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Atheist Morality


I was curious how atheists determine right and wrong. Without a command from G-d, isn’t good and evil just a matter of taste?

The google led me to a wealth of argument and testimony. Although they seem to spend far too much time berating non-atheists (mostly Christians), I saw an essential similarity in all the discussion.

Good, or right conduct, works out to be the same as what the faithful subscribe to. By culture and tradition, or for species survival, atheist morality seems to be rooted in the Golden Rule: Do on to others as you would have them do on to you.

The atheists seem very proud that they can reason their way to this shared conception without invoking a deity. They assure the audience that rape and murder are still wrong, and atheism is not (necessarily) just nihilistic hedonism. There are problems in the arguments I saw, but I expect those are issues of logical formality that somebody from Team Atheist has worked out.

What none of the readings offered was a way to decide between two crappy choices. That’s what life usually offers. And that’s what moral and ethical systems attempt to address.

It’s easy to affirm that murder is wrong. But what about deciding which person to save from a burning building? Or who to allow into a lifeboat?

Atheism, from my preliminary research, is powerless in these kinds of dilemmas. The Golden Rule doesn’t work when you can’t save everybody.

I expect the atheist response is to apply some kind of utilitarian measure. But, by utility, the first people to save are those in young maturity. The elders and the babies are societal burdens, so they must burn (or drown).

And if my guess is accurate, the moral system does not work. Utilitarian calculus treats humans and means to a societal end. Each individual person is expendable. This breaks the Golden Rule.

Perhaps there is an atheistic way to solve moral dilemmas. I’ll keep looking.