Category Archives: compassion

Why Do Good

“where does the desire to do good come from”

Bradley left a comment on my FAQ 1 page – The Ten Commandments and Morality – as follows:

I just have a question, not a comment. If there is no transcendental being from whom we get at least some inspiration to do good, where does the desire to do good come from, and why would we have any preferences any way? I know that certain things are just naturally disliked, but what makes it uncomfortable or not to be liked?

Rather than clog up my FAQ page I’ve copied this to a new post so I can answer the question, as well as make it easier for others to answer or comment.

Well Bradley to put it simply, the desire to do good has just been bred into us, the human race would not have survived if at least most of us hadn’t wanted to instinctively do good. How long do you think humankind would last if everyone wanted to rape, steal, lie, cheat, harm or kill? Not long.

Much like you assert that “certain things are just naturally disliked” so are certain things just naturally liked.

Apart from the evolution of society needing to (mainly) do good to each other to survive [read some literature on the ethic of reciprocity, which by the way was NOT invented by Christians as some are want to believe, as to why] science has also found various chemicals in the brain, and brain functions, that indicate the desire to do good is a physical property of the body. Have a read of some articles about Oxytoxin for example.

I don’t know about you Bradley, but I find when I do something good I feel good, I get a little “kick” out of doing something good, and it makes me happy. Why would this be? Perhaps it’s chemicals in the brain? Perhaps it’s because of the knowledge that I’ve made someone happy or improved their life in some way. But why be altruistic (which is what we are talking about when we discuss doing good things for no apparent reason or expectation of return)? We know that most religions cite altruism as a virtue, but I don’t consider that religion has a ‘hold’ on altruism. In fact it has been shown that many species of animals act in an altruistic manner and that there is an evolutionary explanation for altruism.

I consider it wholly possible to do good without any transcendental being providing inspiration. Anyway, how would we know a transcendental being provided the inspiration? Could it not be that any supposed transcendental inspiration is actually our own innate goodness and inspiration? That due to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of thought, this inspiration was deemed to have come from a transcendental being only because there didn’t seem to be any other way to explain it’s existence?

Time and again science has discovered reasons for things that people thought were the actions of a transcendental being, pushing the reason for a need, or the possibility, of any transcendental being further and further into non-existence. Perhaps one day science will prove where the desire to do good comes from (from what little I’ve read they pretty well already have) or perhaps there are some things that just are. Either way I see no reason to bring any transcendental being into the equation.

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Filed under atheism, beliefs, christianity, compassion, evolution, golden rule, religion, science

The Charter for Compassion

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A global campaign to apply religion’s "golden rule" — treat others as you would like them to treat you — has been launched by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Religion’s “golden rule”? More on that later.

The campaigners, claiming that compassion is at the heart of most religions, have launched an online Charter of Compassion and invited atheists and others to join them.

EVEN invited the atheists, how noble of them.

Karen Armstrong, …, says many people associate religion with violence, intolerance and dogma rather than compassion.

Surprising that.

Because compassion is not confined to religious people, the charter’s founders hope that atheists and agnostics will help work for a more compassionate world rather than berate religion. [emphasis mine]

Ah, now the real reason they want is involved.

(quotes from The

The organisers of the charter want people from all over the world of all faiths, or lack thereof, to participate and have their input into the final document.

The Charter for Compassion is divided into four segments as follows, each open to public input at various stages over the next four weeks:

  • Preamble – open for comment now
  • Affirmations – open for comment Nov 20
  • Actions – open for comment Nov 27
  • Final Declaration – open for comment Dec 04

So sign in now, have a look at the sample wordings and have your say.

The following is the first sentence of the suggested preamble:

Compassion is a key and universal value in all faiths.

I will be recommending that be changed to the following:

Compassion is a key and universal value.

A simple but vital change, don’t you think?

From their about page:

… the Charter seeks to remind the world that while all faiths are not the same, they all share the core principle of compassion and the Golden Rule.

Problem being that deep down none of these faiths really have any compassion for the other faiths. Go read some literature on what Islam really thinks of other faiths and non-believers then come back and tell me if they really have compassion and can share this “dream” with other faiths. Don’t think the other religions are any better either.

Now back to the Golden Rule.

As John Perkins from the SPA said in his letter to the editor:

The fact that all religions may agree on the Golden Rule does not make it a religious ethic, as Barney Zwartz maintains (18/11). It is actually a universal and secular ethical rule.

As John, the Wikipedia entry and my FAQ 1 state, the Golden Rule, or the Ethic of Reciprocity, has been around for a long time before modern Christianity. It has also been mentioned in many ancient eastern religions and philosophies. It has to be apparent to anyone that thinks about it that this “Golden Rule” is no divine religious imperative, but rather just a humanitarian imperative.

Hence any world-wide “Charter of Compassion” should be based on secular humanist foundations for all humankind, with no religious undertones or overtones.

Compassion, Honesty, Fairness and Tolerance – all part of any “Golden Rule”. All principles able to be conducted by anyone, without need of any influence from some sort of deity.

John Perkins has drafted a “Universal Statement of Moral Obligations” which expounds further on a secular version of the “Charter for Compassion”.


One has to wonder WHY religious faiths have to make a point of writing a “charter for compassion” in the first place. Isn’t religion ‘supposed’ to be compassionate? Is it perhaps that the recent critical review of religions, and horrific events carried out in the name of religion, have made sane, critical thinking, right minded, people question the role of religion in modern society?

What do you think of this Charter? Are you going to provide input to it? What are your thoughts on the “Golden Rule”, especially that it’s “religions ethic”?

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Filed under agnostic, atheist, charter for compassion, christianity, compassion, golden rule, morals, Muslim, religion, secular