Morality Without Religion?


#1

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” George Washington, from his Farewell Address



Powerful words, and a great antidote to the current campaign of atheists nationwide to remove any mention of God from the public square.

Perhaps this thread could be dedicated to any atheists who want to dispute Washington’s view on the necessary connection between morality and religion.

Let’s begin with the following question to atheists/agnostics:

Do you believe that morality is a necessary spring for the public welfare?

If so, how would you create a national consensus of right and wrong (which is needed to enforce any law) in the absence of religion?

Any takers?


#2

Let me clarify my question.

Suppose the atheist/agnostic dream was realized. Suppose the whole world came to its senses and abandoned all religion. How then would morality be passed on from one generation to the next so that there would be a moral glue that holds people together with common laws?

Would each generation have to start from scratch and create its own morality, since there would be no binding tradition to which the vast majority must pay heed?

How would this be done? Would morality have to be imposed by legal sanctions. Who would be entitled to impose those sanctions? The majority? But what if there is no majority, and instead there are only pluralities? Which plurality would prevail in defining the laws? The plurality with the greatest number of troops?

Is right then to be defined only by military or police might?


#3

I don’t think you are going to get any takers on this. This is a hot potato to atheists. :slight_smile:


#4

Buffalo

I think you are right. It was worth a try.


#5

[quote=Gilbert Keith]Suppose the whole world came to its senses and abandoned all religion.
[/quote]

Is it not what’s happening today?


#6

Gosh, this is an interesting question! I mean, if someone says to me “I don’t need religion, I just follow my conscience and I know the difference between right and wrong” the question becomes who makes the determination for you - what is your ultimate authority? Eventually it would have to come back to a religion of some sort, right? If not then you have the old “what’s good for you may not be good for me” argument which has pretty well shot itself in the foot (in my opinion, I know I know):slight_smile:


#7

Unfortunately I have come across this attitude. They have a way around it. Well, not athiests, because you still need to believe in a god, but agnostics.

The person I was speaking with had stated that we don’t need religion, it’s just a man made institution full of corruption, blah blah blah…

they just follow their conscience. They don’t need a “church” to tell them right from wrong.

The basic defense is that there is a God but that He did not intend for all of this “religion”. He gave us a conscience so we could use it. We don’t need help.

Now, it is impossible to make them understand the flaws in their argument if they aren’t open to hearing it…but I pray. Pray with me, please.

Malia


#8

Feanaro’s Wife

Now, it is impossible to make them understand the flaws in their argument if they aren’t open to hearing it…

Why aren’t they open to hearing it?


#9

I disbelieve that there are any true atheists.


#10

BOGEY

I disbelieve that there are any true atheists.

And I salute a fellow knight!


#11

barsapp

Is it not what’s happening today?

So it would seem … and we see the results in the decline of morality throughout America and Europe.

Yet we know there is hope that all this will turn around. It will turn around mostly by the grace of God. But God does not expect us to sit on our hands while He rains down all that grace.


#12

****I am sure there are plenty of moral people who do not practice a theology, however imagine if one did not have the free will to choose to be a better moral person because of their theology, I feel the world would be in a state of complete disruption.

Again back to free will, and how we apply our morals, etc.

Sara**]**


#13

Bogey

By the way, we should remember that it was as a result of the 1952 campaign by the Knights of Columbus that the “under God” phrase was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. As you know, this is the same phrase that was recently thrown out of the pledge by a Federal judge.

But the matter will of course be settled in a higher court. It will be interesting to see if the higher court sustains the view of the atheist Michael Newdow or the view of George Washington in his Farewell Address.


#14

[quote=Gilbert Keith]Why aren’t they open to hearing it?
[/quote]

They hear, but they don’t care. Morality without religion: relativism.
Luke 18:8: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
you can imagine the answer…


#15

We often hear it said by the modern secularists that the founding fathers were Deists rather than Theists. In any case, by and large they saw the connection between religion and morality as a fundamental need. They certainly were not atheists, not even Jefferson, the most liberal of them excepting Thomas Paine…

Benjamin Franklin’s remarks are just one example of this sentiment.

At the Constitutional Convention, 1787, James Madison recorded the following remarks made by Benjamin Franklin to the president of the Convention:

**"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – *that God governs in the affairs of men. ***And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel; We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Government by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

"I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.”

Mr. Sherman seconded the motion.

**

**


#16

I think many intelligent athiests would say that one can not believe in God but still be a moral absolutist. Did not Socrates say in Plato’s Euthyphro, “is what is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” If we try to say that right and wrong are only right and wrong because of Divine Command, we run the risk of falling into Luther’s view rejecting natural law.


#17

I think many intelligent athiests would say that one can not believe in God but still be a moral absolutist.

Can you name one living today?

How can an atheist be a moral absolutist if he does not believe in the Absolute?


#18

[quote=Gilbert Keith]I think many intelligent athiests would say that one can not believe in God but still be a moral absolutist.

Can you name one living today?

How can an atheist be a moral absolutist if he does not believe in the Absolute?
[/quote]

I’m not sure of the religious views of many philosophers, but as far as men who separated morality from God but maintained absolute moral principles…the list could go on forever, Kant, Rawls, Fuchs, etc… Even Aquinas said that natural law could be determined separate from divine inspiration. This of course gives an incomplete picture of the truth, but provides absolute values nonetheless.

PS I’m not saying I agree with these men, but simply that it is unfair to characterize all athiests as relativists. It is not only incorrect but would suggest that moral absolutes are not attainable through reason but only divine inspiration. This is blatantly against traditional Catholic philosophy and was one of the main points Martin Luther promoted.


#19

If you truly believe there is no God then everything is permissible. Life then becomes what is called TEGWAR the Exciting Game Without Any Rules. You can lie, cheat, steal and kill and basically do whatever you can get away with.

Of course, Governments can do the same. They can impose forced abortions and sterilisations as well as mandatory euthanasia for those who meet certain negative criteria, including political opponents.

Starting to sound familiar?


#20

[quote=Eileen T]If you truly believe there is no God then everything is permissible.Of course, Governments can do the same. They can impose forced abortions and sterilisations as well as mandatory euthanasia for those who meet certain negative criteria, including political opponents. Starting to sound familiar?
[/quote]

As Dostoevsky writes, “If there is no God, all is permitted”. There are no morals without God. Attempts to build an atheistic morality ended, end and will end in totalitarianism. No matter the disguise.


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