What Do You Think of This?

Recently, someone tossed out to me an old complaint: “In the atheistic worldview, there is no foundation for morals, logic, personhood, purpose and meaning.”

What do you think when you hear such a complaint?  Do you think the person making it understands where those things come from — morals, logic, personhood, purpose and meaning?  Do you assume the person making such a complaint knows what they’re talking about?  Or do you suspect, like I do, that they really haven’t given the matter enough thought?

17 thoughts on “What Do You Think of This?”

  1. They forget to ask how people behaved before the bible was written,before there was any christianity.Were people at that time immoral,did people have no logic,were they lacking of personhood,purpose and meaning?Of course not,that is a ridiculous thought. But try to tell fundies this,they will put fingers in their ears and say:we can’t hear you.


  2. More importantly, how can their religion be considered an adequate foundation for the morals and meaning, and etc. etc. etc. when there is so much confusion, contradiction, and changes in doctrine?


  3. It drives me up a wall whenever religious people accuse nonbelievers of not having a moral foundation. Atheists and agnostics care about morality and meaning just like everyone else. Did the person who threw out that quote ever actually TALK to an atheist or agnostic?

    To believe that an ethical system needs to be declared by a supreme being is facile. The ethical dimensions of actions can be framed in may ways. For instance, are actions good or bad because of their the intrinsic qualities, their consequences, or whether they promote certain states of being for the actor? Also, the “good” or “meaning” that undergirds ethical behavior can be God, but it can also be human flourishing, intrinsic dignity, enlightenment, duty, etc. Ethics is a rich field of study, and it’s not limited to theistic schools of thought.


  4. It makes me sad that people don’t have enough faith in themselves to become truly moral purposeful people without having to rely on some outside “force” telling them how to behave.


  5. Or do you suspect, like I do, that they really haven’t given the matter enough thought?

    Very much the latter. There are so many different societies with different religious beliefs, including some that don’t believe in gods at all, that there is plenty of empirical evidence that gods aren’t necessary. Thinking that they must be necessary anyway requires so many baseless assumptions that it’s a waste of time to list them.


  6. In my opinion, believers (particularly the Christian variety) simply cannot accept the overwhelming evidence that we are animals, like all the others, whose only “purpose” is to reproduce at a sufficient rate to ensure species survival and, in our particular case, to nurture enough of those offspring until they, in turn, can reproduce. Since they need reinforcement that their belief in a supreme deity and an afterlife is correct, the only way they can achieve that (in this life, at least) is to get as many of us as possible to agree that they “have it right”. Their “morals” question is nothing more than an attempt to “prove” that there must be a God, since, in their construct, we Humans are separated from other animals by our “moral” sense. Q.E.D. “Godidit”. This assertion on their part has no impact whatsoever upon any thinking entity who can understand history and all of the “moral” cultures that long preceded and, in fact, gave rise to Chrisianity.


  7. Religionists swill up the religionist Kool-Aid that most religionists are obliged to swill up and they are incapable of making a reasonable moral judgment.


  8. I’ve always thought that an atheist not having his morals enmeshed in a religious foundation was actually a good thing. Altruism for the sake of getting into heaven or avoiding hell seems like lower level Kohlberg stages to me. To be altruistic on ethical principle, not because it’s law or doctrine, seems like a much more sound foundation.


  9. I belong to a land with a 3,000-plus year old religious tradition, and unlike Christianity, it offers spiritual guidance even to those who prefer to think of themselves as atheists (you might read up on Jainism and Buddhism, for instance, and the sankhya philosophy of the Hindus, in which both are rooted). I would much rather have many more ‘atheists’ around who are balanced, honest, reasonable and kind people than religious nuts who can only fear, hate and destroy beautiful things around them in the name of their God and religion. That said, I believe that atheism has its own problems, as religiosity does. For instance, not believing in God, yet having a deep, though perhaps barely conscious need to believe in something beyond animality and the here and now leads too many to believe fanatically in much less clean and sensible things, like nation and class and fuehrer and market and dialectical materialism and mindless hedonism. Also, it is a stupid canard that faith is born only out of hate and fear, rather than love and inspiration – some of the greatest works of art and charity stand testimony to that. Thirdly, it’s not only stupid people who believe in something Higher, unless we are sure that Newton and Pasteur and Michelangelo and Lincoln and Gandhi were all, unlike us, very stupid. Finally, for now, some great people, avowedly atheists, Bertrand Russell for one, have in moments of great longing or exultation lyrically expressed an emotion that can only be called a yearning for God. Care to look up this blogpost? …


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