Non-Christian On God and Morality

The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, without noticing that in casting God aside they have also abolished the meaningfulness of right and wrong as well.  Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things as war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights are morally wrong, and they imagine that they have said something true and meaningful.  Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion.

  – A prominent non-Christian American philosopher

Richard Taylor(1919-2003)

Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:  Prentice-Hall,  1985), pp. 2-3

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5 thoughts on “Non-Christian On God and Morality

  1. “. . . questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion.”

    That’s because in order to answer any moral question objectively, there has to be agreement on what the goals of the answer will be. For instance, is the goal of the answer to maximize the well-being of a subset of creatures on the planet? If so, which subset; humans, mammals, all living creatures, etc.? Even if that subset can be agreed upon, the time frame in question must be agreed upon, too. Even if we agree on the subset of creatures (humans, for instance), we still have to agree on the time frame we’re trying to maximize well-being. Is it over the next hour, day, week, year, or decade? (You can see I don’t think Sam Harris has all the answers to this question.)

    If we agree that the best thing to do from a moral standpoint is whatever is required to maximize the well-being and minimize the suffering of the human race over the next 5000 years, a strong case could be made for reducing the current population of humans on the planet by half, given the resources on Earth.

    I actually think the question of morality is one of the driving forces behind the success of religion. It is sometimes difficult to get people to do what you want them to do, but if you come up with a supernatural being who lays down the law, then all you have to do is convince people they should follow your supernatural being, or face consequences either in this life or the afterlife.

      • “But Brap, we may want to maximize the well-being, but why is maximizing the well-being of human creature good?”

        Whether it is good or not is just a matter of opinion. It’s one of countless opinions about what we should or should not strive for when deciding what actions to take.

        If two people agree that maximizing fear in a certain population of people is something they should strive for, then they can objectively decide the relative merits of various actions toward meeting that goal. When they carry out those actions, both people will then believe they are doing good.

        • Running toward relativistic values does not explain why we should maximize the well-being of human creature. Remember there are right and wrong opinions. So you did not answer the question?

      • If your question is this: “why is maximizing the well-being of human creature good?”

        My answer is this: I never claimed it was good.

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