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Does an atheist believe in absolute morality?

Being that the average theist and atheist are moral, do atheists believe morality can be absolute. Or is morality relative? If it is relative, where do we as society draw the line? Where can we find our common ground? Let us refrain from insulting each other.

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Depends on the atheist. We have nothing in common except lack of belief in gods.

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They think we hold meetings or something
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In our underground volcano lair.
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Hahaha..lol
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The pits of hell, you mean...Just kidding, lighten up. Tell me kitten, is morality relative to you or absolut?
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Cmon kitten. We both know you did not answer the question. How do you personally feel? At least admit its a good question.
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Actually it is a false dichotomy. There are a great many moral systems and philosophies in the spectrum between "completely relative" and "completely absolute". Secular ethics can include such systems as normativiry of social contracts, an attribution of intrinsic moral value, cultural relativism, intuition-based deontology, utilitarianism, subjective moral relativism, ethical egoism, and more. The question is nowhere near as simple as you make it out to be.

Our society's core morals are evolutionary. That which keeps society cohesive and functioning is "moral", that which degrades or undermines it is "immoral". Those groups that were cohesive survived and reproduced more successfully than those who did not. It is why the base morals you tend to see in all cultures came about- the prohibitions against murder, dishonesty, and theft, for example.

Then come "cultural morals"- morals that are subjective and dependent on culture, dominant religion, and region of the world.

I myself agree with many of the tenets of the meta-ethical science of morality, a subset of ethical naturalism.
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Wow!
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This is just a skim on the surface. There's a reason I went into biology not philosophy. It makes my head hurt- give me a nice dense journal article on cytokines cascades any day over this stuff.

The worst part? One of my husband's Bachelor's degrees is in Philosophy (weirdo got a second BS for fun) and he was reading this over my shoulder saying "we'll that's an overly simplistic way of putting it". I read his thesis paper on secular ethical systems to put myself to sleep in college.
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Double wow!!
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Skep.....was the meeting moved? I went to Pompei. Was this week's meeting at Krakatoa? Damn calendar!!!
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It was a good one too. We had Jerk BAby-Q and handed out Evil Mustaches to twirl.
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Damn! I am ALWAYS late for the Jerk BAby-Q!!! I was too busy spreading evil and doom throughout the land......
Can you save me some eye-of-newt to drink at the next one??? It doesn't have to be hot.
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Excellent answer like usual Kitten!
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haha!
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it is different for each atheist i myself haven't figured it out yet im still figuring it out for myself

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That's an honest answer. Thanks. What have we figured out? What about an absolute truth?
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Skept's answer is really the only answer needed for this question but I'll give my personal opinion. I personally think that things such as cold blooded murder, rape, crimes against children, etc... are absolutely immoral. Anything that causes unjust pain and suffering.

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Thats the basics and we agree on that. What about polygomy?
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runumbered: I personally think that polygamy should be legal. As long as all people in a marriage are consenting adults, there's no reason that it has to be between only two people.
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Well there are people who disagree with you. Do you or they draw the line? Is it right to subject children to that environment? Some would say absolutly not, where you would say it is okay. Who decides these things? How does either decision not infringe on the other's rights? What is the definition of a republic? Because we are not that anymore.
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I'm not gonna lie about how I do find it weird for multiple people to be in a relationship all together. But my personal opinion is no reason that adults shouldn't be allowed to to marry multiple people. However, it's obvious that most people don't want to share their spouse with someone else so most people, even if it was legal, wouldn't go down the polygamy road. I am willing to bet that religious groups like the FLDS would take serious advantage this and consent would probably be overlooked. I don't approve of polygamy in a religious sense because it is only a man who has multiple spouses and his wives are all below him. This is why I don't think polygamy should legal. It would also be crazy when doing your taxes. Imagine 4 or 5 people in a marriage and possibly many children. Yikes!
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I hear what you're saying. But we as a nation are going down a road where the line will be drawn somewhere. Or will it? jjjjj says they feel polygamy should be legal. Aren't they guaranteed their rights? Who are we to impose our beliefs on jjjj? This is what our nation is facing. I believe we are in trouble, because we will only divide more and more. Trusty do you see the problem that theists and atheists face together? Brothers and sisters? Cousins? I see problems.
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We aren't going down any steep road. Same sex marriage is not the same as polygamy. I agree with jj on the consent part but it could get out of control. Same sex marriage causes absolutely no problems at all. The only opposition that has been brought to the table is thumping of the bible and pure discrimination. Not one good reason has been mentioned as to why gays must not marry and it is unconstitutional to deny a couple their natural right to marry because of religious reasons.
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I understand what you are saying Trusty. As a Christian, a person cannot expect me to support what I consider to be wrong. And this includes my own struggles in this life that I see as wrong too. If its discrimination, I discriminate against myself. I take all things to the scriptures, most importantly my own sinful heart. And I see know protection from the constitution to prevent gay marriage but again, you and anyone else will not redefine marriage to me or to anyone who upholds the Bible as the truth. I have that right. Is this about problems that beliefs and lifestyles create or about the right to live the way a person wants? Who has the right to tell someone that their right to live how they choose is wrong? As long as it doesn't create problems correct? The road isn't steep but as we continue to evolve, popular opinion will evolve too.
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As an atheist i say Morality is absolute, but not a straight line. For instance, not ok to steal, but it is ok to steal to feed your staving kids. Not on to kill, but it is ok to kill to protect yourself.

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MAC if your kids are hungry, is it okay for you to steal the pizza from my hand, that I am bringing home to feed my family?
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How would stealing help your kids with a baseball size hole in your head. Just saying
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Phil that is hilarious. I'm seriously LMAO. And I typically don't do that.
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Nice
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Half your pizza, yes.
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Are you implying you wouldn't steal food to feed starving children, in the event of no other option?
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Do unto others, that's just common sense. Not sure about absolute or whatever. Being a good person's not a religious or a non religious thing. It's just right

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What makes it right? What is right to me, I'm sure is not right to you. If my kids are hungry do I have a right to steal from you? Mac(above) says he does. Is that right to you?
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You have the right to try.
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"He" sorry, has the right to try. Of course it would be my right to shoot him dead also.
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Phil I believe you would probably beat MAC down if he tried. I personally would never let Mac think that that is okay. But do I get to decide that for him? Does the popular opinion get to decide this? Poor Mac. What about his rights and his beliefs?
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Again, you don't have to be religious, to know right from wrong
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Morality is in no way absolute. All societies have different morals, and so morality can't be absolute. The reason you believe the morals that you believe is because you were raised into a society that felt those morals to be true. Had you lived in a different society, you would think differently. I don't think it is absolute; but on the same note there are circumstances for every situation.

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Don't you see that the line must be drawn somewhere. One person on here says he should be able to steal for his hungry kids. Someone else said polygamy should be made legal when others don't. Our society is completely confused and in disagreement. This is not going to lead to anything good. We are too divided as a nation. We think it is because of religion? No. It is this line. It exists with or without religion. Who will decide this for us. Who's rights won't be violated. The constitution is being pressed. I can see the end of it.
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I think you mean 'mortality', or death. morality has to do with principles.

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No I mean morality. Can atheists come to agreement on a moral standard? And then can theists come to an agreement with atheists on some kind of moral standard? If not there will be problems. Everyone will start to push. Our country will turn into black friday at walmart.
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it is possible for an atheist to believe in moral absolutism, but the concept of moral absolutism is uncommon in anyone. why should it be? the bible forbids lying, but the life of abraham was saved by lying, as was that of rahab.
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Absolute morality, I guess I'm not sure what that means. Morality for every atheist is different, but I think for the most of us believe in our fellow man/woman (yeah we have a Pol Pot or 2 in the mix). I consider myself an ultra conservative when it comes to politics and really hate it when the government decides I cannot live my life the way I want to. As long as I live my life and it does not harm someone else why should they care? Now I do not mean offend, by the use of the word "harm", because it is offensive for me to buy a beer on sunday in Arkansas, which I think is absurd. But A-Moral? I have no idea what you mean.

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We just overturned the Sunday liquor sales thing in my county here in Arkansas!!! Whoop whoop!!! We're waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind seedy... but we're working on it lol
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A complete, written in stone, moral code of conduct. One to hold the masses to, or are we just going to continue to evolve to whatever popular opinion is? What is right for you is not right for me. Look at Mac(above)or jjjj on polygamy. Do you agree? If not the line will continue to be redrawn. People will continue to claim their rights are being violated. When does it stop? Does it stop? Do what thou wilt? Something is on the horizon and it doesn't look good for us. Can we ever agree on an absolute morality? Who decides this for us?
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That is what religion has tried to do it's entire existence run.... "hold the masses." Who knows if it will stop, but we're continually progressing for the betterment of society while still having our freedoms... at least here in the US we are.

And are you looking solely at the US... there are many areas of the world that have their own societal outlook on things that are not based on your god... why focus on the US where Christians are already a majority... why don't you focus elsewhere and their morality?
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I do not believe the majority of America is Christians. They are self proclaimed Christians, who don't understand the Bible. They don't read it. Christians here are lukewarm. In the dark they do the very things the Bible teaches against and what they argue and fight against during the day. We are hypocrites to God's truth. God's truth does not control the masses. People control people. God sets a person free. He sets their heart and soul free. I focus on morality here, because I live here and raise my children here. I ask the question, because I see the people of our country in battle with eachother. This is not about God or religion. It is about the course we are on. The mindset of the people in this country. We as Americans, must come together and get control of what is happening, or we will cease to exist as Aerica. I wish you could understand me.
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No I do not believe in a set in stone morality. It is not for me to judge or tell people how to live their lives. If an adult couple want to have an open marriage or be swingers, that's up to them, it does me no harm. If a person wants to be homosexual or bisexual who am I to judge, who am I to say its wrong. It does me no harm for other people to live their private lives the way they see fit.
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I personally do believe that some things should be absolute, but the rest is based on society's views. Do I believe that they are absolute? No... but over time, I do believe that they become so ingrained into society that they could be perceived as absolute.

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The absolute morality you speak of came as a result of evolution. We are a social species and as such we developed the need to peacefully coexist. Our ancestors were naturally selected in that those that aided one another, worked for the collective good, protected their young, and shared resources were more likely to survive and reproduce.
When we began to gather in larger and larger communities we carried these instinctive traits into our early laws. And again natural selection worked to the benefit of cohesive, community first societies while eliminating more savage individualistic groups of bandits and barbarians. Throughout history of course different cultures developed different moral codes but the fundamental ones, murder, infanticide, rape, theft, etc. generally remain the same.

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As Caluvox indicated evolutionary pressures have programmed a certain amount of morality into us. However, external pressures such as religion and governments can make morality subjective. There is no absolute morality amongst various social constructs such that while one culture has a deep appreciation of music, another makes listening to music punishable by death. In that case morality is most certainly relative rather than absolute. Each of us is tasked with deciding what behaviors are in the best interest of society and working to the best of our abilities to instill those values in our children and social institutions until we are convinced that adjustments to any aspect of our moral code is in order and make the necessary accommodations. Societal mores are an amalgam of the moral values of each individual within that society.

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Wouldn't it be nice if there was an editor that could take all the great comments from all the great questions on Ask, blend them together, and create a book? I'd have one on my coffee table :)
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I read it as long as the insults and mocking were edited out.
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The atheist is inconsistent at this point. They have no basis for absolute morality, yet live by an absolute standard of morality - they do not live by what they claim to believe. You can point out this flaw simply by pointing out that "it would be ok for me to shoot you, then?" When you do this, they will say something like "Of course not!" But this is my personal choice, why is it wrong? They cannot make a valid argument about why it's wrong for me to shoot them without proving themselves wrong. They may try to make it "the majority's" decision. Adolf Hitler convinced the majority of Germany that what he was doing (slaughtering millions of people) was right. But that still didn't make it right - whether you were in Germany or not. They may also try to say that it's what benefits humanity the most, or brings the most happiness to the most people. (See Comments)

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But going to D.C. and killing every politician there still isn't right - even if it brings the most happiness to the most people - and the atheist would agree with that (especially if he were a politician). You see, they cannot be consistent when it comes to morality. They either have to accept the fact that I could go shoot someone and it would be ok (which I have never met a single atheist who would accept that) or adhere to an absolute morality.

For the Kingdom! - TheSoldierforGod
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@TheSoldier: Prove morality is absolute.
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It wrong because your causing harm to another person , that's uncalled for and unjustified. It's pretty simple.
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Someone in a culture which thinks it has the moral authority to saw someone's head off for listening to music would say that harm is called for and justified. Is it really that simple?
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@TSFG. Your comment flies in the face of commonsense and scientific observation. It is obvious the higher up the chain of intelligence a species is, the less "moral" they tend to be. It is a fallacy that humans are separate from "beasts" other then that humans possess abstract thought, it is this ability that also leads us to often perform immoral acts.
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CalTex: I do not have to prove morality is absolute. You already know that morality is absolute, you even use this standard in your everyday life. You know that it's not justifiable to saw someone's head off for listening to music - you know it's wrong. But if you really believed what you claim to, the question is "why is it wrong?" You don't get mad at vinegar for reacting with baking soda - it's just one chemical reacting to another - completely natural - nothing you can do about it. So, if we're just the result of a chemical accident - a cosmic burp - nothing but rearranged pond scum; If our minds are made of nothing but chemical reactions, then why wouldn't it be ok for one person to kill another - it's just one chemical reacting with another.

MAC57: Look at what I said to CalTex. You don't get mad at vinegar reacting to baking soda. So if we're just a bunch of rearranged chemicals, why isn't it ok for one person to kill another? It's just one chemical reacting to another.

caluvox: My comment flies in the face of your belief - not common sense and scientific observation. Humans posses a morale - this is what separates us from animals. What seems to be an animals morale is nothing but their instinct. Animals run on nothing but instinct. This is why you don't send an animal to prison for attacking another animal - even one from its own herd. It's because it's just it's instinct. Animals have no moral dictates - just instinct. Humans do. That's why we would send someone to prison for attacking another human - because we can distinguish right from wrong - everyone can. And everyone expects everyone else to be able to make this judgement. But, if we're just animals, or morality is subjective, why would it be wrong for one person to attack another - it's just part of that person's instinct or that person's personal decision.
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Soldier, you have understood where I am coming from. Great answer my brother.
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@TheSoldier: Morality is only absolute within the social construct of a particular society. A society which believes it is moral to saw someone's head off for ANY reason is not a society that subscribes to my moral code. Yet my society and the head-sawing society will both fight to the death to make sure the other morality does not prevail.

So where did morality come from? This knowledge of right and wrong (the Golden Rule) is the result of millions of years of evolution. Since we don't possess the defensive traits of many other animals--like tough skins, or sharp claws and teeth--our survival was dependent on our learning to work together. We found that our chances of survival were better if we treated one another the way we would want to be treated, because the result was that others treated in such a manner were more likely to come to our aid when we needed it most. Those who tried to "go it alone" found themselves distanced from the group and less likely to survive. By the process of natural selection, this ethos found its way into our genetic makeup to the point that we are all born with the varying degrees of propensity for a rudimentary understanding of right and wrong.

But this ability for moral behavior is also found in animals. The more complex the brain, the more developed is the sense of moral behavior (see http://www.livescience.com/24802-animals-have-morals-book.html as an example). One can say this morality expressed by animals is still purely instinct. But if so, it can also be argued that our morality is instinctive as well since we share the same basis for morality as other animals.

Bottom line, the morality I was born with and was nutured by family and society tells me killing is wrong -- but no all killing.
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Then why TSFG do wolves not fight to the death among their own pack, even when it comes to pack dominance? Yet chimps do kill members of their own tribe for lesser reasons. It has been shown time and again that the higher the intelligence of the species the more likely they are to commit immoral acts. Dolphins have been witnessed to rape and even bully other dolphins.
The reason these animals don't wipe one another out is because their instinct drives them not to, it is their intelligence that causes them to sometimes defy this instinct. Humans are no different, your religion demands you translate this into a command given by god to humans, but it is in our nature to not kill one another. It is our instinct to run into a fire to save a screaming child despite our brain telling us of the hazard of the fire itself.
And if you think only humans know right from wrong then you have never owned a dog, you have never come home to find a "gift" left on the carpet and then saw the expression on the dogs face as it stared out from under a table with its tail slung up between its legs.
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Dang CalTex, we're on the same page far to often ;)
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That was meant figuratively.
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So true, Cal.
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