A common comment that will be thrown at you when debating or discussing with a theist will be that "if you don't get your morality from god, where do you get your morality" or "are atheists then immoral" or something else of that flavor. There are many way to address these comments such as discussing where morals come from and the definition of morals, which can be tricky, or that morality is intrinsic in each being and you don't need god to have them or that morals preceded religion and there are plenty of examples that can go along with that last point. These can all be very effective but I heard something the other day that I felt made a lot of sense.
When asked "were you a moral person", the person, who was an atheist said, "you're right I'm not moral because morals is a set of behavioral guidelines derived from authority whether real or imagined and I don't use morality in my day to day life to make decisions, however I'm a very ethical person, and I think that social ethics as they evolved out of social dynamics, are a better course to pursue then morality, because if you're being a moral person, and you are doing what the authority has instructed you to do, that authority may not in itself be moral. So for me social ethics are the way to go."
Now I understand that by ethics are defined as moral behaviors. But the distinction is blurry to me. So I would like to hear your opinion on a) the differences between the two if there are any in your view and b) your preferred method to answer this question. How do you answer someone who comes at you with the "morality" argument?
Yep. I laugh every time this point is brought up, mainly due to your second point. Even without knowledge of psychological/anthropological studies like your first and third points, all it takes is a little knowledge about your own religion to realize that God's morals are vastly different than our morals today (at least for most of us). How people can be so blatantly ignorant never ceases to amaze me.
EXCELLENT summation Nelson! Actually, it's one of those, "I wish I'd said that," moments!
I would add to this that the statement that a god gives us morals/senses requires at least some measurable evidence (which there is none) otherwise the hypothesis fails immediately.
I could counter by saying that "<insert anything> gives me my morals" and it would hold as soundly as your argument.
I see no difference in the argument. I can still claim that anything gave me the morality as evidence of itself. I can't see the link, morality => god, and therefore god gave us morality. The fact that morality predates religion doesn't really support the argument either as it would also predate religion in the case that god did NOT provide morals.
Right - assuming P1 and P2 the conclusion does follow, assuming of course that an objective law-giver is in fact a god.
Of course, I have issue with both P1 and P2, but I think that's pretty obvious. Thanks for the outline.
Jerod, RE: "God gives us the aforementioned proto-morality as evidence of Himself."
Wouldn't it have been simpler to have just given us an honest, accurate guidebook, instead of the Bible?
We know if what we do is with love or not on the inside (that is what determines right or wrong), but we learn if that kindness or unk indness is well demonstrated on the outside.
@ Jerod - There have been throughout the ages, and are now, plenty of people in the world who do not believe in your God that have this love and kindness you speak of just as strong as a Christian. Are you saying this is not possible?
Interestingly, Jerod, A.S. (Alexander Scott) Neill was headmaster of a school in Leicester, England for over fifty years. The boarding school, called Summerhill, was based on freedom for children - they were taught no religion, no morals, no ethics, yet in his book, Summerhill, a Radical Approach to Child Rearing, Neill related numerous incidents where the students developed an ethical/moral sense far beyond what one would expect of adults in the outside world.
A boy, just to cite one example, had a nasty habit of stealing the bikes of others. He was charged with the crime and hauled before a meeting of all in the school, where an adult vote counted exactly the same as a child's. The boy was found guilty and the sentence imposed was that each of the members chipped in and bought the boy a used bike of his own, ending his need to steal.
I got my sense of smell from evolution, and I suspect my ethical/moral sense too, in a way, evolved through the ages of the existence of my original tribe, whoever they may have been.
In other words, God gives you a sense of right and wrong like He gives you a sense of smell.
@ Jerod - And he (or shall I say your concept of this God of yours) gives orders for horses to be tortured. Wow, that's a sense of right and wrong I can do without.
Interestingly enough the theist usually does argue that they would be immoral if god were to not exist. Of course I do not see you making this claim but how about we investigate the reverse. Of course this argument does not follow in any sense based upon the bias of the other party but here goes..
People are born with a mental defect (based upon a large consensus of the faithful "god" creates all individuals/life perfect in the womb)
An person with alexathemia.. IE an autistic person a person with split brain are not particularly the best at being able to understand what another person is feeling and this cases a problem.
They do understand when someone is yelling at them angrily so they can not learn easily from punishment.
They can have issues differentiating a scream of joy and a scream of pain. (I think you see where I am going with this)
So this discounts: "God gives you a sense of right and wrong like He gives you a sense of smell."
Some people are also born without a sense of smell: Congenital Anosmia
Some people are also born sociopaths
Taking into consideration that not all people get these "Gifts from god" We can assert the question.. Is there even a god at all in this system? If morality is not given to all persons who are perfectly formed in the womb are they perfectly formed in the womb?
So much like the William lane Craig argument..
P1: god writes morals on the soul of every man.
P2: sociopathy and alexathemia exist.. There for god does not write morals on the souls of all men.
P3: god does not exist..
so we can consider that nature is indifferent.. or god is cruel.
(if this didn't make much sense.. sorry I am at the end of a 13 hour shift feel free to ask me for clarification of any kind)
Jacob, tired as you were, you made excellent sense.