Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Morals of an Atheist

It’s about time I do a post that I can simply link to whenever somebody asks me just what I base my morals on without the possibility to look to the perfect word of a divine creator. How can there be objectivity when I can’t stick to God’s written rules?
The answer is actually quite simple. My morals are based on compassion and, well, Just a Little Common Sense: “suffering” is bad, “happiness” is good – so I seek to minimize harm and maximize pleasure. Empathy makes me recognize that other people too seek happiness, each according to their own subjective definition of what “happiness” is, and reason tells me that cooperation and a mutual agreement not to stand in each other’s way is the most efficient way for all of us to achieve that.
The fact that (mentally healthy) human beings are capable of empathy is also the reason why cooperation is a better way to achieve happiness than an ego-trip and stepping on other people’s heads to climb a little higher: Seeing others suffer is a bad feeling in itself. Causing others to suffer even more so. Creating happiness for others, on the other hand, is a great source for our own happiness.
Most people would agree that not having to worry about existential problems and having a fulfilling social life fits the definition of a happy life better than making a dad you hated proud by becoming rich and despised all on your own.

So really, being good without god doesn’t really have much to do with godlessness. Coincidentally, being good with god doesn’t, either. Wether you’re a believer or not, try to just be nice to people and trust that they’ll be nice in return. As a general rule, whether one is religious or not has little bearing on this one way or the other. I’d venture to say that religious belief is more of a hinderance than a help in leading a good life, but that’s a topic for another post.

The bottom line of this one is that religion sure as fuck is not a prerequisite.