Atheism: Good and Evil

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Paul Grinwis's picture
Atheism: Good and Evil

I'm a christian and i'm new to this site.
I've always wondered how atheists deal with the existence of morality.
If there is no God, why have humans as far back as we can record deal in terms of morality?
I'm not arguing for a moral standard that is put forward by a God, i'm pointing out that for some reason morality has always existed regardless of how the standard has changed over time and distance.
I would really appreciate if someone could help me understand an atheist's point of view on this issue.

Subscription Note: 

Choosing to subscribe to this topic will automatically register you for email notifications for comments and updates on this thread.

Email notifications will be sent out daily by default unless specified otherwise on your account which you can edit by going to your userpage here and clicking on the subscriptions tab.

Matty Arnold's picture
Humans have an innate moral

Humans have an innate moral judgement, and it's one that we have developed through evolution. The reason it has developed is because we are highly social beings, and in other social species we can see similar patterns of altruism between individuals. Mutual benefit has huge advantages in nature, and so for humans it has evolved as part of us. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins deals with this topic at length and is really interesting - it's a book worth reading. I've been pretty brief here but I can expand on it if you like.

Paul Grinwis's picture
I've heard about the book

I've heard about the book "The Selfish Gene. The first book that Richard Dawkins wrote. I would actually be very interested in reading it, however it's not going to be for a while as I am currently going through Dawkins' other book "The God Delusion" I'll get around to reading "The Selfish Gene" but please expand if it's not to much trouble. This topic is very interesting to me. :)

Matty Arnold's picture
The God Delusion is a

The God Delusion is a fantastic book, hope you enjoy it ^^ I read the Dawkins Delusion as soon as I'd finished it and made every effort to stay open minded and seriously consider everything it said, but I stopped reading about two thirds of the way through it was just so bad.

The Selfish Gene discusses a lot of things to do with how beneficial it is to be altruistic and selfish. Essentially, any encounter between two social creatures like ourselves in nature is a glorified game of Prisoner's Dilemma, and mathematically it is usually most beneficial to adopt a 'tit for tat' strategy. That is, be altruistic every time unless the last time you encountered this particular individual they were selfish. Hence tit for tat. You can see how this kind of strategy can develop into a more sophisticated moral system as the species itself evolves a more complex brain and social infrastructures.

Paul Grinwis's picture
Ya i'm reading through it

Ya i'm reading through it slowly. I heard that the Dawkins delusions wasn't that good either. Would you recommend I read it anyways?
Yes i've been given a very brief and simple reason as to how evolutionary moralism came around. How it was beneficial to ones own person to be altruistic to others because they would be altruistic in return. Hence the prisoners dilemma and tit for tat. So yes it does make perfect sense. But that is based on the assumption that all living things have the notion for self preservation. I will help out my fellow man so that in return they will help me out. Does the book cover where this notion of self preservation comes from?

Matty Arnold's picture
By all means read it, it's

By all means read it, it's important to get both sides of the story. The only problem is that most of the book is spent discussing the atheist books of 'the four horsemen' - Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. If you've not read the others then a good section of the book won't mean anything to you and it's not even a very long book :P

The Selfish Gene does indeed discuss, again at long lengths, how self-preservation comes about. The Selfish Gene title itself refers to one of these reasons. I saw in another of your posts that you're soon going to look into evolution more thoroughly, and when you do I'd be happy to discuss the origins of self-preservation which is as old as life itself.

Rob's picture
I think atheists simply

I think atheists simply believe that people should do good things because they are properly raisedto understand that alll living creatures deserve respect and they should never harm anyone unless they are attacked. It's very simple really. Good people don't need religions to do good things and treat people right.

efpierce's picture
You are 110% correct on that,

You are 110% correct on that, people should do good things because it is right, not because it is convenient and other parishioners are watching.

Matty Arnold's picture
Humanism is a moral

Humanism is a moral standpoint that says humans should do good simply for the benefit of others. It's not necessarily the same thing as atheism - indeed atheists like anyone else can be highly immoral. I do think that many atheists are also humanists though.

droyce's picture
Another great book is The

Another great book is The Moral Animal: Why We Are, The Way We Are By Robert Wright. It was written in 1994 but it's still a great introduction into the subject. This is a rapidly evolving field of science/psychology, so I'm sure there are newer books available.

damanar's picture
Morality exists in lesser

Morality exists in lesser species as well:

It is indeed an evolutionary trait.

mysticrose's picture
Animal have morals too but

Animal have morals too but they can't explain it simply natural for them to do moral things. It seems that there moral value is based via intuition. We just know what bad things are and what are not. Even if we try to rationalized our deeds we tend to feel uneasy because of the fact that it's not right. Morality is an intuitive trait.

James's picture
i think is pretty simple, i

i think is pretty simple, i guide my life through empathy, if something hurts me, it would probably hurt everyone else. Not give to others what we would not like to recieve...

SammyShazaam's picture
Do Christians only do good

Do Christians only do good things because they are afraid that God will be mad at them if they don't?

Atheists aren't obligated to use fear s the major motivating factor in our lives, and most of us live quite well without it. We do the right thing because it simply makes us happier. Also, doing the right thing now will lead to less complications in life later, and will encourage a better quality of life for all of us in the long run.

God is not a necessity for morality, it's just good common sense.

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.