Ah, the irony of trusting in God but not in your fellow man.
I don’t think that people of faith think atheists are immoroal, it’s just that without God you can’t have moral absolutes therefore there is nothing in atheism to say that an action is immoral. It may be immoral to some atheists but thats meaningless because morality becomes subjective.
I hear you, and I think you are right when you say that atheism doesn’t have a built in moral code.
However, being an atheist does not mean you believe morality to be subjective. Many believe that objective moral truths exist separate from a God. This way a moral statement is simply as true or false as any other statement like “the cat is on the chair.” In this view morality is neither subjective nor relative and can exist with or without a God.
I would also hazard the suggestion that simple theism does not have a built in moral code. There are many diverse moral views even among mono-theistic religions. This includes the “moral realism” that I just mentioned.
Having a belief about God which doesn’t directly imply a moral system doesn’t seem to be enough to declare a group to be of questionable morality.
I don’t think atheists are necessarily immoral. I think the belief that one’s intentions are not a secret, and inescapable, is a good aid in creating a moral person, though. Admittedly, it would be a great achievement if an atheist could be moral to the same extent as someone who had perfect faith. It’s kind of like having two toddlers in two separate rooms with two jars of candy. One mom says, “Don’t eat the candy,” and leaves the room, forever. The other mom says, “Don’t eat the candy,” and stands there staring at the toddler, with a paddle in her hand.
It would be ideal if our thoughts and deeds were not actually a secret contained solely within our own brains, as there are those who will not be good if they don’t believe there are any consequences. But there are people who claim to be theists who don’t really believe.
Also, I think the irony of not trusting in your fellow man works both ways. I am a theist and I have good reason to be one — can you believe that?
The source of my morality is the understanding that every human has thoughts and feelings like I do, and is as deserving of respect and compassion as I am. I don’t need to be worried about someone looking over my shoulder because my actions will have consequences whether others see or not, and I will have to live with having made my decisions. Morality is universal because everyone is thinking, feeling person, not because a deity proclaimed it so. In fact, theistic morality is quite flaky, since the god could just change his mind about it, as the god of Christianity did between the old and new testaments of the Bible.
I think a basic morality is built into us, but it is limited in scope (‘outsiders’ or ‘others’ are not protected by it, for example) and liable to malfunction when extended and elaborated to create the moral code(s) we follow today. In many, perhaps most people, as our deist friend pointed out, it could probably use some reinforcement.
Having to invent a Sky Mama with a Paddle of Justice in hand to help us keep our actions in line with our consciences may seem like a good idea to some, but I find it repellent and I frankly doubt whether it even works. Has anyone ever compared the ratio of believers to unbelievers in a country’s prisons with the same ratio in the entire population?
It seems to me that religious belief acts to stunt or distort the development of the moral sense (conscience, if you like). Looked at from an ethical naturalist perspective, all religions are morally deficient; and their adherents very often adopt the deficiencies along with their faith.
Isn’t there a better way to post your views? A normal dialog between two people to prove some point is very plain.
I prefer the term “minimalist.” Alternatively, if one is feeling saucy, one can use “iconic” or “socratic.”
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