Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 7 years ago

How can an Atheist have morals?

How can you not believe in God and have morals? Without God i'd probaly be out killing people, raping people, molesting kids and hurting my own kids, robbing banks, stealing, cursing out everyone I see in site, cheating on my wife, beating my wife, hurting animals, and probaly hurting myself. But I believe in God so I don't do these things, because I know if I did I'd spend eternity in Hell. Without fear you can't be a good person.

32 Answers

  • Best Answer

    Can an atheist act in moral and ethical ways? Certainly, he can. All humans still retain the image of God upon them, even after the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. The image of God was effaced at the fall, but it was not erased, and so man still understands right and wrong no matter how many try to say otherwise. Even atheists react to this inherent knowledge of right and wrong, some even to the extent of living exemplary lives.

    C.S. Lewis put it this way: if a man sees another in danger, the first instinct is to rush to help (altruism). But a second voice intervenes and says, “No, don’t endanger yourself,” which is in keeping with self-preservation. But then a third voice comes into play and says, “No, you ought to help.” Where does that third voice come from, asks Lewis? This is what is referred to as the “ought-ness” of life. Morality is what people do, but ethics describe what people ought to do. And yes, people know what they ought to do, but that doesn’t mean that they always act according to that knowledge.

    The difference between the atheist and the Christian in this sense is that the atheist may act ethically for certain reasons (e.g., not wanting to go to jail, it disrupts social order, it makes them look good to others, etc.), but he has no ultimate reason for acting ethically because there is no ultimate moral authority that exists over each sphere of his life. Without this ultimate authority, each atheist defines morality on his own terms, although his morality is influenced by the remnants of morality from the image of God within, along with the strictures and constraints of the culture and society in which the atheist exists.

    The Christian, on the other hand, acts morally out of the knowledge of the moral law given by God in His Word and a love for the Law-giver Himself. In addition, that knowledge is continually increased and personalized by the indwelling Spirit of God, whose task it is to bring the Christian “into all truth” (John 16:13). From within believers, He directs, guides, comforts, and influences us, as well as producing in us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). To the atheist who is without the Spirit, God’s truth is “foolishness,” because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14), and the only fruit of righteousness is self-righteousness, not the righteousness of Christ.

    When confronted with a situation that demands both the Christian and the atheist to make moral choices, a situation in which societal constraints are removed, the reaction of each will be vastly different. If a society deems it morally acceptable to kill unborn babies, for instance, the atheist sees no reason to oppose the practice. His own “moral law” even tells him it’s the compassionate thing to do in cases where the child is the result of rape or incest. The Christian, however, knows abortion is wrong because his moral choices are built upon the moral Law-giver who has declared all human life to be sacred because it is created in the image of God. The Law-giver has proclaimed, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) and, for the Christian, there’s the end of it.

    So can an atheist act ethically? Certainly, but he has no ultimate reason to do so and no ultimate authority to look to in order to ensure his line is indeed straight and unbendable.

    Source(s): TR
  • 3 years ago

    Good, i am an atheist and i've morals. I dislike hurting others considering i do know that after I'm hurt it's unpleasant, and hence need to be disagreeable for other people too. This is referred to as empathy, and that i suppose it is a much better approach of determining correct from mistaken than simply doing as a publication commands like a heartless robotic slave. Doing as you're told shouldn't be fairly morality - it's obedience. It can be no different to killing any person on account that you are advised to do it; both way you're now not responsible in your actions, god is. Real morality is making a conscious decision to act in line with your own private judgement. The concept that existence is finite also makes me worth it extra, as i do know that this existence is our handiest danger of happiness and success. The thought of folks being killed upsets me, as i know that they may be no longer in some magical paradise - they're gone endlessly, and can't have an understanding of their unfulfilled lifelong desires.

  • 7 years ago

    Because morals do not come from god they come from social interaction.

    ...and if you want to "killing people, raping people, molesting kids and hurting my own kids, robbing banks, stealing, cursing out everyone I see in site, cheating on my wife, beating my wife, hurting animals, and probaly hurting myself." without superstition to hold you back then you need to see a therapist right now.

    • Joseph4 years agoReport

      Why? What makes a therapist right? No God = no right, no wrong. No good. No bad. Just different!

  • 7 years ago

    Good one.

    Because I have a normal brain, I am able to think about the consequences of my actions. I am able to think and feel the feelings of other people. I am able to put myself in their stead and try to understand how they see things. I am able to remember past actions and consequences and draw comparisons to today's decisions. I am able to read, learn new things, understand more concepts and ways of life.

    I am able to understand that sometimes, giving away stuff to others, will benefit me, or my family.

    I am able to understand that sharing with others will also benefit me in the long term.

    The education I received also enhanced my perception of moral dilemnas and how to answer.

    I can also understand that I have small chances of living peacefully in this world if I go robbing and lying to everybody.

    I am not a politician either.

    At no point do I need fear, to be a good person. It certainly can be a reason, but it is not The reason. There are just too many other reasons to be good, for goodness' sake.

    So..atheists, and all fellow humans, do have morals, as you know of course.

    The people who cannot be good without punishment, have a problem.

    • Joseph4 years agoReport

      I totally agree! Atheist can be very moral people. My question is why? And, if I choose not to be moral, on what basis can you judge or punish me. In a truly atheist world, there can be no wrongs to commit! Laws would be opinions.

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  • india
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    "Without God i'd probaly be out killing people, raping people, molesting kids and hurting my own kids, robbing banks, stealing, cursing out everyone I see in site, cheating on my wife, beating my wife, hurting animals, and probaly hurting myself."

    This is funny, but it's alarmingly true. That's why even though I think religion can be very harmful, I think we should leave its followers alone. A crisis of faith can be disastrous.

    EDIT: You guys are embarrassing me! Come on, he said that without fear you can't be a good person! This is obviously a poe. Why are atheists so easy to troll?!?!!? Have we lost our sense of humor?!

  • 4 years ago

    I have actually raped, murdered, beaten, cheated on and molested everyone I've ever wanted to... I just happen to WANT to do those things ZERO times. The god of the bible actually is ok with doing all of these things he listed. I am not ok with it. The prisons are FILLED with christians who have done all of these things and more 97.8% of the prison population identifies as christian compared to .02% who identify as atheists. The question should therefore be: How can you be moral if you believe Jesus will forgive you for any atrocity that you commit?

    • Joseph4 years agoReport

      You make good points but you betray yourself. You call certain acts attrocities. What is an attrocity in a purely atheistic world. None of the acts you list would be good or bad. They are only good or bad in an individual's point of view!

  • 7 years ago

    I am sick of this stupid question. are you really suggesting that before the bible was written people used to do all the things you list? Are you also suggesting that the only reason you have morals is because the bible tells you you will go to hell if you don't follow its rules? That doesn't say much for you does it?

    If it could be proved to you that the bible was just a book written by ordinary people and God did not exist would you suddenly start killing stealing and raping?

    I find it really insulting that christians think that atheists are not capable of forming moral judgements without an old book to tell them what to think.

    • Joseph4 years agoReport

      In an atheistic world, you die, cease to exist, go to oblivion. What's the point other than to pleasure yourself as long as you can before you're gone. There's nothing you can say to give life meaning. We all will cease to exist anyway!

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    We just do. We're taught these things pretty much right from when we're born. If your belief in a god is the only thing preventing you from killing, raping, and hurting, you need to be put in an asylum. I'm an atheist and I've never injured anyone (okay, I've hit my brother a few times, but I was little and I don't do it anymore) or killed anyone, or done anything violent.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    "Without God i'd probaly be out killing people, raping people, molesting kids and hurting my own kids, robbing banks, stealing, cursing out everyone I see in site, cheating on my wife, beating my wife, hurting animals, and probaly hurting myself"

    Go shoot yourself

  • Dean
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Either you are a troll or you're telling the truth. Either way I hate you. In fact, it's WORSE if you're a troll because I cannot abide dishonesty.

    Assuming you are telling the truth, you are living proof of what I've been saying for years; religion does not make you good, it just suppresses you and, in some cases, makes you worse,

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    It's called self-respect and the ability to observe clearly. A belief in God is not a prerequisite to see tje pain of others and be moved by it. In fact, mankind has survived specifically because we ARE a "social animal". Imagine a tribe of cave people surviving if they didn't work together and care about each other. Even elephants care about their members.

    As for morality, I recommend you familiarize yourself with the psychological studies on morality. Particularly with Kohlberg's theory of the stages of moral development.'s_s...

    As a footnote, it is interesting that many of those who believe in God are operating only about half-way up the ladder of moral development. In other words, for many it's a fear of punishment and they are hoping only to get out and stay out of trouble, spiritually speaking.

    Those whose morality operates as a reaction to fear are morally undeveloped. And of course they would not understand how one can be moral with fear.

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