Where do morals come from?

58 posts / 0 new
Last post
Question_everything's picture
Where do morals come from?

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.

Kostas Louritis's picture
Well as far as i know

Well as far as i know morality has developed over time through evolution ! If the animals of the same species killed each other for no reason the others would be afraid of them and the females wouldn't mate with them for example ! , also stealing , raping and such can be explained by the same logic ! If more than one animal ( such as us humans ) want to form some type of society they have to be careful of the way that they behave so they will be axepted by the others ... its the golden rule treat others the same way you want to be treated ! It helps in the survival of the species !

Zaya Zahin's picture
read it http://joygts
Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Some paragraphs, punctuation

Some paragraphs, punctuation and precis would make it readable Joy. But otherwise its a good sentiment.

mykcob4's picture
Morals come from society.

Morals come from society.
They have always come from society.
They will always come from society.

Kostas Louritis's picture
Society didn't create

Society didn't create morality !! Morality comes from evolution , it is quite easy to see if you observe other animal species like chimps, dolphins , dogs/wolfs ,loins and so on ! they Do Not murder , rape , steal ex. more that humans are .. in fact they are way more moral than we are and they dont have the type of society that we have !! Morals are a way to cooperate with others from our species so we can survive together .

algebe's picture
Morals are the products of

Morals are the products of our innate instincts and empathy as social animals, refined by our experiences in our families and society.

Religion creates a poisonous pseudo-morality consisting of self-righteousness, hatred, spite, hubris, and judgmentalism. Religious morality is manifested in oppression, honor killings, holocausts, inquisitions, and religious wars.

chimp3's picture
Morality comes from brains

Morality comes from brains that have evolved the capacity for moral thinking.

Dave Matson's picture
I have made two rather

I have made two rather extensive posts on morality:

Thread: "Differences in Approach" (12/15/2016 14:02)
Thread: "Differences in Approach" (11/23/2016 01:02)

biggus dickus's picture
Why dog of course.

Why dog of course.

xenoview's picture
Morales come from you

Morales come from you treating others how you want to be treated. Humans have made laws against immoral acts, that punish the law breaker with prison time.

MCDennis's picture
They come from us. And that

They come from us. And that is why everyone's morals are different. That was easy. Next question.

Truett's picture
Experts like Harvard's Steven

Experts like Harvard's Steven Pinker and Yale's Paul Bloom have written a lot about where morals come from. Based on their and others'research it seems that shared interests of members of a species will lead to what we think of as a component of morality. Reciprocal behavior is a big part of it. When a Rhesus monkey grooms another monkey, they expect the same in-kind treatment. If the receiver of the grooming does not oblige the first, the sense of inequity is infuriating to the cheated monkey and future acts of grooming are withheld from the ungracious monkey. We see examples in essentially all primates and a great number of other species.

Shared responsibility is also a large component. Wolf pack members that don't contribute to the hunt are eventually excluded from the rewards of the hunt.

There is a lot of research around empathy that is instructive as well. Chimpanzees that are given the option to take a treat with the addition of seeing a fellow chimpanzee immediately be subjected to a small but painful electrical shock when they take that treat have been studied. The chimpanzees offered the treat often notice the correlation and turn down the treat to save its compatriot from pain. Chimpanzees are notoriously hostile to non-tribal members but have real devotion to their in-group members.

So shared interests, reciprocal behavior, and empathetic pain awareness seem to play a role in the evolution of morality. A key area of current study is altruism, which is positive behavior toward an individual with little or no apparent benefit to the individual performing the good deed. Paul Bloom argues that this instinct is also directly tied to long term reciprocal behavior. Richard Dawkins suggests that it is really tied to something far deeper, which is that our genes are mindlessly acting in their own survival interests. Any set of behaviors that leads to the gene's survival will be passed on to future genes, and any behaviors that are detrimental will suffer Darwin's curse and be removed from the gene pool. Like I say, there is a lot of study on altruism.

Morality in humans is then, in my opinion, an evolutionary set of traits that has proven successful. Morality is natural for an intelligent herd-like species like humans.

mykcob4's picture
@ Truett

@ Truett
Like I said morals come from society.

ImFree's picture
Morals come from an innate

Morals come from an innate need of individuals to be treated fairly by treating others fairly. I always found christianity to be immoral by allowing a loophole that forgives all past crimes and transgressions if one repents prior to dying.

Truett's picture
I agree that religion in

I agree that religion in general and christianity in particular are immoral. I am absolutely itching for a verbal fight when it comes to christians asking where one gets one's morals without god. I know they think they have a good point, but it is a friggin' outrage that one of the most immoral philosophies ever invented convinces its members that they are moral and that they get their morality from that sadistic religion. A complete outrage. I can't stand it.

ImFree's picture
Truett you might get a

Truett you might get a chuckle out this quick debate with a christian on morals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGuVZmUVwcM

Truett's picture
Thanks, ImFree! I enjoy

Thanks, ImFree! I enjoy watching Dillahunty tangle with deluded christians. The caller with whom Matt spoke is a great example of an individual who hasn't thought through the contradictions and immorality of the christian position.

CyberLN's picture
What I have never quite

What I have never quite understood, and what has never been satisfactorily answered by folks who think morals can come only from their gawd, is where they think I, as someone who identifies as atheist, get mine.

algebe's picture
@CyberLN: "What I have never

@CyberLN: "What I have never quite understood"

That's simple, CyberLN. We don't have any. We're amoral because we don't believe in a genocidal, child-murdering, racist, torturing sky-fairy.

Truett's picture
Hey CyberLN, my own anecdotal

Hey CyberLN, my own anecdotal experience on this point is what some preachers and some Southern Baptist members have said, which is that people who don't believe in god but seem to be good are that way for two principle reasons. They are that the non-believer is strongly influenced by christian societies so they're benefiting from it, and that even though people don't believe they are still created by god with the god-given traits he gives to his children. Both of these things are a bloody outrage, I know. And I hate the sound of that infuriating term "non-believer" that christians use. But that is what I've heard within the walls of churches when they open up and say what they're really thinking to an uncritical audience.

Like I say, this is just my own anecdotal experience. But it has driven me to focus my arguments on beings that can't possibly be influenced by christian society and that aren't supposed to posses souls. I want arguments that amount to a coup de grace that robs christians of their built-in responses and forces them to think. That's been my plan, anyway. I don't have any personal proof that it works.

charvakheresy's picture
I guess moral stem from both

I guess moral stem from both Us and our interactions with society. and so as with both individuals and society morality evolves over time and conforms to the needs of the time or else it becomes obsolete (just as religious morality has come to be obsolete)

CyberLN's picture
So, does it matter?

So, does it matter?

Does it matter from where morals actually come? Is it not more important that we don't squash others based on our own bs? Really. If a xtian claims superior morals and yet hurts others...if a Buddhist claims they really care about all life but kills, if a Muslim says they are peaceful but think death for apostasy is correct, is any one of them moral? Does it matter if they claim to know the source of morality? Isn't the proof in the pudding?

MCDennis's picture
I agree it doesn't really

I agree it doesn't really matter... but in my opinion morals come from us. For most of us, from our parents, from ourselves, our schools, our communities.

Lynpu Kh's picture
construction of human....

construction of human....

bigbill's picture
morals come from societys

morals come from societys trying to get along and live together without fighting one another. the morals we have today are much different then our grandparents if you look at biblical morality a son would be put to death for cursing his parents or doing work on the Sabbath.yes we come a long way from putting people on the stake and burning them alive like calvin did during the years of the reformation. or burning women as witches as they did in Salem mass. also women have grater dignity now compared to yesterday.yes yesteryear was quite a era that people lived if you look at today for instance you would see great freedom for same sex marriage and transgender rights. lgbtg movements, more freedom in things like social media.I can go on but I think I showed sufficiently how we have evolved in certain parts of the world.Of course that goes without saying that more work has to be done.

Randy the Atheist's picture
Morals are arbitrary rules of

Morals are arbitrary rules of conduct voted into existence by the popular majority of any given society. Oftentimes, they are deployed by a single dictator or monarch. They are also determined by the outcome of civil war or by violent protest. The outcome of the moral compass that a society ultimately lays down is then enforced by said society thus infusing the belief that morals are absolute. These morals that they value will shift over time depending on the makeup of opinions doing the voting, doing the dictating or doing the warring. Morals are a human construction that varies by Time, Geography and Circumstance. All of the morals we value today will someday become "outdated" by a future society that no longer feels the same way.

Thus, morals are rules generated by the consensus of like-minded individuals. It evolves over time as the structure of the social network evolves. It does not "improve" or "degrade" over time - it simply changes based upon the shifting desires of a given social system. Morals do not exist in some aether of matter nor does it exist in the stars or the trees. It also does not exist when a human being is alone. It only emerges when humans form a group. Thus, morals are not imbedded within us. It is entirely a social phenomenon.

Today, most of those wildly different social spheres have largely dissappeared - replaced by a more or less globalized moral system whose societies are now wholly interconnected through vast trade agreements and international resolutions through the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

What kind of morals would you have if you were born some 2500 years ago, into the legendary tribes of the Mayans?

Would you have the morals of a 21st century American even though *America* was not yet discovered and shaped through decades of protests, rallies and a full blown civil war?

No. You would be a Mayan and believe wholeheartedly in the Mayan ways of life. Would you have been born in the Wrong Place .... at the Wrong Time?

Moral relativism however, does not mean there are no morals at all. Moral relativism states that there ARE morals which are created by each society independently from one another - from different locations to different times.

American morals for example are decided by the popular vote of the American citizens - hashing out our differences on the streets, at rallies, at city conferences and in congress. Sometimes they are hashed out in civil wars - like the one Lincoln fought for. Chinese morals on the other hand, are hashed out quite a bit differently from ours where only a small percentage of the population decide what is right and what is wrong. These rights and wrongs that all societies build independently are then enforced by each society on their own thus causing each to believe that they have the moral superiority.

Morals are not only relative by location but are also relative by time. A hundred years ago in America, introduction of same-sex marriage bills would get you lynched by a mob like the KKK. Today, its sweeping the nation because the society that is now doing the voting is comprised of people who feel very differently from the society that existed 100 years ago.

Flamenca's picture
We're also discussing morals
Matt Wilson's picture


Defining Morality:

- principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.
- a particular system of values and principles of conduct.
- the extent to which an action is right or wrong.

Religion used to be the source of morality. In the West there is a new source of morality: Universities. The morality from universities is based on equality and is very often the opposite of Christian morality.

mykcob4's picture
@ Matt-4

@ Matt-4
This poster is not even here anymore.
Also, you are dead wrong about morality.
You said, "Religion used to be the source of morality." That is flat out incorrect. Society has always dictated morality. Religion just tries to hijack it.
You also said, "In the West there is a new source of morality: Universities. " That is also false. Again the society dictates morality. That society could be as small as a church or as large as a nation...even larger, but the society dictates what is accepted as moral or immoral for that society.
You also said, " The morality from universities is based on equality and is very often the opposite of Christian morality." That is a lie as well. Since universities don't dictate any moral code for anyone other than the faculty and students in that university that is a flat out lie. Some universities do try and force their ideology on the rest of the nation but those universities are christian universities like Liberty U.
I doubt that you can prove that religion used to be the source of morality. No the organization that was the religious authority at one time did dictate what they called morality but you could hardly call it religion dictating morality, at least in the sense that you mean it. In other words, no morality ever came from a god.

Matt Wilson's picture
You apparently like to work

You apparently like to work backwards. There is no god, and Jesus was just some guy if he existed at all. Therefore, morality must come from society. Done!

I don't think so.

Christianity spread from one man and a small number of followers. They then spread their message to different societies in the West and set up churches along the way. The churches then taught his message. The Bible is an instruction manual to live your life. Christians follow the new testament. Jews, who were suppose to be a priest class but utterly failed, get the much more demanding old testament.

" Since universities don't dictate any moral code for anyone other than the faculty and students in that university that is a flat out lie."

The problem is what they teach in their classes, not some dictated moral code. Then the students graduate carrying that view into the world. After 40 or 50 years of doing that then the nation can reach a critical mass. Certainly, as students move out of universities they help to spread the message, like in the media. The US is now at a critical mass and there is talk of civil war. The two sides have substantially different views of right and wrong.

You don't seem to have a mechanism to spread ideas. They just somehow seem to come from society.


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.