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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Morals Without Religion

The other day, I found myself, as I often do, discussing the basis for morality with a religious chap. Like so many others, he incorrectly equates religion to morality. In fact, he went so far as to say, "You are atheist, how can you consider yourself to be moral? Where do you derive your morality if not from God?" My answer was simple: "I derive my morality from myself and my ability for logic and reason."

I don't think that he was able to see past the ideas that have been instilled in him since childhood, to be able to understand what I was saying. Then last night, I found an article by Peter Schwartz over at Capitalism Magazine discussing morality and religion. His reasoning for the widespread belief that morals are derived from a supernatural being:
And what draws people to this bizarre premise--the premise that there is no rational basis for refraining from murder, rape or anarchism? The left's persistent assault on moral values.

That is, liberals characteristically renounce moral absolutes in favor of moral grayness. They insist, for example, that criminals should not be reviled, but should be seen as tragic products of their "social environment"--that teenage mothers are just as entitled to welfare checks as wage-earners are to their paychecks, and that to deny welfare benefits for a child born into a family already receiving welfare is, as the ACLU declares, to "unconstitutionally coerce women's reproductive decisions"--that America is morally equivalent to its enemies, with our own policies having provoked the Sept. 11 attacks and our "unilateralist" actions in Iraq being no different from any forcible occupation of one nation by another.

Repulsed by such egalitarian, anti-"judgmental" absurdities, many people disavow what they regard as leftism's essence: secularism, and turn to religion for their values.


As he points out, many people find the postmodernistic moral relativity of the left to be untenable. And rightly so. As I pointed out in a comment I made a couple of days ago in reference to what I termed "The Peoples' Republik of Moral Relativity":
Then again, this is the same place where the moral outrage of an accidental death in the liberation of an oppressed people is shouted out from the rooftops by the same millions that sat silent as those same peoples were raped, tortured, and murdered.

The same place where there is no difference between the possible flushing of the Quran and the actual shoving of live people into wood chippers.

The same place where the sexual embarrassment of a terrorist is worse than the beheading of an aid worker.

The same place where the taking of innocent lives is always wrong, always that is unless it is 378,994 American lives. Because as the whole world knows, regardless of the 100,000,000 plus lives taken by Communism, the 6 million killed by the Nazis, and the continuing African genocides, there has never been a more repugnant rights violator in the world than the United States, well with the possible exception of Israel.

When faced with ideas such as this, it is no surprise that people would reject this in favor of the moral guidance of the church. However, as Mr. Schwartz states, this is a "false alternative":
The real alternative to the leftist claptrap is a morality of reason. Such a morality begins with the individual's life as the primary value and identifies the further values that are demonstrably required to sustain that life. It observes that man's nature demands that we live not by random urges or by animal instincts, but by the faculty that distinguishes us from animals and on which our existence fundamentally depends: rationality.

Be sure to read the entire thing.

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Copyright © S Michael Moore 2005