Where does “morality” come from? That question is one I had never asked myself or others while I grew up, I just accepted that it was there, but since becoming atheistic in what I believe, it is a question I have encountered many times and with great debate. I had always assumed that what we call morality came from the god I had believed in, that all people had the same morals unless they did not believe in god period. I thought those who were atheistic just retained the morals they were taught, so no harm, no foul right? Wrong. As a fellow atheist these past 2 years now, I highly take offense when my morals are attributed to a deity, more so the monotheistic deity of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and often I try and explain to others how we most likely came up with our morals. I had to think hard on how we came up with morals as I became more atheistic since I knew my morals did not come from an almighty god. Here I will explain my hypothesis on how man came up with morals and why it makes more sense and is rational compared to the theistic faiths claims. A year or so into my atheism, I had discovered my “discovery” was not mine at all, but shared by many, so here we go.
In the earliest days of man, when there were not as many humans on earth as there is today, we relied heavily upon one another. Anthropologists tell us that the death of one member could be enough to doom the survival of the clan as more numbers meant better chances of catching food to eat. They were close to one another and cared for one another, as we are told by archeological evidence. In these early days man discovered that if another man killed a member of their clan, that that murder would affect every ones survival, as well, it emotionally had a toll on the other loved ones. The clan most likely discussed these events, and came to a conclusion that murder was not good, thus it was a bad, harmful thing. They made a social contract that they would not murder one another, and if that contract was broken, the offender if he was lucky would be shunned and sent off on his own, which generally lead to the offenders death, for he could rarely survive on his or her own, or death straight away for his murder committed. I have always thought murder would be the most likely candidate for the creation of a social contract amongst men, one we would later call our morals. I say murder first, because the bands of clans for humans would have been small, and the urge to rape most likely not that common yet, in a smaller group of 5-8 people. The chances of males going without sex in those small numbers would have been rare, thus less urge to rape.
Later as time went by and we began to populate the earth in greater numbers, we had a need to add to the social contract of what was right and wrong, and what punishments for offenses would be. We had added things like rape and theft to our social contracts. I do not have a clue how long it took us to come up with many of our morals that we created via a social contract, but I am pretty confident that we human beings as we advanced in our ways of thinking changed, or added to our social contracts. Not all societies share the same social contracts, or what many call morals.
The Monotheists claim that morals come from god, and as one Christian I debated claimed, that morals are absolute and do not change, because “god” was absolute. If this so called mythical god was real and morals where of his design, then why have most modern societies done away with this gods morals? We find in the first three books of the Judaic Torah and Christian Old Testament that slavery was moral, it told you who could be owned as slaves, for how long one could own a slave in years wise, and how one was allowed to treat a slave, least of all it also states punishments for those who abused those laws on slavery. We are told it was a law to stone our unruly children, that we are to stone homosexuals and that if a woman commits adultery she is to be stoned, but if a man commits adultery, he is only beaten. These are just some of the moral standards of the Judeo-Christian bible. I had stated earlier that we add to or change our social contract, and these are examples that we can see we people have changed, not a mythical god. This so call god did not do away with slavery, we humans did. God did not give the African American people their civil rights, we humans did. Today we now have laws that protect children from child abuse and we are now on the verge of seeing the civil rights given to the LGBT community finally in many countries. WE the majority of the people, our voices stated what we will accept as moral or immoral, not some mythical deity.
We over turned the morals of the bible and conformed them as one voice, we in our government systems have voted these laws into our societies, whether a minority agrees or not, they are what they are, our social contracts, our morals. Not all societies share these morals, they again are not absolute. In Islamic countries it is a crime to speak against Mohammad or Allah, the crime can be imprisonment, to a publicly sever beating, to a death sentence or Fatwa. This is law and moral belief in these countries. This is their absolute truths. We in our Western societies would never accept something like this as legal or moral, we would be outraged! In some African countries there are governments that condone rape of lesbians, they call it “Corrective Rape”, and they are bringing these lesbians back to “god”, on the other hand, they just kill the men who are gay. This is just an excuse by these governments and bigoted people to rape and murder those who do not subscribe to their religious beliefs. In our Western society we are outraged over their so called “moral” conduct, their social contract. These are just two examples of different societies with two different social contracts, or moral belief systems, YET, they all believe in this same “Absolute god”, this Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity. What is absolute between our social contracts or morals and there’s? They are black and white to one another, apple and oranges.
We rob ourselves of our ability to act and think for ourselves. We short ourselves the credit we deserve for correcting our past errors in our social contracts and our morals. More of us need to stand up and take credit where credit is due, and stop placing it on a mythical, none existent deity. I for one take pride that we the people have evolved enough to learn from our past mistakes eventually and start changing them. We may not learn as quickly as other animals, but we do eventually catch on. What will be the next major change in our social contract? The rights for us Free Thinkers? AA-Bruce