The Problem With Atheistic Morality

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Recently, I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading about morality and its relationship to the idea of God.  Is God necessary for an objective moral framework?  And if He isn’t, does it matter?  I have often wandered if moral or cultural relativism is enough to keep humans acting the way that they do.

 

If God is a mere delusion, I find it impossible to develop any objective moral framework.  I think most atheists and naturalists would agree with me on this statement, but most would say that it doesn’t matter.  When asked about absolute morality, atheist Richard Dawkins claimed “The absolute morality that a religious person might profess would include stoning people for adultery, death for apostasy, punishment for breaking the Sabbath… these are all things that are based on absolute morality.  I don’t think I want an absolute morality.”  First of all, there are several things wrong with this statement.  Number one, he takes into consideration only ancient religious extreme morals.  This just goes to show how incredibly ignorant Dawkins is of Christian moral values.  The second problem with Dawkins’ statement was how he didn’t give any explanation for the moral framework that everyone seems to follow.  Why are we moral creatures?  Why are all of the terrible, awful people such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. not justified in what they did?  Under an atheistic system, I will admit, you can see the evil of a situation for your own personal value, but you cannot in any way, shape, or form claim that the situation is absolutely evil or unjust.  The last part of Dawkins’ statement about not wanting an absolute morality is absurd, considering Dawkins puts so much emphasis on what is absolutely true and what is absolutely not true.  Just because you don’t want something to be true, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

 

I often hear the argument that we are moral creatures because it is necessary for our survival.  After all, humans do seem to desire to keep our own species alive and well.  You could even make the argument that it is “wrong” to murder, steal, etc. in this sense because it affects your fellow man’s survival.  However, what if someone comes along and decides that they want to take control of humanity because they think they know what is best for everyone.  This could include killing off certain people groups just because that individual doesn’t like their species.  We have seen this happen before, and we often view these people as the most terrible people in all of history.  However, from an atheistic perspective, you cannot absolutely make this claim.  In fact, some of these dictators and rulers who have committed these atrocities are doing a great thing for their own personal gain, so why shouldn’t they do it?  There is something deep inside everyone that just speaks out as “this is wrong.”  And that feeling isn’t just there from brute force and natural processes.  If it is, then we have no reason to follow it.

 

Do not hear me wrong, I am not saying that atheists are immoral people.  I am saying that they are following an objective moral framework and they can in no way explain it properly from their worldview.  However, my concern is that beliefs do impact ones actions.

 

The fact of the matter is more people have been killed under atheistic based government systems than any religious system.  Atheists try to get out of this by claiming something like “atheists don’t kill in the name of atheism, but religious people kill in the name of God.”  This is an absolutely ridiculous assertion.  Atheism, while it may not be a religion, is definitely a belief system, and, if followed properly, can have huge implications.  A worldview that is void of an objective moral framework will lead to immoral things happening, it’s just unavoidable.  Stalin hated religion, and wanted to kill religious people.  How on earth is this not killing in the name of atheism?  The claim that “we’re atheists, so we can’t possibly commit immoral behavior in the name of our belief system” is just simply false.  And even if it was true, then how can they claim that these awful things that religion is doing are wrong anyway?  They aren’t following any objective moral framework, so they have no right to claim that anything religious people are doing is immoral.

 

Frederich Nietzsche, an atheist philosopher, often spoke out against human equality because he felt it was a crutch on humanity.  I have to admit, at least Nietzsche was being honest about his worldview, unlike these “New Atheists” who act like there is some objective morality but have nothing to back it up.  Overall, an atheistic worldview presents no moral framework which is much more dangerous than religion.

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7 thoughts on “The Problem With Atheistic Morality

  1. We are all having a morality. Only that some people claim that their version of it is somehow is “absolute”, because that’s what some book says. Of course, they can’t really agree, WHAT it says, WHAT is still valid and what not, etc. but somehow that doesn’t stop it from being absolute.
    If you want your morality to be absolute, then you have to first decide(!) what your morality is. Is slavery wrong? No, because old testament? Ok, is having sex with people of the same gender wrong? Yes, because old testament? etc.etc. And suddenly you will realize, that you still have to CHOOSE what you want to BELIEVE your absolute morality IS. And suddenly it’s not absolute anymore – just your subjective morality.

    If there is absolute morality, we don’t have a clue what it is, which leads to the exact same situation as if there were none. We are in the same boat, mate, only that some people try at least to find morality from a better point of view than interpreting the writings of people who thought it was pretty nifty to kill your enemies and rape their daughters.

    • I was arguing strictly from Christian Theism, not necessarily what’s written in the Bible. Absolute morality isn’t there because if what’s written in the Bible as much as there is a God who determines everything.

      • And, again we are at the point: Even if we assume, that this was true (which you cannot prove), then we wouldn’t know WHAT this god determined, so, again, every human morality is subjective. The assumption that somewhere is a being that has all the answers doesn’t change the fact that we don’t.

  2. Religion gets its morals from people. Not the other way around. Linking morals to unintelligible positions will often lead to “absolute morals”. Once such a moral construct has survived long enough, it will in many cases (new information becomes known), be surpassed by the development of society.

    “…I am saying that they are following an objective moral framework and they can in no way explain it properly from their worldview.”
    While i do think your research into the topic should be expanded (Immanuel Kant, Bernard Williams, Greg Epstein and more). You need to at least show how their arguments are weaker than yours. And yours is pretty weak. It holds as little explanatory power as all the arguments you try to refute.

    I’m smelling the Euthyphro dilemma in your article.
    “Some theists say that ethics cannot do without religion because the very meaning of ‘good’ is nothing other than ‘what God approves’. Plato refuted a similar claim more than two thousand years ago by arguing that if the gods approve of some actions it must be because those actions are good, in which case it cannot be the gods’ approval that makes them good. The alternative view makes divine approval entirely arbitrary: if the gods had happened to approve of torture and disapprove of helping our neighbors, torture would have been good and helping our neighbors bad. Some modern theists have attempted to extricate themselves from this type of dilemma by maintaining that God is good and so could not possibly approve of torture; but these theists are caught in a trap of their own making, for what can they possibly mean by the assertion that God is good? That God is approved of by God?”

    Atheism is also not a belief system… but that is more off-topic then i want to go.

    Your entire Argument is also based on a false logic. While it may be true that we don’t have a completely working description of the origins of ethics, your own claim is not proven.

    • Thanks for the response.

      First of all, you claim that my argument is weak, but gave no example about WHY my argument about objective morality, which is my primary argument here, is weak. Sure it’s a simple overview, but it’s also a blog post. Also, I am a philosophy student and have studied Kant extensively, but I wanted to focus on the more modern characters.

      Also, you claim that theists determine right from wrong because of what God says but this is not necessarily true(at least with Christianity). If God is the greatest conceivable being, then He could be exactly what defines good. Not necessarily just what He says. This is hard to grasp for all of us, but it’s a better explanation than saying all morality is relative or that it’s “just there.”

      • “…WHY my argument about objective morality, which is my primary argument here, is weak.”
        You haven’t proven that absolute/objective/universal (whichever you prefer) morals even exist.

        “Also, I am a philosophy student and have studied Kant extensively”
        Then Kant and his failures should actually be an easy target for you.

        “Also, you claim that theists determine right from wrong because of what God says”
        No i did not. I said i smelled the Euthyphro dilemma and then gave you a quote of what it is. What i actually claimed is this: “Religion gets its morals from people. Not the other way around.”

        “If God is the greatest conceivable being…”
        You really want to get into the Anselm ontological argument and its offsprings? Come on. It has been refuted almost exactly at the time it was uttered.

  3. “You haven’t proven that absolute/objective/universal (whichever you prefer) morals even exist.”
    Doesn’t matter. I gave you my argument. This isn’t an issue of physical evidence.

    “Then Kant and his failures should actually be an easy target for you.”
    Yeah, but like I said, I like to focus on more modern people, like Dawkins.

    “Religion gets its morals from people. Not the other way around.”
    Really? So where did people get those morals from?

    “You really want to get into the Anselm ontological argument and its offsprings? Come on. It has been refuted almost exactly at the time it was uttered.”
    Ha. No, I was mainly using it in the context of strictly morality, not a theistic proof. I probably should have worded it differently, but I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. I will agree that it’s a bad argument, although it did trouble Bertrand Russell until he died.

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