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Obey No1kinobe

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No god = No Morality?

Recently, and reasonably frequently, there are claims made by some very thoughtful people that without god or without religion there would be no absolute morality and human civilisation risks sliding into survival of the fittest.

For someone like me who assumes all the law giving gods are man made and so are the religious laws - we have always managed to develop morality ourselves anyway. Perhaps human morality is a mix of instinct, cultural and experiential programming and reason. I include religion in the programming part.

But there is still the question would an end to traditional religions remove a pillar in society that improves the human condition.

For the more religious, I guess you had better hope you have the right god and right interpretation and right set of divine laws.

Also if a god gave us a conscience, this seems to work more or less with or without belief in any particular deity or dogma. You may be a good person but might not get to heaven.

So would the decline of traditional religion shift us towards survival of the fittest? No.

1) Atheists can be as good or evil as believers

2) Some religious laws are immoral from the perspective of equality, freedom, and improving the human condition. We would be better without these.

3) Religion had thousands of years to address slavery, race and sex equality, sanctity of life and has not done well. The enlightenment drove these forward.

4) During the reign of religion we have had more wars, murder compared to now - as the grip of religion has decreased.

5) Where we see religious fundamentalism we often see more violence. The most devout are often the most dangerous.

6) USA one of the most religious first world countries in the world with a huge rate of gun crime, murder, imprisonment compared to less religious western nations.

7) We owe much of our more civil societies to enlightenment values of equality, freedom

We have a sound basis for morality without god. We don't need god to value life.

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Closing Statement from Obey No1kinobe

Thanks all.

The key takeaways for me are:

(a) Many people believe that if god given absolute rules are taken away then anything goes. This seems to be a key teaching in Christian circles.

There is a lot of confusion here. Many think they know who god is and what his rules are. Somehow they ignore or explain away that there are many gods and conflicting god given rules. What if you have the wrong god, wrong rules, or there is no god. The certainty is sad to see.

Also, it is just a human definition that whatever god does is moral and what he says is moral is the absolute. If god punishes us in hell it is moral. If god asks us to smite neighbouring tribes it is moral. If god floods the world and kills nearly everyone including innocent babies it is moral. Original sin passed from generation to generation is moral.
This is similar logic to that used in the Nuremberg trials. It was only a war crime if the allies didn't do it.

We are gods play things his creation his rules. You can not challenge them. Well we can. We can judge these rules and gods actions and see some are good, some are silly and some are downright cruel. You might believe these are the rules, but how can you say they moral other than by definition.

(b) That if religion fades as a morality indoctrinator, we may lose some of the nasty medieval rules, but need to be sure we put energy into living moral lives, guiding our kids, and supporting a moral society.

I suggest we invented the gods and their rules, we can build on these and secular foundations in the future without gods


I have to disagree. Firstly there are so many different conflicting beliefs on what absolute morality is. It simply does not exist in this simplistic form.

Lorraine, all I can say is I don't think personal revelation, however profound is a sound basis for absolute morality. There have been many revelations and they don't all agree. It might work for the individual but don't claim it is the ultimate truth.

Imagine if

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  • Apr 21 2012: Morality is those action and behaviors that lead to the good health and well-being of individuals and communities. The belief in God is not necessary for morality to occur. In fact, every action and behavior we engage in contributes either to our health or illness, and to our well-being or misery. Some actions and behaviors are more dramatic than others.

    Ethics is the real issue behind religion, law, and politics. Morality is what it is. Ethics is what we want to see. Morality has an absolute character in that every action can be shown to contribute either to our health and well-being, or to our illness and misery. Ethics is relative in that we can prioritize which moral actions and behaviors we would like to focus on and give importance to.
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      Apr 22 2012: Thanks David. I would agree with promoting behaviour that improves the human experience/condition.
      Also that a key element of law, government etc should be to provide a civil society.
      One difficulty is determining the priorities especially if religion is in the mix.
      E.g. if religious cultural values say a raped woman should marry her rapist.

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