Monday, April 19, 2010

Euythyphro's rabbit hole

I recently had a conversation with a friend who remarked that the idea of morality is more difficult for an atheist than it is for a theist. Theists, he said, could simply defer to their texts and writings for moral guidance while atheists had to provide a rationale for everything without the benefit of a codified ethos. This is true, but it really shouldn't be. In a perfect world, even theists would research their own moral code instead of taking "God's" word for it.

Of course, this would lead straight down Euthyphro's rabbit hole. If the theist has any kind of moral integrity (I may be assuming a lot) then they would all arrive at the exact same conclusions that an atheist would. And all of this reinforces the idea that there exists an objective moral truth, and that truth exists in the universe completely independent of any kind of deity.

It really isn't all that difficult to come up with a general moral framework. If more people tried it, then more people would understand why atheists don't simply rape, murder and steal whenever they feel like it. If more people actually contemplated their own morality then the world would be far more pleasant. The Bible is a shortcut to morality, and it arrives at many of the same places that I (to give an example) do, but it does not give reasons for why it says what it does. The reasons are as - if not more - important than the conclusions.

Theists: take a minute and think about your morality. If your answer to moral questions is simply "Because god says so" then you have more work to do.

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