Atheism and Morality

Abdullah Sameer
9 min readApr 14, 2018

So I was asked by a Muslim where I get my morals from:

Atheism does not discuss morality. It is simply the rejection of God. So where do you get your morals from?

Where do our morals come from?

We can see traces of morality in animals. Rats will refuse food if they know it will cause a shock to fellow rats. Male chimps have been observed giving their food to an older female even when there is no personal benefit to them. In “The Selfish Gene” Richard Dawkins explains how altruism can arise naturally. Helping others ends up helping you. I cannot do justice to this topic here so I would recommend reading “The Selfish Gene” for a more thorough explanation of how this comes about in nature. Evolution also explains why we find incest disgusting. Because incest is harmful to reproduction, it weeded out ancestors who did it. There are certain biases that come with our evolutionary history though. For example, we are more likely to feel sympathy and help individuals over larger groups. Studies have shown that we are more likely to give money to a charity that shows us an individual rather than a large group suffering.

We need not limit ourselves to our evolutionary morals though. We can and should do better.

Where should our morals come from?

They come from understanding the effects of your actions on others. At the bottom all that matters is consciousness. In a world of rocks and trees, there would be no morality. Human thriving is the basis of a solid morality. If your actions lead to the further thriving of humans, then this would be moral. If your actions lead to harmful consequences, then this would be immoral. It’s not always clear what the consequences of our actions are, but we can do our best and refine our ethics as time goes by.

Are secular morals objective?

Secular morals are based subjectively on the thriving and well being of conscious creatures. Once we have this subjective basis, we can make objective…

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