Are Believers More Likely to be Hypocrites Than Atheists?

Link. In my opinion this is demonstrably true. For example Christian, how many times do you say, "I'll pray for you," and never do it? You just mouth the words because it's the Christian thing to do.


Bryan Riley said...

No. I think we all wear many faces. But I don't think Christians are any less likely to be hypocrites. It strikes me this is just evidence of our need for help.

WoundedEgo said...

John, the word "hypocrite" originally meant "an actor." I once aspired to be an actor, but I completely abandoned the idea when someone told me that so many of the men were gay -- and that ALL of the women were thespians!

Dawkins is obviously a hypocrite. One day the investigative reporters and the papparazzi will catch him in the act of acting MORAL! How will he explain that?

So, if we are serious about avoiding being hypocrites, I think we would all do well, Christian or not, to take in a "sermon" or two by one of God's "mouthpieces":

Bill Ross

Lee Randolph said...

Is it wrong to say that hypocrites belong in church?

and would it be wrong to say that church should attract hypocrites?

Chris said...

My experience has been that people accuse others of what they themselves do. In this case, don't do.

Hypocracy pervades all aspects of human interaction, religion or no religion.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

I agree with Bryan. God loves sinners - that would include hypocrites as much as anyone else.
Hypocrisy can infect any human heart that feels the need to assert his/her own righteousness.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Bill Ross writes; "Dawkins is obviously a hypocrite. One day the investigative reporters and the papparazzi will catch him in the act of acting MORAL! How will he explain that?"

Has someone told you atheists can't be moral? How ridiculous!

How much less moral is it to do good to avoid punishment than to do good because you think it's the right thing to do, or because it makes people happier?

(By the way, of course ALL women (and men, too) in acting are thespians; that's what the word means: "1. Of or relating to drama; dramatic: thespian talents.")

GordonBlood said...

Firstly, wanderin weeta I believe the point is that Dawkins himself has admitted that morality doesnt "really" exist. Its just what people want to call morality. But that of course is not what most people mean by morality at all. As for the hypocrisy issue I think this is probly one of the worse suggestions ive seen John make in a long time. Everyone has salt and pepper sprinklings of hypocrisy in them, whether you want to call it sin or whatever. Ultimately i think one could argue that an atheist is being a hypocrite if he complains that his rights are being trampled or what not because its largely conceded by many atheists that morality as a universal law doesnt exist... I dont see how it could if we are bio-chemical machines which may not even have free-will.

Shygetz said...

Firstly, wanderin weeta I believe the point is that Dawkins himself has admitted that morality doesnt "really" exist. Its just what people want to call morality.

Dawkins "admitted" (more like loudly proclaimed) that universal morality doesn't exist. And anyone who has bothered to venture outside his own backyard can attest to that; people disagree about what is right. If universal morality existed among humans there would be no disagreement about what is right.

Ultimately i think one could argue that an atheist is being a hypocrite if he complains that his rights are being trampled or what not because its largely conceded by many atheists that morality as a universal law doesnt exist... I dont see how it could if we are bio-chemical machines which may not even have free-will.

That is the dumbest argument I have heard. If a Hindu were to shoot you in the knee, would you complain? Hypocrite! You and he obviously don't share the same morality--you eat beef, which is an abomination to him! You have no right to complain, as you don't admit to the same moral code.

Even if we grant for the sake of argument that God does exist and is perfectly good and so can serve as an ultimate moral standard, for all practical purposes there is no universal morality among humans, there is only subjective morality. There are things that you find reprehensible that others honestly do not, and vice versa. Now, if God wanted to come down here and "write his law upon our hearts" then this problem would be solved, but until He does, we have to work with what we have. I can complain from my subjective point of view when someone does something that I consider wrong. I can even try to convince my social peers to join me and bring society's censure down upon that person. "Subjective" does not mean "non-existent".

goprairie said...

The Bible is so full of inaccuracies and contradictions, against its own parts and against history and science, that a person who invests in defending it MUST have a greater tolerance for inconsistency, and therefore a tendency to be hypocritical?
And isn't morality just the least possible harm in a given situation? And so changes with the situation. When does planning ahead become greed? When does self-defense become over-agressive offense? So if one is always operating from an unchangeable set of rules, i.e. Christianity, in some cases it would be wrong to apply that rule and so it seems hypocritical to make the adjustment for the situation. Having hard and fast rules would seem to predispose one to hypocricy as one lives in a fluctating world.

TJ said...

The conclusions of the original study, and those of the atheologian and yourself, are what we in England would term "complete bollocks".

Bryan Riley said...

What rules are unchangeable about Christianity in your opinion goprairie?

Shygetz said...

Sorry tj you lost me. What study are you talking about?

goprairie said...

Rules. Commandments. Christians are always seeking rules to live by. Is homosexuality OK? Is abortion OK? Is it OK to dance or wear pants or cut your hair or go to a movie of a certain rating. There is constant debate on what a verse of the Bible says to do or not do and whether it applies or does not apply now or to a certain group of people. Formal organized religion tends to define morality by a set of rules.
Without those rules, one has to make decisions differently and more on a case by case basis. Abortion potentially harms a developing life but helps others so must be decided on a sliding basis. And yes, I know, there are laws and we each have our own set of limits. But religions TEND to be more set on details of these things and are looking to their church to make rules for them. And the more rules there are, the more you will have to adjust them to accomodate actual situations. Let me take a trivial example. If I always pick up litter on the way home from the bus stop because that is my rule, there will be times that I SHOULD let it lie because getting home to my family is more important than the litter that day. If I have a hard and fast rule that I must always pick up litter, then I am being hypocritical if I decide one day I don't have to. Or if the rule is that we should all pick up litter every day, and I don't one day but I say the rest of the bus riders have to. But if I live by softer values that say I will pick up litter when practical and get home to my family when their needs are critical, then I am not forced to 'make excpetions' to my rules.

goprairie said...

"What rules are unchangeable about Christianity in your opinion goprairie?"
I am not sure I answered your question, or what the point of it is. I was just saying that any rule based system is a set up for hypocricy. If one says the Bible is God's word, then explains away certain verses that are inconvenient to follow, that is what one could label as hypocricy. I don't want to hijack this to gay rights, but if one rejects all the other silly rules about fiber and food in Leviticus, yet insists on clinging to the one that seems to be anti-gay, well, that seems hypocritical. Any explanation that makes the inconvenient ones go away could be extended in kind to make that anti-gay one go away. Or take a 'commandment' - if one insists the commantments are their guide for morality, there will come a time when they are called a hypocrite. How can one adhere to "thou shall not kill" and be a proponant of capital punishment?
A rule is by definition 'unchangeable' as it becomes meaningless if so many exceptions are attached. Our legal system is a best effort and the fact that we need branches of government to allow adjustments and interpretations speaks to the difficulty of 'rules'. But a religion has no system for such 'softness' of rules in that its first declaration is that God is perfect and the Bible, the rules, are God's word so must be perfect also. Yet Chritians only follow certian parts of it and explain away others, and so the hypocricy and accusations thereof begin and continue. That first rule of it being God's word is a giant set up for hypocricy, isn't it?

WoundedEgo said...

When I said that Dawkins was a hypocrite by acting morally, and the one day the reporters would "find him out" I had my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. The point was that hypocrisy is a feature linked with pretense. Only one who pretends to be better than they are.

As to morality being possible without God, I would say that all morality is relative, either in relation to God+neighbor or just to neighbor (and other variations). In other words, the moral question for a Christian is "If a tree sins in the woods and no one hears him, did he really sin?" while the question for the atheist is "what would my DNA do?"

Or, stated another way, "how does this please God" versus "how does this serve the common good - especially that of my own offspring."

But regardless of the morality I own up to intellectually, I admit to being a hypocrite in that I am less of a man than I hope my sons to be.

Bill Ross

Bryan Riley said...

The point of my question was to try to understand your view of Christianity. You see it as a system of rules. I don't. That may be why we come at things differently. I see it as a relationship with our Creator. If you are an atheist you don't believe in a creator.

Those who follow Christianity as a set of rules are simply setting up yet another religion and I understand why you would reject that. We often (even those who don't believe in God) set up rules to live by because we seem to need to make things appear simple and rules give us an appearance of simplicity.

goprairie said...

the question on the table is "are believers more likely to be hypocrites than atheists?"
my point is that religions DO tend to be rule based more so than the system used by most atheists of doing the least harm situationally. and a rule based system is a set up for hypocricy. Therefore the answer to the question as broadly asked is "yes, they are."
this does not preclude your definiton of religion or make it better or worse as that is irrelevant to the question at hand.

Bryan Riley said...

I am sorry if I did go off point, but what I was thinking was that it was a good subpoint of the post at hand, which involves understanding why you stated that Christians follow unchangeable rules. I was simply trying to understand your comment. I didn't know that would be irrelevant since it involved your comment.

How does one determine what is the least harm situationally?

goprairie said...

"How does one determine what is the least harm situationally?"

How do you determine what to do in a given situation? Either you have rules or you wing it. Rules is easier. Winging it takes time.

Like in my litter on the way home example. Picking up litter on the way home every day is a 'good' thing. Right? If I alwys do it unthinkingly, but the bus was late and my kid needs to be driven to a meeting, it was situationally wrong to pick up the litter.
If I am just a little tired today or the litter consists of something unpleasant to pick up and carry, it is wrong to leave it.
I just do the best I can to the extent that I am able. And do not always make the right choice. But I work the odds. What if I get all the people in the neighborhood to do the same and find out some guy used to be employed by the city to pick up litter in our neighborhood and he got fired when there was no more litter? well, i saved that taxpayers money but a guy lost a job. everything is like that. you can't ever have all the data wo you use your 'rules' and your data. but the more hard rules you have, the more prone to accusations of hypocricy. now, i have answered your questions, so answer mine: How do YOU decide what is right, moral?

Bryan Riley said...

In the same way, except I don't think of it as the least harm. I try to make the most loving choice. I fail all the time because of my limited factual basis and because of my own selfishness, but I also believe in a conscience and a Convictor, who helps me along the way. I still fail, but I believe God helps me make loving choices. And, He alone can do that because He doesn't have the limited factual basis I have. Unfortunately, I don't always listen.

goprairie said...

well, truth be told, i do not think of it as 'least harm' but 'most benefit' but i have found people see the point better when stated as least harm, because in a situation there are obvious 'harm' targets but when termed as 'benefit' people start including too many possible benefactors. like, in my litter example, all the specific neighbors along the block and such. it is a monor difference, but i have found the terms keep things on point.

i hate it when people say "I read once . . ", but I read once a theory that much of what we do is decided instinctually and subconciously and that we become aware of what we decided and then begin to formulate 'reasons' for it. We think we used those reasons to GET to the decision but are really justifying after the fact. I wonder how much of that is true and in what situation.

Have you ever heard of 'blind sight'? Vision signals go from the eye to several points of the brain. Awareness of vision is in one 'higher' level part of the brain, but vision signals also go to 'primitive' brain parts. People with damage only to the vision center will say they cannot see as they have no awareness of vision. But if a threat comes to them from their peripheral vision, where the threat from predators is greatest, they will throw up an arm in defense. They will say they did not 'see' the threat and that they did not 'decide' to defend, but became aware of it once thier arm was in the air. I think a lot more study needs to be done on these retained instinctive subconcious things. For example, can we become more 'aware' with training of what our 'primitive' brain layers are deciding?

Situations of teens going into some non-typical-for-them violent state certainly seems to be a situation where some instinct possibly related to defense is misapplied. In a defense situation, you are not deciding how to act, you are just going all out violent to protect yourself or your family, and this seems to triggered in these events somehow.

More study needed!

Bryan Riley said...

The Human being is amazing, goprairie, if we don't say so ourselves. :) I agree. And there is much about who we are and how we operate that we clearly don't understand. It's fun to think of all we have to learn!

TJ said...

Shygetz - the original "survey", I should have said.

Shygetz said...

Ah, well then, would you like to detail your objection to the methodology of the survey, tj, or should I just assume that it is bollocks because you disagree with the conclusions?