I recently "came out" as an Atheist to my Christian family. They responded well, though they asked a lot of questions about why I decided to leave the church and reject God. I explained my various grievances with the Church which they all agreed were valid points, yet hey were willing to overlook them, something I could not do.
Then my mother threw me a curveball. she said "If you have no God to hold youself accountable to, why bother being a good person, why not lie, steal and cheat?" I tried to explain how the right thing is still the right thing and how I didn't want to only to make the right choice because out of fear of punishment. I wanted to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do.
She then went on to ask me why it was the right thing to do, who said so? I responded with my conscience told me what was right. She asked me what told my conscience that right was right and wrong was wrong.
And this was where I said something along the lines of: "Uhh...buhhh...meh?"
So my question to you all is: Where do you base your morality from, and how do you defend that morality against people who believe that morality can only be based off of a God?
I tell people I like to live by the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and that usually shuts them up. I know it is a very simplistic cliche but it does the trick.
Ganapati said: "As I already mentioned, if morality as you mentioned is objective, so is immorality, religion or no religion. It too can be observed.
What exactly is that supposed to prove?"
Your position initially, if I understood correctly, is that morality is entirely subjective. This is simply not true. There are definitely subjective judgments to be made--and the field will always lack any sort of scientific precision--but there are objectively observable themes and parameters as well. And, that is my point. I am most definitely not trying to argue that morality is completely objective.
You explicitly stated earlier that morality is objective like evolution is objective. If somewhere along the line you changed your position, I missed it until now.
Morality is not about what 'is', but what 'ought to be'. If 'morality' for you is each individual's personal preferences some of which are found to be common across many in a group, then we are using entirely different definitions of the word. A preference for coffee over tea or vice-versa regardless of how wide-spread it is in a particular group doesn't contitute part of 'morality', unless one preference is declared 'wrong' and engaging in it attracting some kind of force, from those who consider it wrong, to dissuade from such actions.
If you believe a deterrant should be placed against a certain kind of behaviour, that forms part of your morality, otherwise it doesn't. But the moment you do that, the question arises on what grounds do you declare that wrong, without claiming some special status for yourself.
What I stated was that there are no objective (as in outside of the proponent and not under his/her control) grounds for an atheist to claim one thing is wrong and another right regarding behaviour.
The objectivity of morality and evolution are similar but not precisely analogous. In both cases, there is objective evidence that they exist and objective evidence of their parameters. The details are the difference. There is disagreement regarding the details of both. In the case of evolution, however, the details will probably be worked out with a great deal of objectivity. In the case of morality, the details will probably always contain significant subjective elements. I don't see how it could be otherwise because the details will be based on value judgments.
Frankly, you've gone back to your straw man here. You seem to be making no effort to understand what I am saying. To you, any subjectivity means total subjectivity--but you don't even state your position that clearly. Instead, you revert to asserting the extremes without articulating that middle step. This is known as black and white thinking and is both a bad sign and a bad habit.
I don't have to be in a special position to assert the broad parameters of morality. They are fairly obvious and have been demonstrated objectively. For example, "killing other humans is wrong" is one of the parameters. But, the devil is in the details. What if the other human is trying to kill you? Or someone you love? What if he already has killed members of your society? If he has committed 1 unprovoked murder, is it permissible to put him to death? What if he has committed 50? How much of a burden will it place on society to prevent him from murdering in the future compared to the risk that he will do so? If the circumstances indicate he will very likely kill again, and the cost of keeping him incarcerated is huge, is it then permissible to put him to death? Is it the "right" thing to do?
Just because people disagree on the details doesn't mean that the original premise ("killing other humans is wrong") is subjective.
The "Good Atheist Arguments" are extremely immature and highly emotional with little logic or reason.
For examplle in the first link the person states that he/she values peace and freedom for everyone (within limits necessary for operating an effective criminal justice system). Guess what? That is exactly what every society that ever has been is! The difference is in what is considered crime.
An example in the second link "Atheists would never kill people because of their genetic background because atheists have no rational reason to believe that there is a supreme ruler of the universe who wants certain groups to rule the world as his highest form of creation." Atheists can easily cite "statistics/history/progress" to show how one group was superior to another and declare that an extermination or subjugation of the inferior ones is necessary for the "good of mankind". There is an atheist right on this forum who is making a similar argument on a different thread right on this forum, declaring that the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were "good" and calling for an invasion of Iran.
The arguments are so mindbogglingly bad, I doubt I can expect any rational discourse on this forum.
In my opinion basic morality comes from evolution and the psychology of group behavior and how it pertained to survival for basic human social groups.
Then through empathy, logic and the evolution of society as a whole humanity has been able to fine tune and ultimately choose the morals which are believed to be right and wrong.