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Do right and wrong exist?

I'm curious about objective right and wrong. If you believe in God, this is a no-brainer. Some things are wrong, some things are right, simply because God says so and He knows. But if you don't believe in God, can you still believe in objective morality? I personally don't think you can. I mean, what do you base it off of? How do you find out what's objectively right or wrong? (By objective I mean "existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality." from dictionary.com)
Sure, there's subjective morality. Any idea of right or wrong come up with by a human is by definition subjective. That's all well and good. Problem is that it only applies to people who believe in it and it gives them no authority to proclaim anything as "what we should be doing." Very often everybody disagrees with each other and we don't get anywhere. (Just look at Congress for an example of this.)
Maybe you disagree with me and you think there is objective morality but no God. That's fine. I would like to ask you to answer a question for me though. Let's pick an easy one. Why is rape objectively wrong? Don't misunderstand me, I can't think of a single instance where rape wouldn't be wrong. I believe very strongly that sexual abuse is one of the greatest evils in the world. Why is it evil? If you can answer me without using a God-based or subjective argument, I'll concede the point.
That point is this: Without God, there is no such thing as right and wrong, only the things we call right and wrong. And since nobody can agree on what to call what, we're all in a lot of trouble.


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  • Feb 22 2013: People who believe that they have to be righteous because God is watching are evil.
    People should be righteous because they want to be.
    • Feb 22 2013: This is true. People who are righteous just because God is watching are not righteous.
    • Feb 23 2013: As an atheist I understand your point of view... I only want to say that your statement is inflammatory(this is rich coming from me, but I'm learning) & only strengthens the pov of the believer. Further there are studies showing that belief in something or someone 'watching' over us is more than a common factor in our history, but a hardwiring in our evolution. Even skeptical minds have tendencies, though much less, to fall prey to this basic human behaviour. My girlfriend doesn't have a skeptical mind by any means & though she says she believes in god, isn't a member of any church... She always thinks that dead relatives are watching over her. I suspect that this belief affects her behaviour, even if only by a small degree... & I certainly don't think she's evil.
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        Feb 23 2013: It's perhaps not a bad test. Would I do this if people I love could see me?
      • Feb 23 2013: perhaps I should've added 'only' infront of because.
        I don't mean to say that religious people are evil.... I just mean that when their motivation to 'do good' / 'be righteous' / (other positive behaviour) is based upon "someone who can punish me is watching" means that when you remove that someone their reason will disapear.

        Religious people are not forced to have that motivation, many of them do good just because they want to.
        • Feb 23 2013: This sort of thing is difficult for the non-believer to grasp, the idea that we do good because we love God and because we love good and not because we are afraid of God. Glad you brought this up.

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