Posts Tagged ‘morality’

Do Atheists Have Morals?

November 1, 2008

Do atheists have morals? The question makes about as much sense as these: “Do horses like rock ‘n’ roll?” “Do cheese wheels pilot helicopters?” “Does TV watch you?” In short, the subject and object have nothing to do with each other, as I hope to demonstrate. First, the reason I felt compelled to write this post.

A Pastor Steve Cornell posted a comment to this post of mine today. For whatever reason, he decided not to make a comment relevant to the post, but simply copied and pasted a screed from his own blog. Maybe he’s short on time. In any case, I deleted the screed and left the link to his blog. Here it is again.

A major point of Pastor Steve’s post is that atheists can have no basis for objective morality. As I said above, this statement is nonsensical. It’s like saying that new wave fans can have no basis for enjoying cheese cake. The two have nothing to do with each other.

This is because atheism is not a moral philosophy. It is not a worldview. It is not a conceptual framework. It’s not even a set of nice ideas. Atheism is simply a name for people with a particular position on one question. We don’t believe that there are any gods. That’s it. Under the definition of the word that I endorse, anyone who doesn’t believe in any gods is an atheist, whether that person is an agnostic, humanist, or someone who is entirely convinced that there are no gods. The word contains no more information about a person’s worldview than the words “Teetotaller” or “abolitionist.”

The claim made by Pastor Steve’s post is that since atheists don’t believe in the supernatural, then they can have no basis for objective morality. I don’t understand what the supernatural has to do with morality, but it’s a fairly common argument among some theists. The answer is pretty simple: people do not obey laws because they’re afraid of God. They obey laws because they’re afraid of being thrown in prison, or hurting their friends or loved ones, or damaging their reputations, or any number of other reasons. Objective morality isn’t necessary. Ordinary, everyday morality is more than enough.

In short, this “atheists have no morals” crap is just another specious canard thrown about to give atheists a bad name. No matter; our numbers are growing, which means that there are more and more of us all the time to explain patiently why this particular argument is full of holes. That will leave Pastor Steve with one less thing to spam our blogs about.

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Ken Ham is polluting our nation’s highways

June 15, 2008

In case anyone is wondering why I didn’t make any posts yesterday, here’s the reason: I was on the road for fourteen hours.  That’s right, I drove nonstop from Montana to Vancouver, BC.  It’s a beautiful ride, with majestic mountains, fertile forests, and whimsical wildlife in view all the way.  But for one blemish, it would have been perfect.  Unfortunately, that one blemish was enough nearly to spoil the whole package.

Here’s the offender:

Right in my native Montana, too. I knew that Ken Ham, from atop his dark tower, had sent his minions of filth and ignorance far abroad, but I never imagined that they had penetrated the fair and fertile lands of the West. The war on science has reached our borders.

(I didn’t have a camera; the image comes from this blog.)

I wish I could afford to buy my own billboard:

On a serious note, it’s obvious what the real billboard above is trying to invoke: Atheists have no morals, because morality comes from God. This is transparently ridiculous to anyone who a) is an atheist, or b) knows an atheist. We all have a moral sense, believers and nonbelievers alike, and this sense of what kinds of actions are permissible and what kinds are not appears to be inborn, even if there is a good deal of cultural variation in which specific actions are considered moral. Further, if our morals came from God, those Christians and Jews among us would still be stoning children for talking back, and forcing rape victims to marry their attackers. It’s pretty clear that wherever our morals may come from, it’s not our respective religions.

The person responsible for the billboard should have known better. That makes him/her a liar. Ken Ham must have endorsed it, so he’s a liar too. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” my ass.