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Are Atheists Morally Superior To Theists?

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posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 12:32 PM
... the op asks the question, "are atheist more moral or less moral then theist?" why does it require a debate about religion or Christianity?
This is about morals and whether the acceptance of a God or rejection of a God determines whether or not ones belief to be more or less moral than the other. So why haven't you debated about where morals come from or what morals even are? Do you believe in universal morals or is it relative to the community you belong to?
....if you believe it is relative then you should not pretend to know the answer, since you believe there is none.
....if you believe it comes from God, then you are in line with Aquinas, Locke, Finnis, Blackstone, and other philosophers who believe in Natural Law. If you don't accept it as eternal law from God then you are in line with Kelsen, Fuller, Aristotle, and in part Blackstone as well.
....But those that reject universal morals also reject "reason" like Hume said, "reason is the slave to emotions" Some of these great minds have
found justifications to remove the necessity of God as being the source but ultimately never can defend their substitution. Kelsen with his "Basic norm" which just is. Look at Jus Gentium with its international law implications. International law depends on common basic principles, or universal morals that all can agree on.
What does any of this have to do with Christianity? Morals are universal and whether you believe the source to be God or the normative collective values of a society that have survived over time. They are still universal morals. You atheist...You Christians...have no dominion over what is.
"A wise man depends on reason; the ordinary man on experience; the stupid on necessity and the brutes on instinct" (Cicero) The anti-theist philosopher's reject "reason" because it is conceptual and subjective. They rely on the empirical. The truth belongs to the thoughtful, rational, reasoned man.
.....religion is a problem for some Christian in that pursuit "almost" as much as it is for some atheist that is blinded by hatred of religion.

There are universal morals and so there are only differnet degrees of obfuscations to their understanding, perfection and practice. atheist and Christian alike.

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 03:27 PM
Your title confused me. I thought it was going to be directly --> the belief in God. Instead, it's more towards Dogma versus non-Dogma.

You suggest rationality has an intrinsic relationship with morality. Which I would largely agree with (to an extent). However, I would argue that atheists are more 'rational' to begin with..

Excluding dogma, the belief in no God is just as much faith based as the belief in *God. Both are convictions that do not offer tangible proof. Science is limited to the Post-Big Bang (obviously God existing pre-BB), and belief in God is limited to personal mystical experience or faith in another's mystical experience. The more rational stance would be agnostic (which I am not).

As for Dogma: If you relinquish your rationality to an outside agency you're completely faithing your morality. That is either a very moral thing to do, or a very immoral thing to do

*Alpha Omega, not White Bearded Man.

[edit on 4-12-2008 by Lucid Lunacy]

posted on Dec, 4 2008 @ 08:33 PM
These are all excellent points. Though i think what we have here are many different perspectives/projections of peoples' varying degrees of receptivity. I think my OP represents a mirror, objective reflection and deep self-analysis is not common among believers. The search has never been long or challenging, for all the answers are provided for in one source.

Atheists and agnostics of a free society (communism leaves very little room for free-thinking, much like religions provide blinders/censorship to it's followers) are accustom to hiking a road less traveled and as a result of committing one's self to independent research, are exposed to a wider spectrum of reality. It is through this quest for the truth that we find morality without conditions or filters.

For instance when an atheist does good for no ulterior motive but to do good for good sake... such a person is more altruistic then a saint. For a saint has a reward in heaven for his good deeds and a punishment in hell if he sins. Same concept would apply to a Hindu, what you come back as in your next life could be more like heaven or more like hell depending on how moral you are in this life.

As for a belief in god without the aid of religion or affiliation, we are leaning toward an eclectic new-agey spiritual approach, which gives room for one to find the common thread of morality that runs throughout all the philosophy's and religions of the world... giving one a code of morals that is more honest and less hypocritical then those mandated by a single source/religion.

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion."
~ Abraham Lincoln

[edit on 4-12-2008 by The All Seeing I]

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 02:18 AM
reply to post by The All Seeing I

good points.
but even without religion, affiliations will still rise. - a free society if you will? - as in nothing to tell you are right, you are wrong, you are as right as you feel you are (I can already live this way). but Someone will establish something to follow. As much as I would like to believe that we are at a point in time, where we can just say "hey from here on out its ancestral ethics" I just infer something is right or wrong based off how my parents describe it to me. - I disagree - someone will create a manifesto to abide by.
(smart trained rational men & women of course)

I will use Christianity as an example of means to my next point:
Teaching to hate sin and not the sinner is to justify forgiveness - love thy neighbor - pretty simple.

I will use Naturalism as an example of a more specific atheistic standpoint:
Teaching to forgive one another, for all are a product of their environment.
The situation shapes the behavior, so hate the situation.

The primary difference - one will constantly change.
but I will say, both systems ask for a progressiveness from the heart.

Naturalist do not believe in divine justice - but they don't have to because they have not blamed anyone, only the situation. - So the teaching goes how to always avoid the situation; or take away the situation all together, so that one cannot experience it.

If a gun can be used to kill someone, take them away.
If gambling leads to stress and bankruptcy, take it away.
If money leads to greed and competitiveness, take it away.

Even though there are many more (all hypothetical), even some I can certainly agree with, the problem I have is the constant restriction/change.

Now considering some people might not agree with this, it is in agreement with how some can explain the world. Even if to the point of exposing a scientific no-free-will doctrine, that explains human behavior beyond self-responsibility. Someone in power will only preach to keep each-other in line - how to fix human behavior? by constantly changing our environment, into a "utopia" way of life.

you can even say your opinions slowly will not ven matter anymore, you are just a puppet in mother nature's show, take appreciation in her, she is every cause you can be thankful for. "thankful for?" - Now it's starting to to sound more like a religion into some organized way of understanding to affiliate the myriad opinions so that we can achieve peace. - a peace of restricted happiness bound by any men in a leadership position -
(you can imagine why modern religion has lasted as long as it has)

I know what I wrote was a slippery-slope - it wasn't meant to be that realistic - we all just don't fit into a category so black and white.
I just know a lot of theism is in relation to "fate" as well as free-will.
just trying to open the discussion

If you want my honest opinion, I think religious doctrine has more cons than no doctrine at all - I also think it has more pros than no doctrine at all.

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 02:43 AM
religion is does not cause war but is an excuse for war. society will continue to ostrisise people whom are culturelly or otherwise differnet from themselves. war and violence will always be part of the human condition. war is more about people being different from others, greed, money, and power than religion ever was. i cant stand when people say religion causes so much pain and violence, its not true. its the nature of human to wage war no matter the theology or reason. this is the way it has alwaays been and always will be.

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 03:15 AM
reply to post by Clearskies

Morally superior atheists like Stalin, Mao or the other communist, atheist despots of South America, Africa and Europe?

No, those are morally inferior atheists. As you said, nobody's perfect.

Never forget that the crimes of Stalin et al. are, in the end, the fault of the God you believe in - or would be if he really existed - since he could have prevented every one of them, yet chose to do nothing.

This is not only clear to any plain-thinking person; it is supported by 'holy' writ, which tells us that God accepted responsibility for the sins of the world.

But since his punishment for ages upon ages of evil and suffereing was merely to put himself to death for three days, he obviously doesn't take his responsibilities very seriously.

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 05:04 AM

Originally posted by The All Seeing I
For instance when an atheist does good for no ulterior motive but to do good for good sake... such a person is more altruistic then a saint. For a saint has a reward in heaven for his good deeds

You seem to be concluding the Atheist does good purely goodness sake. I am sure there exists some truly altruistic atheists, but are there enough that you can make it generally true of atheists?

Of course we all know heaven isn't the only reward for Goodness. We have some tangible ones here on Earth; we are social creatures that are ever cognizant of what our fellow peers think of us. Probably why most people have to tell other people about all the 'good' things they do

Besides, one could argue that 'doing good for Goodness sake', is ultimately for the associated feeling of experiencing Goodness. This would make it selfish as well, and therefore possibly exempt from being altruistic to begin with
(being devil's advocate on that one).

Another point, the Saint could be doing goodness for the same reasons the Altruistic Atheist is, in addition to his belief in divine reward. In fact, most likely is. The Saint doesn't become a Saint unil after he/she dies
While on Earth they are still human. Still the social creature. Still ever cognizant of what their peers think of their Goodness. Still experiencing the feelings associated with Goodness. They just add another reason, not a replacement reason.

The real question is: does it matter to us?

Is the Goodness of the Atheist more good then the Goodness of the Saint? Is altruistic Goodness more good for everyone outside of that person? Or, is Goodness simply Goodness to everyone else, regardless of why?...

[edit on 5-12-2008 by Lucid Lunacy]

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 09:40 PM
I think it's important if not paramount to make a distinction here.

A clear and accurate self-awareness in one's honest intentions to make a positive change in the world, is key in defining moral character.

Unfortunately we have many if not most believers thinking they are doing good but in reality are doing bad things to our society... doing things that no independent free-thinker would ever dream of doing in the name of progress or goodwill.

ie in our current day:
teaching abstinence and creationism in school,
outlawing abortion,
cutting off funding for stem cell research,
banning gay marriage,
government funding church programs
voting for a candidate based on his/her religious affiliation

As for the inclination, to do good for the sole purpose of raising one's own self esteem, either with the aid in show off to others or not, this is a flaw in the human condition which most of us are guiltily of at one time or another.

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 10:06 PM
An evil man will do evil things and a good man will do good things. Only religion can make a good man do evil things... Therefore Atheists are morally superior.

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 10:13 PM
reply to post by The All Seeing I

More people have been killed for evolution than God! Hitler, Mao, Stalin and the whole nine yards were not killing for GOD but to better the race and rid it of what they found to be Sub-Humans in their eyes...

posted on Dec, 5 2008 @ 10:22 PM
As i had stated before there is very little room for independent free-thinking in a dictatorship. Essentially Hitler, Mao & Stalin were equivalent to gods and the governments they gave shape to were a kin to religions. Such ideologies are a form of gospel, dogma where one's sense of morality is skewed/twisted to serve the "higher power" in command.

[edit on 5-12-2008 by The All Seeing I]

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 04:15 AM

Originally posted by theindependentjournal
reply to post by The All Seeing I

More people have been killed for evolution than God! Hitler, Mao, Stalin and the whole nine yards were not killing for GOD but to better the race and rid it of what they found to be Sub-Humans in their eyes...

Do you ever bother to read ANY of the replies I make to you? Like I said in another thread, the "Evolution" preached by Hitler was an evil, twisted form of what the actual theory says.

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 04:16 AM
As for this topic, what is moral superiority? Every atheist I know is more open to learning and tolerant of other cultures than most religious people I know. If that's the definition we're going with, sure.

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 06:39 AM
"Atheists are..."

"The Religious are..."

blablablablabla...anything that comes after those words are generalizations.

Once you pinpoint an atheist who is morally corrupt, someone will show you an atheist who is morally sound.

Once you pinpoint a religious person who is morally corrupt, someone will show you a religious person who is morally sound.

The neverending atheist/theist discussion is an exercise in futility. Those posting on this specific site are usually not your average atheist or theist but extremists with an agenda.

Who is more "morally superiour" overall? I could find loads of evidence against and for both sides.

So that must mean we are asking the wrong question.

How about this one: What factors make people (no matter their belief-system) behave morally or ethically?

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 12:19 PM

Originally posted by Skyfloating
How about this one: What factors make people (no matter their belief-system) behave morally or ethically?

I will agree, we use generalizations to deduct individual circumstances to sound more correct.

What factors make people behave morally/ethically?

The pleasures of ones self and others to justify an action.

Utilitarianism is described as the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people - majority always rules.

Altruism may be seen as similar to utilitarianism, however an essential difference is that the latter prescribes acts that maximize good consequences for all of society, while altruism prescribes maximizing good consequences for everyone except the actor.

Absolute selflessness.

Now, If you exclude any teachings, then you are relying on "facts" to create "values". A philosophical problem with this that our "current values" determine how we evaluate any science/philosophy in shaping our understanding to determine what "ought" form what "is".

Another view is from Friedrich Nietzsche:

Nietzsche asserts that what made a people great was not the content of their beliefs, but the act of valuing. Thus the values a community strives to articulate are not as important as the collective will to see those values come to pass


In other words - even if we come to understanding an "ought", it is our will - our strive - amount of effort - our sincere struggle to achieve what we believe "ought" to be - that is how we would determine how much we value the belief in concerns with our morality. You can already see this in terms of how we determine what is understandably "evil" in today's society, from the struggles and determination of those before us, we see the importance, we see the emotion, and the willful concern of how things should be (or at least, should have been at that time)

[edit on 6-12-2008 by juveous]

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 02:06 PM
When you look at most religions they are moral, but man can take anything moral and make it immoral and still profess it is the original version. I think if anyone follows a moral doctrine whether it is based on religion or not will reinforce them to be moral in their actions and thought.

When you look at history, the greatest evils of man have been based on non-religion ideals. Even though you can point to many religious crimes against humanity these are pale in comparison to non-religious crimes against humanity, and one can argue that the religious ones are not actually following religious doctrine, but corrupted interpolations of religion doctrine for nonreligious reasons such as greed, power, politics etc…

Just because someone high up in a church, king, dictator or president says "this is a religious cause" doesn't make it a religious cause, especially when it goes against the teachings of that religion.

In the end though, man is an aggressive hunter that not only wants to dominate the world but each other, much of this is because we are weak, slow and vulnerable and we needed this vicious behavior to survive throughout the ages. Though we do not need it anymore it doesn’t mean we can just erase our genetic makeup, and so it is as part of us as anything else... it is who we are...

[edit on 6-12-2008 by Xtrozero]

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 02:12 PM

Originally posted by FSBlueApocalypse
As for this topic, what is moral superiority? Every atheist I know is more open to learning and tolerant of other cultures than most religious people I know. If that's the definition we're going with, sure.

You must be joking....

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 09:21 PM

Originally posted by Xtrozero

Originally posted by FSBlueApocalypse
As for this topic, what is moral superiority? Every atheist I know is more open to learning and tolerant of other cultures than most religious people I know. If that's the definition we're going with, sure.

You must be joking....

What part?

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 10:21 PM
The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.

It needs to be said that Hitler did what he did with the tacit approval of the HRCC, a sly nudge and a wink if you will. Hardliners and zealots thought he might accomplish in a decade what they had failed to accomplish in more than a millenia - the eradication of the Jews. It was the doctrine of the church and their own 'passionate' history of persecution of the Jews that lent credence to the madman's plan. It was the majority-Christian German populace that followed the man.

Here are some wonderful photos showing just how atheist the Nazis were.

If you believe the Nazis weren't self-proclaimed Christians, the vast majority of 'em, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

The underlying point though is the presumption of right causes catastrophe - the presumption of right for which religion is famous. If your entire power structure is based off the notion of divine guidance and divine right, it's hard to admit you made a mistake, harder to fix it, and almost impossible to entertain alternate viewpoints. What, God changed his mind, and now it's cool? There is no debating dogma. If they admit they're wrong about anything, it calls into question the whole host of their beliefs, if you'll excuse the pun.

If you look at the statistics, you'll see that it's not religion that's wrong, not exactly. Judaism is a religion, and yet Jews make up a disproportionately small percentage of the prison population. It's the nature of their religion that separates them from the gaggle of church-going criminals.

It's the supreme belief in one's own rightness - I think agnostics have the distinct advantage here, over atheists and theists. Let's not presume. Let's keep our eyes open and our mouths shut, and try not to bet any human life, let alone one not belonging to us, on the accuracy of ancient parable or the trendy, noveau interpretation thereof.

Anyway, I digress. Y'all should have said Pol Pot and not Hitler.

As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.

posted on Dec, 6 2008 @ 11:01 PM
Excellent point on the nazis, a detail i had come across when i was researching/writing a tinwiki entry on nazism (still a work in progress), but i had complete forgot about this often ignored/unknown fact, next time i'm tweaking my entries i'll have to add this.

Nazi belt buckles with the words GOTT MIT UNS (God is with us)

The following are a variety of quotes and oaths that reconfirm that the nazis were believers:

"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany."
-Hermann Göring

"I swear before God this holy oath, that I shall give absolute confidence to the Fuehrer of the German Reich and people."
-Heinrich Himmler, reminding his hearers about the oath taken by all SS men as well as by the military forces

"Bolshevism denies religion as a principle, fundamentally and entirely. It recognizes religion only as an "opium for the people". For the help and support of religious belief, however, National Socialism absolutely places in the foreground of its program a belief in God and that transcendental idealism which has been destined by Nature to bring to expression the racial soul of a nation."
-Joseph Goebbels, 1935

"We have a feeling that Germany has been transformed into a great house of God, including all classes, professions and creeds, where the Fuhrer as our mediator stood before the throne of the Almighty."
-Joseph Goebbels, in a broadcast, April 19, 1936

"I swear by God this sacred oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that I shall at all times be prepared, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath." - Wehrmacht Oath

"I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Führer and Chancellor of the German Nation, loyalty and bravery. I vow to you and to my superiors designated by you obedience to the death. So help me God." - Waffen SS Oath


In summary of this particular aspect/example, i think it's safe to say that with any dictatorship ... the dictator is god or at the least a kin to god.
So whether a society/country has religion present or not, when you are under the rule of a dictator/god one does not have the freedom to think for one's self.

[edit on 6-12-2008 by The All Seeing I]

[edit on 6-12-2008 by The All Seeing I]

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