Without God, Where Does Morality Come From?
This is a complicated question leveled at atheists/secularists. The monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) often argue their supremacy on the issue of ethics, but this is way off the mark. Most religious traditions ground their moral teachings within Divine Command Theory, which essentially argues that whatever God deems moral should be moral. There’s no evaluation of the circumstances or competing interests. Whatever the divine dictator in the sky asks, you must do. That isn’t morality; it’s obedience.
By contrast, a secular, humanistic ethical framework is based off of two main concepts: the moral instinct and the moral framework. The moral instinct is evolutionary, based on built-in naturalistic impulses such as empathy, reciprocity, and self-interest. The moral framework builds off of the moral instinct; this is where ethics, or the philosophy of morality, comes into play. Our social systems, whether they be government or private obligations, seek to instill fairness, justice, and well-being. In essence, the morality of secular humanism, or atheism, is based on achieving well-being and reducing harm. Sometimes, ethical situations will be complicated and there won’t be an excellent option, but at least it will be based on a realistic ethic and not on the whims of a deity.
To learn more, check out a debate between Philosophical Atheism’s own Justin Clark (thedailyclark) and Pastor Chad Damitz. It can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ5XFlAEXFc
Back to FAQ’s