The good deeds still got done.
The hungry still got fed, etc.
Fear of Hell as a motivation is a low-level motivation, but it might be a necessary step for that person during their spiritual growth.
Hopefully as time goes on, their motivations become more pure.
But what if they died before they got to that point?
I’m inclined to believe that God will show mercy.
The good deeds still got done.
I was having a debate with some atheists on Yahoo Answers and they said that it is pathetic to do good things out of a fear of Hell when they themselves do good with no hope of a reward, i will admit i felt a bit ashamed and embarrassed to tell them that if i did not believe in God i would probably be doing the very bare minimum to get along in society and only doing things for my advantage, perhaps i am naturally selfish?
We’re all naturally selfish.
And I’m pretty skeptical of anybody who claims to be self-motivated for good.
Especially when you only know them in a limited and online way.
That being said, I’ll bet fear of Hell is only one of your many motivations.
If you want to grow in your relationship to God, then prayer, Bible reading are good places to start.
Oh and I just realized you said “Yahoo Answers”, you’re made of sterner stuff than me LOL
Maybe most of us are naturally selfish but i can bet there is a large minority that really does like helping others, just think of the Scandinavian countries where people are willing to pay the highest taxes in the world for the benefit of others and those are countries with less religious belief. I sometimes might do good out of respect for others but i don’t really feel that way, maybe i am too scrupulous but that is not the point, i just get satisfaction from doing good deeds, i feel like i have ticked a box, perhaps advanced the knowledge of humanity(i contribute a lot to blogs as you can probably guess from my other post.
If they really thought they was no benefit to their actions why were they trying to use them to win points in an internet debate? Sounds like they thought they deserved recognition after all.
To put it another way, all they can claim is that they don’t think they’ll be eternally rewarded or eternally punished for their choices. They can still hold all the same worldly motivations we can. And yes, those include empathy, desire for accolade, or any of the other reasons of this world.
Also, I want to point something out. You say you are getting embarrassed because if you did not believe in God you would be doing the bare minimum. That means that because you do believe in Him you are aspiring to do what He asks. You are- with His help- rising above yourself. That’s not something to be ashamed of.
I asked them that myself and some said that they believed religion to be harmful and believed that they should “educate” believers on the site about how harmful religion can be, though when i pointed out that if religion was absent people would probably murder in far greater numbers in the name of racism, eugenics etc they did not have a proper answer to my challenging point… Some of them said they went on their because they get laughs by doing so and debating with some of the eccentrics that populate the forum as well as passing on general advice.
I would agree that i am indeed aspiring to do what God asks though probably mainly so i can avoid Hell, did St Paul not say that if an action is done without love it is worthless?
You caught them out and they switched the goalposts. That means you scored a good hit.
As far as what St. Paul said, remember that God is Love. He is saying that if you do good works without God, it means nothing. That’s true and it is a legitimate danger. However, fear of Hell (aka fear of God’s absence) is a legitimate if imperfect love of God. So when you do good out of fear of Hell you are doing it with Love.
- Without God, there could be no atheists. (G.K. Chesterton)
- They are able to do good only because they are created in the image and likeness of God, who IS Goodness.
- No reward? Why then did they tell you? A: Temporal reward. Self-aggrandizement and, for lack of a better word, boasting that they are somehow superior.
Maybe there was a big of smugness on their behalf that they can be good “without God” i agree with you that they sound arrogant when they say that they don’t need God to be good, a lot of people don’t do any good often because they don’t fear the consequences of not doing good because they don’t believe there is a Hell, again many atheists don’t seem to see this and blame society for immoral and selfish behavior instead of the immoral and selfish people.
Poor souls! They do not realize that their ability - the concept, the possibility - of goodness came from God. Neither do they apparently realize that they know good only because of the good which godly people do.
In your atheist friends’ defense, fear of an eternal punishment is a lower level of spirituality. And poorly-explained Christianity can be very cringe worthy.
And listening to atheist arguments has made me delve deeper into my own faith (because I don’t want to shame my Savior).
But also don’t fall into the trap of trying to prove anything to anybody.