One Need Not Be Christian
To Have Moral Opinions

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <>
Subject: Re: Are There Values In Religion That We, As Atheists, Are Missing
Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2001 8:15 PM

Just as it is possible for nonreligious people to have morals, it is possible for religious people to have morals, because a sense of morality, I think, is innate to the human. Many Bible believers accentuate only those passages which they believe to teach morality, and are completely unaware of passages such as Numbers 31, the sex-slave and human sacrifice passage (verses 15-18 and 40 respectively). But this is simply the innate human sense of morality being selectively attributed to the Bible. The parts that most humans would consider good will pass the filters with flying colors, while the horrors and atrocities are stiffled so severely that many Christians become shocked upon being shown that these passages exist.

The What Would Jesus Do? movement is another example of this: "Jesus," in this sense, is little more than the teenager's own concept of ultimate morality. Since "Jesus" is touted as the ultimate moral example (among other things, of course), then "What Would Jesus Do?" can easily and honestly be translated to say, "What Would [your concept of the ultimate moral example] Do?" Two concepts add to the power of this myth, explaining its popularity: First, Jesus is revered as more than simply the ultimate moral example, being touted as an invisible friend who is always with you (though you can't see Him). Secondly, Jesus is portrayed as a sort of Santa Claus for grown-ups, because "He sees you when you're sleeping / He know when you're awake / He knows if you've been bad or good / So be good, for goodness sake! / You better watch out!"

Hopefully, when the teenager grows up to reject the Jesus myth, she or he will still retain the habit of comparing choices against an abstract ultimate moral example. They could do a lot worse. I know that superior moral systems exist, but many Christian families reject these as atheistic. Some originally atheistic systems, such as cognitive therapy, have recently been adapted and adopted by the Christians ("Christianized," so to speak), so that their people can benefit from these proven techniques.

Some main problems come out with a morality based upon fable and Tribal Totem thinking. First, when (and if) the believer wakes up and realizes that the Christian system of mythology is not to be taken literally, she or he may simply abandon the concept of human ethics altogether; the common Christian fear that atheism leads to amorality is a real possibility for some whose concept of morality was based in the prospect of punishment and reward.

Secondly, the believer, upon snapping out of it, faces the real possibility of never having learned the nuts and bolts of a moral system that can be applied to any new situation.

Thirdly, the whole Christian concept of forgiveness numbs and thwarts the innate human sense of consequence, making it much less likely that a Christian will think before acting. Because the Christian sense of morality transferrs the consequence to a different system, in another life, the innate sense of consequence can become quite distorted, since real consequence becomes detached, thereby impairing the credibility of one's own innate sense of consequence.

Finally, with "special" laws from God, the believer has been known to prioritize, abandoning what the rest of us would consider to be extremely important laws ("Thou Shalt Not Kill") in order to obey the whims of the Tribal Totem ("Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him, but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves").

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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