A really simple way to unhinge God from morality

Yeah, you know that old canard: without God in the picture, there's no reason to consider anything right or wrong, to treat anyone kindly instead of cruelly.

So, try this. Think of someone you love. Your wife, husband, gf/bf, best friend, mother or father, black cat, etc. Imagine there were no rules. No commandments or laws. What's stopping you from gutting that person and bathing in their entrails? Remember, it's not illegal and there's no commandment not to do it. So why not go for a nice warm intestine bath? Next time someone shows you their brand new baby, why not just take the baby and toss it in the street? And don't let your friend's dog drool all over you – just stab it a few dozen times! Can you think of one single reason, just one, why you might not think it's a good idea to do any of these things?

I'd wage that any reasonable person can think of several. First of all, we have an innate sense of empathy toward others most of the time that acts as a sort of bulwark against violence. We recognize that they feel pain just like we do. So at a biological level, most of us don't want to do violent things for no reason.

Then there's the fact that we realize there are consequences, regardless of any laws. If we could all just indiscriminately kill each other, we could never trust each other. If we couldn't do that, then we could never cooperate. That means no division of labor, no sharing of resources, no sacrifices for one another. We're all left to survive completely on our own – against nature, disease, starvation, predators, and ninjas.

We can probably even think of some good reasons to be truly altruistic. Maybe we help others in need because we recognize that it could just as easily be us in need and we'd like to live in a world where we or our loved ones are taken care of when they can't take care of themselves, instead of a world where everyone who's powerless to stop their own suffering is simply left to the wolves.

Really, it's an easy argument for the non-believer to win. We don't have to prove that objective morality doesn't exist or that God doesn't exist. All we have to do is show the believer that they can probably think of at least one pragmatic reason why they shouldn't treat others cruelly. That's enough to prove that moral behavior is not dependent on any God or any commandment, but on our shared humanity.


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