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Thread: Atheist's moral codes

  1. #1 Atheist's moral codes 
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    Religious people refer to their scriptures to define moral codes; what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is evil. Do atheists have moral codes? If yes, what are they based on?


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  3. #2 Re: Atheist's moral codes 
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Religious people refer to their scriptures to define moral codes; what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is evil. Do atheists have moral codes? If yes, what are they based on?
    Yes, most atheists have moral codes. [Most also have noses, two ears, and ten toes, too.]

    They develop their moral codes with reference to their life experience, education, and, in some cases, early religious training.

    Their moral codes seldom have a single source, such as the Bible, Torah, or Qur'an, and are seldom static, but develop over time as the individual's understanding grows.

    It can be argued that atheists have a more highly developed moral code, as they do not have a single and infallible source which they can follow, but must re-evaluate and refine their personal codes with each ethical or moral decision.


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    I actually was thinking about this recently. I started the thread below with the thought that the principle I posed in that thread would be the basis for a principle-based morality. I was in a discussion on another website where my 'opponents' insisted that God (not necessarily religion) was the absolute basis for any moral codes (they may be correct...). However, they admitted that no one could read the mind of God, and hence, we may not always be able to access the moral code they allude to. Anyway, I proposed the principle you'll find in the link below....

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/morality-4777t.php

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  5. #4 Re: Atheist's moral codes 
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Religious people refer to their scriptures to define moral codes; what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is evil. Do atheists have moral codes? If yes, what are they based on?
    I'm an atheist and I base my morals on my upbringing, integrity, honor, logic, emotion, and what I think is right or wrong. I do have Christian involvement, but my non belief in God kind of negates that.

    Actually, I find myself agreeing with J...

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    Thanks for all responses. The thread referred by William is quite long, but interesting. I will read it through, slowly.

    A few have suggested what the moral codes should be. But it seems to based on tradition, upbringing, experience etc. I would like to search deeper into the basic assumption. Whether our moral codes increase our chance of survival, spreading our gene in the gene pool? Are they for the betterment of society, or ourselves? Why should they be so? etc.
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    it's been my experience that atheists and agnostics live their lives by a very high standard since they do not believe in an afterlife in which to makeup for their shortcomings in this one. atheists that i know are very moral people with an amazingly positive outlook on life.
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    As an athiest myself i think my morals come from my parents(also athiests) and a good source of empathy for my fellow man as well as for animals even though i eat a small portion of the species on the planet

    I think religious people have the same morals from the same places as athiests and dont believe its solely based on their religion.
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    Im not sure if 'Code' is the best word to apply here.

    Perhaps 'Moral Trend', 'Moral Fashion' or maybe 'Moral Comfort Zone'

    There really isn't much difference between the moral origins of religous and non religious individuals. Those who base their morality from biblical text may fallow a more strict regimate but those morals still had to be learned or inherited. It is all still determined by ones upbringing. Or at least ones choice to adhere to that upbringing. Though I think most of you are right when you say that the moral standards of a non religious person are far more flexible in practice, Im not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

    I myself am not a religious person. Furthermore, I am not even convinced that I am a moral person.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolt
    I myself am not a religious person. Furthermore, I am not even convinced that I am a moral person.
    Why do you doubt that? Most people are quite convinced that they, or at least all their actions, are moral, and will devise convoluted and contradictory codes to justify any action.

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    Actually, I find myself agreeing with J...
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    I think that evolutionary psychology has some validity in its claim that there are some human morals that seem to be innate in the human population. Of course there are some in the scientific community that have different opinions on evolutionary psychology.
    And one's neural makeup and social environment certainly have much influence on morals.
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  12. #11 Re: Atheist's moral codes 
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    Religious people refer to their scriptures to define moral codes; what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is evil. Do atheists have moral codes? If yes, what are they based on?
    well im an athiest, so i will tell you what i base my morals on.

    I believe that society derives its morals mostly from religion. i think that its evident that religous teachings coincide with almost all societal laws and regulations. Even though i am not a religious person, i think that my morals are heavily influenced by christianity. Because a large majority of the population i live in, the United States, is of some sort of Christian deviation, and therefore logically most of the laws we have have the same moral teachings as the bible, ie dont steal, dont murder, blah blah blah, and so on, although not all of our morals are taken from religion.

    Either way, no matter how we get our morals, almost all of our morals are the same. We live in a society that socializes us to believe that murder is wrong and stealing is. Had I been in a society that stole often, i would not think so objectivley to it. Even in the united states it can be broken up into smaller groups such as urban and rural where morals are different, and this is evident by statisitcs showing that rural people tend to be republican and urban people tend to be democratic. Your parents generally raise you as they were raised. therefore i believe that your morals are your parents morals(with a little leeway, i mean, come on), and theirs are their parents and so on. and that is where i get my morals from =)
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    I base my morals on rationality. Pure rationality to me is irrational, hence a balance of rationality and emotions. I believe the term for this is superrational.
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  14. #13 Re: Atheist's moral codes 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perk
    Your parents generally raise you as they were raised. therefore i believe that your morals are your parents morals(with a little leeway, i mean, come on), and theirs are their parents and so on. and that is where i get my morals from =)
    This is such self evident, good, solid common sense, that I expect several posters to take strong exception to it.
    Before they do I just wanted to let you know that I agree.
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    I have discussed the topic of moral relativism in another thread some time ago. That, generally, is what much of society uses today to determine what practices are acceptable and which ones are not acceptable.

    Moral relativism basically permits people to “do their own thing” so long as it is not harmful to others. The idea is that each person has the right to choose that which is right for him/her and others need not agree.

    What seems to be under discussion here includes what might be considered moral ethics.

    Moral relativism can be contrasted to moral absolutism. Relativism is an ever shifting thing in which “truth” is not necessarily “truth” to all people. Each person chooses, for himself/herself that which is true but even if their truths on moral/ethical issues differ, neither can be judged to be wrong.

    The problem is an inability for people to distinguish between the two kinds of truth – subjective truths and objective truths. If I say “blue” is the prettiest color, that is a subject truth with which others may or may not agree. If I say lawn grass is always purple, that is an objective observation which is either correct or incorrect and about which there can be no subjective preference.

    When it comes to moral/ethical decisions, I think most atheists will choose this relativistic approach rather than to rely on a set of standards which others claim was divinely inspired.

    The ultimate question, then, is what is the difference between a moral relativist and a person who is completely a-moral? A person who is completely devoid of any moral/ethical sense can be said to have “his own” morality.

    Well, the relativist decides what his conduct will be by deciding for himself what is best. The a-moral person decides what his conduct will be by deciding for himself what is best.

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  16. #15 Re: Atheist's moral codes 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Perk
    Your parents generally raise you as they were raised. therefore i believe that your morals are your parents morals(with a little leeway, i mean, come on), and theirs are their parents and so on. and that is where i get my morals from =)
    This is such self evident, good, solid common sense, that I expect several posters to take strong exception to it.
    Before they do I just wanted to let you know that I agree.
    Sorry, Oph, but I must disagree. Personally my morals differ vastly from all of my family members. Mainly because we think on different levels. So I'd be an example of the opposite.

    I think that it's more "Your parents raise you to think in a similar way." They impose their morals, their reasoning, etc, and basically make a clone out of you. Or, try to, rather. A lot of people do this unconsciously, and while it has no adverse effects that I know of, it doesn't make much for a diverse family line.

    However lets not confuse "Our parents morals are rational," with "since they are my parents morals, I'll use them." I'm quite sure any person with some amount of free thought would think the former than the latter, assuming their parents morals were rational. If they are not, then the person will diverge and think up his/her own set of morals that can be similar or differ greatly.
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  17. #16 Re: Atheist's moral codes 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremyhfht
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Perk
    Your parents generally raise you as they were raised. therefore i believe that your morals are your parents morals(with a little leeway, i mean, come on), and theirs are their parents and so on. and that is where i get my morals from =)
    This is such self evident, good, solid common sense, that I expect several posters to take strong exception to it.
    Before they do I just wanted to let you know that I agree.
    Sorry, Oph, but I must disagree. Personally my morals differ vastly from all of my family members. Mainly because we think on different levels. So I'd be an example of the opposite.

    I think that it's more "Your parents raise you to think in a similar way." They impose their morals, their reasoning, etc, and basically make a clone out of you. Or, try to, rather. A lot of people do this unconsciously, and while it has no adverse effects that I know of, it doesn't make much for a diverse family line.

    However lets not confuse "Our parents morals are rational," with "since they are my parents morals, I'll use them." I'm quite sure any person with some amount of free thought would think the former than the latter, assuming their parents morals were rational. If they are not, then the person will diverge and think up his/her own set of morals that can be similar or differ greatly.
    well, like i said, generally, not always.

    generally, there is almost always an exception to every rule.
    i ripped this off of someone else's signature, but i felt that it equally applied to me.
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    Ah, I see.
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    perk wrote:
    well im an athiest, so i will tell you what i base my morals on.

    I believe that society derives its morals mostly from religion. i think that its evident that religous teachings coincide with almost all societal laws and regulations. Even though i am not a religious person, i think that my morals are heavily influenced by christianity. Because a large majority of the population i live in, the United States, is of some sort of Christian deviation, and therefore logically most of the laws we have have the same moral teachings as the bible, ie dont steal, dont murder, blah blah blah, and so on, although not all of our morals are taken from religion.
    If you don't believe in religion, you should not based your moral codes on religion teaching. You may say that religion moral codes make sense, so you adopt them. Then I would like to ask why do you think they make sense.
    With religious people I cannot continue to ask 'why' because it will typically end up with 'because god says so'. With atheists who have set up their own codes, I would like to continue to ask 'why' until I find out what are the foundation of their beliefs. Does it make sense?
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    It's not too difficult here. He just mistakenly attributed those morals to religion, rather than common logic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    perk wrote:
    well im an athiest, so i will tell you what i base my morals on.

    I believe that society derives its morals mostly from religion. i think that its evident that religous teachings coincide with almost all societal laws and regulations. Even though i am not a religious person, i think that my morals are heavily influenced by christianity. Because a large majority of the population i live in, the United States, is of some sort of Christian deviation, and therefore logically most of the laws we have have the same moral teachings as the bible, ie dont steal, dont murder, blah blah blah, and so on, although not all of our morals are taken from religion.
    If you don't believe in religion, you should not based your moral codes on religion teaching. You may say that religion moral codes make sense, so you adopt them. Then I would like to ask why do you think they make sense.
    With religious people I cannot continue to ask 'why' because it will typically end up with 'because god says so'. With atheists who have set up their own codes, I would like to continue to ask 'why' until I find out what are the foundation of their beliefs. Does it make sense?

    No i dont believe that i mistaked where i got my morals from.

    I have derived a lot of my morals from society, and before, as i said, i am raised in a primarily christian society. Therefore, i consider all/most of the rules and laws that my society has are generally derived from some sort of religious text.

    Now while i dont believe in religion that does not mean that i am against its morals. Society has socialized me to believe that these rules are correct, and therefore i derive most of my morals from religion.

    My morals=Societys Morals=Religious Morals
    i ripped this off of someone else's signature, but i felt that it equally applied to me.
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    Sorry, but religious morals come from the same logic that most peoples morals do. Being created by man, it was subject to mans logic. So really, equating it to religion isn't a very wise idea. Religious texts are based on logic (sort of), not the other way around.
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    Religious texts are based on logic (sort of), not the other way around.
    i still disagree. I deffinetly dont think that religious texts are based on logic, i think that they are based on whatever the person creating them wants. Wants are not logical in most cases. Joe schlo might want dominance in asia so he says god told him that poor people suck and theres nothing that they could EVER do to get out of it. (india, bummer)

    while Chris Alex(im horrible at coming up with names) might want there oppressor to get off his back, and so he says that god told him EVERYONES equal.

    i dont equate religious teachings to logic, and thats why i still think i got my morals from religious teachings.
    i ripped this off of someone else's signature, but i felt that it equally applied to me.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perk
    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    perk wrote:
    well im an athiest, so i will tell you what i base my morals on.

    I believe that society derives its morals mostly from religion. i think that its evident that religous teachings coincide with almost all societal laws and regulations. Even though i am not a religious person, i think that my morals are heavily influenced by christianity. Because a large majority of the population i live in, the United States, is of some sort of Christian deviation, and therefore logically most of the laws we have have the same moral teachings as the bible, ie dont steal, dont murder, blah blah blah, and so on, although not all of our morals are taken from religion.
    If you don't believe in religion, you should not based your moral codes on religion teaching. You may say that religion moral codes make sense, so you adopt them. Then I would like to ask why do you think they make sense.
    With religious people I cannot continue to ask 'why' because it will typically end up with 'because god says so'. With atheists who have set up their own codes, I would like to continue to ask 'why' until I find out what are the foundation of their beliefs. Does it make sense?

    No i dont believe that i mistaked where i got my morals from.

    I have derived a lot of my morals from society, and before, as i said, i am raised in a primarily christian society. Therefore, i consider all/most of the rules and laws that my society has are generally derived from some sort of religious text.

    Now while i dont believe in religion that does not mean that i am against its morals. Society has socialized me to believe that these rules are correct, and therefore i derive most of my morals from religion.

    My morals=Societys Morals=Religious Morals

    i dont believe that societys morals=religious morals, they may have mutual interests in some eg killing, rape etc. but in western society some things are accepted by the majority of society but not by the majority religions of that society

    One that springs to mind is the casual sex issue. Its pretty much accepted in western society but the major religions of that society see it as a sin
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    i dont believe that societys morals=religious morals, they may have mutual interests in some eg killing, rape etc. but in western society some things are accepted by the majority of society
    When america(which is what is generally mean when the western world is mentioned) was founded, casual sex was a no-no. Because over time that is now an accepted practice doesnt mean that that practice is related to religion.

    but not by the majority religions of that society
    The majority of the united states, the country in which i live in, is some sort of christian faith. Now while a lot of religions might disagree with some of the teachings of the christian faith's,regarless if other religions agree with them or not,a large majority of the population is of a christian faith, and those are the teachings that are going to dominate our societies socializaton.


    now excuse me, but im going to pick up some hardees

    God bless the USA and hardees
    i ripped this off of someone else's signature, but i felt that it equally applied to me.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perk
    i dont believe that societys morals=religious morals, they may have mutual interests in some eg killing, rape etc. but in western society some things are accepted by the majority of society
    When america(which is what is generally mean when the western world is mentioned) was founded, casual sex was a no-no. Because over time that is now an accepted practice doesnt mean that that practice is related to religion.

    but not by the majority religions of that society
    The majority of the united states, the country in which i live in, is some sort of christian faith. Now while a lot of religions might disagree with some of the teachings of the christian faith's,regarless if other religions agree with them or not,a large majority of the population is of a christian faith, and those are the teachings that are going to dominate our societies socializaton.


    now excuse me, but im going to have a smoke and pick up some hardees

    God bless the USA and hardees
    sorry i was coming from the view point of europe(well UK)which is a majority christian(though not necessarily practicing)country My point was that not all societys morals are religious ones and that some religious morals(like casual sex) are not practiced by the majority of the countries society :-D
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    well i agree with you that some of societies teachings are not religious, and i am in no position to argue how things are in your country, only mine

    i think we understand each other.
    i ripped this off of someone else's signature, but i felt that it equally applied to me.
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    man started out without religion, his morals were born by his natural ability to befriend and socialise, originally man lived in small groups usually his kin, even the men and women from other camps were kin in some sense, but slowly every generation got further and further apart, it was the advent of religion and religious leaders that changed mans morals, and caused wars, (which end of the egg to open Gulivers travels) even to the point of writing them in a book. however we have a basic inbreed moral fibre, we are taught or indoctrinated with other morals, but they do remain relative to what part of the world you reside in.
    when it come to atheist morals, well they are of a higher moral fibre, mainly because, they understand what a short time we have to live, therefore respect the human right to peaceful existence, you will also find many atheists work in helping their fellow man, and not expecting anything in return not even conversion (Ie like the christian way, accept jesus in to your life and be fed)they dont give false hope to people they are more honest, they help now, by trying to cure, not by saying theres a better world beyond this one.
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense - Buddha"
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    There is a sense in which I am not sure quite agree with geezer's basic premise.

    I think mankind early on began to attribute those things which they could not understand to having a supernatural cause. Even some cave dwelling artistry is thought to have had some potential religious or supernatural significance to early cave dwellers.

    I would agree that certain social practices were probably developed within living groups for the purpose of self preservation of the group and that some of these practices eventually worked their way into subsequent social structures and became the basic fabric of social order.

    I suspect they early clans discovered it was not wise to kill one of their own and thereby decrease their ability to defend themselves. Thus the birth of the standard for homicide. When they tried to take something that, say, belonged to the head person, they got beat up. Thus the development of the idea that it is not a good idea to steal.

    I do not, however, see this exactly as moral standards so much as social standards of order.

    Sexual practices seem to vary from social group to social group and from age to age. Early mankind practiced basically indiscriminate sex. I suspect the development of limited partners came about as the result of the negative impact of sexually transmitted deseases. So again, early sexual prohibitions were more a matter of preventing desease than they were violations of moral standards.

    There are, even today, many potential unwanted results available for those who engage in casual sex which some consider promiscuous. Monogomous relationships and abstinance reduce the chances for those problems. Even beyond the morality issue, is the matter of personal safety. Not that either issue effectively prevents casual sex. But at least we know the standard from which we are deviating.

    There is another anomly found in geezer's contention that religion led to wars. This contention would lead to the conclusion that the early small clans of humans never had any intergroup conflicts. But we are pretty sure they battled for territory quite often. One must conclude, based on geezer's statements that either these people were religous and thus warlike or they were not religious and therefore peaceful.

    I do not think a history of war or conquest will bear out the contention that religion has caused wars. Most wars have been fought for economic, territorial or political reason. This is not to say that religion has not been a motivation for some wars, but it does seem like all relgious wars have in some way involved Islam. It would be a rather lengthy study to determine wars were religiously motivated and what constitutes a religiously motivated war.

    I earlier, on this thread I believe, posted a discussion of atheistic conduct decision making as compared to a-moral conduct decision making, pointing out they are exactly the same. I am not convinced that this provides a superior moral standard.
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    prasit,

    Religious people refer to their scriptures to define moral codes; what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is evil.
    Maybe some do, but I am not aware of those.
    I believe morality is based on the particular individuals conscience, not soley on ones up-bringing.

    If someone gains pleasure from killing people, without any remorse, then that person is of a different moral standing, not that they have no morals.
    I believe morals have nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with the character and quality of the individual.

    I would like to search deeper into the basic assumption. Whether our moral codes increase our chance of survival, spreading our gene in the gene pool? Are they for the betterment of society, or ourselves? Why should they be so? etc.
    Spreading genes in the gene-pool is not achieved through morality, it is achieved through the sexual union of male and female.
    Morals can be for the betterment of ourselves, therefore society, but would we be able to agree on issues? I think it may be too late for that.

    Jan.
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    One of the problems in this discussion has been that individuals tend to use singular vision, looking at one aspect of the concept of morality without much consideration of other aspects. Moral, used a noun is one thing; moral used as an adjective is slightly different aspects of the topic. The term morality is yet another aspect of the topic.

    Moral, used as a noun, I think is about a standard of conduct which has been established within a social group that is intended to generally distinguish desirable conduct and ethical decision making from undesirable conduct or unethical decisions. Moral as an adjective would be designed to define a specific act of conduct as being desirable or not. Morality would seem to be more focused on the individual and that person’s willingness to conform to or to violate generally accepted social morals.

    The one thing that many seem to want to avoid is the realization that a social group’s moral code is established by the society as a group, not by each individual in the society. The individual can only choose to conform or not, but no individual in our western culture has the ability, the power, or the authority to establish a moral standard for the group.

    This is not necessarily true in a totalitarian social group in which a political or religious leader has the singular ability to redefine a moral standard. In days of yore, this power was enjoyed by a king or an emperor although in more modern times, this power has more often lain only in the hands of religious leaders.

    Strangely, the validity of a specific moral practice is not validated by conformance to the standard, but by challenging the standard. Only when someone violates a code can we have a practical application from which we can determine that the conduct is desirable or not. If, for example, we say murder is wrong, so long as no one commits a murder, we cannot understand why that conduct is undesirable.

    What I have seen here on the forum is many people patting themselves on the back for their fine ability to develop their own moral code. That is a fiction. A moral code already exits and people either conform to it or they deviate from it. No one can actually come up with a new moral code in the vacuum of his own mind. It must have some basis within the experience of human conduct.

    Even religious moral codes were not developed in a vacuum. The Ten Commandments did not proscribe behavior that was previously considered acceptable. Nor did they encourage behavior that had previously been considered improper.

    Where there is an accepted moral code concerning a behavior within a society, those who deviate from that code are considered immoral. A person may feel that the moral code is wrong and he is, therefore, justified in deviating therefrom and he may even consider his conduct superior to that of established the moral code. However, until such time as that conduct is generally considered acceptable, it remains immoral.

    However, an established moral code is not static, but changes over time when certain behaviors which were, in times past, considered improper, eventually become acceptable.

    Now then, there are two aspect of our personhood wherein reside the values by which we make moral decisions.

    First is the limbic system, that part of our thinking processes which are developed early in life and become our very base line of thinking. This system is usually fully developed by the time a person reaches puberty and remains a constant unchanging force for his entire life.

    The other aspect is the intellect, which is constantly changing as new information is added and placed in the decision making formula. It is in our intellect that we may determine that some base value we hold in the limbic system is not suitable, but there is internal conflict when we intellectually challenge our limbic values. Depending on how ingrained the limbic values have been instilled, overcoming them can sometimes be difficult, if not almost impossible.

    Our individual moral fiber is mostly constructed when we are young and are most greatly influenced by our childhood experiences. The things we learn from our parents, the things we learn in the education system and whether we spend our youth in some moral focused system such as a religious setting are the biggest influences on the character we develop for life.

    In answer to the original question, “Do atheists have a moral code?” I would have to say, “Yes.” Unless the individual happens to be some sociopathic amoral person. And in Western Civilization (by which I mean mostly the Americas, Europe and Australia and small parts of Africa and Asia) my guess is that the moral code of atheists closely resembles that of the religious people who also dwell in those areas.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
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  32. #31  
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    prasit,

    I believe that society derives its morals mostly from religion. i think that its evident that religous teachings coincide with almost all societal laws and regulations. Even though i am not a religious person, i think that my morals are heavily influenced by christianity. Because a large majority of the population i live in, the United States, is of some sort of Christian deviation, and therefore logically most of the laws we have have the same moral teachings as the bible, ie dont steal, dont murder, blah blah blah, and so on, although not all of our morals are taken from religion.
    If you don't believe in religion, you should not based your moral codes on religion teaching. You may say that religion moral codes make sense, so you adopt them. Then I would like to ask why do you think they make sense.
    One does not need to "believe" in religion, as it is an established, factual institution. Religion is a way of life according to time, place, and circumstance. The basic principle set out in religious scripture are totally spot on, and cannot be improved upon (unless you can prove me wrong), so if one has a high moral standard, then you can bet one could easily identify with scriptoral religion.

    With religious people I cannot continue to ask 'why' because it will typically end up with 'because god says so'.
    Ask me, and let's see if you're correct.

    With atheists who have set up their own codes, I would like to continue to ask 'why' until I find out what are the foundation of their beliefs. Does it make sense?
    What do you mean by "...their own moral codes"?
    Rampant atheists, usurp systems, and call it their own.
    They are cuckoos

    Jan.
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  33. #32  
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    Are you the same Jan Ardena who told me (in Thread 'definition') that
    I don't believe you are thankful, I don't believe you want to learn of what you term, my, perspective, attitude, and social manner.
    Personally, I think you are rude, and insulting, which you try to hide under a veil of pseudo intellect. I for one am not fooled by you.
    ?
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