[quote=Flounder]I have a genuine question; I’m not just baiting atheist folks. And I freely admit I’m not up on the ins and outs of atheism.
If there is an atheistic scripture, then I must have missed the memo. I’d say every single atheist is unique, just like the theists.
What keeps an atheist following moral and ethical rules? Is it just the fear of being caught?
Every person has their own moral and ethical standards, much like theists. While theists also have an externally imposed benchmark to meet (that may or may not be at odds with personal morals), simply embracing a religious faith doesn’t imply that theists are automatically law-abiding and morally impeccable individuals, does it?
The shorter answer is: Because it’s the right thing to do.
I don’t know how much of a deterrent fear of getting caught really is – never mind the ethical deficiency of such reasoning. People that are morally depraved either accept punishment as the cost of “doing business” or consider themselves as too smart of getting caught.
Why care what happens to others outside of my immediate circle of loved ones? Why would I care about “society” if all I have is my 70 or so years on earth?
I’m not aware that caring for your fellow human beings was an exclusive domain of theists. Just to give an example, my understanding is that it was primarily atheists and freethinkers that successfully worked towards the abolishment of slavery. Again, just because atheists reject any claim of moral authority from the established churches doesn’t imply that their ethical and moral standards are inferior to theist’s, nor necessarily incompatible.
I have never tried to verify the numbers, but I have read that theist’s are ten times more likely to be imprisoned. If these numbers are correct, they put an entirely different complexion on this line of questioning.
If some 70-odd years is all you’ve got, you better make it count.
By the way, who is to say that there isn’t a non-theistic afterlife?