Atheists Should Not be Moral Subjectivists

An atheist on CARM posted the following as the OP of a thread:

Many Christians have argued that there are objective moral values. Yet it seems as if all humans get their morals from reality and that morals vary from culture to culture and sometimes from person to person within a culture. If there are objective moral values, how would we know it? And what purpose would it serve if we all have morals based on reality?

I posted this in response:

Hi, I’m an atheist and I am near the end of a BA in philosophy.

I think it is mistaken, on both rational and polemical grounds, for atheists to argue against the existence of objective morality.

All living things face the alternative of life or death, and every living thing has a means of survival to keep them alive in the face of this alternative. Plants have their automatic chemical functions, and the lower animals have instincts. Human beings, however, use reason as their means of survival, which means that they have to exert effort and think about the way they live, not depend on their automatic functions. It is necessary for a human being to define a set of moral principles to live by, and the only rational standard for a moral code is life.

Most people sense that morality has a life preserving function. As a result, they react strongly to the idea that morality is merely subjective, and see this idea as destructive, although they may lack the conceptual tools to articulate this properly. If people have to choose between religion and moral subjectivism, then they will choose religion, as the fundamentalists on this forum illustrate daily.

The only hope for atheists is to articulate a set of secular values that are based on life and disseminate these values into the culture. Such a set of values has been defined by Ayn Rand, and she has provided the means for disseminating them by presenting them in the form of art, i.e., her novels.

You can find elaboration on the argument I made in the above post here.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-rand-ideas/the-objectivist-ethics.html

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2 thoughts on “Atheists Should Not be Moral Subjectivists

  1. dstamps2173

    Your statement as follows:
    “All living things face the alternative of life or death, and every living thing has a means of survival to keep them alive in the face of this alternative. Plants have their automatic chemical functions, and the lower animals have instincts. Human beings, however, use reason as their means of survival, which means that they have to exert effort and think about the way they live, not depend on their automatic functions. It is necessary for a human being to define a set of moral principles to live by, and the only rational standard for a moral code is life.”

    Is not really accurate for the way things are.
    All living things have automatic chemical functions that affect their behavior. All living things have what you call “instincts”. As you move up the chain of life, the ability to think and make choices does play a bigger part in how the entity responds to life situations. Therefore, they may override the more basic life functions depending on the life situation they are facing.

    Instinct is a poor explanation for what we see in some living entities because it implies a process encoded in the DNA or something physical. The monarch butterfly is an obvious example. Physically, the monarch butterfly goes through 4 stages during a life cycle of 2 to 6 weeks for 3 generations and a life cycle of 6 to 8 months for the fourth generation. After 4 generations the life cycles repeat over and over. The 4th generation monarch butterfly looks exactly like the other 3 generations.

    The first 3 generations of monarch butterfly found in the U.S. all travel north from Mexico to Canada; but the 4th generation travels all the way from Canada to a particular location in Mexico. Monarchs can be captured in Canada and moved to Washington D.C. and those Monarchs will still head for that particular location in Mexico.

    There are Monarchs in other parts of the world that do not migrate from Mexico to Canada and back but have the same 4 generations. I doubt that their DNA is different from the U.S. monarchs.

    Then in humans we have people born with abnormal abilities–human calculators, perfect memories of all they have lived, and many kinds of savants with very abnormal aptitudes.

    There is one answer for all as revealed in the Bible. Life is the essence of Reality. Created life begins without order (And the earth was without form, and void). Each living entity, though, enters life with some ordered life that directs the way it interacts with life situations–similar to human motives. As entities move from the lower forms to the higher, they begin to receive life without order (living water) that is used to store their learned ways. As they learn, the life becomes ordered accordingly. It is clear in humans that we have intellectual and feeling sides. Feelings are expressed by ordered life which has motives. The intellectual aspect of humans deals with the physical world as a computer stores data. The feeling aspect deals with the internal needs of the entity. The intellectual is the male aspect while the feeling aspect is female.

    For humans, our intellectual data is stored in the brain, but our lifestyles (ordered life) is on a higher plane of Reality. When our body dies, so does the intellectual data–returns to the dust from which it came. Our lifestyles still exist on the higher plane until they are kept or returned to life without order.

    As you can see GOD has a simple way to create all kinds of entities with varying ways of approaching life situations to give them their place in Reality. At the same time, HIS created life is becoming ordered through freewill choices in order to create Souls accordingly.

    Reply
  2. ontologicalrealist

    Hello dstamps2173,
    You said, “Life is the essence of Reality.”
    What do you mean by Reality? Give an example of Reality. What is non Reality? Give an example of non Reality.
    What is the difference between “Reality” and “reality” ?

    Reply

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