Friday, December 10, 2010

Atheists Have No Morals ... and the parrot is just resting

Debating morals with theists sometimes makes me feel feel like John Cleese and the Dead Parrot.
"It's dead, that's what's wrong with it."
"No, no, it's resting!"
"I know a dead parrot when I see one and I'm looking at one right now!"
"No, no, it's not dead, it's resting."
... and so on, with the shopkeeper repeatedly saying something that everyone can see is plainly false. The parrot isn't alive, it's dead! Deceased!

It's like that when debating morals with a theist. They constantly harp back to their only argument, that without God there can be no morality. A case in point is Gary Hardaway's essay, CAN ATHEISTS BE GOOD CITIZENS? Hardaway starts with a few irrelevant quotes from the most religious of America's founding leaders such as James Madison in order to lend credibility to his case. But then he gets to the old dead-parrot argument:
The fatal, disqualifying flaw arises when the atheist encounters the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The atheist cannot agree with the Founders. In honesty he has to say, “Men do not have a Creator. Their unalienable rights do not come from a Creator. They come from another source.”
So far, so good: Hardaway is actually correct. Unalienable rights do not come from a creator! There is no God, just an idea of God that humans created. Human rights are unalienable because we have become a civilized species capable of rational thought. Using the same Rationalist reasoning that was created by the ancient Greeks and refined for two thousand years, we've figured out that human happiness and dignity are the foundation of all morals and ethics.

So we're good, right? Alas, no. Hardaway goes on:
What might this other source [of human rights] be? Government? But government can take away what it has bestowed. ... Atheists have an insoluble problem. If God doesn’t exist, human beings can have no special value.
Ah, there it is. The old dead-parrot claim. It's nothing more than "proof by repeated assertion." If you say something often and loudly, then it must be true!

Sorry, Mr. Hardaway. Atheists don't have an insoluble problem. God doesn't exist, and the universe doesn't give a damn about humans. If we manage to detonate all of our nuclear weapons and turn this planet into a sterile rock, that rock will keep orbiting the sun for another few billion years. The Earth won't care, the sun won't care, the universe won't care.

Human rights only matter to humans. Atheists and humanists know this. It makes human life even more precious. It's why atheist morality is fundamentally better than religious morality.

It is the theists, the Christians, Muslims and Jews who have the real problem. Their morals come from their confusing and contradictory holy scriptures, and were written thousands of years ago by politicians and rabbis who were educated by a pre-industrial society. They claim all morals come from God, but then they start wars and fatwas because they can't seem to agree on just exactly what those morals are. Or maybe it was just that Satan wrote the Bible – that actually would explain the problem!

As long as humans think morals come from God we will continue to have problems and wars. To have a truly moral world, one in which we can all get along and live in peace, we must abandon ancient superstitions. We need to get over the idea that someone has handed us answers on a plate. We have to use our heads. We have to think. We have to work together as a society and devise laws to govern our behavior and morals to each our children, based on humanist, naturalist principles.

Theists need to stop the old, tired dead-parrot argument about absolute morality. Atheist morality is real morality. Their old "proof by repeated assertion" is getting tired.


  1. So...because his "essay" is based on the United States Constitution, atheists in other countries are capable of being completely decent, upstanding human beings, right?

  2. I'm always stunned when people assume that morals have to be determined by an unseen, unheard "God." That man is somehow incapable of determining basic morals and guidelines regarding how we should treat each other. You don't need God to know how not to be a jerk.

    I'm getting a Kindle for Christmas and will definitely check out your book once I do. It makes it a little bit easier knowing that there are other people out there like me.

  3. Anon - good point!

    JonL - thanks, hope you enjoy the book.

  4. "Creator", though capitalized, does not mean [god]. If Jefferson et al. wanted to say that our rights as humans are god-given, they would have gone ahead and said it.

    That is one of my biggest peeves when dealing with theistic arguments that involve "our Founding Fathers". The Enlightenment was a hallmark in the long, continuing, drawn-out fall of theism. To deny this would be to deny about a century's worth of writings and would invalidate our lackluster text books. If we are to accept the brilliance the Declaration's writers, we must also understand the paradigms of the eras in which they lived.

    Why do we, as learned nonbelievers, tolerate this?

  5. It's clear that you falsely believe that you are so much better than anyone else because you all have this assumption that atheists are supreme over all people groups because all religious people supposedly have what you call a virus. Believe it or not, atheists are bigots as well. You all will try to deny it but it's the truth. I'm a bigot as well. It's about time you all face the facts, not 'scientific facts' but the TRUTH. You are bigotted, narrowminded, religious people, even without God. We all have issues and problems. You have a soul. If you don't believe that you do, you would probably be a sociopath (Mao, Stalin, Lenin, just to name a few examples). Please stop lying to yourselves and grow up. You're human beings, just like Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and have the same mental capacity as another human. I understand why you don't like Christians and I understand why you don't like the Bible or what it has to say, but people still have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. One thing's for sure, religion will not cease to exist, and secularist ideology will eventually turn into communism. So that's what you have to look forward to.

    Just to reveal my sickness and how contagious my faith in Christ is....

    Merry Christmas, God Bless, and have a happy new year.

  6. Megan The AtheistApril 5, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    "You have a soul. If you don't believe that you do, you would probably be a sociopath"
    I'm sorry, but your statement is total bullshit, pardon my language. "you all have this assumption that atheists are supreme over all people groups". We do not believe we are superior, we know that we are not blinded by a belief of something that does not exist. You're just blinded by your religion, as you've clearly shown in your post. You jumped to conclusions to ridicule this person. You singled out a false statement to deem his article absurd. YOU are what makes me doubt the religion that you so frequently declare the absolute and only religion. IT IS YOU who prove that many christians are single minded puppets of a religion that only aims to force a idea on others and control people. OPEN YOUR EYES.


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