WHERE DOES AN ATHEIST GET MORALS?
A Short Answer: The Golden Rule
Yes – Atheists care about morality as much as anyone else would.
I get my morality from the same place most other people do.
Humans have an innate sense of fairness. We are born with this drive.*
This is why the ancient Golden Rule, also known as the Law of Reciprocity,
is such an excellent moral code:
“Do not do to others that which you do not want done to you”
– Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), and Confucius (500 BCE)
This moral code requires no gods.
It originated thousands of years before today’s religions and as a result there are dozens of variations across the world. Religions like to claim this rule can’t be followed without a god forcing it along. But it is not true. The Golden Rule is a cultural manifestation of a biological drive which has always been present in humans; our natural sense of fairness is innate in us.
It is worse than insulting to claim a non-believer cannot be moral without the guidance
of a god because abundant evidence shows Atheists are at least as moral as Theists, while there is no evidence a that moral behavior is necessarily connected to a God.
Fairness: A Powerful Motivator
This drive for fairness is profoundly strong in us. It prevents us from wanting to harm others needlessly and it encourages us to help people who are victims of unfair situations. It isn’t difficult to understand this would be a matter of survival. This drive explains our compassion for others who are in desperate need. It explains our desire to be helpful.
Furthermore, it explains why humans create gods and religions.
Life can be desperately unfair. We create and embrace myths to comfort each other in the face of suffering. This does not validate the thousands of myths, it validates our desire to reinforce loving binds and to comfort others.
We do not like seeing unfair things happening. And we enjoy helping people to remedy that unfairness.
Where did this drive for fairness come from?
We could never have survived as a species without the sense of fairness.
And, no surprise, many other species share this fairness trait with humans.
Believers wonder, could the sense of fairness actually be a sign that god tinkering
with our hearts somehow in the background?
Well, we do have evidence of evolution. We do not have evidence of a god.
So I see no reason to accept the God hypothesis without more evidence.
“But Atheist, Why Not Break your Golden Rule?
Atheists Have No God to Punish Them for Breaking it.”
Well, to be blunt, neither do you.
But the reason I don’t break the Golden Rule is simple. I would be inviting a very bad time upon myself and my loved ones. Why would I do that? It would create more unfairness.
And as I already pointed out – it simply goes against my innate sense of fairness.
I can’t bring myself to behave unfairly to others without it bothering me in a profound way.
Instead of looking to Gods, we should be amazed that evolution has managed to produce the very brilliant, pleasant, useful, cooperative instinct in ourselves.
And Atheists usually do act morally.
Statistically, Atheists are less likely to go to jail, less likely to take forgiveness for granted and less likely to commit acts of terror**.
The purpose of this page is to educate people that our Morality comes from being born.
It occurs naturally regardless of our religion or our geography.
We are born to naturally get along and to help each other.
Religion is not always a friend of morality
Religions are not constructed to help the Golden Rule but to enforce it, as if the sense of fairness were supernatural rather than a normal condition of human life.
Religions are also tribalistic and cater to the ‘in’ group. The ‘other’ is often considered evil by definition. This discourages the Golden Rule.
Religion also creates arbitrary violations of The Golden Rule even while it pretends to promote it. As in: “Kill Homosexuals” (Leviticus 20:13) or “Avoid Them” (Romans, 16:17) Just ask yourself, would you want this done to you or your children if they were so accused? Of course not.
Religion is not needed to created dangerous tribalisms. Atheists can also be guilty this. Nationalism for example can be turned into to a semi-religious cause. But that is where it stops being Atheism, if it becomes a religion or if its leaders are worshipped unquestioningly as if they were real gods.
All of this is a good reason to keep your head on straight.
Any tendency to force upon others something you would not want visited back upon you is the real test.
That is The Golden Rule in action. The simple Law of Reciprocity which has served humanity so well for hundreds of thousands of years.
And no gods are needed.
WHAT IS MORALITY?
Morality is about well-being.
If we agree that well-being is a good thing, it is easy to behave with a sense of morality toward others.
Since I want to live in a world which is kind and helpful to me and my loved ones I am strongly motivated to interact with others in a way which spreads that kind of well-being.
WHAT IS GOD’S MORALITY?
Many religious people claim God is the Author of Morality.
So naturally, they wonder how a non-believer could justify moral behavior.
First, let’s remember there is a supposed record of God’s morality available to us.
Both Testaments claim God’s morality to be perfect and absolute.
So let us glimpse the morality of the Old Testament first.
This is the morality of God
(brace yourself) :
GOD SAYS – CUT OFF YOUR WIFE’S HAND
IF SHE TOUCHES ANOTHER MAN’S PENIS.
“If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and SEIZING HIS GENITALS, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.” – DEUT. 25:11
GOD COMMANDS GENOCIDE.
“I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy.” (JER 13:14)
“Now go and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.” (1 Samuel 15:3)
GOD COMMANDS: “KILL THE SEXED WOMEN, SAVE THE VIRGINS FOR YOURSELF”
“Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. ‘Why have you let all the women live?’ he demanded. …They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.” (Num:31:18)
GOD THREATENS THE MEN: “YOUR WIVES WILL BE RAPED – YOUR NEIGHBORS MUST DO THIS IN DAYLIGHT”
“Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall LIE WITH YOUR WIVES in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:11)
GOD SAYS GENOCIDE IS A GOOD SOLUTION:
“My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out.” (Exodus 23:23)
GOD COMMANDS IT GO AND KILL MORE – “EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY ARE SORRY!”
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!” (JEREMIAH 15:1-7)
GOD COMMANDS – “KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR”
“Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood.” (Jeremiah 48:10)
GOD COMMANDS ABORTIONS
“Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer… Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…they shall bear no fruit: yea though they bring forth, YET WILL I SLAY even the beloved fruit of their womb.” (Hosea 9:11-16)
GOD’S FIRST COMMANDMENT: “MAKE WAR FOREVER WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS”
“These are my commandments….1. I am making a covenant with you. “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land” (EXODUS 34:15)
THE LORD SAYS, MAKE SLAVES OF THOSE AROUND YOU. CLAIM THEM AS YOUR OWN PROPERTY.
“You shall purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you…also the children..You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this…” (Leviticus 25:44-46)
How much of that struck you as ‘immoral’?
Right. You know it is against ‘well-being’, in fact it is disgusting.
But watch what you are doing and pay attention to yourself.
NOTICE. YOU ARE TRYING TO FIX THIS BIBLE.
In your head, you are trying to explain it, to defend it, to apologize for it.
You want to say “it is out of context.”
But where is that drive to fix the Bible coming from?
Your biological, innate sense of fairness is kicking in – and notice that it is superior to your Bible!
Your innate sense of fairness predates your Bible by hundreds of thousands of years! It came from evolution, a deeper source than any ancient text.
If God were the author of Morality, and God’s laws are written on your heart, why isn’t slavery written on your heart?
Why isn’t genocide written on your heart?
Why are God’s preachments so difficult?
Why are these passages so revolting to you?
Is God really a mystery or is there something else going on?
And ask yourself, if God’s ‘Grace’ is love and compassion, how would it come from this god?
JESUS IS A BETTER REFLECTION OF GOD’S MORALITY – RIGHT?
What about Jesus? Wasn’t He A Good Moral Example?
“Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
We have a lot to talk about regarding Jesus.
He is as much of a problem as Yahweh.