Superiority of Secular Morality over Religious Systems


Ran across Matt Dillahunty’s lecture on the superiority of Secular Morality over Religious moral systems.

What I took from it was that the secular moral system starts from the subjective reference point that appears to be the most overlapping common goal of humans and human society: Human Well-Being. If after a discussion with everyone, there comes to be a better point of reference, then that will be adopted. No point of reference is held as infallible or unchanging. This does not mean the current reference point is open to just be chucked out without reason. You have to convince people why the target is wrong through argument and discourse and evidence. Everyone is allowed to the table to discuss what paths to use to attain that goal and all ideas are open for discussion but not all ideas are open to be entertained as an equally good idea. Such as in the subjective reference point of a healthy body, eating fruit is clearly better towards that goal of a healthy body over drinking battery acid. Secular systems hold no path as absolute though. This is because we do not know everything and after running the social experiment, we learn that path fails, we update our model with that new data and pick a better path. So if it fails after trying a particular social experiment, everyone is back to the table to discuss the new path to take with the new data from that failed experiment. The secular system can fail, but it has within the system a way to fix itself.

Let me know your thoughts after watching the video. If anyone has a link to a transcript on this, please post the link.


The 20th century was the trial run for secular morality. So, how well did that go? :sunglasses:


Matt who? Secular morality? Life is too short to watch blather.

  1. Genghis Khan?
  2. The Visigoths?
  3. Vikings?
  4. Roman emperors?

OK, let’s go a little more modern.

  1. Lenin?
  2. Stalin?
  3. Adolph?
  4. Mao?
  5. Pol Pot?
  6. Idi Amin?
  7. Nicolae Ceaușescu?

I’m a little slow on the uptake, but I see a trend developing here.


Most of these were religious.


You say so. Honestly, what religion teaches mass murder? Thus, how could a practitioner of any of those religions claim to be religious? Indeed, once a person renounces a belief system either formally, or by actions, can they reasonably be called religious?

Also, please demonstrate any - any - “secular” form of morality which does not directly derive its behavioral beliefs form surrounding cultural religions.


No, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Nicolae Caeusescu were all Communists. Techinically, Adolph Hitler was a form of socialist, still kind of in the same camp. Idi Amin was a African dictator. A despotic tyrant.

None of the moderns were religious. The older dudes on the first list? All Pagan.


If by religious, you mean not religious, I agree with you.

Which people on the list of non religious people do you think were religious?


Actually, the visigoths converted to Arian Christianity gradually during their conquests. But, your point pretty much still stands. There was no clearly defined doctrinal religious morality within arianism at the time of the conquests. This also doesn’t even take into account that, while nominally Arian, many remnants of pagan practices crept into the religion as a result of the conversion.


It’s the only logical path to progressing in a meaningful way to the benefit of all people. Finding a way to organize it better, will be a challenge.


I don’t believe this comment is accurate.

In my time in the military, I was alive to witness the fall of the Berlin Wall. So much had happened in Europe at that time - like a chain of events of country after country trying to free itself from the control of the former Soviet government.

I am amazed by the people who’d attempted to escape from the USSR - some successfully - many not so - at the cost of their lives - facing machine gun fire & landmines & that massive Wall.

With this “experiment” that had lasted close to 50 or so years, those that had lost their lives cannot conveniently rejoin the table to give their input on how to fix things that didn’t go right. Moreover, most were not even given a voice as to how they wanted to live their lives behind the Iron Curtain.

I remember, too, that while completing training in the military, the news appeared on tv of the lone man who stood before the tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square. I wonder what words he would bring to the table considering the “experiment” in his country is still ongoing…


The survivors have a voice for the voiceless now. The children and friends are there at the table telling their story of how the system failed. Much like the abolitionists and civil rights proponents are fighting for a better system that failed the slaves and minorities.


That’s assuming there are survivors. Yes, there are some, & no, there’re none: it depends. That’s also assuming they are even valued as human beings to have a voice - let alone be invited to the table.

The point still stands though. The dead cannot take their place at a table where they were not deemed by secular morality to have a place in it by acting contrarily to the demands of the state.


I read the OP (sorry couldn’t watch the video), and see a description of a secular moral system (not the only one, of course), but no comparison or argument as to how it is superior. Could you elaborate more on this point?


I agree the dead can not be at the table, but I don’t believe their experience is removed from the conversation. For example, look at the laws passed in Germany after WW2 and where that country is now for standing as an example for civil rights.
As for being invited to the table, at least there is a table in comparison to the moral system of the religious. Its divine command theory, a dictatorship. No one is allowed to that table ever. That is definionally one difference between the two systems.
Thats a good jumping off point, to compare and contrast the two systems, religious vs secular moral systems. I’ll go back over the film and see what points Matt talks about. Its rather lengthy though.


Sure thing, I’ll post points as I go back over it. Could someone post the description of the religious system so you don’t think I’ll be biased in making that myself?


Mao religious? He started his own religion and people had to worship him. Same can be said for Stalin and the others.


Oh, I think there is a “table” even in religious systems. Some tables may be bigger than others, depending on the specific religion. But most religions, if not all, do change or evolve in some way or another by means of their members’ input. On the flip side, secular systems also evolve, as pointed out by your summation of the video, but must there not also be certain premises or assumptions that guide the evolution of the secular system, premises founded on the moral values of the participants? In other words, are most functional secular systems completely divorced from morality, even if they do not pay heed to organized religious principles? The very title of your thread uses the term “secular morality.” What might that be if not a variation of religious morality?


Where did you ever get the idea that it’s a dictatorship???

I’ve been a Christian most of my life, & Ive never found it to be a dictatorship.


Dictatorship by definition alone. As to being good or bad dictator is a different discussion.


And the eastern side of the Berlin Wall wasn’t a dictatorship…?

Nor China?

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