Moral Values do not Require Gods or Religion:
A popular claim among religious theists is that atheists have no basis for morality — that religion and gods are needed for moral values. Usually they mean their religion and god, but sometimes they seem willing to accept any religion and any god. The truth is that neither religions nor gods are necessary for morality, ethics, or values. They can exist in a godless, secular context just fine, as demonstrated by all the godless atheists who lead moral lives every day.
Without personal autonomy, morality is not possible. If we are simply robots following orders, then our actions can only be described as obedient or disobedient; mere obedience, however, cannot be morality. We need the ability to choose what to do and to choose the moral action. Autonomy is also important because we are not treating others morally if we prevent them from enjoying the same level of autonomy which we require for ourselves.
I can almost hear religious believers asking "What's the basis for being moral in the first place? What reason is there to care about behaving morally at all?" Some believers imagine themselves clever for asking this, certain that it cannot be answered. It's only the cleverness of a teenage solipsist who thinks he has stumbled on a way to refute every argument or belief by adopting extreme skepticism. The problem with this question is that it presumes that morality is something that can be separated from human society and consciousness and independently grounded, justified, or explained. It's like removing a person's liver and demanding an explanation for why it — and it alone — exists while ignoring the body they've left bleeding out on the ground. Morality is as integral to human society as a person's major organs are integral to the human body: although the functions of each can be discussed independently, explanations for each can only occur in the context of the entire system. Religious believers who see...
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