An Atheist on Morality…
Einstein did not believe in God, as many [mistakenly] claim.
Albert Einstein said, “My position concerning God is that of an agnostic.” He clarified, “The word God is, for me, nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
Atheists don’t believe in God either. Not any god/s. Ever. Unlike Agnostics, open to the possibility of a ‘higher power,’ or ‘collective, sentient being,’ Einstein believed in neither. Agnostic is politically correct, less threatening than Atheist, especially during Albert’s time, born a Jew, and existing on federal and university funding.
I am an Atheist. I do not recognize the Old or New Testament, and related works illuminating the adventures of a divine being as anything more than fiction — parables by some wise, some ignorant, but guaranteed partisan male scribes with an agenda to dominate and control others.
So, when I need money, [as an Atheist] why don’t I go rob someone? Or shoplift?
When I’m attracted to my neighbor’s husband, why don’t I hit on him, get intimate if he’s into it?
When I get pissed off at the driver on their cellphone that just cut me off, why don’t I just shoot her?
Snatch & Run, illicit affairs, even murder these days, and the odds of getting caught for these crimes are somewhat nominal if done discreetly. Fear of being busted is not the main motivation that prevents me from committing these, and ‘lesser’ crimes, like lying, cheating, and behaviors that most would agree, religious or not, are moral infractions.
If I believe I answer to no higher power, where do I get my morality?
Einstein said, “We have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem — the most important of all human problems.”
Without a priest, rabbi, or holy man telling me what to think and how to vote, and with no guidance from an omniscient god, or unbiased media outlet, I must consider my moral obligations.
Why should I bother, and how do I know ‘right from wrong’ without a ‘divine doctrine’ to guide me?
If my parents had not gifted me life, and their parents before them…etc., I would not be here now, emersed in this experience of living. I am born owing Humanity and everything on this planet that supports our life here. We all are. All of us have a moral obligation to do our part to ensure the human race survives, and gift those to be the experience of being human.
Humans are social beings. It is mandatory we work together to survive and even thrive. We require a social structure — laws, and rules of conduct with mutually agreed-upon baselines we all must practice to partner. Breaking these rules annihilates our trust in each other, corrupting the very foundation on which relationships are built.
As an Atheist, why don’t I steal?
Do Not Steal is [generally] a mutually agreed-upon baseline. Contrary to religious rhetoric, it is not a biblical notion by some partisan scribe. Way before the written word, it proved to be a sensible rule to build trust.
I used to shoplift. My older sister showed me how when I was 7, and I stole from the local art supply store a few times until I got busted for pocketing Prismacolor pencils. The shop clerk called my mother instead of the cops. Riding home with my mom that afternoon, she explained to me that I was robbing her, my dad, and most everyone else, including myself because the store passed on the lost income from shoplifting by increasing the cost of their products.
I created a rift with my mom, who was disappointed in me for stealing when she ‘taught me better than that.’ I created a rift with the art supply shop clerk who I saw often as a frequent customer of the store. And with my mom’s information, I understood I was serving no one shoplifting, perhaps especially myself.
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. It encourages communication, connection, and intimacy. Intimacy incentivizes reproduction. Having children ensures the human race continues to exist. (Most of us have heard the derisive term “Breeders,” referring to parents, but the absurdity of this view is lost on the idiots who use this word, as they could not utter it if they’d never been born.)
As an Atheist, why don’t I screw my neighbor’s husband?
I’ve been married for 27 years, and I have not and will never have an affair. Why? Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14) is not strictly biblical either. Ancient scribes adopted this notion as law from observing 200,000 years of human history.
If I have an affair with my neighbor’s husband (or wife), I am participating in creating a rift in their marriage. Even if our affair goes undiscovered, it changes the dynamic between the married couple with an intimate third now part of their once exclusive, mutually agreed-upon partnership. The rift generates a ripple effect of discord that touches the lives of many, even the adulterers, dividing households, destroying friendships, business relationships, and sometimes lead to war.
Humans must work together to survive and thrive. War in our house or our nation is divisive and counterproductive to our continued evolution.
As an Atheist, why don’t I shoot the driver on her cell?
I fantasize about it sometimes, don’t you? Vaporizing at the idiot driver in front of you going 45 miles an hr in the fast lane while she’s texting. Seriously, I want her off the road, gone from harming anyone with her sheer arrogance in acting as if she is the One who can manage driving when statistically she is the cause of most accidents today. The cross dangling from her neck neglected to instill the value system Jesus preached: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31).
It is our moral obligation to watch out for each other. Caring for others beyond ourselves is part of what makes our social structure work. If that bitch behind the wheel on her cell hurts me, or my kids, or anyone I care about, I’m going to want to hurt her. It’s human nature to want to hurt those who have hurt us. Hurting each other, whether by thoughtlessness or intent threatens our survival and our ability to thrive.
Religion did not invent morality.
Our collective value system, the laws and rules of engagement most of us live by, religious or not, may have been written by biblical scribes, but not invented by them. The history of humanity has shown us what works and what doesn’t to preserve and encourage our evolution.
“…treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem,” Einstein said. In other words, morality is determined by humans, not handed down from on-high by some obscure being requiring blind obedience invented by partisan men looking to control the masses.
Praying for less extreme weather [from global warming], or lunatics with AR-15s to stop mass killings, or for equitable socioeconomics won’t change anything. Even if you don’t text or scroll while driving, or participate in sexual affairs, or steal, we all have a moral obligation to ensure life continues here long after we’re dead. We owe those that follow us the complex and spectacular journey of being human that we have been gifted.
Atheist or religious, we all must recognize and actualize our moral obligations to each other and this planet for humanity to survive, and thrive.
Cited Notable Facts:
Murder rates are lower in more secular nations and higher in more religious countries where belief in God is deep and widespread. (Jensen 2006; Paul 2005; Fajnzylber et al. 2002; Fox and Levin 2000)
Within U.S., the states with the highest murder rates tend to be highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon. (Ellison et al. 2003; Death Penalty Information Center, 2008)
Rates of most violent crimes tend to be lower in the less religious states and higher in the most religious states. (United States Census Bureau, 2006)
The top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries, and of the eight cities within the United States that make the safest-city list, nearly all are located in the least religious regions of the country. (Mercer Survey, 2008)
Domestic terrorists of the American far right are driven by zeal for heretical distortions of Christian theology. (Paul de Armond, DOJ, 1999) Christian nationalism [is] a serious and growing threat to our democracy. (Robert P. Jones, TIME Magazine, 2022)
Marketing Religion blog post with additional cited notable facts.