Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Atheists have no morality, apparently

According to someone who just commented on a really old entry:

i dont understand how a person cannot believe in god. because if one doesnt believe that their is a god, than that means their is no right or wrong

Could someone explain to me the rationale behind that? Since when did I have to resort to a divine being who allegedly exists to know what is right or wrong?
You can probably tell that I’m a law-abiding citizen, so I must be getting my sense of morality from somewhere. Just because I choose not to follow the teachings of the bible, that doesn’t mean I’m some immoral prat.
Here is the comment as posted.


  1. I think the point, if I understand right, has more to do with rationale behind your moral view. If there is no God, then how can their be right and wrong? This isn’t to say that one who doesn’t believe in God can’t understand right and wrong, but rather questions how right and wrong can exist without a form of absolute truth to make it right and wrong. Said another way, from this view, one can argue that you might not believe in God, but the fact that you acknowledge the existance of right and wrong would relate to the fact that God exists whether you believe it or not (ex: if you don’t believe President Bush exists, that doesn’t change the fact that you will feel the impact of him existing).
    Key here is that you can have laws without God, but a moral law (that is a law by which we can judge the laws of governments) is not possible unless there is a higher authority than all of the governments themselves.
    If there is not, then the law is relative to each society, meaning that if some societies feel that a practice that appalls us, say human sacrifice, is moral, we have no position to argue otherwise, since there is no law by which we can say “this is immoral.” If we say it is immoral, even though their society clearly accepts it, then we either must (1) argue our relative moral code is superior — very hard to do or (2) argue that there is an absolute moral code that this goes against. If we argue (2), then where did such an absolute moral code come from without a Creator?
    If you take the view of C.S. Lewis (and many others, but he does a good job of presenting it), he would argue that atheists would be moral for the most part, just like everyone else. That’s because there is a Natural Law that is already “embedded” (so to speak) in everyone. This law is the law that helps us to form our laws, and also causes the larger majority to be able to argue against obviously immoral concepts such as human sacrifice.

  2. Dude, we can be immoral atheist prats together.
    *rolls eyes*
    My RA did the thing of hanging up all the Campus Jesus Clubs Posters next to my door (my room is the first on the wing, so it’s a high traffic area). Cal asked me how I feel about having every Jesus poster in existence next to my door, I told him I feel like putting up the Bad Religion Crossbuster logo on my whiteboard. Although it’d probably get ganked.
    The point: a tonload of people here think that no religion = no morals. I feel a rant coming on, but I shall end it here.
    P.s. NICE RACK! 😛

  3. Tim, thanks for your comments – I would offer a response if it weren’t so early in the morning.
    I have to admit the post was modified before posting – originally it was much more harsh but then I realised that would be immoral…

  4. Hi Neil: Glad to oblige.
    Based on your second remark (about editing), I want to emphasize that I meant no harm with the post, but simply couldn’t resist the chance to discuss philosophy. I think it’s a really interesting subject and would find your views interesting to hear about should you have a chance to post ’em when it isn’t early morning. 🙂