I wish I had the benifit of your clarity in determining what is good and bad. Since you seem to think that there is some kind of "absolute" Good and Bad rule book somewhere can you please tell me if the actions of the following people were Good or Bad.
Able commiting incest to populate the Earth. Good or Bad?
God created Satan. Good or Bad?
My uncle killed a man to save his wife and child from being murdered. Good or Bad?
Of course specific morals, good actions and bad actions or Ethics are ever changing and are decided by the culture and times that events occur in. With that being said ,Is there a such thing as universal morality, that sufficiently philosophical humans have arrived at without any need for belief in the Christian God? The evidence seems to suggest that despite some minor variation and the shrill, bigoted objections of fundamentalists, there most certainly is. There are certain truths which really doappear to be "self-evident", and which philosophers have discussed for thousands of years in various places all over the world, reaching similar conclusions with or without Christianity. So is "universal morality" dependent upon faith in the Christian god? I dont think so.
The world has many religions. If there is no morality without God, then should we believe that morality doesn't exist in any part of the world until it converts to Judaism or one of its offshoots? The ancient Chinese religious triumvirate of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism wasn't based on Christianity. The Greeks had democracy, civilization, philosophy, and science long before Jesus was born. The Egyptians built a thriving civilization more than four thousand years ago. The Romans built an Empire without any help from Jesus or his God. Tribes and civilizations flourished throughout Africa, Australia, South America, North America, and islands all over the Pacific Ocean. All these places had different religions, different customs, different languages ... but most still shared certain moral concepts. Murder was considered immoral. Theft was considered immoral in all societies too large to function as tribal collectives. It was considered noble to help another, and contemptible to hurt others for the sake of personal gain. Honesty was praised. Deception and betrayal were vilified. Governments and gods didn't always obey these laws, but philosophers in all these places somehow found a way to come to similar conclusions. The question that fundamentalists ignore is: if morality flows from God and God alone, then how did this happen? Given the enormous differences in religious beliefs between all these cultures, how did people independently arrive at similar conclusions all over the world, with regard to murder, betrayal, theft, and altruism? Could there (gasp!) be a moral standard out there which doesn't require God?
So where did "we" get these "universal morality" concepts. Are they programed into us? Are they REALLY self-evident. I say no to both. These "truths" have been arrived at through the oldest form of learning we have as smart animals. TRIAL and ERROR!! We have had thousands of years of human expieriance to try most every sort of interaction and to learn what works and what doesnt from a survival standpoint. In a word our moral system has EVOLVED along with us.
Simply put:"Ethics are rules for a stable society and can be arrived at by observation and analysis of the results of behavior and predictions based on rules derived from experience."
"A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."- Albert Einstein, in an article which appeared in New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930.
Asheron (the sinful Atheist)