Atheism has no morals

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ilovechloe's picture
@ Samuel Hyde

@ Samuel Hyde

Morality is a human construct. There is no true 'morality' in nature, but humans have developed a 'moral code' for the good of society. As societies have evolved, so too has the concept of what is moral & good for society. The moral code has been largely converted into laws that society is expected to follow.

The so called 'morality' in the bible was decided mainly by men, & probably by the priests of the day, as they were the ones with most of the power over the tribe.

Most of the morality in the bible is now considered outdated in most civilised secular countries, & most of the laws in the bible either no longer exist or have been replaced with new laws governing society.

As most christians will happily tell you, the laws in the old testament no longer apply to them (except of course the ones against homosexuality), because even christians realise how outdated & immoral many of the laws in the old testament are.

That is why we no longer have slavery, we condemn genocide & rape & no longer stone people to death for adultery, homosexuality, or working on the sabbath. It is also why women are allowed to vote, & have largely equal rights to men.

I would say that Atheists, on the whole, are more moral than many evangelical christians who still advocate for discrimination against the LGBT community. If you look at the laws still existing in many non-secular countries, where laws are still based on their outdated religious texts, it is easy to see how immoral many of those laws are.

Atheists & secularists have been at the forefront of rights for LGBT persons, & other minorities, animal rights & many other issues. Christians are often dragged along kicking & screaming, but then try to take the credit once new laws have been passed granting rights to these groups when they eventually realise that it is good for society.

Most churches who still oppose same-sex marriage will probably be embracing it in 20 years time, & then claiming it was their idea all along, just like happened with slavery, interracial marriage & civil rights!

Cognostic's picture
There is no morality in

There is no morality in nature? Natural morality for survival
Because of the instinctive nature of sympathy and its general recurrence among many social animals, Darwin deduces this emotional character must be inherited through natural selection. From a naturalist point of view, it is probable that instinctive sympathy was first developed for animals to thrive by living in society just as the pleasure of eating was first acquired to induce animals to eat. In this sense, morality is a crucial instinct for survival in social animals. As Darwin notes in The Descent of Man

Moral behavior is seen throughout nature.

Atheists are more moral: Absolutely. And we do not have a choice. Christians only act moral to receive a reward or avoid a punishment. Their holy texts and threatening Gods provide them with fear from above, death from below, and an escape if they follow the dictated of their magical belief system. Christians (Theists) have an external locus of control. They agree to be controlled by the dictates of their religions.

Atheists on the other hand, have no such dictates. They must internalize morality. Atheists behave morally because it is the right thing to do. They have no other reason for moral behavior. Atheists behave morally because that is what they expect from others around them.

Sheldon's picture
"There is no morality in

"There is no morality in nature?"

Is there anything outside of nature then? I'd like to the thread author, or any theist come to that, demonstrate some objective evidence for something existing beyond the natural physical world and universe.

Or if the author means that morals are entirely man made then of course he is quite demonstrably wrong. However even if he were not wrong, morals created by human opinion would be subjective, by definition.

This thread op is one of the most woeful I've ever seen. It seems to get multiple claims wrong on many different levels. It's as if the author set out to get as many things wrong in one post, as he possibly could achieve.

Calilasseia's picture
While welcoming your pursuit

While welcoming your pursuit of rigour here, Sheldon, it's apposite at this moment to factor in a missing part of the puzzle.

One of the aspects of the tiresome apologetics about "morality" we see here from the usual suspects among the mythology fanboys, is the implicit assertion that their choice of imaginary magic man purportedly integrated ethical precepts into the foundational fabric of the universe itself. This is an assertion that among others, Nietzsche was scathing of, when he castigated those philosophers who erected a metaphysics, not for the purpose of illuminating our understanding of, say, cosmology or cosmogony, but for the purpose of imposing an ethics upon the universe, regardless of whether or not the universe agreed with this process. Nietzsche didn't just have mythology fanboys in mind when launching his critique, of course, but had in mind every assertionist hijacker of philosophy, regardless of the stance thereof with respect to 'supernatural' entities. Assertionists of different stripes have a habit of seeking to use an asserted "is" to enforce an "ought", despite the fallacious nature of that process, and Nietzsche's exposure of this canard in operation within the requisite hijacked branches of philosophy, is a service we should be thanking him profusely for.

In the sense that ethical precepts aren't built in to the foundational fabric of the universe, one can of course say that 'there does not exist a morality in nature', but one has to be careful with the precise meaning one intends to impart. I regard the idea of ethical precepts being integrated into the fabric of space-time itself as absurd, because ethical precepts only make sense when there exist entities capable of recognising said precepts and acting upon them. What would be the point of performing such an act of integration, right at the start of "creation", when entities capable of responding thereto would not appear for 13.4 billion years? During the early history of the universe, conditions would not even permit neutral atoms to form, let alone compound entities at the level of, say, a single celled organism, and thus far, the evidence informs us that we had to wait 10 billion years for the latter to put in an appearance (I've already addressed elsewhere the much more interesting question of the large scale ubiquity of life, and this is properly a subject for its own thread). Embedding an ethic into the universe for over 13 billion years before that ethic becomes useful, strikes me as a farcical indulgence to put it mildly.

Of course, none of this detracts from what we actually know about ethical precepts. We know that humans are capable of devising ethical precepts, and, for that matter, systems thereof at a relatively high level of abstraction. We also know, courtesy of that abundant literature I've mentioned elsewhere, that the ability and motivation to formulate and act upon ethical judgements is not unique to our species, though whether other species do so at a matching level of abstraction to ourselves, requires further research to answer of course. We know that the capacity to formulate, and motivation to act upon, ethical precepts is, thus far, a feature of species with well-developed systems of social interaction. But of course, while the capacity for ethical thought, and the motivation to act thereupon, are both capacities with an increasingly well-documented evolutionary and biological basis, the products of that thought are somewhat more troublesome to pin down. While certain basic precepts of reciprocity appear to emerge reliably and repeatably in different lineages, more detailed precepts quickly shift out of the reach of a consensus analysis.

In short, while the existence of ethical thought and ethical behaviour is not in question, and supported by an appropriate body of observational data, the purported "privileged" status of a particular set of precepts, on the other hand, is not merely seriously in question, but considered instead to be an indicator of one of the hard problems in philosophy. Namely, how can we be sure that a given set of precepts deserves our adherence? That question has been exercising minds far greater than those of sleazy pedlars of apologetics on the Internet, and for far longer than any of said sleazy pedlars have even been alive.

And again, in short, the existence of ethical thought and behaviour, does not for one moment mean that one small subset of the products thereof enjoy a "special" status. Though teaching this elementary concept to the usual suspects, is likely to be even less successful than trying to teach spinor calculus to my tropical fish.

Kevin Levites's picture
I have always found it rather

I have always found it rather odd that people assume that atheists have no morality, or that a God with an ultimate punishment in Hell or everlasting reward in Heaven as the only reason to exercise morality.....the idea being that if there is no God to deliver ultimate judgement, then why bother behaving in a moral manner?

I've been disgusted with this argument ever since I first heard it as a kid.

First, many people believe in God from faith.

Why not skip a step, and just have faith that it's important to behave in a moral manner?

I have faith that it's important to behave in a moral manner purely for it's own sake.

I question who has the high moral ground: a person who behaves in a moral manner out of fear of eternal punishment? Or a person who behaves in a moral manner purely out of a faith that it's important to exercise morality purely for its own sake?


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