If you are a non- believer, why be moral when no one is looking?

If you are a non- believer in, all that you do is being recorded in the heavens, why be moral when no one is looking?

If there are no records and no witness, why not do anything you want?

 

If no one sees you do it, then is it a deed not done?

 

If all of this is true, then why do we have a conscience, where did it come.

 

We are told in scriptures that our conscience is our natural way of doing God's will in the absence of his Law.

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The main difference between the morality of a theist and a non-theist is that the religious person's morality is distorted by whatever brand and faction they follow.   It is also distorted by  the human ability to rationalize any behavior that their social group supports as externally and authoritatively derived, rather than internally and subjectively derived.  This is very dangerous when the person is poorly socialized, either by reason of genetics by reason of faulty early parenting and care giving.

 

Everyone who develops as a normal socially orientated human being picks up their community's values, attitudes and morals by association and interaction with others.  These values are actively taught to community members, especially to children. 

Moral behavior is not confined to the human species.  Animals who have evolved as social beings also develop "morals", although these are not as complex as human ones.  In other words, developing a Code of Social Conduct is a normal part of the mental and emotional development of all animals who depend on other members of their species for their optimum survival and well-being. 

Social animals, like humans, do not need a belief in a supernatural being to behave in the best interests of the group.  This instinct is in their genes and is a product of eons of evolutionary shaping.  Normally developed mothers care for and love their children regardless of their religious beliefs or whether they think someone or something is watching them.

 

The only people who do not behave like this are sociopaths and other people who have impaired brain function in areas that are necessary for learning and producing appropriate social behavior.  For example, retired preachers with stroke or vehicular accident damage to specific parts of the their brain's frontal lobes will be lewd, rude and crude in relation to the way their brain works on "automatic".  The strength of their continuing belief in their particular version of "god" has no correlation to the morality of their current behavior.  It makes no difference whether or who is observing their behavior.  Parishioners have been horrified to discover the depths of depravity of such cerebrally damaged Pastors. 

 

So the simple answer is: 
The normally developed person is moral when no-one is looking due to the combination of genetics and social education.   Once the brain is fully matured, moral behavior is the result of automated responses for most of the time.  We act before we think, and we rationalize our responses later.  Behavioral science has repeatedly shown that few of us have any idea why we act the way we do, although most of us think that know why. 

 

The conscience is a product of social education and social experiences during the early years of life.  It is pure psychology and biology at work.  There is no need to make up a supernatural explanation to account for it and there is absolutely no valid evidence for any such thing playing a part in the process. 

What you are told in _your_ scriptures was made up by bronze aged uncivilized people with little or no formal education and no knowledge of modern scientific fact, the scientific method or the elements of critical thinking. There are other scriptures used by different religions that have different explanations for things they do not understand.  There is no rational reason why the scriptures your upbringing has taught you to accept without any critical analysis are in any way superior or more factual than any of these other scriptures.  That is a reality that you don't seem to have assimilated and understood yet.

What you also fail to take into account is that all of these scriptures are so vague that multiple explanations and expositions are possible, including thousands that are mutually exclusive (that is, if one is true then the other cannot be.)   There are over 39,000 different Christian denominations in the world and they continue to fracture and break off into yet more of them by the day.  The chances that your particular interpretation of what is "moral" and that your definition and particular version of "god" is accurate is less than one chance in 39,000 even if the members of these groups happened to have identical theologies and beliefs about what is "right" and what is "wrong".  Of course, they don't.  There are probably as many versions of what the specifically "Christian" god wants humans to do as there are adherents to any versions of this named religion.

The picture is further complicated by the fact that even group consensus "Christian" morality has changed dramatically over the centuries and is very different from culture to culture and nation to nation even in the same year. 

A much better question than the ones you asked would be:  Why do you think that your particular "conscience" is the only or the best way of deciding what is "moral"?  What evidence to you have that your views of what is "moral" are universal?  unchanging? undisputed?

How does its contents compare with the conscience of other people in your particular church community?  your national church community? your international church community? the communities of other versions and branches of your named religion?  the individuals and communities of those who were brought up to believe the tenets of other world religions?  the morals of those who belonged to your particular religious faction 50 years ago?  100 years ago?  a century ago?

 

Finally, how do you account for the fact that scientists have plenty of evidence that moral reasoning changes in predictable ways as each person's brain cells mature and as a response to the environmental experience and educational input that each person receives?  Unless your mental and social development stopped at around the age of 4 (Stage 1) your understanding of what is "moral" will have changed dramatically through the years as you advanced through the various stages.  If you are an average person you will have reached Stage 3 or higher by the time you are 20 years of age.  If you are unusually well developed morally, you will have reached Stage 6.  How do you account for the fact that most adult evangelical Christians who have been shielded from morally challenging ideas have not progressed beyond Stage 2?  How do you account for the apparent immaturity of their god?

Rosemary..... you go girl!!!!! Your lucid response is spot on.... Two Thumbs up!!!!!

awesome response Rosemary!!

Link me!

Do you have the clinical studies and neurology reports?

I would kill to get my eyes on them!!!!!!!

While working as a clinical neuro-psychologist I saw hundreds of cases like this, where brain impairment, either developmental or acquired, prevented people from conforming to the morality that was acceptable by their society.


I no longer have access to the case histories but I can remember a lot of them. 

 

I seem to recall that there are also records of people who have brain impairments that effectively prevent them being immoral!   There is an area in the left frontal lobes (presuming the person is left-hemisphere language dominant) that, if damaged, prevents them from telling lies.

I will see if I can find the original research paper.

"Law & Order: SVU" based an episode on that

I was always told that character was what you did when no one was watching so if people only do good things because they think God is watching then I dont think that shows morals or character, they are acting only out of fear or desire to go to heaven. True morality comes from people who want to be good people simply because they can be, not out of fear of the divine.
Im moral because I want to do good things, I want people to like me, I want to be comfortable with who I am and how I act. I'm moral because I have only myself to please

I was always told that character was what you did when no one was watching so if people only do good things because they think God is watching then I dont think that shows morals or character, they are acting only out of fear or desire to go to heaven. True morality comes from people who want to be good people simply because they can be, not out of fear of the divine.
Im moral because I want to do good things, I want people to like me, I want to be comfortable with who I am and how I act. I'm moral because I have only myself to please

We don't need a god, gods, or goddesses for anything - including morals.  I believe the world will be a much better place when everyone realizes this.

With respect to this centuries old blog issue -

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/determine-...

Ahhh, Ron Can't we have just a few goddesses running around.

Morality is relative.  It's something we instinctively do to survive.  The question remains, whose records do we care about?  Who says anything is recorded in "the heavens"?  They don't exist.  Sky and space exist in an expanding universe that has nothing to do with our morality.

Conscience is a double-edged sword.  One person's conscience can be another's delusion.

Conscience is  unnatural if it is scriptural because it is dogma based and not reasoned. Conscience can be called awareness,applied knowledge, or rationality. It's something we instinctively have and it might be in our DNA as we develop this ability.  Often, what we call conscience is a platitude, an easy out, a robotic reactive message rather than a reasoned, examined and tested view of the world.

A popular science version of why injury to certain parts of the brain affects moral reasoning and moral behavior.  It only covers a fraction of the changes that can occur in the expression of moral behavior due to brain abnormalities, impairments, developmental glitches and accidental damage, but it's easy to read for the lay person.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/science/22brain.html?ref=health

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