by John Sorenson
Can one be moral and not believe in a god? Questioning the perspectives of Atheists and Theists will achieve some answers to this questions. Although most of the world’s population upholds certain beliefs and principles in worshiping a particular god, we should keep in mind that critical review of religious rationale and applications of committed dogma are a duty for humankind. In order to reach the highest moral compass for our gifted species we all have to embrace the challenge of debating this question to proactively serve the evolution of all of humanity.
From ancient to contemporary times, questions have been raised as to who we are, why are we here, what makes us what we are and what are the correct morals for our societies. These questions have posed some of the most debated discussions known within the circles of scholars, politicians, theologian, and the average citizen.
As early as the sixth century B.C.E. philosophers such as Thales, Parmenides, Heraclitus asked questions as to what the world is made of, offered opinions toward the illusions of the real world and developed arguments that the world is in constant change, (Mosser, 2010). Socrates (469 B.C.E. 399 B.C.E.), who was noted for his interest in moral and ethical questioning constantly provoked inquiry at the moral and ethical values of those in authority. Although Socrates was put to death for defending his views, he remained steadfast to ideology that every person should continually evaluate their lives.
Moral conduct takes on different forms due to one's association or lack of association to a religious belief. Some argue that the very essence of a well grounded moral compass is in direct relation to belief in a god. Others believe that morals are inherent and develop through an evolutionary process, in conjunction with various environmental and societal impacts and experiences.
So, what is the real system of morality based on; Non Religious or Religious? Who or what is the natural motivator for such a compelling part of our human character? Are people existing from one side of this world to the other based on the natural processes of evolution or is there a superior being that has placed established systems of supreme thought and principle that were meant to guide the human spirit in the context of right and wrong? I would assume that most people settle on the fact that there is both good and bad in our world, but who or what is the facilitator of each?
If we place an Atheist beside an Theist would anybody truly know the difference only by judging their looks ? No. Only when you start to peel back the layers of worldly experience that the true identity of people begins to emerge. By comparing the two we can see that Theists insist that their existence, thus their moral compass, remains related to a supreme being. Theists argue that moral decisions come from the gods they choose to manifest and worship. I see this as a crutch, or a severe chronic ailment of sorts manifested by the mere practice of religious duties, and sworn doctrine. Atheists on the other hand dismiss ideology and likewise methodologies of a life leveraged by manmade mystic supreme beings. Easy, right? Well not so fast.
Ensuring a well grounded moral compass the Atheist simply takes the duties and responsibilities of deciding the right moral compass by look inward to our hearts, subscribe to our own minds, and reflect on past experiences when determining the best decisions. Basically the Atheist commits to the Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” in the most simplistic form. I see this as the most inherent form of moral compassing. Atheists go about life without the fear of reprisal from deity, folklore, and mysticism.
The majority of earth's population walk side by side with the same common goals most certainly beginning with Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. Moving past the lowest tier of food, sex, shelter, etc., is where the differences start within societies as human belief begins to attaches itself to gods, or supernatural mysticism to the remaining rungs on the Hierarchy. Theistic beliefs have proven the initiation of warfare, greed, corruption, scandal, proselytization, and dogma, all of which have negatively impacted the morality of societies through the centuries. These acts often beset religious communities, forcing a retraction of their ways and means through more prayers and offerings to the supernatural. Following the same path as the Atheist by adhering to the simple Golden Rule for moral compassing may have worked better for the Theist in these cases.
No deity crutch or religious chronic ailment is needed by the Atheist to support clear comprehensive decisions. The bottom line is that Atheists do not need all of the mysticism, pageantry, scandal, corruption, proselytization and insecurities to be moral. The Atheist operates on intrinsic principles rather than speculative beliefs about our world. Although Atheists have been among the casualties of religious reprisal for those same centuries, one unshakable attribute to which Atheists hold to remains abundantly clear. The Atheist can remain moral, without a belief in a god.