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Do we need objective morals?

So often I have heard religious apologists and well known religious debaters espousing the belief that a creator God provides humanity with an objective morality, therefore implying that morals derived from religion are superior to morals conceived by humans (which are essentially the same thing!), as well as using this as an argument for God's existence. Objective morality means a morality which does not depend on whether you or I agree with it and is independent of opinion. An example might be that murder is objectively bad or evil and would be so whether we think it is or not.

This sounds perfectly reasonable at first glance; of course nobody of sound mind or judgement would condone murder. However, is this only an objective moral or can we come to this conclusion without reference to so-called "holy" books and supposed "divine revelation"?

Since anyone with sound reasoning and critical faculties knows that the "holy" books were written by human beings and can see the innumerable contradictions, flaws, fallacies and palpable nonsense written therein we can say with confidence that what religious academics call "objective morals" i.e. from God, are in fact just morals which human beings have evolved via natural selection; thought about, discussed, developed and written down over thousands of years. Therefore, in reality, there is no such thing as an objective morality, only human morality.

If I left it here however we wouldn't have much of a discussion! So let's assume objective morality does exist. What's the alternative? Quite simply, the alternative is reasoned and rational discussion of what we consider to be right and wrong in terms of social interaction of all kinds- it's called ethics and we already have it in a structured format called "The Law".

As intelligent beings we know that rape, murder, theft and violence are wrong without the need to have these ideas handed down to us from a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent supernatural being. We can decide for ourselves what we consider to be right and wrong.

Imagine the worst of all possible worlds, full of absolute pain, absolute suffering and absolute misery. Now imagine a world slightly better than that with less pain, misery and suffering. That's it. That's all we have to do. We know better healthcare is good, we know freedom of speech and education are good, we know less death and pain and suffering are good; we know killing is bad, we know preventing girls going to school is bad, we know mutalating or removing body parts is bad, we know spreading aids by not wearing a condom is bad. We don't need to be told these things, we can decide them for ourselves.

"Ah ha!", say the religious, "but what about psychopaths, sociopaths and other potentially violent people and criminals, I suppose their opinion on what's right and wrong is equally valid!" Of course it's not, that is simply faulty reasoning, we have the law, neurology, psychology and biology to deal with people who think and behave erroneously. Murders, rapes and wars still happen every day today, in a world full of religious people who all believe in objective morals. This probably (unfortunately) wouldn't change in a world without objective morals but we would be far better placed to treat those people who did commit these crimes and we would be one step closer to a world without religious dogma.

TAGGED: MORALITY


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