Love and Kindness


I’m sometimes I asked what, given I don’t believe in Jesus, I do believe in. I always find this an odd question, presuming as it does that Christianity is really the only thing worth believing in. Implicit in it too is an acknowledgement that faith in the supernatural is irrational, and that sceptics are just as prone to irrationality as believers themselves: ‘you too have faith in any number of unprovable propositions, just like us misguided Christians!’ The question is often an attempt to show that sceptics are just as gullible as Christians.

Recently, Jimoeba said on his blog, The Common Atheist, ‘I believe passionately in nothing,’ meaning, I think, he doesn’t believe in any sort of supernatural nonsense. It set me thinking about what, in fact, I believe in. Do I still have some irrational, unfounded beliefs? Certainly I don’t believe – can’t believe – in Jesus and his support cast of mythical entities, who live in Heaven or just out of sight or wherever they’re meant to be. The same applies to their counterparts in other religions. It’s not that I hold this as a matter of faith; there simply isn’t the evidence to support the existence of gods, angels, demons, eternal beings, heaven and hell (as I discuss here and here.)

In any case, I prefer to know things rather than believe in them. Where there is evidence, there is no need for ‘belief’ or ‘faith’. Yet I still have a suspicion I believe in some things; things that seem intuitively right (never a good measure, I know, of what actually is true) but for which the evidence isn’t as substantial as I’d like. Things like love and kindness. I do believe in these, however cliched it may be to say, ‘I believe in love’. I do. I feel and, I hope, demonstrate love for my family, specially my children and grandchildren. Also to my friends and partners. It seems to me love matters a great deal. There are no doubt good evolutionary reason why we feel particularly strong affection for our offspring; taking care of them increases their – and the genes we share – chances of survival. But subjectively it is more than that. I believe it’s more than that anyway.

I find , try as I might, however, that I can’t extend that love to people I don’t know. Jesus’ command (not that I’m under any obligation to follow it) to love one’s neighbours and enemies is an impossibility, another example of his not knowing what he was talking about. It’s possible to feel compassion for those who suffer, or pity or sympathy, but these, while they’re perhaps components of love, are not completely love in any of its forms. So that’s why I believe in kindness too. ‘Be kind to your neighbour, to strangers and to those you encounter in daily life’ would have been, and is, a far more realistic expectation.

There are other things I believe in too – trying to steer people away from irrational belief in deities, saviours and magic books, obviously – and I’m not always consistent in my application of love and kindness. But I do try to be. I know they’re not absolutes, nor even universal values; they’re not delivered from on high because no values are, being entirely humanly derived, and they’re not practised by everyone either, not even aspired to by some. There’s no need to go around preaching about love and kindness, nor do they need a mythology created around them. Nevertheless, they’re what matter – to me, anyway.

I believe in them.

6 thoughts on “Love and Kindness

  1. Thanks Neil. Jimoeba is one word, like Amoeba, I believe. Lol. Passionately believing in nothing, or possibly intentionally reserving judgement, or firm belief prior to evidence or fact is a skeptics aproach and a protective measure against being duped. About 70% of everything newsworthy or religiously perspected if outright false. I would rather be less wrong than feel smug in an incorrect belief, which are many. It turns out my 70/30 split is probably a lowball, as the things deemed debatable are mostly between two wrong choices or ideologies. By design these things are debated for millennia. They’re mere distractions without answers. We already have the answers within. There are no secrets, no mysteries, only slight of hand.

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  2. Thanks for a thought provoking post. On the subject of thought how big do you think the set of thoughts to be? Do you believe that it is an infinite set? Is a concept a thought? If there was no living things would that be the end of thought? How about concepts?
    The question is did life create thought or thought create life? Is that question the same as the chicken and the egg question? I think not. Because concepts intuitively must always be true and as such eternal. The big bang needed a creator. Some think that the creator of the big bang is a random universe generator that can creates every possible universe. I think its rather a Mind that can conceive every possible universe but selects to create the one we know in a single event smaller than a speck of dust, yet infused with all that is the universe. This Mind is the set of all thoughts and human thought including your post is a subset of what that Mind already contains/knows.

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    • Life created thought, Frank(?) The only way that intelligence can emerge is through evolution. We know of no other way. For this reason it’s highly unlikely, to the point of improbability, that a Mind created the universe. How would that Mind have acquired its intelligence? Who created it, or more precisely, through what process did it emerge? If there was no physical universe to nurture the Mind’s evolution, then it cannot have existed before the universe came into being and therefore cannot have created it. To propose a Mind as the creator of everything is very much to put the cart before the horse.

      Liked by 1 person

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