Class Warfare Blog

May 9, 2020

Can Atheists Be Moral?

Note A Sunday-ish post … early! Steve

Being an empiricist, my answer is “of course” as it has been demonstrated over and over that atheists are no less moral than non atheists. But allow me to step away from that and approach the issue differently.

A main approach is that a morality not given by a god is declared to be subjective rather than objective, even worse it is declared to be relative! And I say . . . so?

The declaration of a god-driven morality to be objective is a bit specious in that gods change their minds all of the time, so how is that “objective?” (For people who just gasped regarding my claim that gods change their minds, consider Yahweh’s decision to kill off all of the humans he created by flooding. He basically states that he regretted making us. If that isn’t a change of mind, what the hell is it?)

And subjective and relative are not necessarily bad things. Many of the people who argue in favor of objective morality, that is god-given, politically argue for “local control” of various governmental functions (education, how to run elections, etc.). Local control of things means that local people get to negotiate for what they want to happen. But this would be disastrous when it comes to morality, no?

No.

We are social animals, we negotiate social behaviors on the fly and we are quite good at it. Remember back to when ATMs were introduced? There were no protocols or procedures as to their use, other than the bank’s instructions as to how to operate the machines. But shortly after their introduction, we adopted the general principle that if a line forms, a largish gap was created between the current user and the next user. In this fashion, the current user didn’t have to worry about anyone prying into their business with the bank or swiping their PIN or . . . you know. And who created this process? Who implemented it? Who enforced it? Basically, we did, with absolutely no fuss or muss . . . because we are good at establishing social norms. We have been doing it for millennia and are well practiced at this task.

But moral issues aren’t negotiable, you say. Think again. Some issues are obviously non-negotiable to most people. Just go online and make an argument that murder should not be considered immoral. Do you think you would get any “takers,” serious takers, for your new moral precept? I think not. I think you would get aghast responses from serious people and trolling responses from most of the rest.

And what about the “objective moral code” that said that pre-marital sex would send you straight to Hell? What about the “objective moral code” that said that divorce was an abomination? What happened to the moral code that forbade the mixing of wool and linen in a single cloth to make garments? (Yes, that was one of Yahweh’s 613 commandments.) What happened to the moral code that you should always marry within your faith? What happened to the moral code that you should marry within your race?

If these things are not negotiable, and hence not relative/subjective, how come they are constantly changing?

 

 

21 Comments »

  1. What happen to Branyan? He loves this objective/subjective moral game.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by john zande — May 9, 2020 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

    • Does he love it JZ? Hmmm. 🤔 My only impressions of his vague, ambiguous, extremely shallow/short comments is his severe laziness or affliction to do any extensive homework or equitable research on a topic, ESPECIALLY his own belief-system, and then demonstrate that self-initiated hard legwork by precise, thorough comments of clarity that AT LEAST tease a challenge out of us or cause pause. HAH! 😄 But none of his comments, rebuttals, etc, are original or show his own pathology or intelligence.

      Am I being too harsh, or too polite, too merciful? Lol

      Like

      Comment by Professor Taboo — May 9, 2020 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

      • Correction: he loves exhibiting his complete and total lack of thought on the matter.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by john zande — May 9, 2020 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

        • AHHHHH!!!! Well then, why didn’t you just say that in the beginning JZ? 😉 😛 For a minute there I thought you were possibly referring to some other person named BrainYawn. 🤭

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Professor Taboo — May 9, 2020 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

    • He showed up! Now taking on the role of a flyswatter!

      On Sat, May 9, 2020 at 3:54 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 10, 2020 @ 9:33 am | Reply

  2. Steve, forgive me for repeating my consistent comment-response to this debate, or I’d rather say, NON-debate. 😉 Here’s my go to link/assessment of Atheists being moral and ethical without any “divine assistance.” It is from Harvard grad and Harvard Professor Dr. E.O. Wilson essay/article in The Atlantic 1998 issue called The Biological Basis of Morality. Its introduction begins like this:

    Do we invent our moral absolutes in order to make society workable? Or are these enduring principles expressed to us by some transcendent or Godlike authority? Efforts to resolve this conundrum have perplexed, sometimes inflamed, our best minds for centuries, but the natural sciences are telling us more and more about the choices we make and our reasons for making them.

    Dr. Wilson’s argument and viewpoint I find extremely well-supported and highly reasonable by the cumulative biological, neurological, paleoanthropological, and genetic evidence (to name a few), and I think personally answers that question conclusively. 🙂

    Here’s the link to his article:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/04/the-biological-basis-of-morality/377087/

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Professor Taboo — May 9, 2020 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

    • I am already on board with morals being natural manifestations of human social behavior, but I will read the article as it sounds good.

      On Sat, May 9, 2020 at 5:48 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 10, 2020 @ 9:34 am | Reply

      • Cool Steve. It’s just one of my go to sources for any theists/deists. Figured you and others might like it. 😉

        Like

        Comment by Professor Taboo — May 10, 2020 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  3. Hmmm…you’re making me think about something that I (someone who is openly religious/Christian) thought about in the past: the question of whether atheists can be moral (my answer is yes, though many Christians would disagree).

    And I think you hit the nail on the head on the fact that it really depends on what you define as “moral.” Even a lot of Christians don’t agree on what is “moral”–some would think I’m a heretic for suggesting that homophobia and transphobia are immoral and sinful, but alas, here we are.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Brendan Birth — May 10, 2020 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

    • Brendan, as an openly pronounced “religiousite/Christian,” I applaud you for this rather realistic view of humanity. Indeed, you are absolutely right that MANY professed Christians™ would label you a heretic. If you and we were back in the Dark Ages or Medieval Ages you’d be lynched, burnt at the stake, or imprisoned and tortured for what you’ve just stated. Fortunately for us today your posture and mine, and many of those here are all adequately supported by sound science, specifically the field of biology sure, but also endocrinology, paleoanthropology, neurology, genetics, embryology, sociology, psychiatry-psychology to name just eight interdisciplines on the subject!

      Speaking on homophobia and transphobia and if you’re interested at all, are you familiar with inter-sexed births and specifically 5-Alpha Reductase Deficiency? They are births around the world like in the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Egypt and other regions where what develops in the woman’s 1st and 2nd trimesters of pregnancies—i.e. God’s workshop so to speak—is physically a girl, but by about age 12 becomes clearly a boy.

      It is utterly fascinating prenatal genetics, embryology, endocrinology, etc! Magnificent actually just how unfathomably DIVERSE (i.e. not Monistic or Binary) we humans (and all animals) truly are!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Professor Taboo — May 10, 2020 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

      • Yep! In some eras, my stance would get me into LOTS of trouble, even more so than now.

        I’ve never heard of 5-Alpha Reductase Deficiency, but I have heard of intersex births. I even know of (but don’t necessarily know personally) people who are intersex, and wrote a post on intersex stereotypes on my blog awhile back. It’s really unfortunate that people are literally, well, born that way yet often get treated quite poorly.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Brendan Birth — May 10, 2020 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

        • Society, that is “normal”(?) society… who think and believe in archaic, antiquated Monistic or Binary terms ONLY… are indeed monsters sometimes to people who are simply different prenatally and born different! That’s it! They had no say in the matter how they would be born or where they would be born. Yet, “normal” folk, many times those who wire their brains in Monistic-Binary terms, humiliate, slur, and treat them with either hate or negligence, or both.

          Nevertheless Brendan, I do applaud your honesty. Well done sir.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Professor Taboo — May 10, 2020 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

    • Welcome to the mix. I think you will find people of every stripe commenting here.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 12, 2020 @ 1:00 pm | Reply


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