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Atheist Memes on Facebook: Atheists Have Morality

Scarlet letter

I’m doing a project on my Facebook page: The Atheist Meme of the Day. Every weekday, I’m going post a short, pithy, Facebook-ready atheist meme… in the hopes that people will spread them, and that eventually, the ideas will get through.

If you want to play, please feel free to pass these on through your own Facebook page, or whatever forum or social networking site you like. Or if you don’t like mine, make some of your own.

Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day:

Atheists have morality, as much as religious believers. We just don’t think our moral compass is planted in us by God or supernatural forces, and we don’t think fear of God’s punishment is necessary to be a good person. We base our morality in this life: our empathy with others, and our observations about what causes suffering and happiness. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get through.

Comments

  1. John B Hodges says

    ATHEIST ETHICS IN 500 WORDS. John B. Hodges, Dec. 21, 2007.
    How can you have any ethics if you don’t believe in God?
    The question must BE questioned. How can you have any ethics if you DO believe in a god?
    Religious folk misunderstand morality at its roots. Religion teaches a child’s view of ethics, that “being good” means “obeying your parent”. Just as religious faith is believing what you are told, so religious morality is doing what you are told. Religious morality consists of obeying the alleged will of God, an invisible “Cosmic Parent”, as reported by your chosen authority. But obedience is not morality, and morality is not obedience. We can all think of famous people who did good things while rebelling against authority, and others who did evil things while obeying authority.
    Religious folk may be Good Samaritans or suicide bombers, it depends entirely on what their chosen authority orders them to do. If a believer, or a community of same, wishes to make war or keep slaves or oppress women, all they have to do is persuade themselves that their god approves. This seems not to be hard, and no god has ever popped up to tell believers that they were wrong. They do not have a code of morality except by the convenience of the priesthood. What they have is a code of obedience, which is not the same thing.
    Atheism means looking at ethical questions as an adult among other adults. Civic morality is a means of maintaining peace and cooperation among equals, so that all may pursue happiness within the limits that ethics defines. If you want to maintain peaceful relations, don’t kill, steal, lie, or break agreements. This civic morality is objective. As Shakespeare wrote: “It needs no ghost, Milord, come from the grave, to tell us this.”
    Because we are biological beings evolved by natural selection, most of us value the health of our families, where “health” is the ABILITY to survive, and “family” is “all who share your genes, to the extent that they share your genes.” This is also called “inclusive fitness” by biologists. Essentially all living beings are going to seek this, because their desires are shaped by natural selection, and inclusive fitness is what natural selection selects for.
    Because humans are social animals, who survive by cooperating in groups, we have a “natural” standard of ethics: The Good is that which leads to health, The Right is that which leads to peace. A “good person” is a desirable neighbor, from the point of view of people who seek to live in peace and raise families. Most people understand this intuitively. Understanding the logic of it is better. “If you want peace, work for justice.”
    There is a long history of philosophical thinking about ethics. Morality is not based on authority, but on reason and compassion. If I had to recommend just one book on ethics, it would be GOOD AND EVIL: A NEW DIRECTION by Richard Taylor.
    I have a longer essay at http://civic.bev.net/atheistsnrv/articles/definition.html

  2. John B Hodges says

    Atheist Ethics in 200 Words
    Many clerics have repeated the “blood libel” against unbelievers, that only religion offers any basis for ethics.
    They have it backwards. Religion offers no basis for ethics. Religious morality consists of obeying the alleged will of God, as reported by your chosen authority. But obedience is not the same as morality. If believers wish to make war or keep slaves or oppress women, they need only persuade themselves that their god approves. This seems not to be hard, and no god has ever popped up to correct them.
    Understanding evolution does provide a basis for ethics. Some animals are social animals, who survive by cooperating in groups. Humans are the most social of any, cooperating in groups that include millions.
    Morality serves to maintain peaceful and cooperative relations among group members. If you want to maintain peaceful relations, don’t kill, steal, lie, or break agreements. Do not do to others what you would not wish done to you.
    Understanding the evolution of social animals gives us a simple standard for judging our neighbors. A “good” person is a desirable neighbor, from the point of view of people who wish to live in peace and raise families.

  3. ED says

    Lol, John B, I’d find your defence of atheist moralities more convincing if a) you acknowledged the variety of moralities within atheism rather than only one b) you managed not to mischaracterise one type of fundamentalist religious morality as all theist morality.
    As it is a) renders your defence uncomprehensive and b) raises distinct worries about whether you understand anything you are talking about.

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