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.
@MikeyMike1 "Are you saying that the animals are mimicking? What's your evidence?"
I don't have any evidence, because I'm not saying they consciously mimic. It appears you're strangely unaware of mimicry in nature. Read this.
But actually, I was referring to us reading in meaning we can never ever verify. Humans consciously mimic (we call it acting). Animals just do what they do. We don't know why and it's absurd to think that they do what they do as a conscious strategy.
I always laugh when I see a nature show where a statement like this is made: "The salmon swim upstream in an effort to reach their birthplace in order to spawn." I imagine a photo of a salmon swimming upstream with a cartoon balloon over its head showing its thoughts: "Gee, I really gotta try hard to get back to my birthplace so I can meet another salmon for sex." It's less absurd to think that animals just do what they do as a result of evolutionary processes and not imply Walt Disney emotions to them.
Like I said, animals do what they do. We have no idea what's going on in their heads and analogizing to human behaviors is a leap of faith that can't be justified scientifically.
Apes may have behaviors that mimic (appear similar) to human behaviors, but what underlies them is something we'll never be able to know. Fish will tend to their eggs as a human would care for and defend a child, so is that LOVE? or is that simply a behavior nature found favorable to the survival of the species.
'"The salmon swim upstream in an effort to reach their birthplace in order to spawn." What is wrong with this sentence? Isn't this exactly what they are doing? There is nothing implicit in this sentence that indicates the fish is conscious of its goal. You have read in the 'Walt Disney' anthropomorphic intent yourself - quite ironic really.'
And yet, you scoff at my implying that we know no more about what motivates a chimp than we do what motivates a fish.
I don't need to produce evidence for a denial (ref the impossibility of "proving" a negative). Rather, you are the one who must produce proof.
I think the burden is on you to prove a positive, and that is because positives are in principle provable. Asking me to prove a negative is a well-known dead end. Give me a reason to believe your point of view, I'm not asking you to adopt mine but just to demonstrate the truth of yours.
It's hard enough to be sure (much less know) what another person feels (actors, liars, sociopaths). Assuming or even extrapolating or speculating what other creatures feel seems a bit of a stretch.
I only say we'll never know what other creatures feel because we can't even feel what other people feel. You can see their behavior but you can't feel their pain, their joy, or their confusion. Maybe science someday will allow me to somehow be inside your head while simultaneously being in mind, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Given that it seems impossible for people (key word "seems") I don't hold out much hope I'll ever feel what a chimp, salmon, or diatom feels.
Once again, an apparent emotion is no proof of an emotion. Fish run from certain stimuli, single celled organisms can gravitate toward one. Those can be explained as instinctual rather than fear or eagerness. Dogs and chimps are just more complicated.
I had a dog as a boy, but I know dogs can read human emotions and know how to play to their owners' feelings, but I see no proof that emotions are involved, and if there are emotions involved they are doggy emotions,not human emotions. Dogs have people figured out. That's what makes dogs different from wolves.
I've seen research showing girls responding to cute robots just as if they were real puppies or kittens. Even reminding the girls that the robots were artificial only modified their behavior for a few minutes. We are suckers for certain behaviors.
The key point is that behavior does not = emotion. Behavior is behavior. Emotion is emotion. We can see behavior in others, we can only experience our own emotions.
I think and believe other people have emotions, you included. But that isn't knowledge, it's speculation based on the fact that they, like me, are human beings.
@MikeyMike1 "Why do you ask me to prove non human aninals have emotions, prove I have a basis for moral decisions, prove there are no duties other than legal."
Because there's a difference. You obviously would like us omnivores to change our eating habits. We (I) don't give a shit. If you think I should believe what you believe, I require proof. I really could care less whether you join us in eating meat so I don't feel I need to prove anything to you.
MikeyMike1 - you obviously haven't read the right text books. You need to go back to the library and read up what the other people have said.
Don't worry mate, I was taking the mick
It's refreshing to come upon someone who thinks for themselves
I agree with you on your measurement of behavioral likelihood atheists are an inch away from raping or murdering is a dubious argument put forward by Christians. But I do have a question...
You assume rape and murder are "wrong." Why? For you, what is the basis for being able to declare this assumption? Majority consensus? Is all morality relative?