Recently at the Furr's meeting the topic of discussion was "Can atheists have morals?" I had anticipated a very interesting forum led by the speaker. The guest speaker gave a very good speech and raised a number of very good points but I felt he was somehow missing the point. I was an agnostic for most of my earlier years and have been an atheist for the last eight. Morals and morality have been thrown into my face by those who hold religious beliefs more often than I care to remember and I've had ample opportunity to think, reflect, and come to some very startling conclusions.
1.) For those who would have morals and be good people, I define being good as having a deep love and respect for ones self and the world around you, religion is not necessary to achieve goodness. Those who will be good will be good regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Those who would be bad will be bad no matter what they believe. History has born this out. Review the history of Christianity and you will see horrifying atrocities committed in the name of god and you will see very good people doing what they can to live good lives. As atheists we should realize that goodness and badness are very individualistic. Just like everything else. Christians always attempt to distance themselves and their religion from those among them who do evil. They want everyone to blame the initial and not the religion, a survival trait that has served them well for almost 2000 years and has become ingrained in the everyday practises of believers.
2.) Christians say that they have the market cornered on morality because they are answerable to their god whom they claim is the supreme ruler of the universe (all hail the almighty dollar.....) nevertheless they leave for themselves a huge glaring ridiculous loop hole, no matter how rotten you've been, no matter how evil, hateful, malicious, vile, murderous, and utterly contempts you have lived the entirety of your life all you have to do is ask for forgiveness and it's all made better, it's all forgiven, the slate is wiped clean. Think about that for a moment, let it really sink in. No matter what you do you can get away with it. The supreme ruler of the universe will forgive anything. In the final analysis it means a get out of jail free card to do whatever evil you care to do. It's truly monstrous and vile isn't it?
We as atheists do not have that get out of jail free card. That carte-blanche to do evil, we realize that we are responsible for our actions and must take responsibility for them. No one is going to make it all go away. I put forth to you that a rational, thinking person who realizes the consequences of their actions will be the most moral of all. I'm not saying that the morals of the atheist will always mesh with what christians think morality should be, (an ideal that is very unrealistic and for which they set themselves up to fail) or even that the morals of one atheist will agree completely with the morals of another atheist. I'm saying that atheists are perhaps the most moral where it counts, we take responsibility for ourselves and our world. We work to preserve the world and the liberties of our fellow human beings. We are not as christians who take no reasonability for the world (by their own words they are in the world but not of the world) and have a history of tyranny, oppression, and destruction. We know who we are and what our responsibilities are. What higher morals could there be?