Without god what is the basis of morality?

by OneEyedJoe 51 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • OneEyedJoe

    I'm sure most here who've questioned or left behind their belief in god have encountered this question - without god, what basis can there be for morality? My exwife, when I admitted that I was an atheist, once asked me "If you don't believe in god, what's to stop you from going out and raping and murdering?" Previously, whenever I got this objection, I would tend to turn it around on the other person with a response along the lines of "If fear of god is the only thing that stops you from murdering, that makes me rather nervous to be around you." With my exwife I tried additional lines of reasoning, but I think I went way too deep into moral philosophy for her shutdown cult mind to follow.

    I recently encountered another response to this objection in a book I'm reading (Rationality: From AI to Zombies - I highly recommend it) that struck me as beautifully obvious in hindsight (as great ideas often do). Basically it asks what makes you nervous that god's rule against murder might go away? If god is the arbiter of morality, and suddenly decided that murder was not only acceptable but good, or if god disappeared altogether, why would you worry about that possibility? If that happened, then murder would be moral and there would be no reason to worry about people going off and killing indiscriminately because that is a perfectly moral thing to do. The point here is that whatever makes the person worry about the possibility of ending prohibition on murder - that is the true source of their ethics, not god. By the mere fact that they ask the question, they demonstrate that god is not important to morality.

    I'm past the point where I find myself in discussion with theists anymore but I thought this an elegant argument that might be helpful for anyone here that finds themselves arguing the point (either with people in the cult or with themselves).

  • truth_b_known

    Also consider that in your post you refer to "god's rule"? Which god? If you refer to the god of the Bible you are referring to the Judaeo-Christian YHWY and Jesus. The social acceptance that Murder is wrong pre-dates these religions and is found in other religions.

    Man has attempted to control the masses since the beginning. Religion was the tool first used. This was followed by government, which first cited religion as the basis for these prohibitions.

    Morality is subjective and not objective. Morality is not a constant. Morality is what a majority of people in a society are willing to tolerate.

  • venus

    Moral laws are such that those who practice them are benefited primarily. For example, if a shopkeeper returned the excess money you gave him unconsciously, you would give him more business, and even give maximum publicity to his honest and unselfish behavior. God is not a factor that influences the choices people make (see how some of the religious leaders acting greedily). You will find even scriptures dishonoring God with their irrational stories. There are Scriptures that say God is omnipresent which would mean God is equally present in the victim and in the victimizer. Hence I would say religions dishonor God and exploit the credulous because of which atheism arose and serve as a deterrent against the excesses of religion. In this sense, I would even say atheism is the arrangement of God whether they are aware of this or not. Interestingly, according to scripture of another religion, the first and foremost quality out of 16 qualities of spiritual person, is fearlessness which is the very basis of atheists

  • ttdtt

    Gods Morality included:
    Genocide, Rape, Burning people, Polygamy, Stealing, Slavery...

    So whats so moral about god?

  • Whynot
  • OrphanCrow
    venus: I would even say atheism is the arrangement of God whether they are aware of this or not.


    That's quite the trick


  • Whynot

    Religious morality is the worst kind. Why do you need a book to tell you what to do or not to do?

  • venus


    Think of the time when religions were ruling supreme even with power to make/bless the coronation of emperors. Scientists like Galileo could not speak out the truth. In some places, if lower castes read the scriptures, they would receive very harsh punishment ... it goes on and on.

  • digderidoo

    This is an ancient dilemma.

    Socrates asked Euthyphro, "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" Socrates was asking if morality must come from the gods to be good, or is it good anyway and therefore loved by the gods.

    Many theists argue that morality is separate from God, that God only loves morality because it is good - Thomas Aquinas for instance, holds that humans through reason (from God) can seek out what is moral to what is immoral. It is 'reason' that is a gift of God, not that morality itself stems from God.

    Morality only stems from God in a theistic argument if they believe in a Divine Command Theory of morals, ie what is moral is only moral because it comes from God - this is, however, a minority opinion among theists - and incidentally, not necessarily the view of JW's. Not least, because this means there is no measure on morality, other than God's will. Many others argue that God commands what is moral, because it is moral - ie God and morality are separate.

    Romans 2:14,15 even tells us that the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts, that it is through their conscience that they do what is right.

    If God and morality are indeed separate, then we can be moral without any belief in God or god.

  • venus


    Jeremiah renamed a priest "Terror on Every Side" because of the kind of persecution he received from him for doing good, testifies even the Bible. (Jeremiah 20:1-3)

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