HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Religion & Spirituality » Atheists & Agnostics (Group) » The 'source of morality' ...

Thu Apr 11, 2013, 09:02 PM


The 'source of morality' thread..

..IS kinda cool, as of this moment. It's so apparent just scrolling down the page that, for once, the very idea that people can be 'good without gods' isn't being attacked from all believing sides. For once there's actual exploration of the inherent nuances involved in the topic. How should the phenomenon even be studied? Via evolutionary psychology? Or social psych? Or plain old psychology?

The point being.. by which '-ology'.. not, 'whose god is the biggest mushroom'?



You smell *great*. What's that you're wearing?

8 replies, 1108 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply The 'source of morality' thread.. (Original post)
Phillip McCleod Apr 2013 OP
gcomeau Apr 2013 #1
Phillip McCleod Apr 2013 #5
Zoeisright Apr 2013 #2
JNelson6563 Apr 2013 #3
onager Apr 2013 #4
deucemagnet Apr 2013 #6
onager Apr 2013 #7
deucemagnet Apr 2013 #8

Response to Phillip McCleod (Original post)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 12:52 PM

1. I'm a little surprised...


...that the "you need God" crowd hasn't really shown up at all in there. The entire thread is the OP getting schooled on what the real world nature of ethical and moral systems is with hardly a peep out of any of the "morals come from God because he is the ultimate good and even if you don't believe in him he put them in you anyway and is the ultimate absolute standard" crowd.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to gcomeau (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 07:20 PM

5. exactly!


that's what makes it kinda awesome.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Phillip McCleod (Original post)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 04:46 PM

2. The source of morality is evolution, plain and simple.

Banding together was the only way human beings made it. And being kind to each other was the only way to stand banding together.

The most "christian" people I have known have been the meanest, most judgmental, cruelest people in the world. And that's WITH the threat of "eternal damnation".

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Zoeisright (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 05:22 PM

3. That's been my experience too!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Zoeisright (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 06:46 PM

4. Our furrier cousins also have morals

Interesting piece published 6 days ago on ABC News. Obviously unreliable, since the scientist is an atheist:

Do We Need God to be Moral?

COLUMN By LEE DYE - April 7, 2013

One of the world's leading primatologists believes his decades of research with apes answers a question that has plagued humans since the beginning of time.

Are we moral because we believe in God, or do we believe in God because we are moral?

Frans de Waal argues in his latest book that the answer is clearly the latter. The seeds for moral behavior preceded the emergence of our species by millions of years, and the need to codify that behavior so that all would have a clear blueprint for morality led to the creation of religion, he argues...

Through years of research all over the world, de Waal has reached these basic conclusions: Chimps and bonobos and other primates clearly show empathy with others who are suffering. They have a sense of fairness, they take care of those in need, and they will share what they have with others who are less fortunate.


"Sense of fairness, share what they have?" Obviously no evolutionary link between chimps and Congressional Republicans, then...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to onager (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 07:27 PM

6. While I find studies of altruism in primates to be fascinating,

be aware that Frans de Waal is also responsible for this piece of sanctimonious twaddle that projects dogma upon non-believers:

Has militant atheism become a religion?
Can the gap between the religious and the non-religious be bridged, when the debate itself is so attention-getting?
By Frans de Waal

Excerpted from "The Bonobo and the Atheist"

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.
— Jonathan Swift

One quiet Sunday morning, I stroll down the driveway of my home in Stone Mountain, Georgia, to pick up the newspaper. As I arrive at the bottom—we live on a hill—a Cadillac drives up the street and stops right before me. A big man in a suit steps out, sticking out his hand. A firm handshake follows, during which I hear him proclaim in a booming, almost happy voice, “I’m looking for lost souls!” Apart from perhaps being overly trusting, I am rather slow and had no idea what he was talking about. I turned around to look behind me, thinking that perhaps he had lost his dog, then corrected myself and mumbled something like, “I’m not very religious.”

This was of course a lie, because I am not religious at all. The man, a pastor, was taken aback, probably more by my accent than by my answer. He must have realized that converting a European to his brand of religion was going to be a challenge, so he walked back to his car, but not without handing me a business card in case I’d change my mind. A day that had begun so promisingly now left me feeling like I might go straight to hell.

I was raised Catholic. Not just a little bit Catholic, like my wife, Catherine. When she was young, many Catholics in France already barely went to church, except for the big three: baptism, marriage, and funeral. And only the middle one was by choice. By contrast, in the southern Netherlands—known as “below the rivers”—Catholicism was important during my youth. It defined us, setting us apart from the above-the-rivers Protestants. Every Sunday morning, we went to church in our best clothes, we received catechism at school, we sang, prayed, and confessed, and a vicar or bishop was present at every official occasion to dispense holy water (which we children happily imitated at home with a toilet brush). We were Catholic through and through.

But I am not anymore. In my interactions with religious and nonreligious people alike, I now draw a sharp line, based not on what exactly they believe but on their level of dogmatism. I consider dogmatism a far greater threat than religion per se. I am particularly curious why anyone would drop religion while retaining the blinkers sometimes associated with it. Why are the “neo-atheists” of today so obsessed with God’s nonexistence that they go on media rampages, wear T-shirts proclaiming their absence of belief, or call for a militant atheism? What does atheism have to offer that’s worth fighting for?


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to deucemagnet (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 07:54 PM

7. Thanks! I sort of suspected that...

...from his quotes about his own atheism in the article I linked.

I see that attitude a lot from non-American atheists when I roam the Internet. Especially Europeans like de Waal:

"What's the big deal? What are you 'merikin atheists so upset about? Religion is virtually dead in Europe these days. And you have separation of church and state written right into your Constitution."

"Yes we do. We also have a passle of well-funded asshats who are trying to change that every day. So MAYBE THAT'S WHY WE'RE SO TOUCHY ABOUT THIS STUFF."

(Sample dialogue only, didn't really happen in exactly those words. For any lurking pedants and hair-splitters from That Other Group.)

Long as I'm here...I get similar arguments from a Republican atheist I work with. He gets really irked with FFRF and AA trying to change the Pledge of Allegiance or remove "In Cthulthu We Trust" from the money:

"What's the big deal? It's been there 50/100/n years and we're not a theocracy yet."

"Because it should never have been there in the first place. THAT'S the big deal."

I have to admit, I get nowhere in these kind of arguments. Except frustrated.

In my blackest moments, I imagine myself someday hearing: "What's the big deal? It's only a short train ride, to a nice camp where all of us non-believers will be together..."

Just kidding. Sort of.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to onager (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 12, 2013, 08:21 PM

8. Glad to be of help!

I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not posted his Salon piece in this forum and recognized the name. The same piece caused a dust-up in both GD and Religion.

Yet, regardless of the attitude of the author, the bonobo studies are still fascinating!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread