Atheists have no morals… yet.

Lack of a moral compass is in my opinion the most devastating argument against atheism. I’ve seen the most highly acclaimed academics snarl and boil over with debilitating rage at the statement. They all mostly respond along the lines “… well, all these bad things were done and are advocated in the bible so YOU are immoral not us”. Others calmly use statistics to ‘prove’ Atheist don’t do as many bad things as theist but all this banter misses the point. What are morals and how do we get them? Why are they good?

Society differentiates between right and wrong by establishing and publicising commonly held and expected norms and values. These are then bunched under the often misused umbrella word, Morals. Historically, nations have converged on and fought over such locally held norms and values. Through theocratic, democratic, autocratic, plutocratic vehicles the officials in these societies have masqueraded as legitimate representatives of the larger population when debating and enacting laws and regulations that document and make enforceable these societal values. Whether such representation of the multitude by the few is practically possible continues to be explored by humanity in many forms.

When we say we value individuals with a good moral compass we are actually saying that it is abhorrent to behave in a way that is antagonistic to the views held and approved by the greater majority of society. The more offensive the behaviour to the greater proportion of society then the more criminal and punishable it usually is. This does not make it absolutely good or bad in the true philosophical definition of the words but just different from the majority. An example is cannibalism which has alternated between acceptable and abhorrent for disparate societies throughout history.

Before the the enlightenment 300 or so years ago, religion was the main source of norms and values for the greater majority of humanity. The priests, royal aristocracies and opportunistic plutocrats were our representatives in this respect. Today, well into the enlightenment and entering the Genomic age many of these long held norms and values are being confronted with ever more analytical criticism as wrongly held dogmas. The Gay issue, corporal and capital punishment, name it and its back on the table for re-evaluation within the complex of modern day societal norms and values.

Atheists, as a breed of philosophers are currently so few in proportion to the established theocracies that most of what they advocate comes across rightly as inherently devoid of common norms and values. They have few or no morals as  a function of their minority in society which is wrongly labelled as a bad thing. If enough of society starts to think like them it will elect and employ similar minded officials whose majority in representative and legislative institutions can slowly change the definition of morality. As a tolerant, libertarian pluralist I find it ironic that only in the sad act of marginalising other beliefs can atheists ever become moral.

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2 Responses to Atheists have no morals… yet.

  1. S.Prophet says:

    This is a very ignorant and arrogant assertion. I could write you an entire paper refuting your premise but I’ll stick to a few simple facts for you to ponder.

    If religion is the bringer of morality, why do moral values differ between different religions? You can only answer this by saying that only one religion is correct. Then what makes you arrogant enough to claim that the one religion you believe in is better than any other religion? Have you ever read the holy scripture of another religion? If not, you are in no position to claim that you can know your religion is the “correct one”. In fact, to know this, you would have to read every scripture of every religion.

    If morality is absolute, why does religion constantly change its opinion? Your only answer to this is that “atheists have marginalised other beliefs”. By that logic you need to stick to the Old Testament (assuming you are Christian) and commit infanticide, genocide, rape, murder and theft. If religious morality is a “true” morality, it is absolute and will never change, meaning that you cannot argue that the heinous acts in the Old Testament are not valid in contemporary society.

    If your religion is the only true bringer of morality, are you making the assertion that for the thousands of years of human history before the existence of your religion, all races on the Earth were evil? That is utter arrogance mixed with a great deal of ignorance.

    Finally, any educated atheist will tell you where morals and ethics come from. They are an evolutionary necessity. Morals are axiomatic because without them, we would not exist in the same state that we are in now. If humans didn’t evolve to develop an inhibition towards murder, do you really think we would live in cities where any number of the millions of people around you would just murder you without thinking it was wrong? The very fact that you can sit at your computer and “think” about this topic is proof that our species evolved its own fundamental ethics. Let me remind you that civilisations existed long before your religion, and that those civilisations would not have existed if fundamental ethics were not developed. Without the evolution of ethics and morality, we would still function as small bands of hunter-gatherers. That is a simple, axiomatic fact.

    • As stated in my post i am a “… tolerant, libertarian pluralist” so I think your venom is grossly misdirected and as thus I can ignore the majority of your comment. Read the post carefully and you’ll understand that there’s more to my thoughts than the heading and the first paragraph. Listen, understand then articulate a contextually relevant response. Thanks.

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