It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui."
Wouldn't it be nice if people of different religions and beliefs could have a calm and reasonable discussion with each other? That's what happened on Jan. 26th at Evergreen Presbyterian Church in Beaverton Oregon. Those involved were a Christian, Hindu, and an atheist. The topic was about good works: why do they do them, and what is their motivation? You can now view this online for free: http://tinyurl.com/ln63so3 .
The Pastor of the Church hosting this event is Pastor Nathan Lewis. Nathan believes that it is important for the community to have these kinds of get-togethers so people can better get along in the community. Speaking for a Hindu perspective is Ramesh Krishnamurthy. In his spare time, Ramesh also teaches youth classes about Hinduism. Bernie Dehler is an atheist and former evangelical Christian. While not at his day job, Bernie is involved in many local area debates and discussions.
So what are some of the motivations for doing good works? For the Christian, there are eternal consequences based on how one lives their life on Earth. For the Hindu, there are also consequences for every action which affects one's Karma. A person's Karma can impact how they will live their next life when considering rebirth with reincarnation. For Bernie, the atheist, there are no eternal consequences. All we have is this one life, and consequences need to be considered for the here and now, and for consequences that affect the community.
Some people have argued that Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, etc. can be a great force to be unleashed for doing good works. Is this a great untapped resource for good works? For example, Tom Gerdy wrote this for The Huffington Post:
It is time to discuss the fact that there are about 450,000 churches in America. As I tried to get a grip on that number, I dug a bit further into the makeup of those 450,000 churches. With the population around 317,500,000 people, there is one church out there for roughly every 700 people. It is estimated that somewhere near 78% of those over age eighteen affiliate themselves with Christian religions. Around 5% associate themselves with other religions, including Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and several others. The remaining 17% or so of the population consists of people with no religious affiliation, including atheists and agnostics. In each of these groups, there are many subcategories, which paint the picture of our melting pot of a country.
Most religions are based on similar ideals that center on loving and reaching out to your fellow man. As I let this simmer a bit, I thought about the impact these 450,000 are making in our country. Many of our social challenges are dealt with by active churches and related organizations. As powerful as that activity is, an unfortunate reality is that many churches confine themselves within their physical walls. They are so busy filling pews and building structures, they forget that is not the mission.
Bernie Dehler is the President of The Center for Philosophical Naturalism. To see other events sponsored by the Center for Philosophical Naturalism, click here: http://www.meetup.com/Philosophical-Naturalists . They also have videos available on their free YouTube channel here: http://tinyurl.com/ltub9aa .
Other community, secular, and philosophical groups can also be found at meetup.com . For example, these are some of the groups that Portland has to offer:
-- Westside Science & Religion Disc.: http://tinyurl.com/bkmhdl5
-- Sunday Assembly: http://tinyurl.com/kkc8nyw
-- Center for Inquiry: http://tinyurl.com/mps923r
-- Humanists of Greater Portland: http://tinyurl.com/kmbmt57
-- Atheists Etcetera: http://tinyurl.com/nhjr3ha
-- Philosophy Workshop: http://tinyurl.com/pzs4ajc