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I'm sure many people are nice for selfish reasons. And we've all met folks who we believe might fall into that category... either by knowing something of their history (that their "nice" was contingent on utility in the past) or personal experience, where they were nice to us for a reason.

I think nearly all people fall into that category. Ultimately, why do you think you act nice? Because God wants you to. And what motivates you to do what God wants? You think he'll bring you to heaven.

Here's a conundrum for you. Suppose you had the chance to do an important favor for me, but you were aware that doing this favor would ultimately result in you not going to heaven. Would you do it? Now that would be REALLY nice and REALLY selfless.

We're much farther into the realm of guessing, since we're into motivation now... but back to A and B. If A is happy, I would suggest that A eventually stopped acting at being kind and helpful, and simply became kind and helpful. Still, a clear and rational path.

I hope you didn't misinterpret my use of the word "rational actor." I meant "one who acts rationally", not someone who pretends to be something he is not. In my example, A is really sincere about being nice, and it also, as a by-product makes him happy.

What is irrational is what we're called to as Christians. Kind and helpful when it's not obviously rational. The "love your enemy" stuff. Kind and helpful when we get negative feedback. But, if with "greater power" help we persist, eventually good things can come of the relationship.

Being rational isn't the same as looking for immediate gain. For instance, I could make it a policy to be a jerk to everyone who can't obviously make themselves useful for me. But I risk being a jerk to someone who actual does matter. Example: I am driving to a job interview. I cut someone off in traffic and flip him off. I get to the interview, the interviewer is late. When he arrives, he says "Sorry I'm late, some idiot cut me off in traffic and I got in a wreck. Hey, you look familiar..."

The fact is, I don't make a habit of being rude to people. Even when it's slightly more effort, I start out friendly to almost everyone by default, because you never know when their appreciation might be a worthwhile thing to have.

Okay, is it irrational to love your enemy? Maybe, but why? Is it "irrational" because it doesn't work? If so, then that seems to negate your earlier claim that being nice makes you happier. Suppose you go up to a known enemy to give him a hug, and he gives you a knife in the ribs. Then I agree with you: you weren't acting rational. But here's where we disagree. I don't consider that behavior a virtue.

Many Christians apparently don't see things that way either. For instance, loving your enemy would include, say, Osama bin Laden. We don't usually try to kill people we love. Yet there seem to be a lot of hawkish Christians.

I don't see any need to love Osama bin Laden myself. But at least I'm honest about it.
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