What Does Atheism Have To Offer? (Part Two)

Think4. Atheism offers genuine morality
Having no magic book to tell them how to behave (not that Christians derive their morals from theirs) atheists work out their own morality. They don’t do this in a vacuum, however, recognising that morality is culturally derived, evolving as the means by which primates with complex social arrangements relate to one another. It’s likely they adhere to their moral codes imperfectly, as do believers of various stripes. Not having an ideology they feel compelled to impose on others, they don’t regard their fellow human beings as mere conversion fodder. The atheists’ world is big enough to embrace all, though they lament the damage wreaked on it by religion. Atheist terrorists are a much rarer breed than their religious counterparts, while secular societies are among the most peaceful and prosperous in the world today (with the more religious generally at the opposite end of the spectrum.) Nor do atheists attribute their behaviour to supernatural forces; neither god nor the devil inspires them to act. Rather they recognise and take personal responsibility for what they do.

5. Atheism offers authenticity
An atheist is free to be him or herself. There is no striving to maintain the imagined standards of an imaginary god, no need to represent the perspective of a ‘sacred’ book or to defend the indefensible. The atheist does not see themselves or other people as lost, worthless, sinners, suppressors of truth, goy, infidels or any of the other disparaging terms used of non-believers in so-called holy books. The atheist can be a free-spirit, possessed of self-respect, and true to themselves and their nature, whatever that may be. Here’s how pastor-turned-atheist Ryan Bell put it in a recent blog post:

I don’t have secrets anymore, which is a huge mental and moral relief. I also wrestle with less cognitive dissonance than ever. All of this means I’m more at peace and more comfortable in my own skin. I give far fewer fucks about what people think of me and my decisions. My ire is raised, from time to time, by unfair attacks, and I will probably always struggle with my tendency to be a people pleaser, but I am in recovery. I’m learning to tell the truth on a more regular basis and trust that people can handle the truth (whether they actually can or not). I’m learning to trust myself and what I know while remaining open to critique and able to say I was wrong.

6. Atheism offers free thought
Having no dogma to represent or promulgate, no myths to restrict them and no cult leaders, shaman or gurus dictating to them, atheists are free to think for themselves. Religion demands that its adherents begin with myth or dogma, which the facts are then forced to fit. When they don’t, which is invariably the case, the believer is compelled to dismiss the facts to preserve the fantasy (if you think not, you’ve never visited Answers In Genesis). The atheist, on the other hand, can begin with the evidence and reason from it to make up their own mind about ethics, the issues of the day and the human condition.

to be continued…

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6 thoughts on “What Does Atheism Have To Offer? (Part Two)

  1. Your points about morals make no sense. If we are nothing but a group of highly intelligent animals, we have no moral code to live up to. Where do you get your basic morals? I mean, if everyone decides for themselves what is right, then why is anything wrong? It is impossible for humans to be an absolute authority on truth because there is no good in humans naturally. I plan to tackle some of these topics in my blog. I’d love for you to check it out. http://www.teencreationthoughts.wordpress.com

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    • The Christian-think is strong in this one! I had a look at your blog. Looks good; shame it’s only got insupportable Christian ideas well past their sell-by date on it. As for your comment here:

      Of course what I say about morals ‘makes sense’. We have developed a variety of moral codes as social animals that need to relate to and cooperate with one another. We don’t create our own individual morals as you suggest, but generally adopt those of the culture into which we are born. Actions are ‘wrong’ when they harm others or ourselves. And where’s your evidence that there’s no ‘good’ in humans? The only good (and bad) we ever experience is human.

      There is, though, you’re right, no ‘absolute authority’ for morals – even believers in God adopt different morals depending on their circumstances. Your morals will undoubtedly be different from the God-botherers of the Old Testament who believed in death as the penalty for the slightest infringment of petty rules. Or do you still support slavery and the death penalty for working on the Sabbath, teenage rebellion and for women who are not virgins on their wedding day? No, I thought not. So much for an ‘absolute’ morality determined by a God.

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  2. Your morals come from society? Just where do you think society gets them? In most parts of the world the basis for morals is a Christian worldview. America, England, France, etc. all have their roots in a rich Christian background that is impossible to deny.

    Humans are not good. It’s a fact we must all accept. Without the guidelines of the Bible and God that penetrate our culture, we would no doubt be in a much sadder state than we are currently in.

    My MORALS do not differ from the believers of the Old Testament, but my viewpoint on how those sins should be punished is different because of Christ’s New Covenant. Rather than relentlessly demanding perfection, Christ displayed that He understands we are imperfect when He said “Ye who is without sin cast the first stone.” While we should strive for perfection to please God, we must also understand it is impossible.

    Sorry for taking forever to respond… School is crazy and I wanted to give an answer worth reading.

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    • Not just my morals but yours too come from society. Society ‘gets them’ from the human beings that compose it, moral guidelines being arrived at collectively over time. No actual deity is involved.

      The most useful of the commandments – those about how we relate to others; don’t kill, steal, lie etc – pre-date the Exodus versions by centuries if not millennia, evidence that human beings did indeed develop them for themselves. That Western culture is based on this kind of morality, which it has nonetheless struggled to live by throughout its history, has nothing to do, again, with any actual God. Gods are humanly derived as well; all the many millions there have been, including your three, have all been produced by the human imagination (as discussed here: https://rejectingjesus.com/2015/01/22/all-gods-must-pass/)

      I’m interested you subscribe to other aspects of morality from the ‘everlasting’ Old Covenant (which turned out not to be everlasting after all – so much for Yahweh’s faithfulness!) because it ‘pleases God’. I guess slavery, the buying and selling of women and polygamy are all okay by you, then? Jesus seems to approve of them so I guess they must’ve made it through to the re-imagined New Covenant (see https://rejectingjesus.com/2014/01/05/christians-favourite-delusions-15-the-bible-is-the-ultimate-standard-for-morality/

      And finally, claiming as you do that something is ‘a fact we must all accept’ or ‘impossible to deny’ is not evidence nor even persuasive argument. It is unsubstantiated assertion. If there’s a philosophy class at school, I’d sign up if I were you!

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      • See? That is based on your biases. If you don’t believe in God, morals must have come from man.

        As for the Egyptians, no one said those recorded in the Bible are the first ever recorded. Man has a conscience, which allows him to discern right from wrong. This separates him from the animals. While atheists cannot explain where this comes from, we Christians know it is of God. (And it is only one God. Three “incarnations” to use a loose term…)

        The Old Covenant is not all the laws, but deals with God’s plan of salvation for the Jews. This covenant is still in tact, but the rituals are no longer needed because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.

        The slaves of the Bible were POWs and those in debt (most of the time). If you actually read the Bible you see that after a certain amount of time they could choose freedom or to stay (Exodus 21:2) after 6 years. There are also strict guidelines for how slaves must be treated. They were really more like indentured servants.

        As for your comment about polygamy, the Bible blatantly states its disapproval. You know? The Bible is a great book, you should read it some time before you try to argue over its contents.

        For your last paragraph, I did not use those phrases as evidence but as emphasis. It’s also not a great idea to cite your own blog as evidence…. Especially when there are so many errors in the context of the arguments discussed.

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      • See? That is based on your biases. If you don’t believe in God, morals must have come from man. Not so much bias as the application of Occam’s razor; anything supefluous to an explanation can and should be cut away, in this case ‘God’. Your God is not needed to explain how morals developed and therefore the probability is he wasn’t involved.

        As for the Egyptians, no one said those recorded in the Bible are the first ever recorded. No, but you said humans derive their morals from the Bible. They can’t have done so if those morals predate the Bible, now can they? They must have developed independently as those who first recorded injunctions about not lying, killing and treating others as one would like to be treated cannot have got the idea from a book that hadn’t yet been written.

        Man has a conscience, which allows him to discern right from wrong. Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. Humans have a conscience. They evolved this as a means of working out others’ motivation and intent. From there came the awareness that others were much the same and may even be entitled to be treated the same.

        This separates him from the animals. Nope. There is evidence that higher animals also have a rudimentary conscience.
        http://phys.org/news/2015-12-dogs-animals-conscience.html

        While atheists cannot explain where this comes from, we Christians know it is of God. I just did explain it; others do it better here. https://www.quora.com/Why-do-humans-have-a-conscience-Is-there-any-evidence-to-support-the-idea-that-other-animals-also-possess-a-conscience

        (And it is only one God. Three “incarnations” to use a loose term…) Yes, I’m aware your God is schizophrenic.

        The Old Covenant is not all the laws, but deals with God’s plan of salvation for the Jews. This covenant is still in tact, but the rituals are no longer needed because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. Who says so? Not the Jews that’s for sure. This is something you Christians decided. Jews don’t think so to this day.

        The slaves of the Bible were POWs and those in debt (most of the time). Some were. Others were slaves for life, and their children became property too. And Yahweh approved of the arrangement; see below.

        If you actually read the Bible you see that after a certain amount of time they could choose freedom or to stay (Exodus 21:2) after 6 years. Yes, I’ve ‘actually’ read this bit. It applies only to slaves from among the Israelites themselves. Those from other tribes were slaves for life; have you actually read Leviticus 25:44-46?

        There are also strict guidelines for how slaves must be treated. They were really more like indentured servants. Let’s have a quick look at some of those ‘strict guidelines’:

        ‘don’t beat a slave too much. If you do you’ll be in trouble. S’okay though if the slave takes a day or two to die after the beating. No problem with that, because he is, after all, your property.’ (Exodus 21:20-21)
        ‘You can pass on any slaves you’ve bought from other countries to your children. They’re slaves for life, so why not. Don’t be rough with Israelite slaves – but these others, who cares? Treat ’em how you like.’ (Leviticus 25:44-46)
        ‘If you fancy a woman from among a tribe you’ve beaten in war, then take her as a slave and have sex with her whether she wants to or not. When you’ve had your fill you can let her go if you feel like it.’ (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

        As for your comment about polygamy, the Bible blatantly states its disapproval. You know? No, I don’t. Where? Is it in Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15–17 where Yahweh provides some ‘strict guidelines’ for how to go about it? Or in Matthew 25.1-13 where Jesus tells a parable that takes polygamy for granted? Or in the stories of those ancient Men of Righteousness who had lots of wives? (I’ll grant you in 1 Timothy 3.2 someone pretending to be Paul tells bishops to have only one wife, though why he’d need to if they already knew, I don’t know.)

        The Bible is a great book, you should read it some time before you try to argue over its contents. Hmmm. One of us needs to…

        For your last paragraph, I did not use those phrases as evidence but as emphasis. They were part of your argument; without them you were saying nothing at all.

        It’s also not a great idea to cite your own blog as evidence. If it saves repeating a point I’ve already made elsewhere it is.

        Especially when there are so many errors in the context of the arguments discussed. Aah, yes, the old ‘out of context’ argument. The last resort of a believer losing the argument – in this case that the Bible is (not) the source of our morals and instead contains some pretty nasty stuff. https://rejectingjesus.com/2016/02/24/my-preciousss-is-mine-and-mine-alone/

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