You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.
To the question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”
Atheist: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth

19 October, 2010

Morals Without God?

"Perhaps it is just me, but I am wary of anyone whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior. Why not assume that our humanity, including the self-control needed for livable societies, is built into us? Does anyone truly believe that our ancestors lacked social norms before they had religion? Did they never assist others in need, or complain about an unfair deal? Humans must have worried about the functioning of their communities well before the current religions arose, which is only a few thousand years ago. Not that religion is irrelevant — I will get to this — but it is an add-on rather than the wellspring of morality."
 This has always fascinated me.  Good article and very clear.  Are morals instinctive, have they evolved with us, what do other animals do, nature vs nurture?  It is pretty clear morals come naturally, but there seems to be some nurture that has to get it where we want it to be.  To mold the circuitry of our brains to function morally.  The examples of kids without the nurture are the Romanian and Russian orphans who were kept in cribs without any nurture in the 80's/90's.  Very horrible and I understand very damaging to their growth.  But I think it shows that morality is not just a biological wiring of our brains, society has to help mold the morals of the community.  De Waal describes how the monkeys and apes he works with also have many moralistic characteristics, that all mammals can be shown to have some level of morality.  He even states that most pets are mammals because they better match our morals.  Anyway, a great read!


  1. Maybe in this country, which is so overly religious, they equate religion with morality, but in Europe where religion is not as important as here, they do not equate it that way.
    My husband said that when he was in high school the catch was to get the daughter of a preacher, she usually was the one with the loosest morals…

  2. Yes, they definitely equate religion with morals here. I've heard that from several people... how can I be good without religion? I usually reply with "it's easy!" :-)