Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are Atheists Inherently Immoral?

"solaphyde" said:

I would not argue that atheism = immorality, but rather
non-morality. That is, conceptually. However practically, because atheism =
non-morality, it leads to immorality. If a Cardinal abuses small children, then
only a theist can hold the Cardinal accountable and say what he did was really
wrong. An atheist cannot consistently do this simply because they do not have a
standard of right, thereby knowing what is wrong.

As the Peanut's Bible would say: Oh, goodeth griefeth.

Atheism is neither immoral nor amoral. Morals and ethics exist independently of whether or not you believe in a Deity or Deities who will smite thou with a stick if thou does something immoral. That's not morality. That's just fear of retribution.

Indeed, most atheists or other seculars that I know are more moral and ethical than theists, because they have thought about whether an act is inherently immoral or unethical, rather than worrying about whether it conforms to a set of laws set down a heck of a long time ago by men who who heard voices.

Indeed, moral or immoral?: I read an article in, IIRC, The Atlantic written by a guy who was a secular Jew. As a kid, he had gone to a yeshiva and argued Talmudic law with the best. At one seminar, an observant Jew who was also a medical doctor treated non-Jewish patients on the Sabbath if it was an emergency. He said that he thought it was moral to do so because, although a Jew is prohibited from working on the Sabbath, God's injunction to save life is more important than not working on the Sabbath.

A rabbi stood up and berated him for treating Goyim on the Sabbath under the admonition to save life, because a Goyim's life is not as important as a Jew's life. (I kid you not. I remember the arguement very well.) However, one could treat a Goy patient on the Sabbath if one did it because one did not want to damage Goy-Jew relations.

Later, the rabbi apologized for his statement because, and again I kid you not, there were Goyim present at the seminar, and his statement was damaging to Goy-Jew relations, and because Goyim are not supposed to know the laws of God that a Jew follows so well. The rabbi should have berated the doctor in private.

Now, is that rabbi moral or ethical? Beyond his quibbling about why one should save the life of a Goyim who is, after all, only a Goyim, how about his attitude toward all of us who are not Jews? Is that moral?

Again, like too much baseless self-esteem leads to bullying, I think too much self-aggrandizing religion leads to immorality by inculcating a callous and uncaring attitude.

TK Kenyon
Author of CALLOUS: A Novel, a story about free will, neuroscience, fate, Schrodinger's Cat, and the End of Days.

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