lurking 8: morality is nonsense to an atheist

lurking8

It’s not possible for atheists to rationally ground moral judgments objectively. You are merely expressing your personal opinions when you say that something is right or wrong. On your atheistic view, things like rape, slavery, infanticide, genocide, etc. are all permissible if the majority of people in a particular place and time accept it. There is no objective right and wrong, and there are no objective human rights. Morality is nonsense to an atheist.

This quote was found in the comments section on an invited lurking trip, courtesy of my dear old friend, and second favourite blogger, Ark. After choking on my dinner, I thought it might be nice to respond to some of the accusations found in this interesting comment.

1. It is not possible for Christians to rationally ground moral judgements if they think that sensible directions for behavioural choices can be found in the a rambling ancient text.

2. As an atheist, I am indeed merely expressing my opinion when I say something is right or wrong, and I am open to hearing reasons why other people would take a different view. Reasons based on evidence, not a rambling ancient cobbled together text. That’s why over the years I’ve changed my opinion on things like eating other animals (it’s wrong).

3. In the Christian view, things like things like rape, slavery, infanticide, genocide, etc. are all permissible whenever their god feels it’s justified. And Christians accept this, while declaring morality is absolute and comes from this god, and atheists are immoral because no-one told them not to do these things (whilest providing examples of when it’s okay to do them). Confused? You must be a Christian!

4. There is no objective right and wrong, and there are no objective human rights. There are our best guesses at the least harmful approach to any situation, given the evidence available about possible outcomes. That’s why the human rights movement continuously changes and evolves.

5. Morality is a pile of nonsense. It’s a loaded religious label designed to confuse the simple mixture of co-operative and empathetic instincts that develop in all social animals. These combined with the social norms of our upbringing determine what we feel is right and wrong. That’s why suicide is okay in some cultures, and not in others. That’s why the death penalty for crimes is normal in some countries, and not in others. That’s why it used to be acceptable to burn witches, drown heretics and stone adulterers. Where’s your absolute morality now?

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