine well-being — although still not perfectly objective. These areas of life are not easily measured and certainly not purely objectively measured. Some atheists claim that logically Christians would also be self-righteous by definition since they choose to follow Christianity because it must be that they simply like the creeds of Christianity.

Claiming that Christians choose to follow Christianity because they like the creeds is judging the Christian worldview from an atheistic perspective. It is an atheistic claim that people decide for themselves what morality is, it is not a Christian claim. When I stated that logically atheists cannot escape self-righteousness, that was a claim using the atheistic worldview. The atheistic worldview is what concludes that morality is a creation of the mind, so I was judging the atheistic worldview by itself.

Morality comes from outside themselves, not from within. So I was showing the logical weakness of the atheistic worldview by using its own claims. Comparatively, when I say that atheism fundamentally leads to self-righteousness because morality is derived from the self, I am using the atheistic worldview to make a claim against atheism. I am not saying that all Christians are not self-righteous.

Frank Schaeffer: "Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in GOD" - Talks at Google

Certainly not. When I was younger I was a self-righteous individual and I still struggle with it at times now. However, I am saying that Christianity can coherently claim that self-righteousness is wrong and as a worldview it does not logically lead to self-righteousness as atheism does. Christians should never display self-righteousness. Christianity adamantly time and time again condemns self-righteousness.

Christian, please rid it from your life. The Christian worldview teaches us that we are desperately wicked and in need of a Savior to cleanse us from our unrighteousness. We are by nature unrighteous, righteousness does not originate from us, so there is no reason for us to act as if we are better than others.

We are sinners in need of a Savior just like everyone else. Remember that Scripture teaches us to never malign someone but to always be gentle and remember that without Christ we are also lost Titus One of the worst and most contradictory things in this world is a self-righteous Christian. Christian, do not be contradictory.

List of atheists (miscellaneous) - Wikipedia

I also know that some people look at a Christian trying to live a holy life and just assume that they are self-righteous even without ever speaking to them. But we cannot control that. What we can do is purposefully and actively demonstrate humility, brokenness, and gratitude for a Savior. The default for most people in America is to assume that Christians are self-righteous.

We need to work to show that this is not true in most cases.

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Logically, atheists cannot avoid self-righteousness if they make conclusions on moral standards. Since the ideas of what is right and wrong are determined by the individual, then self-righteousness is the logical result. Christians have a worldview that adamantly opposes self-righteousness and can coherently condemn self-righteousness. Unfortunately not all Christians actually live out their worldview and rid themselves of self-righteousness.

However, every Christian ought to do this because the Christian worldview calls all Christians to it. Neither of which automatically follows, from an individual determining their own sense of right and wrong. Like Like. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I agree that the definition of self-righteousness is as you define it.


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  • However, I was trying to show that logically, one must admit self-righteousness if one is an atheist and holds to moral standards. If righteousness — or goodness — derives from the self, then self-righteousness is logically inescapable inside the atheistic worldview. As I am sure you are aware, the vast majority of people consider themselves to be good. How does it still fit? Because most atheists do not just think they are good, but they think people who disagree with their moral conclusions are morally weak.

    So they judge other people to be weaker than themselves morally, so they fit right in with the definition you give for self-righteousness. I probably should have been more clear on this, but I commented on atheists who hold to a moral standard. A standard is something that has to be reached. Most every atheist — amazingly even many atheists who believe in moral anti-realism — still hold to some standard in morality e. If these atheists expect other people to live to their standards, then once again they are self-righteously expecting someone to live to the standards that they have concluded in their mind to be greater than those of people who disagree with their standards.

    Hopefully that makes sense and explains a little more why I can say what I do and still be accurate. Unfortunately I am rushing through this response and not giving you the time you deserve. Forgive me. Most atheists that I know of are not particularly confident in their own righteousness.

    This is why if you ask ten different people about their opinion about the morality of some random scenario, you will get ten different answers. The answers might be very similar, but there will be minor variations, which come from the differences in upbringing, stimuli each person has been exposed to various media, friends, etc. Without empathy, we would have no real morals as demonstrated in clinical psychopaths, in whom a lack of empathy is one of the core distinguishing features. Not a problem. Though you should take your time with any future replies.

    I always enjoy a good exchange, whether a debate, or simply a friendly exchange of ideas. Thank you once again for taking your time to type out a response.

    Atheism and Self-Righteousness

    I am now in a position where I can more fully answer your valid critiques. First, you mentioned atheism versus naturalism. Naturalism would be a narrower description. However, I was addressing what is popularly called the New Atheist Movement. Only the belief that one is better than others is what leads to self-righteousness. So it matters not if someone actually lives up to their moral code. These things are different from self-righteousness.