Morality Without God?

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KravMagaSelfDefense
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Morality Without God?

#1

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:16 am

I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#2

Post by Byblos » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:04 pm

KravMagaSelfDefense wrote:I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?
The question to ask is: is there an atheist response that makes any sense at all? And the answer is no.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#3

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:37 pm

Byblos wrote:
KravMagaSelfDefense wrote:I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?
The question to ask is: is there an atheist response that makes any sense at all? And the answer is no.
Well I know if I were an atheist I'd have a hard time thinking up a response, but who knows, atheists have said a lot of strange things over the years to get out of these kinds of dilemmas.
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#4

Post by Echoside » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:06 pm

KravMagaSelfDefense wrote:I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?

An atheist doesn't need to believe the moral law exists to make the argument, he only needs to assume it exists for the purpose of the hypothetical "If god exists, then he should not be in contradiction with the moral law".

To say that they are subconsciously appealing to a moral law means you are assuming that your position is correct, which is obviously fallacious since your position is what you are trying to defend in the first place.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#5

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:51 pm

Echoside wrote:
KravMagaSelfDefense wrote:I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?

An atheist doesn't need to believe the moral law exists to make the argument, he only needs to assume it exists for the purpose of the hypothetical "If god exists, then he should not be in contradiction with the moral law".

To say that they are subconsciously appealing to a moral law means you are assuming that your position is correct, which is obviously fallacious since your position is what you are trying to defend in the first place.
Thanks for the feedback. I am slightly confused by your reply. You said, "To say that they are subconsciously appealing to a moral law means you are assuming that your position is correct, which is obviously fallacious since your position is what you are trying to defend in the first place."
Did you mean "moral lawgiver" rather than "moral law"?
That is not fallacious in the least. A law of the nature of moral law requires an origin, and logically the best option is a lawgiver, otherwise you might hypothesize that moral law "just is," is eternal and independent of any origin, which doesn't really make philosophical sense.

I think the point of my post wasn't really a defense of theism, it was more meant as a diplomatic offense towards atheism, my point was that atheism is at odds with the absolute values that people assume there to be.
"An atheist doesn't need to believe the moral law exists to make the argument, he only needs to assume it exists for the purpose of the hypothetical..."
This makes little sense to me. Assuming the existence of something is the same as believing in it.
If I assume that fairies exist for any reason, I am making a presupposition of, which is the same as believing in, fairies. But if moral law really doesn't exist, then why is the atheist introducing the hypothetical at all? It is a self-defeating argument. You cannot use moral law to argue against God, because in arguing against God you are arguing against the only logical origin for your moral law with which you argue.
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#6

Post by Echoside » Sat Jul 23, 2011 9:38 pm

KravMagaSelfDefense wrote: Thanks for the feedback. I am slightly confused by your reply. You said, "To say that they are subconsciously appealing to a moral law means you are assuming that your position is correct, which is obviously fallacious since your position is what you are trying to defend in the first place."
Did you mean "moral lawgiver" rather than "moral law"?
That is not fallacious in the least. A law of the nature of moral law requires an origin, and logically the best option is a lawgiver, otherwise you might hypothesize that moral law "just is," is eternal and independent of any origin, which doesn't really make philosophical sense.

I think the point of my post wasn't really a defense of theism, it was more meant as a diplomatic offense towards atheism, my point was that atheism is at odds with the absolute values that people assume there to be.
"An atheist doesn't need to believe the moral law exists to make the argument, he only needs to assume it exists for the purpose of the hypothetical..."
This makes little sense to me. Assuming the existence of something is the same as believing in it.
If I assume that fairies exist for any reason, I am making a presupposition of, which is the same as believing in, fairies. But if moral law really doesn't exist, then why is the atheist introducing the hypothetical at all? It is a self-defeating argument. You cannot use moral law to argue against God, because in arguing against God you are arguing against the only logical origin for your moral law with which you argue.
a moral lawgiver, objective morality, some standard I suppose.

Atheism is at odds with the values people assume there to be? Who exactly, it's only the atheist's beliefs that matter, and the default position for atheism is moral relativism.

Assuming does not equal belief in a hypothetical scenario. Your fairies scenario is off because you are not assuming they exist for the sake of pointing out inconsistencies with the fairy existing and the traits fairy believers say they have.


You cannot use moral law to argue against God if you actually believe it exists, you can say if God exists, then he is consistent with the moral law. Obviously that statement MUST be true if you assume they both exist, so if you test it and the statement is false then you can discredit the idea. If you want to argue against the problem of evil the only way to do it is show how that statement holds true against criticism.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#7

Post by narnia4 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:41 am

Byblos wrote:
KravMagaSelfDefense wrote:I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?
The question to ask is: is there an atheist response that makes any sense at all? And the answer is no.
Agreed. Honestly, I've never understood the atheism who tries to cling to Christian ideals while rejecting Christianity... it couldn't be more obvious what happens to objective morality without a God. Some sort of nihilism and denial of the existence of actual right and wrong is the only rational position that I can think of that an atheist could hold, and it always surprises me that so few hold that position. I literally see no other choice for them to rationally hold, but instead most cling to theistic notions while rejecting God.

How does an atheist support "gay rights", for example? The idea of any accidental collection of atoms (no more than that) having some sort of inherent "rights" without a Designer is incoherent.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#8

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:52 am

Echoside wrote:
KravMagaSelfDefense wrote: Thanks for the feedback. I am slightly confused by your reply. You said, "To say that they are subconsciously appealing to a moral law means you are assuming that your position is correct, which is obviously fallacious since your position is what you are trying to defend in the first place."
Did you mean "moral lawgiver" rather than "moral law"?
That is not fallacious in the least. A law of the nature of moral law requires an origin, and logically the best option is a lawgiver, otherwise you might hypothesize that moral law "just is," is eternal and independent of any origin, which doesn't really make philosophical sense.

I think the point of my post wasn't really a defense of theism, it was more meant as a diplomatic offense towards atheism, my point was that atheism is at odds with the absolute values that people assume there to be.
"An atheist doesn't need to believe the moral law exists to make the argument, he only needs to assume it exists for the purpose of the hypothetical..."
This makes little sense to me. Assuming the existence of something is the same as believing in it.
If I assume that fairies exist for any reason, I am making a presupposition of, which is the same as believing in, fairies. But if moral law really doesn't exist, then why is the atheist introducing the hypothetical at all? It is a self-defeating argument. You cannot use moral law to argue against God, because in arguing against God you are arguing against the only logical origin for your moral law with which you argue.
a moral lawgiver, objective morality, some standard I suppose.

Atheism is at odds with the values people assume there to be? Who exactly, it's only the atheist's beliefs that matter, and the default position for atheism is moral relativism.

Assuming does not equal belief in a hypothetical scenario. Your fairies scenario is off because you are not assuming they exist for the sake of pointing out inconsistencies with the fairy existing and the traits fairy believers say they have.


You cannot use moral law to argue against God if you actually believe it exists, you can say if God exists, then he is consistent with the moral law. Obviously that statement MUST be true if you assume they both exist, so if you test it and the statement is false then you can discredit the idea. If you want to argue against the problem of evil the only way to do it is show how that statement holds true against criticism.
I must say that you are beginning to lose me just a little... I am beginning to understand a little of what you're saying, that atheists for the most part are satisfied with moral relativism as a viewpoint on the topic, and therefore that my statement that atheists assume absolute moral values is false. What I meant when they assume the existence them is more of a subconscious assumption, they grow up with the premise of there being right and wrong so they translate to their atheism which happens to exclude that premise... that's all I meant to say. Thanks for the responses! :)
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#9

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:55 am

narnia4 wrote:
Byblos wrote:
KravMagaSelfDefense wrote:I've heard a lot of atheists use the argument of evil against the concept of God, which essentially is that the existence of evil disproves God since God is meant to be all good, I think the opposite however, typically I respond to them by saying that the existence of evil points to the existence of good, since evil is the absence of good; and what standard is there for judging good without the concept of God? I've always thought it a good response to say that the fact that they have the moral criteria, the knowledge of moral law, to condemn God means that they have a Moral Law-Giver to whom they subconsciously appeal. Give me some feedback... is there an atheist response to this I haven't heard?
The question to ask is: is there an atheist response that makes any sense at all? And the answer is no.
Agreed. Honestly, I've never understood the atheism who tries to cling to Christian ideals while rejecting Christianity... it couldn't be more obvious what happens to objective morality without a God. Some sort of nihilism and denial of the existence of actual right and wrong is the only rational position that I can think of that an atheist could hold, and it always surprises me that so few hold that position. I literally see no other choice for them to rationally hold, but instead most cling to theistic notions while rejecting God.

How does an atheist support "gay rights", for example? The idea of any accidental collection of atoms (no more than that) having some sort of inherent "rights" without a Designer is incoherent.
I agree totally. I found a blog, for instance, on Tumblr, which was "anti-theist" and "evolutionist" while simultaneously being "anti-racist" and "anti-sexist," I anonymously sent a message asking her to justify those "tolerant" views, seems to me that an evolutionist would be perfectly fine with racism and sexism, aren't those perfect examples of the work of natural selection?
Great response. Thanks!
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#10

Post by Seraph » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:54 am

Trying to argue that objective morality exists without a moral God is futile. If Atheism and Metaphysical Naturalism are true, then Nihilism is true no matter which way you slice it.

However, from what I've seen, the more sensible of the "moral" Atheists who have actually given thought to the matter typically acknowledge that there is no objective standard of morality in their worldview, but they say that the relative is just as valid as the absolute in their view. In their worldview, since there is no God and people are the highest form of life, there is nothing wrong with saying "I act by this set of morals because I want to, not because I believe they are inherently and objectively moral. I WANT to help mankind, therefore I try to fight sexism and racism". Which I admit, I think is somewhat noble of them, even if I as a Christian don't hold that view of morality. Just because you don't believe in objective morality doesn't mean you will go off the deep end and actively try to do the opposite of what is considered moral.
must say that you are beginning to lose me just a little... I am beginning to understand a little of what you're saying, that atheists for the most part are satisfied with moral relativism as a viewpoint on the topic, and therefore that my statement that atheists assume absolute moral values is false. What I meant when they assume the existence them is more of a subconscious assumption, they grow up with the premise of there being right and wrong so they translate to their atheism which happens to exclude that premise... that's all I meant to say. Thanks for the responses!
I'll try to help out where I can. What Echoside is saying is that it's fallacious to say that Atheists appealing to the "problem of evil" are not saying that God is evil by their objective standard, but are saying that the God (when compared with the amount of disaster present in the world) appears to be less-than-good by the Bible's own standard of morality. Because of this, it is fallacious to say that Atheists have no grounds to say God appears evil because they don't believe in objective morality. They aren't saying they believe it, they are saying there is a contradiction of you do believe in both God and Biblical morality. I would agree that rather than use this arguement as a response to he philosophical "problem of evil", Christians ought to use others.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#11

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:40 am

Seraph wrote:Trying to argue that objective morality exists without a moral God is futile. If Atheism and Metaphysical Naturalism are true, then Nihilism is true no matter which way you slice it.

However, from what I've seen, the more sensible of the "moral" Atheists who have actually given thought to the matter typically acknowledge that there is no objective standard of morality in their worldview, but they say that the relative is just as valid as the absolute in their view. In their worldview, since there is no God and people are the highest form of life, there is nothing wrong with saying "I act by this set of morals because I want to, not because I believe they are inherently and objectively moral. I WANT to help mankind, therefore I try to fight sexism and racism". Which I admit, I think is somewhat noble of them, even if I as a Christian don't hold that view of morality. Just because you don't believe in objective morality doesn't mean you will go off the deep end and actively try to do the opposite of what is considered moral.
must say that you are beginning to lose me just a little... I am beginning to understand a little of what you're saying, that atheists for the most part are satisfied with moral relativism as a viewpoint on the topic, and therefore that my statement that atheists assume absolute moral values is false. What I meant when they assume the existence them is more of a subconscious assumption, they grow up with the premise of there being right and wrong so they translate to their atheism which happens to exclude that premise... that's all I meant to say. Thanks for the responses!
I'll try to help out where I can. What Echoside is saying is that it's fallacious to say that Atheists appealing to the "problem of evil" are not saying that God is evil by their objective standard, but are saying that the God (when compared with the amount of disaster present in the world) appears to be less-than-good by the Bible's own standard of morality. Because of this, it is fallacious to say that Atheists have no grounds to say God appears evil because they don't believe in objective morality. They aren't saying they believe it, they are saying there is a contradiction of you do believe in both God and Biblical morality. I would agree that rather than use this arguement as a response to he philosophical "problem of evil", Christians ought to use others.
That clears it up. My response to that probably would be that someone saying there is an objective problem with two contradictory ideas - in this case the actions of the God of the Bible and Biblical morality - assumes yet another absolute code of laws, that of logic. There are certain laws that don't come merely from human constructs, absolute laws such as "something is what it is," or "equals added to equals are equals," or "two contradictory statements cannot both simultaneously be true," or "it is objectively errant reasoning to presume a conclusion in order to prove it (circular reasoning.)" The truth is that if the atheist says "well there may not be absolute morality but if there is, then God is at odds with it and therefore can't exist," he presumes the absolute dictates of objective laws of logic, which clearly in his worldview of materialism have no justification.

Another response probably would be that God is NOT at odds with Biblical morality, typically the example atheists bring up is the Old Testament where God exterminates the Amorites and the people of Canaan. I would respond to that by saying that the Bible says the people were desperately wicked and God gave them thousands of years to repent. Justice is all about punishing evil and rewarding good, and justice was served to those peoples.

I've heard it said in response to THAT that "well we don't know the people of canaan were desperately evil or that God gave them thousands of years to repent, there must be evidence outside the Bible in order for that to be credible."
I would respond by saying, "Why do you believe the Bible when it says that the Israelites killed all these people, but you don't believe it when it says the people were evil or that God gave them this long time to repent?"
That is like a jury accepting without evidence a man's testimony that he killed another man but rejecting his testimony that it was in self-defense because there's no evidence.

Anyway those are just my thoughts, thanks for re-wording EchoSide's reply, I was having a little bit of trouble interpreting it. Thanks for the response! :)
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Re: Morality Without God?

#12

Post by Seraph » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:02 am

I'd say thats a rather solid response to the problem of evil. :esmile:

Although, in response to the first point about absolutes like logic, I think Atheists would say that there is no absolute morality, but there is still an absolute external reality where things like physical laws exist that a functional form of logic that decodes reality can stem from.
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Re: Morality Without God?

#13

Post by KravMagaSelfDefense » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:06 am

Seraph wrote:I'd say thats a rather solid response to the problem of evil. :esmile:

Although, in response to the first point about absolutes like logic, I think Atheists would say that there is no absolute morality, but there is still an absolute external reality where things like physical laws exist that a functional form of logic that decodes reality can stem from.
Perhaps. But of course morality, and not logic, remains the big obstacle for the atheist. Thanks for your response!
Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. ~Author Unknown
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning. - C.S. Lewis.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#14

Post by Echoside » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:54 pm

Thanks seraph for translating that a bit :lol:

Yea that's basically exactly what I was thinking, and for the record I don't believe the problem of evil is actually a problem, just the way it's approached or lazily brushed off by some theists with the (in my opinion) less satisfactory answer that is generally said.

Another follow up question someone could ask even conceding the point would be : So what if I believe in a creator (deism) who might have structured these objective laws into the universe. You still need to show the consistencies between biblical morality and God at this point.

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Re: Morality Without God?

#15

Post by Butterfly » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:02 am

Addressing the question of the title of this thread, “Morality without God?”, I find it quite easy to trace out the origins of morality without the need of a divine source.

Once consciousness arose in animals the next step was self-consciousness, the state of being aware of oneself...from the point that humans became aware they naturally connected the idea of right and wrong using themselves as the model for morality.

When one is aware of disliking something done to their own selves, one then projects that dislike onto others, hence the birth of the "Golden Rule" or "Morality". Self-consciousness is the state from which morality was born, that is what sets us apart from all the other animals...the ability to project our own feelings and desires onto another being and know that it is either right or wrong because of our own awareness.

Self-awareness also gave birth to the idea of purpose and beginnings. Naturally when one is aware of their own existence, the question emerges...where did I come from, and what is my purpose? Thus, the idea of a creator who formed us for a purpose naturally arose, since our origins are hidden from our understanding.

Sin, like morality is a concept, not an “objective fact”, which emerged out of the consciousness of man. Without the self-awareness of the human animal “sin”, like morality does not exist; it is not a law or principle upon which life is built. The concept of sin arose solely from the state of self-awareness of our own selves, and the idea that somehow the desires of our humanity are innately bad.


If morality exists as a “truth” in the universe in the same way as say the Pythagorean Theorem does then why has mans concept of what is moral continued to change with time, and consciousness level? Take for instance the biblical passage in Numbers 31, where Moses orders the Hebrew soldiers by command from God to kill all the male children and women who are not virgins, and then proceeds to give the remaining 32,000 virgins girls to the Hebrew soldiers to keep for themselves…by today’s moral standards killing women and children and taking people as slaves is totally unacceptable and immoral, yet the Hebrew’s in biblical times seemed to think God allowed such behavior.

Num.31:1-2 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. Num. 31:18-19 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

There are countless other examples in the Bible where acts that are considered immoral by today’s standards are commanded and condoned by its God. Morality appears to come solely from the emergence of self-awareness and the ability to reason, there is no need of a “Divine Source” as the author of morality.

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