Morality has been argued as an absolute or a relative endeavor. The religious would have you believe in morals that require blind obedience and others, such as myself, would argue that the moral action is dependent on circumstances. I dare to generalize this deep field of philosophy down to a blind following of rules that equate to morals versus a thinking man's gambit.

The common question from a theist to the atheist is "where do you get your morals?" Of course, the theist is handed their morals and are expected to mindlessly obey them. To do otherwise is sinful. But what does the atheist do if he is indeed moral? Well, he thinks about them, right? Let's consult my friend, Mr. Analogy.

Let's pretend that we are flying on a plane and we get to choose our pilot. Pilot A has flown the same route for years with no problems. He has been instructed on how to fly the plane. His instruction is to perform certain actions at certain times regardless of conditions. He was never told why and has no understanding of how it all works and in the perfect conditions he carried a safe and perfect flight record. He doesn't know what the buttons do that he pushes but he has faith in his instructions.

Pilot B has had less instruction on what actions to perform at certain times. On a perfect flight, it would seem he could become lost or confused since he has not been instructed on each leg of the journey. However, Pilot B went through special training that taught him aerodynamics, flight controls, weather, emergency action, and training simulations of abnormal events. He knows the effects of potential actions.

Who would you choose as you pilot?

The thought I had was that the person who has to think about why something is right or wrong is a better judge of morality. The person enslaved by faith is discouraged from questioning right and wrong and would seem to be ill equipped to deal with morally gray areas.

What do you think?

Views: 64

Comment by Wassabi on July 26, 2009 at 5:35am
good comparison.

when i get confronted with the "morals from god" question i always point out to theists that their argument is void for the simple reason that they themselves live accordingly to their own morals.

for instance, the bible supports slavery. do modern day theists support slavery?
what about torture or child abuse? the bible says nothing of these subjects but theists agree they are wrong.

the bible condones genocide, how many theists would applaud hitler?
the bible praises murdering those who intermarry as a moral act, how many theists support that?

the list goes on and on- be it things the bible flat out supports and modern theists object, or be it things it doesn't mention yet theists know how to act upon.

basically it's crappy argument.
Comment by D'Holbach on July 26, 2009 at 2:03pm
Here's an oldie but a goodie:

Below is an excerpt:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's law. I have learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to best follow them.

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as it suggests in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans but not Canadians. Can you clarify?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 10:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Comment by Reggie on July 27, 2009 at 1:52pm
@ Yonny - Matt Dillahunty of The Atheist Experience likes to point that out, too. That being the fact of atheists and Christians being by and large much more moral than the Bible. I agree.

@ D'Holbach - I enjoy reading that letter every time I see it!

@ Neal - Excellent point on animal morality. It's yet another fact that erodes and destroys the "morality from God" viewpoint. We can see how morals can develop by studying our fellow animals.

@ Jen - I like the way you think. We should get married. ;)
Comment by Shawna on August 31, 2009 at 1:36am
For me it's pretty simple: Am I causing harm to another person? If yes, then it's not a moral act. There is a gray area, wherein harm to another may be necessary for survival, in defense of self or of children, and then it's a matter of whether not acting will cause a greater harm than acting.

(And I'm the Satanic one... go figure.)
Comment by Reggie on August 31, 2009 at 12:39pm
@ Shawna - That is a good general rule but is still victim to some loopholes. For example, if I punch a friend in the arm, as is done with many a young males, in a friendly and bonding manner, is it immoral? Or, if I cheat on my wife and she never finds out and is never hurt by it, is that moral? And this is where morality does not stand up to any hard or fast rules. As a general rule of thumb, yours is a good one that I, too, use.
Comment by CJoe on September 1, 2009 at 8:19pm
This reminds me of a scene at the end of the book, Atlas Shrugged, where the main characters pressed one of the minions to make a decision one way or the other at the point of a gun. All he had to do was decide SOMETHING, but he couldn't, or wouldn't, without orders from his superiors... even in the face of death. His mind was paralyzed; he was incapable of judging the best action in the situation, and so he lost his life.

Another book I read YEARS ago (Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer) confirms the idea that we cannot know what is right or wrong without conferring with God. To Bonhoeffer, this was the gist behind the story of the Fall. Eating of the Tree of Knowledge meant we no longer NEEDED to consult God about right and wrong; since we could make in-the-moment decisions for ourselves, we didn't have to turn to God for answers. This is why knowledge is threatening: by religion's own admission, knowledge nullifies our need for a Heavenly Father.

To me, outgrowing your parental figure is natural. Children are not forever dependent on their parent's guidance, and it would be considered abnormal and unhealthy if they did. Parents encourage their children to come to an understanding of life on their own so they can survive without them. The fact that God is always compared to a Father makes me wonder about His apparent obsession with keeping His children under His eternal thumb. We usually refer to boys that are overly dependent on their mom's as "mama's boys". Maybe we should think of Christians in the same way...
Comment by Shawna on September 20, 2009 at 5:33pm
Like I said, there is a huge grey area. And there is also a difference between friendly goofing around (i.e. punching a friend in the shoulder) and truly harming another.
Comment by Reggie on September 20, 2009 at 5:36pm
And there is also a difference between friendly goofing around (i.e. punching a friend in the shoulder) and truly harming another.

The difference may only be intent. In that case, it takes more than judging the action to judge the morality of that action.


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