Do Unto Others, blah blah blah…
It’s a common question that theists ask; how do atheists have morals? I’m amused every time that I hear this question. I mean, what do theists think? That atheists are running around, indulging their every desire at every minute of the day?
“Look at me, I’m an atheist, I think I will just randomly have sex with that cute man over there in the corner!”
“Ooooh, I’m atheist, so I’ll just hold up this bank.”
“Woohoo, there’s no god to punish me at some point in the undetermined future! I will just set fire to this orphanage and laugh and laugh.”
The truth is, atheists have the same amount of morals as the general public. Some have tons and some have none. You don’t have morals because you read some old book and do what it says. And you hopefully don’t have morals because you’re scared of burning in the pits of hell when you’re dead. People have morals because they’re innately good. People have morals because they have a conscience. It’s not atheists that don’t have morals, it’s psychopaths. The words are not synonymous, people. They’re not even close.
My boyfriend and I are raising our son as a critical thinker. I’d like to say that we’re raising him as an atheist, but my goal is to teach him how to think through situations and figure out what is real and what isn’t. If I made him be an atheist, I wouldn’t be any better than the couple down the street shoving Catholicism down their kids’ throats. But I’m okay with showing him how to reasonably think through situations. Therefore, recently, when our son hit the dog for barking too loudly, we knew that we had to talk to him about how to treat other people and animals. He needed a reminder that there’s no reason to hurt another person or creature – especially those that can’t even comprehend what’s going on.
After a brief time out, we sat down and talked to the kid. We went over what was wrong with the situation, and he seemed to understand. Then we discussed the golden rule with him. Now, many Christians would like to attribute the golden rule to Jesus. They point out the place in the New Testament where he says “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” And, you know, yay for the Bible for making sense for once, but like much of the Bible, the idea had been around for a very long time before whoever the hell wrote it actually scribbled it down. There’s an awesome poster here that shows how the Golden Rule has been a part of every major religion in history. Why has it been?
It’s because, as humans, we can figure out that if I hit you, you won’t like it. And if I don’t want you to hit me, you likely don’t want me to hit you. It’s simple. If you want to be good to others, treat them like you want to be treated.
So it all comes back to morals. Christians, therefore, don’t get the monopoly on morals. Christians don’t get to say that their leader made up the Golden Rule. And so I can teach my son that you should treat others how you want to be treated. I’m not borrowing the idea from religion. I am simply stating a simple fact.
As for the idea that atheists don’t have morals… I think it’s likely that atheists have MORE morals than Christians. After all, when I do a good deed, it’s to be good. When a Christian does a good deed, it may be because they’re concerned about racking up points to go to heaven, or they’re scared that their god might be mad at them if they don’t.
Being good just for the hell of it. Crazy idea, huh?