Does Our Morality Derive from Natural or Supernatural Causes?

Andy Thomson always gives me those moments of epiphany where I go, "Oh yeah, that's so basic!" Great lecturer.

You can watch the rest of the Atheist Alliance International 2009 videos over at Commonsense Atheism and on YouTube.


  1. Phew. I'm glad it turned out to be natural causes. I guess I should stop eating this baby now...

  2. What a modest proposal you make. ;)~

  3. Thanks for the video. I enjoyed it very much as the question of morality is an important one for all of us & one the religious like to hold over our heads. This was a really good lecture it gave me a lot to think about. One thing that struck me was the conclusion that morality was hard wired into our brains(from the experiment w/the 6 mth old babies). This points to the idea that a moral upbringing would reaffirm & enforce our innate morality. That could be used as a justification for a religious upbringing. There is a sense of moral concreteness that religion brings to the table with its absolutes, sense of authority, group identity, etc... these things help integrate religion into a society. My hope is that as time goes on secular humanists will be able to integrate their own understanding & sense of morality in a way that is more constructive to humankind.

  4. Rita-

    Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I enjoyed the video also. I try and post fun and educational things which support and sustain my atheistic and naturalistic world views as a way to inform others that there is a viable alternative. Also just to keep things fun and fresh.

    I mean, there are only so many long winded essays people are willing to read before they get bored with what I have to say. It's sometimes nice to see and hear what others are saying.

    And I think humanists have been incorporating peaceful and ethical ways of social living for thousands of years. I don't think religion has any monopoly on morality.

    Sometimes religion can give a sense of purpose through organization, guidance, and ritual, but such guidance doesn't always equate with more ethical or moral practices or beliefs.

    Being regiment is one thing, but maintaining dignity and a sense of right, regardless of the teachings of the institution is another. I feel that many choose loyalty for the institution over doing what's right--and that's why religion can "brainwash" people into following it into holy wars and all kinds of pogroms against their fellow human kind.

    So religion may work to herd the cohorts and unify them under a banner of faith... but if this faith is inherently corrupted or flawed to begin with, then it's not so much an issue of 'religious' morality as it is individual morality counteracting the oft negative religious influences. And I think this is an important distinction.

    It is an important distinction, because if religion did make people more moral, it would be working--and all observation precludes this possibility. Thus we know it is false, religion does not make people more moral.

    What I believe is really happening when people say that religion makes them better moral citizens is that they have found a way to organize their goals, thoughts, and aspirations and then apply them to a social system which functions and give them a net gain.

    Therefore, they think it works in their favor, since before religion they had all these troubles and tribulations, real world stresses and fears. But after organizing according the their prefered faith, they are fashioned into drones following the orders from on high, and begin to function in a more organized, regiment way, and such behavior is rewarded by a community of religious followers.

    Thus feel they have succeeded with the aid of the religious model, and because they have this sense of success, social acceptance, and relief from the anxiety of everyday life, they find merit in religion. Ergo they feel religion makes them more successful better people, therefore more moral, and that they couldn't do without it.

    Yet all this is just an illusion, since outmoded religious practices rarely ever makes a person more moral. They might find benefit in the practice of religion, but the practice of religion is often counter-intuitive to the greater social good.

    Thus, under the religious scheme, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. And this causes a bias where favoritism and loyalty can breed dogmatic zeal and undying devotion to the cause--regardless of it being moral or not.

    Religious hijackers flying planes into buildings is a good example where the practitioners of the faith believed they were doing the moral thing, according to their faith it was, but it directly goes against the greater good of society in full, not to mention humankind specifically, and so reveals that the pious belief that religion brings moral behavior is an artificial illusion. Religion does not bring us morality. We bring morality to religion.

    Again, thanks for your comments!


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