Atheist's Moral Principles

Davidhume, you asked for a new thread. I hope you will answer the questions here.

You wrote.

Originally Posted by DavidHume
If you read again, I wrote "dependent on its mother’s ***bodily functions.*"

The question asked of you -

You’ve given us your opinion on the matter, but what moral principle are you working with that leads to the opinion that a fetus that is dependant on its “mother’s bodily functions” is exempt from the moral principle (which you believe in, no doubt) of the inherent value of all human life?

using such outdated and mean spirited ‘logic’ one can ,as the Nazis did’'eliminate the mentally ill also for they cant survive without anothers assistance either! The supreme court had a majority of athiests on its rolls and thus changed the deft.of a person from deserving of freedom and the right to life to a slave…owned by its temporary host after all thats what the woman is…she was not borrn with this developing baby inside of her it was introduced by a …oops,gotta say it…a man…!!!..I recall how the baby killers promised that abortion will make every baby a wanted one…thus doing away with child abuse …mmmm then of course we have the ACLU that is for child porn and Nambla type organizations and also for convicted child abusers to have the ‘right’ to live near schools etc…all madness,all 'morality’by athiests as was Hitler,and Stalin and Castro and ‘others’ in high places sitting and lecturing us on morals …you know whom I mean…how many doctors,writers,artists,scientists we have lost who were ,in a tolerant loving way of course,killed .maybe the dreadful scourge of Aids and the swine flu might be conqueored today…sigh…sad very sad…the above message by me may well be outlawed if the present hate crimes bill is passed…oh well,it cant happen here…now can it…tick tick…

I’m not sure what prompted this thread but here’s my general argument against atheists regarding morals:

Thesis: Secular Humanism is oxymoronic. Why?

In meta-ethics morality is either Realism or Anti-Realism. That is objective facts or subjective desires, relativism.

The only moral theory compatible with naturalism and materialism is moral anti-realism. It means there are no universal moral truths independent of cultural relativism. Moral right and wrong behavior is dependent upon the culture’s customs. Even though these customary morals can evolve and change the notion of moral progress is meaningless. Why? because you cannot have progress without an objective thing (moral objectivism) to measure/gauge the progress against.

If morals are dependent upon cultural customs and cultures tend to differ in custom the notion of a Universal morality is also meaningless. Human Rights are dependent upon the moral Universalism.

Secularism is a metaphysical system which holds to the belief that nature and materialism is all there is. Ego the nature of meta-ethics is moral anti-realism.

Humanism OTOH is a meta-ethical belief system which holds to the belief in the Universal dignity of human life and human rights…irregardless of cultural customs. There is a universal moral truth. Ego the nature of meta-ethics is moral realism.

How can a belief system calling itself Secular Humanism be both moral anti-realism and moral realism at the same time without creating an oxymoron? The simple answer is, it can not.

So for the atheist morality is akin to aesthetics. An atheist arguing that his/her way is the correct moral way is like arguing his/her favorite flavor is ice cream is the correct flavor everyone else must universally adhere to, or arguing their table place settings is the universally correct placements everyone else must/should adhere to. Atheists are being internally hypocritical anytime they engage in moral debates implying a correct morality and moral progress. Why? Because if there is such a thing as moral progress then it logically follows that his/her Naturalism and Materialism is false.

If Materialism is false then some other metaphysical reality must be true. It could be theism, ancestralism, or something else…but it is not the monism of naturalism and materialism. Reality would have to dualistic for human rights to have any inherent debatable validity.

So which is it? Which is it for you, the monism of materialism were there cannot be such a thing as factual moral progress, human rights, or an inherent human dignity - or is the nature of reality a dualistic one where morality is Real and so to are human rights, and inherent human dignity? The choice you make will always/eternally be a choice made by faith/Faith.

The only moral theory compatible with naturalism and materialism is moral anti-realism.

Nonsense. Belief in objective moral truth does not require belief in supernatural or spiritual powers.

Thanks Nino. Write On! Portland Pete

Unless you’re brain damaged in some way then everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. At least in the broad scheme of things. You don’t need god or religion to know the difference.


Human nature, as we improve our understanding of it through genetics, behavioral sciences, etc. can form the basis of objective morality. The current state of these sciences can best be described as lost in the woods, but there are some inferences we can make about human nature that are somewhat obvious.

Consider the issue of solitary confinement. Is it moral or immoral? Humans are social beings and have a compelling need for human interaction. If humans were not social beings, there would be no moral issue with solitary confinement. Indeed, it would not be punishment at all. An analog in the animal kingdom is this: We now know that it would be cruel to keep a single lion in a zoo, but a single tiger is perfectly content.

I really don’t think it’s too far fetched to say that science will play a more prominent role in the formulation of morality in the future. We even see primitive forms of morality in social animals such as apes that we can use as simplified models. We are experimenting with game theory to understand why sometimes humans consistently choose self-defeating strategies. Most of the time, it is because these self-defeating strategies serve a purpose to society even at the expense of the individual. We have much to learn, but the general makeup of what it means to be a human being can form the objective basis for morality.

Your source, please.

It seems that atheists are unable to clearly state or define their moral principles. Is it that they have none? By that, I mean that they don’t have clearly defined principles, but only opinions on issues as they arise? That seems to be how they operate.

If you’ve convinced yourself of that dehumanizing position, is there any point in explaining how you’re wrong?

As atheism only comprises nonbelief in God, there cannot ever be a statement of atheist ethical principles; only the ethical principles of individual atheists. This does not mean that atheists reject the idea of universal morality; it just means that not all atheists agree on what that morality entails.

Atheists are not in a unique situation here. There are certain moral issues where most everyone agrees. On the moral issues where people do not agree, members of the same religion often have different positions.

For instance, despite the official doctrine of the Church polls indicate that an high majority of Catholic women support the use of oral contraceptives. This is only one example of many.

How do you know what is right or wrong? People obviously believe different things are right or wrong. I don’t think you can tell without God or Religion (waits for massive attacks:p). Human nature falls incredibly short ot producing or deciding on any objective morality.

And yet not one atheist has stated a moral principle that he’s working with. All we’ve heard are opinions on issues.

Do they have a defined set of principles with which they approach these issues?

dehumanize : to deprive of human qualities, personality, or spirit

I fail to see how saying that you’re not working with a well-defined set of moral principles is dehumanizing. There are many people who funtion like this–those who believe in God and those who don’t. It seems to be human nature, in fact, to want to go it alone–to make it up as each issue arises–to let no one and nothing (a widely accepted set of principles, for example) determine how we will decide an issue. That can be a good thing, to a point. When you yourself, as a rugged individual, submitting to no authority,earthly or spiritual, can’t define the principles with which you are working, it’s self-imposed anarchy and chaos. It yields disorganized thinking and often directionless and baseless opinion rather than considered opinion.

Working like that, you may come to the right conclusion, because it seems that you are sensitive to the principles of fair play, especially, but if you don’t define that principle, how can you apply it to various issues with any clarity and consistancy with what you believe?

This is how some Christians, who say they are pro-life, fight abortion and support the death penalty. They are reacting to situations which are emotionally charged. They compare innocence to guilt and conclude that human beings have the right to kill certain guilty people.

Their mistake is that they’re basing their decisions on a guilt/innocence basis, when the true principle involved is the sanctity of all human life.

Not having a clearly defined principle to apply to these issues can yield a morally correct decision, but it can also lead to horrific errors.

This is why I ask you to define your principles–without knowing the basis for your decisions on issues, it’s impossible to understand how you’ve come to the conclusions you have.

An atheist here asked us to explain why we think the way we do. I’m asking atheists to do the same.

People obviously believe different things are right or wrong. I don’t think you can tell without God or Religion (waits for massive attacks).

Religious theists obviously believe different things are right or wrong.

Human nature falls incredibly short ot producing or deciding on any objective morality. /QUOTE

Objective morality, by definition, is not something that is “decided” or “produced” — whether by human instinct, cultural bias, or subjective preferences, human or supernatural.

How can one discern “objective moral truth” in a purely mechanical universe? The stars are silent. If a larger animal can eat a smaller animal, what makes it morally different (objectively) for the more powerful person to kill the less powerful person? To whom or to what do you appeal?

No matter how hard one huffs and puffs, one cannot create a moral absolute (objective morality) from a series of physical matter and energy interactions. One can stack up particulars as high as the Tower of Babel in an effort to create a universal and it just won’t work.

Magnus, you asserted that it is impossible to discern morality without God or religion. My claim is that God and religion have nothing to do with the solution, because religious people are themselves sharply divided on various ethical questions.

Because by definition it can’t be produced, we can’t have one unless an outside authority gives us one.

An authority outside of what? Morality? Doesn’t this make the omnibenevolence of God a bit of a tautology? Besides, I think we both know that moral statements express something other than interpretations of divine will. If I, as an atheist, say “murder is wrong,” do you think that I am declaring my belief that murder contradicts the will of God? Of course not! The particulars of what it is that I am claiming are an unsettled question of meta-ethics, but divine command theory is certainly not the most robust paradigm therein.

No matter how hard one huffs and puffs, one cannot create a moral absolute (objective morality) from a series of physical matter and energy interactions. One can stack up particulars as high as the Tower of Babel in an effort to create a universal and it just won’t work.

aileron isn’t talking about using the scientific method to create an ethical theory. He/She is talking about using science to further our understanding of whether ethics-related concepts like “harm,” “risk,” and “responsibility” are involved in certain scenarios.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit