Reason as the Leading Motive

How Can Atheists Have Morals?

Posted by Jerry on December 1, 2005

People keep asking me that. So, I'll just post these links on here that anyone can go read to understand how I explain my basis for morality. Ofcourse, if you want a more detailed and indepth analysis of those ideas, you might as well go study the source of many ideas that I subscribe to: The Philosophy of Objectivism.

God's Life Must be Boring

Morality of an Atheist

God's Limitations

Hmmm.. I also understand that none of my posts really and thoroughly explain the foundation of morals as objective. Well, I guess I never found that necessary to do because I already knew what that foundation is, and it's a waste of my time to repeat that which has already so powerfully and lucidly been explained by the philosophy of Objectivism. I have nothing new to add to it. Nonetheless, I did mount my own attempts of a defence of the Objectivist morality on some other debate forums of Catholics who were presumably unaware of such ideas.
They (those on that forum) believed quite lazily that if one has no God then one cannot have morals. So, for their sake, in that context, I explained my ideas. I've copy/pasted them here below. It's long. Read it if you like… scan through it if you want. Despite it's length, it's not exhaustive, it's not robust, it's not anywhere even close to an air-tight argument. For those things, you'll have to read books on philosophy that I am quite frankly incapable of writing for anyone. So here goes:

Why do we need morals? Because we humans are volitional beings and we make choices at every point in our lives. We are the only ones responsible for our own actions, and as such we must accept the blame or win the rewards of our actions appropriately. Some actions might lead to very positive and desired consequences, while some others might be detrimental or at least undesired. We need a system of knowledge to guide us into making the right choices that will enhance the condition of our rational lives.How do we decide what's right or wrong? Only through the use of our faculty of reason.Objective morality is possible and can only be achieved through reason and logic. Follow this train of thought: Logic, by its very nature, is strict, conservative, disciplined, and absolute. In other words, logic has a set path on which it follows based on necessity of reason. Every correctly logical argument can be recreated over and over again by anybody who practices and applies the laws of logic appropriately. Logic is non-contradictory. Thus, logic rejects subjectivism and relativism. There cannot be two entirely and essentially opposed statements that can be both logically correct at the same time.Reason and logic will only permit you to arrive at objective conclusions. A moral system can be fully built upon a logically strong and consistent foundation that is objective, so that it is applicable to all people at all times.In order to begin a discussion of morality, we need to understand what can be used as a universally accepted standard of morality, from which we can construct a value-system of good and bad:Human life is, can, and should be that universal standard. One's value for having life and living it. One's quality of being worthy of living. One's consciousness of all the necessary tools required for living. These are values that are objective. We can build a moral system on these things.

To lead a moral life, you need to first understand why you need to lead a moral life? Because you want to live in a certain way. Why do you want to live in a certain way? So that you can protect your own life and the lives of those dear to you and enhance the condition of your lives. So what do you do to achieve those values or protection and enhancement of lives? You identify universal rights that are necessary for a rational life. If you recognize that those are universal rights, then you also understand that others have those same rights as you do, and therefore they wish to live rational lives like you do too. If they do not wish to live rational lives, that is their choice… however, it is NEVER your prerogative to decide that for others. A brutish existence functions on the premise of decay, irrationality, impracticality – an immoral life is primarily an impractical lifestyle.

Reality exists as is. Our actions and behaviors and thoughts and ideas are all responses to the reality that we perceive and integrate within ourselves. The realm of MORALITY consists in the "HOW" and "WHY" of things… not in the "WHAT" or "WHERE" of things. “Morals” are not things-in-and-of-themselves. They are attributes of facts, existence, and consciousness. Morals are the "how" and "why" of reality and our responses, actions, behaviors, thoughts, and ideas in relation the actuality of existence. Just as there can be no dichotomy between mind and body, so there can be none between reality and morality. Morality should be properly seen as an attribute of reality itself.

Thus, MORALITY is not created or given to us by anyone. Morality is the rational application of our rights in the fact of living. Reality and existence — along with our conscious decision to remain in it, i.e., to stay alive — dictates and demands a specific code and method of action. Humans do not pursue the proper values to stay alive automatically; we must discover and choose them. The character and behavior of humans are facts existing in reality, which have effects on one's own well-being or on their decay.If you function on the standard of death, that is what you will get.If you function on the standard of life, and deem human life important and worth living, and seek the rational (REASONED, MINDFUL, LOGICAL) protection and enhancement of your life… then you will get a source of rights and morality to live by. This ground is a universal ground for all people who accept that "human life" is a universal value.Those who don't accept "human life" as a universal value, ofcourse will not be able function under the construction of those morals.


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