Tuesday, 9 February 2010


A story here about recent research that believes atheists are 'just as ethical as churchgoers.'

'The research suggests that intuitive judgements of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.'

I must admit that I have a really tough time understanding where an atheist receives their moral framework. I have no problem in believing that there are plenty of good and moral people on this planet from a variety of beliefs and backgrounds (but even there I am making an assessment on what I deem to be morally ok according to how I understand God. However, I do believe we can make moral judgements based on our belief and understanding of God). My issue isn't whether people have good morality, my issue is WHERE that morality comes from.

For some it is morally acceptable to bomb the West. For others it is assisted suicide. For others it is pornography. For others it is drinking. For others it is preaching against homosexuality.

Morality seems to be very subjective according to where I've grown up, where I live etc. Therefore, surely there will always need to be a higher morality to live by that in turn determines how I live?

Some might say that it is obvious to do to others as you would have them to do you. But why? If I'm ok then surely that is all that matters? Unless you draw from a religious community a set of morals, I don't see where else you can get them from?

Like I said, I am not doubting the morality of atheists, I am simply asking where their morality comes from and if they are ok with it originating from within a religious community.

I know being a part of a religious community does not necessarily make you a morally decent person. Great atrocities have been and are committed by and within religious communities. Equally they have been committed by atheistic communities.

But I believe if followers of Jesus are serious about Him then our morals, ethics and practice will be good.


Jenna Christian said...

Hi Joe,

I read your post thinking about some verses I read in Romans 2 the other day.

"14Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)"

Straight from my NIV.


Jenna Christian said...

Hope it helps.

Joe Haward said...

Cheers Jenna. I think here Paul is saying that people have an inbuilt conscience in regard to morality. And in this post I agree with that. It's not whether people are moral, it's where THEY percieve their morality is from. Atheists won't agree that ultimate morality comes from God, so I simply want to know where they think it comes from.

Hope you're ok?

Tom Haward said...

Surely morality comes from an evolving culture. When I read Exodus I don't believe Moses got the law from God, but rather created those laws based on his experiences in Egypt and beyond.

That's why morality is so subjective. Every tribe has their own morality based on their culture and community. Like you write.

Even animals have a certain set of basic laws they live by. Lions fight for leadership and govern the pride. There seems to be a basic (morality?) set of principles here. Surely we've simply evolved further because we are able to ask "why?".

Joe Haward said...

I think you're right that morality is an evolving thing as communities adapt and evolve. some of the choices and actions we take today are far different from that of our ancestors.
Yet it seems to me that morality needs to have some kind of 'governing' to determine what is moral right. And I can't see that coming from anywhere else other than God.
I think he has given us the mind and ability to deepen and improve our morality based on our history, but that 'perfect morality' comes from him. He said 'that's good' and therefore determines how we understand good. Otherwise 'good' is always going to be abstract.