Christians may pretend to think that we atheists are all "this" close to committing rape and murder, but the fact is we don't commit rape and murder, any more than they do.
When people ask "why should atheists be moral?", that is a misleading question. They should really ask, why ARE atheists moral? [Why do they hardly commit rape and murder at all ...?]
Good question. Why.
Why do you, personally, always try and do the right thing? Why do you, personally, sometimes do the wrong thing? Do you go against your own moral code?
Christians seem to spend a lot of time agonising over moral issues. I think that is great. We do the same thing here on Think Atheist. Both Christians and atheists explicitly feature the study of morality as part of their belief systems. I think it's fair to say that the two groups are roughly equal in moral standards and behaviour.
I'm not looking for theories about society or stuff Richard Dawkins says or anything like that. I just want to hear about your personal experiences of yourself. I'm hoping some patterns might emerge. After all, we're all human beings, and there's only a limited number of reasons why we do things.
The reasons I try and do the right thing are probably that: I want a clean conscience and an orderly life. I don't want to s*** in my own bed. I think I derive confidence from feeling I'm doing the right thing morally. I feel empathy for other people and don't want to hurt them unnecessarily. If I love someone, I'll move heaven and Earth for them. If I have a strong belief that something is right, I will aim to uphold that belief.
I would go against some of my normal moral beliefs if I thought it was justified and wouldn't cause too much trouble. There would have to be a very good reason - beyond just getting my end away, for example.
Because if I act like a dick I feel like a dick, and when I've done something nice I feel nice. Pretty simple reasons but I think good ones
@Jacob - And that about sums it up :D
I don't understand that expression (other than the wtf part). Did you delete your two rules of morality? I assume you did because they left a lot of room for very bad behavior.
Lars, you numbskull, here's your original post.
Well I don't actually see me self as a very moral person. I live by a very simple set of rules:
1. Don't kill or steal - Unless your life depends on it
2. Don't lie unless you have to
So far I've only broken rule number 2
And here's my witty reposte. Are you ready?
"Lars, how do I know you're telling the truth?"
Hang on, maybe I'm a numbskull. You've got me all confused.
My morality is guided by empathy and humanistic ideology, but at its core is probably described by a few reasons that fall into either category.
- Entitlement. I feel that all people have a right to a happy life, because I feel I have a right to a happy life. I cannot rationally justify why another person should be denied this, if I feel entitled to it myself.
- Idealism. I think that achieving greater things and making life better for myself, love ones and society in general, requires the cooperation of society. To do this it is functionally required that people don't treat each other like dicks. If I act like a dick, I am undermining my own goal in achieving a better society.
- Guilt. Anytime I have caused pain, or grief to someone I have regretted it. Even the occasional violent revenge fantasy makes me feel guilt. Not because I feel that it is entirely wrong to fantasize wrong things, but because I imagine the subsequent human suffering, and I am saddened by the idea of being its cause.
- Love/Social Instincts. At least in a general understanding of it. It makes me happy when other people are happy. Treating other people fairly and generously, has the reciprocating effect of making me happy. It sounds selfish to some extent, but I would debate anyone who stated love isn't selfish.
I can't think of any other reason that doesn't heavily overlap with those points. Not only do I feel that those points are true, but I can logically see how morality can be derived from them.
Thanks for that Raymond.
I personally enjoy a good "violent revenge fantasy" sometimes, I feel it gets it out of my system without causing any actual trouble.
I don't see that selfishness always has to be a bad thing.
How do you define "morality"? How is it logically derived from your reasons for wanting to "behave well"? Is that a stupid question?
Morality is probably best defined for me as a set of guidelines to treat other people and society, such that I cause the least amount of harm while maximizing the well being of myself and others.
@Ward Cressin "So you only use the dictionary definition of a word and have never used slang? Or depending upon how you meant that: You only use the latest meaning of the word?"
I think you're either being facetious or you haven't thought much about how communication takes place. I don't speak only after checking a dictionary. But whether a "dictionary" definition, a common usage, or slang, it needs to be understood by the other party. What would be the point of deviating? The point is to COMMUNICATE. Talking in code, idiosyncratic meanings, or unfamiliar slang or jargon defeats that purpose, doesn't it?
How not so?
Jamfoo the "ice box" with a neutron burger.
Now if that sentence contained a mix of unfamiliar slang, jargon, idiosyncratic usages, etc., how the f*** could you understand what I meant?