Full name Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion. Originally a comment on If you believe that good is a real and necessary part of the universe.
I disagree with the idea that if you believe good exists and is a necessary part of the universe in a religious context, you will be compelled to do good. In fact, I see it as potentially inspiring exactly the opposite.
Religious beliefs* tend to take concepts and try to form them into “things”. Love becomes a thing – god is love. Evil becomes a thing, the devil. Faith becomes the thing you must do all the time, sin and martyrdom and all those words becomes much more than their original concepts, they become monolithic constructs that have both meaning and grand, mysterious purpose. The issue is that imbuing a word with such gravitas puts it above lay people, it’s more important and mysterious and holy (or unholy) – bigger – than them. ”Good” is a word that’s taken on this grandeur, and it’s become a personification rather than a concept. There’s this “good” that exists and continues to work on its own and can’t be influenced by humans because it’s “bigger” than us. People don’t have to do good – good will simply manifest itself through people if necessary. It’s a passive attitude, not an active fostering of the urge to do good deeds.
Secondly, if you’re being threatened with a big stick – hell – for not doing good, there’s technically an incentive to do it, but catholic doctrine contradicts itself on this concept in so many ways it’s easy enough to justify pretty much any behaviour within a catholic framework as “good”. Killing someone could be justified very easily by any of the OT passages in leviticus that decree death as a punishment. Considering what atrocities the bible promotes as godly laws, the concept that god is good can mean… well, just about anything. considering that the research shows that direct correlation occurs between a person’s own beliefs and what they believe to be their deity’s beliefs, religion serves predominantly as a personal belief-justifying tool. It imbues a person’s own thoughts with an infinite importance, so that person may technically (within the varyingly nebulous boundaries of their particular flavour of religion) do pretty much anything and call it good.
Not exactly a recipe for success. For someone to do Good (the real-life concept, not religiously personified) from a religious prspective, they must already have a personal concept of good that meshes well with the general concept of good. In other words, they’ll do it independent of their religion, sometimes in stark contrast to it. Most religious people will say their religion inspires them to do good, whether that is true or not depends entirely on that person’s personal beliefs, often shaped by that very religion into something totally distinct from reality.
*Going for christian concepts here since the topic is catholic belief.