Morality? Again?

Has it ever made you wonder that the sticking point, or one of the largest, between theism and atheism is morality? Believers will tell you that their god is the source of morality. Think on that for a moment… I’ll wait.

That would leave us with the ridiculous notion that without belief in their god they would kill their own children. Yeah I know, it’s generally believers that kill their children because of belief in prayer and a god. Just the same, this belief that morality is given to humanity by a god gives us that follow through.

When asked, they claim various things. When a believer is pushed to answer it become apparent why there are so many different versions of any given religion. Not one of them is a complete answer for everyone in all times and places – in short, none of them are self evident truth.

Think for another moment. Why would they believe that morality comes from their chosen deity and not another deity? Well, they think there is only one true god. Okay, so all those other believers cannot be moral, and in fact their act of worshipping a different god is an immoral act, an unethical act, an act of sin. There are many believers that will tell you that atheists can comport themselves in moral ways and in all ways act morally good despite their lack of belief. These same people will tell you that morality comes from their god.

The take away here is that you don’t need a belief in a god to be moral. Logically, a follow through on that means that following a god does not make you moral regardless of the source of morality. Believers in YHWH will tell you that you must follow their religion for eternal reward – but get this, being moral is not a requirement. If you can be moral without a belief in a god, belief does not require morality. I know, I know… let me explain.

When a mind believes in a god, it is not a mind that follows moral action but the requirements of the deity. The claim that morality comes from their deity is justification for their belief, not a cornerstone of it. The monotheistic religions tell adherents when and how to be moral and to  whom. Note that this is not a directive to always be moral, but to ensure that you are moral in certain ways. Their holy texts do not say it is always wrong to kill, or always wrong to have incest, or always wrong to steal. They say how and when it is wrong. For Christians, their book says it is quite acceptable to steal the life of your slaves, so long as you don’t kill them. Yet they are commanded to not steal. It is not okay to covet, yet it is okay to destroy an entire race to have their land. Morality in the holy texts is not about ethical behavior, rather it is about obeying a deity.

What I’ve just said is testable. I encourage you to test it. When a believer tells you that the source of morality is their deity, ask them this:

If your deity commanded you to kill your child, would you do it?

There is not much to say after that. If they would kill their child it is disobedience of the commandment not to kill and thus immoral and immoral by human law standards. If they would not kill their child it is direct disobedience of their deity and therefore immoral and will condemn them to eternal torment.

They cannot rationalize their choice based on what they ‘think’ their deity would or would not do because they cannot know the mind of their deity. The story of Job and Abraham are enough to validate the question for Christians and Jews and I suspect there are similar stories for Muslims.

The only sane option is the morality chosen by atheists regardless of its source.


  1. I’ve always found this argument astonishingly weak, intellectually disingenuous, and astoundingly scary. Are these people admitting they’re psychopathic murderers? Are they admitting they’re rapists? Are they admitting they’d torture animals if it weren’t for their fear of a god?

    • That is the follow through on their claims… but they don’t think things through. The point of the post is to ask them to think them through…

      • God only knows we’ve both done that 😉

        • Yes, but I like this one… it’s more or less asking if they realize they just painted themselves into a corner…. 😉

  2. I love the Kobayashi Maru reference.

    • Thanks, I thought it was fitting 🙂

    • Jay
    • December 30th, 2013

    Morality based on religious teachings is often flawed as its often designed to please the deity. Atheist morality comes from a place that is morally supreme as it does whats best for people based on treating people as you would wish to be treated. End of argument IMO.

    • Well stated, indeed.

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