Saturday, September 17, 2011

Atheists morality comes from the same place religious morality does.

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”- Steven Weinberg

I figured I would start out with that quote. While the quote is not necessarily true, it does have some merit to it. We must first address what morality or good and bad things are. I argue that all of our morality comes from the same place, benefit to society or human and animal well being. If you are an atheist or a theist this is where your morality has come from.

Let me explain for the theists. I am going to stick with Judaism and Christianity for this example, although Islam will follow the same path. Judaism gets you to follow God's law by telling their believers that Yahweh rewards people for following the law and punishes people for not following the law. So, in essence the rules will relate to the Jewish peoples well being so they follow those rules. Christianity and Islam do similar things but extend the benefit to human well being to outside this life into another. The eastern religions use similar things such as reincarnation. In the end, the religions are subconsciously playing off of our drive for well being, which is where all morality comes from. This is also where atheist morality comes from. So, now that we can say that based on what we have labeled morality that good acts are acts that benefit well being and bad acts are acts that do not benefit well being, it is time to look at whether we can make objective decisions about these.

Ironically, we need not look much further then these same religious examples to see that we can. What have these religions demonstrated? Let me explain, each one of these religions has shown that if you change the "facts on the ground" and give people incorrect information then we see differing morality. In other words morality comes from facts about what gives us the most human well being. If these facts are incorrect we get good people doing bad things. Examples of this range from the obvious, in WW2 we can see that the German society had been in bad shape and was looking for a reason to figure out why they weren't experiencing a higher standard of well-being. Hitler was able to convince them that their society was being hurt by the Jews. This is what enabled good people to do bad things. There were obviously Germans who did not buy into Hitlers propaganda, so that explains them as well. Another example would be the example of parents praying for their child over seeking medical attention. The parents have been convinced that pray works to heal, and psychologists have even testified that these parents were trying to do what they felt was right. They were, the problem is their view of what is right was obscured by incorrect "facts on the ground."

That last example makes it easy to see that there are actual right or wrong answers to moral questions. Since, our morality comes from benefit to society or human well being, then the statistics don't lie. Medical treatment for this child was a better option then praying as it has a greater chance of increasing the child and the parent mental well beings. Can we measure well being, some of you may be asking. Well the answer is we may not be able to get absolute certainty, but being we do know information about life expectancy and neuroscience is currently studying happiness in an objective manner, we can say that there are actual answers these questions. We just need to do our best to get the correct facts to make our best judgement on these important questions. This is yet another way religion poisons society. It gives us incorrect facts that can negatively effect our morality.