How do *some* atheists define their morality

My question to atheists is how do you define your morality.

I’ve noticed how a lot of atheists that I HAVE PERSONALLY ENCOUNTERED, oppose morality that is based on religion, my question to atheists that hold that belief is, how do you define your own morality?

Is it subjective, based on the era we’re living in? Or what?

If you are going to answer my question, please answer with respect if you want me to respond.

I will NOT respond to any rude comments or insults, if you want to convince anybody in life being rude doesn’t help.

I don’t think the question should be about how atheists define their morality. This debate started when religious apologists claimed that morality comes from religion.

So the real question is, can you prove that morality is a result of religion? If so, how do you differentiate between the so many kinds of moralities out there i.e. those of Christians, those of Jews, those of Muslims? Doesn’t this make you think that religion isn’t really the source of morality?

My personal morality comes from my mind. The rule behind my actions and words is that they should not hurt anybody else. And, that’s pretty much common sense. We all have feelings and we shouldn’t do anything that can hurt or harm others. I rely on reasoning and logic to make sure my actions are in accordance with my personal laws for myself, the laws of the world and the human rights.

1 Like

Basically yes. Of course; in my experience this is how everyone does it; even religious people. Perhaps a notable difference is I don’t lie to myself and others by saying/pretending it is objective.


Exactly as Nyarlathotep says… in my experience circumstances can always alter choices…

1 Like


A snippet of how the conversation typically goes:

Them: Morality is objective.
Me: Is killing objectively wrong?
Them: Of course!
Me: Is it wrong for a soldier to kill a soldier?
Them: [sound of crickets] (this is where they change the subject)

Same as the dictionary that offers the commonly used definition, it is the ability to differentiate between right and wrong behaviours.

Rejecting rules subjectively interpreted from archaic superstitions is not a belief.

You mean as opposed to subjective beliefs about deities, and what people subjectively claim those deities think is moral?

I think before we answer your somewhat loaded questions, I’d ask what objective evidence can you demonstrate for any deity? What objective evidence can you demonstrate for objective moral absolutes?

If you have none, then my secular morals are no more subjective than religious “morality”.

If we can differentiate between right and wrong behaviours, then we wouldn’t need divine diktat, if we can’t
differentiate between right and wrong behaviours, then no one can claim divine diktat is moral.

All morality is subjective, and this includes religious morality.


This is an atheist debate forum. You will be treated with respect as a person. However, your beliefs do not have that right.

An atheist is only a person who does not believe in gods.Nothing else is implied or may be inferred Hence there is no such thing as an atheist position on any other matter. The moral codes of atheists you’ve met have nothing to do with atheism.

Some sophisticated systems of morality predate religious morality by centuries. Some do not. EG Buddhist morality (ca 600 bce) is far more rigorous than say Christian morality. Eg the teaching of ahimsa in which one cultivates non violence to any living thing. Many Buddhists are vegetarian for that reason.

Ancient Greece had some interesting notions of morality. Stoicism has a religious element, but I think it’s inaccurate to claim it is religion based in the same way as say Judaeo Christian morality.

Hedonism is a perfectly valid form of morality, although not one I follow.

My own moral view leans towards ethical egoism and I accept moral relativism is valid. And yes, I reject absolute moral codes as innately unjust…

In fairness, I should add that I am a recovering catholic, having left the church over 50 years ago. Because religious beliefs are absorbed uncritically before the age of reason, I remain a cultural catholic. That means that my emotional reaction to many things is judaeo christian.
However, I do not necessarily act on those feelings. I do my best to behave rationally, aiming to base my mora behaviour on reason rather than superstition, which is my view of judae christian morality.


Stoicism - Wikipedia.

Hedonism - Wikipedia.

Ethical egoism - Wikipedia.

1 Like

Morals are evolutionary. E.g, some actions and beliefs that were considered 'moral" and ‘normal’ in the 14th Century are considered immoral in the 21st century.

Religion has often thrust itself into moral argument, but, when examined, it can clearly be seen that most religions’ moral codes are subject to interpretation by the priests and shamans.

Slavery, homosexuality and peadophilia are just three subjects where social mores and religious moral tradition have come into conflict in recent times. Religion, in each case, was found to be wanting as a moral guide.


The most egregious examples of disrespect I see on these pages are by drive-by posters who drop difficult philosophical questions on us and never come back to engage in proper debate.

I find that totally immoral.

1 Like


Atheists do not define morality. No one defines my morality for me. As far as I am concerned morality is a social construct with an evolutionary basis. Those humans who behaved immorally were removed from the clans, tribes, communities or nations and we continue removing them today. What’s left are people who are concerned with moral behavior to propagate the species.

My personal moral behavior is based as much on avoiding negative consequences as it is insuring a positive quality of life for myself. I am not interested in things that interfere with my ability to enjoy my life. I get along best with people who have similar attitudes. Life to me is a journey and my motto is, “Enjoy the Journey.” If I am not enjoying my journey, it’s time for a change.

Enjoy has a special meaning. Enjoy does not mean “always happy.” Enjoyment can mean hard work and striving for a desired goal. It can result in success or failure. In either case, ‘enjoy’ means I will pat myself on the back for giving it my best effort, or I will try again. Enjoy means accepting the highs and the lows as a part of being a human being and for me, it means joining other human beings in their highs and lows. (Not physically or financially, but emotionally and cognitively) Enjoy is to understand another person’s “Life World.” (Reference Edmund Husser )

Understanding and being understood is where I am happiest. With all that said, lets not play the moral dilemma game, no system of morality is exempt from moral dilemmas.

What I am exempt from are moral dictates that tell me to hate homosexuals, kill witches, admit that I am a sinner and born into this world worthless. I am exempt from needing to be saved from this imaginary condition imposed upon me by the religious beliefs of the Christians.

There is no morality based on “The Christian or Muslim Religions.” There is no morality based on the Jewish religion either but for different reasons. I will assume we are referencing the Christian faith which is exactly the same as the Islamic faith and move on from here.

There is no morality in Christianity or Islam. What you have in these religions are moral dictates and the promise that if you follow the dictates you will receive a reward in the after life. You are commanded by God to be obedient and follow his will. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” In Christianity, use your free will to follow the commandments of god and accept Jesus Christ as your savior or BURN IN HELL, In Islam, surrender to the will of God or BURN IN HELL. In both religions, become a Christian or a Muslim or BURN IN HELL. (GO TO HELL - EXPERIENCE TOTAL ANHIALATION AND NEVER GET TO HEAVEN, some faiths do vary,)

Here is the issue. How many of your friends are your friends because you have promised them cake and ice cream for being your friends? If they treat you well, morally, do not hit you, steal from you, and are generally polite to you, you buy them cake and ice cream. But if they are not moral to you, treat you badly, threaten you, or say bad things about you, you punish them. How many of your friends do you treat this way? Even the friends that are acting moral are doing so under threat of torture or hope of reward. It is not possible to have morality develop in such a system. I am good and moral because god is watching all I do. He is keeping score. I want to get my cake and ice cream in the after life. If I do something bad I must beg his forgiveness, not make amends to the people I have harmed. Where is morality in this system?

How many of your friends are your friends because if they are not your friends, if they do not treat you morally and with respect, you are going to beat the shit out of them and torture them for eternity? NONE? That’s because even Christians and Muslims pick and choose verses from their holy texts and then change the interpretations to make them more palatable to our modern world. They, the Christians and the Muslims, do not get their morality from their holy texts, Not unless they are out of their fucking minds. They merely assert they are using the texts as a foundation for morality but anyone reading these horrific texts can clearly see, this is not the case. Butchering people who are different from you is not a system of moral behavior. It’s stupidity.

Eternal punishment for finite crimes. The rapist, murderer, and child molester who make a death bed confession and accept Jesus into their heart are saved and go to heaven with everyone else… Where is the morality in this system?

How do you base morality on religion? It is not possible to do so. Look at the murdering butcher that is the God thing in these books. The threatening, insulting, piece of shit theists assert is loving. YOU CAN’T BE FUCKING SEERIOUS. READ THE FUCKING BOOKS! Christians and Muslims get their morality from one of the weirdest places imaginable and I can not for the life of me figure out which one is worse.

1 Like


I pretty much agree with you, except for one thing. The concept of Judaeo Christian ethics. It still exists and is still a thing. It is based on Mosaic Law. IE the 613 mitzvah (commandments ) found in the Torah. Christians seem to think it’s just the ten commandments…

From wikipedia:

The idea that a common Judeo-Christian ethics or Judeo-Christian values underpins American politics, law and morals has been part of the “American civil religion” since the 1940s. In recent years, the phrase has been associated with American conservatism, but the concept—though not always the exact phrase—has frequently featured in the rhetoric of leaders across the political spectrum, including that of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The current American use of “Judeo-Christian” — to refer to a value system common to Jews and Christians — first appeared in print in a book review by the English writer George Orwell in 1939, with the phrase “the Judaeo-Christian scheme of morals.”[1] Orwell’s usage of the term followed at least a decade of efforts by Jewish and Christian leaders, through such groups as the National Conference of Christians and Jews (founded in 1927), to emphasize common ground. The term continued to gain currency in the 1940s. In part, it was a way of countering antisemitism with the idea that the foundation of morals and law in the United States was a shared one between Jews and Christians.[2][3]

I guess I may simply have misunderstood your meaning. Quite happy to be corrected if I’ve made an error in fact.

HUH? The idea, yes, Perpetuated by Christians. The Practice… not likely.

  1. Thou shall have no other gods before me. (US Government is secular. Separation of Church and state. The government can not support one religion over any other religion. It can not even tax religions. Muslims, Buddhists, Shamen, Hindus, Krishna, whatever, all have the same advantages as Christians in this country. This is not Biblical in any way, shape or form.

  2. You shall not make idols? Well, we can throw this commandment in the trash. Make any idol you want and worship any god you want. NOTHING in any US law prevents it.

  3. Don’t take the name in vain. FUCK GOD. No law against that. We do have laws against perjury in courts, swearing in god’s name on the bible, but we no longer use bibles and have exempted them for oaths of honesty for the non-religious. NO foundational laws here.

  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. When was the last time we jailed someone for working on a Saturday? Okay, a Sunday, since the Christians changed the Sabbath day because they wanted to be different than the Jews. We have no foundational laws prohibiting work on any religious holiday. None.

  5. Honor your father and mother??? And what the fuck if I don’t? Dad was a fucking drunk and mom a child abuser. Fuck them both. Who gives a shit? Not the damn government who obviously has adopted the foundational ethics of Christianity.

  6. You shall not murder. How in the hell is this commandment Christian? Please show me a culture where murdering your neighbor was completely okay. A tribe, a clan. any group of people that just felt, “Hey I wanna kill that guy over there.” and no one in the group would have a problem with it. Hell, even troops of monkeys don’t put up with in-tribe fighting. There is nothing at all Christian in this commandment. NOTHING.

  7. You shall not commit adultery; In which state is adultery still a crime that can be prosecuted? In Maryland, the penalty is a paltry $10 fine. Wisconsin I believe still has it listed as a felony. 3 years, suspended as the parties generally file for divorce. Prisons and courts have better things to do. And remember, Biblical adultery applies to any woman who has been married. A woman divorces and then remarries, according to biblical law she is an adultness. We have no such foundational laws in the USA.

  8. Thou shalt not steal: Another law that is NOT CHRISTIAN and common to every culture on the planet that has survived for any length of time. Stealing from those around you is just not conducive to forming a tribe, clan, group, or whatever. Nothing to do with Christianity.

  9. Thou shall not bare false witness. Thank God for video cameras as we are finally catching the cops who have been making a living doing this for centuries. Again, Not a Christian thing. We do not like it when people tell lies about us. We like it even less when they do it in a court of law. Nothing at all to do with Christianity.

  10. You shall not covet. Well fuck! Capitalism is based on coveting. Keeping up with the jones’s. Coveting the latest model I-phone, car, computer game, university degree, and on and on and on… Life is based on coveting… Nothing in the US constitution prevents coveting. It is in fact, “The American Way.”

** There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian. That is another discussion all together. Jews do not recognize Jesus as being divine or as fulfilling any prophecy. This flies in the faith of Christian belief. One of these thigs is not the same.**

1 Like

Your argument is Tu Quoque. I’m acutely aware of the human a condition of hypocrisy. My observations are about belief, not practice. The ideal vs reality if you will.

Have a glance a “The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism” by Max Weber. The Wiki article isn’t bad, but the book id worth reading

When speaking of morality, I’ve often used the term ‘cultural catholic’ to describe my own moral and ethical values. My own emotional reactions and feelings of guilt are often most certainly Catholic.

Many if not most of intellectual values vary from church doctrine, as does my behaviour.

I shall continue to use the term 'Judaeo-Christian whenever I think it’s appropriate.
and according to commonly accepted definitions.


Question: “What is the Judeo-Christian ethic?”

Answer: The term “Judeo-Christian” refers to something that has its source in the common foundations of Judaism and Christianity. The Bible includes the Jewish Scriptures of the Old Testament, so the moral foundations laid down in Judaism are upheld in Christianity. The first use of the term “Judeo-Christian ethic” was apparently by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his 1888 book The Antichrist: Curse on Christianity . The early uses of the term “Judeo-Christian ethic” referred to the Jewish roots and identity of the early Christian church, but it wasn’t used to speak of a common set of morals until much later.

Yes. another completely fallacious belief, unsupported by facts and history that the Christians of America perpetuate. A bunch of religious rejects escape to a new country so they can build a religious empire. Problem is, every other religious nut in the British Empire has the same idea.

They all show up anyway and eventually decide that they have to form a government for the protection of all. HOWEVER; no one religion wants to give any other religion power over them. What to do? What to do? What to do? Thank God for the non-christian mediators…

Make a government completely separate from religion. A secular government that can not influence religion nor be influenced by it. That way all the little religious cults that have grown up in the new world can be happy and we can still ban together for the protection of all/ YEA! A new idea in government was born. The SECULAR STATE.

Like the Christians are going to escape religious persecution in England and then come to America and do the same thing all over again/ ABSURD!

You are 100% correct, theists make this assertion. We are founded on religious values. Horseshit “I say.” Most social values existed long before the Christian Religion. Rome was a democracy long before it was ever Christian.

At first, Rome operated as a republic, a form of government in which people elect representatives who vote for them. Obviously, at this particular time in history, it was startling to consider that a government and civilization was so advanced with regards to the rights of individuals. The Roman Senate allowed the senators to debate the issues of the day and decide upon a course of action. The government structure also ensured that there was separation of powers and a series of checks and balances in the system. It was and still is, highly regarded in it method of government. The United States functions on this form of government; at the time of her beginning, this was the only one in the world. However, Rome had accomplished this millennia before the United States.

Okay, I am pedantically beating a dead horse. You are correct… the ‘belief’ is strong with the faithful. Not substantiated but strong.

I tend to lean towards Cog on this one - I understand your position Cranks, but, fuck belief that it’s a Judeo-Christian is only a belief - NOT supported by facts. Perhaps if you’d taken the approach of legal slavery,
MAYBE - a founding that has been “unfounded”.

Islamic states have their laws based on their religious text.

Fuck - the western world (or specifically the USA where this perpetual lie is spewed lately) does not ground laws in their fucking holy text.

Closest is murder and steal - hahahaha BUT only for the blue collar …
White collar is A-OK :ok_hand:t3:

Btw - you won’t (???) like this BUT to define yourself as still catholic morality (whatever) is just holding onto guilt.

What the fuck for?

Jesus fuckin’Christ- I pull lots of shit (and did my share) and no guilt. I like where I am NOW, and if I hadn’t done what I did or decisions I made, well I wouldn’t be “here”, now, typing this to you (my friend).

So it must have been all “good” -
Lol :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I think the point was being made that the belief is out there. I certainly agree with that. Christians (generally speaking of course) can not get it through their dense heads that their religion has little to nothing to do with the laws or morality governing the USA.

If anything, they should jump down the Illuminati Mason 33rd degree rabbit hole :hole: That would change their “belief” on who set up their country! Lol :laughing:


Btw - just a group of guys who liked to drink, didn’t care much for religion or kings.

The idea that this is a country for white protestants is very pervasive. The pledge of allegiance recited everyday in most public schools and at at the beginning of many government functions is proof of that. It’s author’s stated aim was to instill Americanism (white protestant values) in immigrants. The “one nation under god” line is wrong in so many ways. If the JW’s accomplished anything in this world it was their tenacity in stopping it from being required by law that you stand and recite it. It had the unintended consequence of helping atheist with their objections to it. Unintended consequences are a bitch :slight_smile:. I recited it mindlessly as a kid and I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be the poor bastards singled out for not doing it. It never happened in a class I was in, though there were a few JW’s around. It can still get you in trouble for not reciting it, and not saying it is enough to keep you from being reelected in a lot of places. A local station films a class of school children reciting it every morning and lately it’s been playing on the break room t.v. before we clock in. It’s a scary looking bit of brain washing. Is this a fairly unique practice by the U.S. at this time? Does Canada, the U.K. etc. have anything similar?