[quote="prettylarge, post:1, topic:180261"]
In my opinion at least, if you one day become an atheist (this is a hypothetical, don't say something like "good Catholics would never become atheists"...it is a stupid argument and doesn't contribute to the thread at all.) your actions towards others should not change.
Basically, if one day you thought that there was no hell or heaven and that there would neither be a punishment or reward, a good person would continue to do good and not change their actions from when they thought there was an eternal reward or punishment. You shouldn't be doing good to avoid hell or to assure heaven. You should be doing good to help your fellow man.
What do you guys think of this? If you didn't believe in hell or heaven, would your actions change at all (at least actions towards other people)? Would you be meaner or less helpful because you knew that in the end you would not go to hell for it and you would just cease to exist anyway? I think that if you answer that you wouldn't be as nice or helpful, you should examine your motivations and really contemplate if God is going to view your actions as truly righteous if you only do them as a means to getting to heaven and avoiding hell.
(And this thread is hypothetical. If you read it and say "well I would never become an atheist so this doesn't apply to me" you have really, REALLY missed the point of the thread).
I did once become an atheist (more an anti-theist) and was confronted with this issue. While I did not commit any crimes, nor did others any physical harm. I can be accused of having committed many "crimes against Divine Law and against my neighbours and myself".
Now this is a topic which always comes up as if atheists were somewhat "better" for doing "good for the sake of it".
As an atheist, I have been wondering about purpose and the meaning of my actions. I came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as objective godless morality. Even the argument that "being nice" is benefical did not impress me the least: there were cases where I would have gained more of the moment by not being nice at all. So if one wonders about what one does in life: you will be faced with the question about meaning. Morality is tied very much to objective truth. Even if I were to do what may be deemed "good" by some: it would not matter at all. I may as well turn a murderer and get jailed or killed. And then what? Who says that being alive is always better than death? The idea that there can be some type of objective secular morality is not there because there exists a real alternative to the theistic perspective which people have come to know by use of reason, but rather because people do not wish to be tied to the objective moral standards of God: because there is always something objectively wrong in our desires.
And thus I came to the conclusion that without an eternal purpose, life is objectively meaningless.
And when it comes to being a "good person": that is decided not by our subjective views, but by God's Will. What is done according to His will is what is truly good.