by Michael A Dingwall
When one thinks of atheist morality, one usually gets the impression that atheism is all about “anything goes”. Well, as an atheist, I can tell you that this is true. Atheist morality is really about “anything goes”. However, it is not about “anything goes at the same time”. This is why the morality of atheism is so superior to that of any other system.
As contrary as this may sound, perhaps the best support that the morality of atheism is superior, is religion itself. In particular, one only needs to take a cursory look at the Bible to understand why atheistic principles are vital in determining what it means to be human.
Looking at the Bible, there was a time when the killing of disobedient children, stoning of adulterous women, slavery and even the mass-extermination of entire peoples (including women, children and even animals) were seen as perfectly legitimate and moral. Now, the reason, in fact the only reason, why such actions and moral systems are not seen as right today by a lot people is not because those previously “right” actions are now “wrong”. The simple reason is the fact that such actions and moral systems simply would not work today.
To illustrate briefly, look at the institution of slavery. It is clear that the system of slavery and its close associate, the slave trade, would be condemned by most today. However, in centuries past, slavery was responsible for the creation of powerful empires and nations, on both sides of the Atlantic. In centuries past, humans did not have the benefit of modern technologies, for instance, that would make slavery obsolete. However, and partly on account of that same slavery, they do now.
Imagine two large plantations competing against each other today: one employing hundreds of slaves and the other using modern harvesters. Which do you think would produce more at less cost? Surely, the latter. The primary reason why slavery, which was very much “right” in centuries past, is so wrong today has nothing to do with “morality” as most of us understand the term. It has everything to do with economics — or the workability of the institution. This is pure atheism.
Clearly, the determination of right and wrong, whatever those may be at any given time, is determined by what works. Also, for us humans to know what is “right” and what is “wrong” it is vital for all things to be permitted — or “anything goes”. As far as I am aware, the morality of atheism is the only system that demands this.
There is one more point that I want to make. Some of us look to religion for the “the perfect world” in the future. However, as an atheist, I am very sure that we are already living in that world. You see, the reason why this world is perfect is precisely because of its imperfections. Only through these imperfections can all things be permitted, and only through the permission of all things can we be human. Again, this is perfect atheism at work!