Can atheists be ethical?

Christian Apologist, Ken Ham thinks that for atheists, there really is no basis for their ethics, therefore they believe they can do whatever they want if they can get away with it. What is “right” or “wrong” to such people is all relative.

 thinks that for atheists, answer is “Definitely Yes” atheists can be ethical. According to Matt, atheists are people who, are subject to the same laws of our country (and other countries), and they have a sense of right and wrong.  They often work with people who are religious and have ethical standards, as well as non-believers who are don’t; so they are exposed to all sorts of moral behavior.  In addition, they often form their own moral standards based on what suits them.  Besides, things (like robbery, lying, stealing, etc.,) can get you imprisoned; so it is practical and logical for an atheist to be ethical and work within the norms of social behavior.  However you want to look at it, atheists, generally, are honest, hardworking people. Nevertheless, some Christians raise the question, “What is to prevent an atheist from murdering and stealing?  After all, they have no fear of God and no absolute moral code.”  The answer is simple: Atheists are capable of governing their own moral behavior and getting along in society the same as anyone else. ref


MORALITY: values, morals, and ethics
 
To me “morals, values, and ethics” as we standardly think of them are not the same and often are contradictory. Thus, unless they are justified they are not a compilation of truth, other than one’s chosen thinking idea of reality. 
 
I would like to offer my understanding of how I see the layout of morality, values, morals and ethics as I see them. I see the term “morality” proper as the main moniker to a philosophic group (values, morals and ethics) or a main heading that involves the subheadings of values, morals and ethics. Values, morals, and ethics, in a basic observational way should be understood as falling under branches expressing different but similar thinking and behavioral persuasion. Values are the internal catlist often motivating our thinking and behaviors. Such as, a value of all human life, would tend to motivate you to not wantonly end human lives. Just as a lack of value for all human life, may tend to motivate you to not have an issue with the wanton ending of human lives. Morals to me, are the personal persuasion that you value, such as having a desire for truthfulness. Then we have ethics and we know this is a different branch of the morality tree, as there is business ethics/professional ethics but not really business morals or professional morals; other than one’s self chosen persuasion which may be adopted from business ethics/professional ethics. Ethics are as I have expressed our social universal prescriptions/persuasions public morality whereas morals to me are personal morality. Therefore, we can hold others to universal ethics standards (public morality) and not our moral proclivities that are not universal on others, as morals are for us (personal morality).

Ethical atheism: heavily involved and utilizes ethical thought and standards to navigate atheism or the humanism that is likely to follow such an ethical awareness. Ethical atheism strives to utilize the strong force of ethics and ethical challenge to address the many issues that not only arise in combating the fanatical promotion of harmful myths but ethical ways to positively navigate all of life’s real struggles or options to behave in interactions with others. God claims all totally lack a standard of meeting any warrant or justification in their burden of proof, thus the claim as offered debunks itself as any kind of viable claim. Would you be intellectually honest enough to want to know if your belief was completely false, and once knowing it was an unjustified belief, realize it lacks warrant and the qualities needed for belief-retention, as well as grasp the rationality that certain beliefs are epistemically unfounded which compels belief-relinquishment due to the beliefs insufficient supporting reason and evidence, realizing that belief. To me, belief in gods is intellectually flawed and dishonest compared to the evidence of the natural world being not only explainable on every level as only natural, but also there is not a shred of anything supernatural and every claim tested ever has time and again debunked such nonsense. If anything supernatural or paranormal was provable, the believers would have taken James Randi’s famous million-dollar challenge, or they would have gone and got their Nobel Prize in proving the supernatural or open up a 100% faith-based prayer and miracles hospital. Where the cure for anything and everything is guaranteed because “prayer and miracles works” and the only education was being a religious or spiritual leader. Prove it or it is not really worthy for true belief and if there was actual scientific proof it would silence us rationalists, atheists, and skeptics forever. However, nothing of the sort has ever happened. List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal or supernatural woo-woo go back to at least 1922 with Scientific American. But it did not stop there instead there has been many individuals and groups have offered similar monetary awards for proof of the paranormal or supernatural with some reaching over a million dollars yet as of February 2016, not one prizes have been claimed. Ref  Therefore, belief in supernatural or paranormal are not realistic nor are they reasonable. And what’s even crazier is it’s nonsense and they act like it is us rationalists, atheists, and skeptics that have to disprove something they have never proved.


Despite the width and diversity of their philosophical views, secular ethicists generally share one or more principles:

  • Human beings, through their ability to empathize, are capable of determining ethical grounds.
  • The well-being of others is central to ethical decision-making
  • Human beings, through logic and reason, are capable of deriving normative principles of behavior.
  • This may lead to a behavior preferable to that propagated or condoned based on religious texts. Alternatively, this may lead to the advocacy of a system of moral principles that a broad group of people, both religious and non-religious, can agree upon.
  • Human beings have the moral responsibility to ensure that societies and individuals act based on these ethical principles.
  • Societies should, if at all possible, advance from a less ethical and just form to a more ethical and just form.

Many of these tenets are applied in the science of morality, the use of the scientific method to answer moral questions. Various thinkers have framed morality as questions of empirical truth to be explored in a scientific context. The science is related to ethical naturalism, a type of ethical realism.

In How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical LivingRushworth Kidder identifies four general characteristics of an ethical code:

1. It is brief
2. It is usually not explanatory
3. Can be expressed in a number of forms (e.g. positive or negative, single words or a list of sentences)
4. Centers on moral values[1]

Atheistic Humanist ethics?

Well, Humanists generally (whether they realize it or not tend to) endorse universal morality based on the commonality of human nature, and that knowledge of right and wrong is based on our best understanding of our individual and joint interests, rather than stemming from a transcendental or arbitrarily local source, therefore rejecting faith completely as a basis for action. The humanist ethics goal is a search for viable individual, social and political principles of conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility, ultimately eliminating human suffering. Ref

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world-wide umbrella organization for those adhering to the Humanist life stance.

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.[2]

This meme above is meant merely as a joke for atheist, well kind of. However, I don’t think it’s that far off the mark. Because I do think critical thinkers and thinkers who are intellectually honest should follow something close to “The Ethics of Belief” or they are likely not honest thinkers.

“The Ethics of Belief” was published in 1877 by philosopher William Kingdon Clifford outlined the famous principle “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.” Arguing that it was immoral to believe things for which one lacks evidence, in direct opposition to religious thinkers for whom “blind faith” (i.e. belief in things in spite of the lack of evidence for them) was seen as a virtue. Ref Ref

To me, it comes down to the question, would you be intellectually honest enough to want to know if your belief was completely false? And once knowing it was an unjustified belief, realize it lacks warrant and the qualities needed for belief-retention, as well as grasp the rationality that compels belief-relinquishment due to the beliefs insufficient supporting reason and evidence. The act of believing, just because one wants to believe, when everything contradicts the belief is intellectually unethical or deluded. Beliefs are directly connected to behavior, behavior is directly involved in ethics, and ethics requires involvement in social thinking which requires us to mature or discipline our beliefs.


 

Ethics of Belief: sufficient evidence to support belief
 
An honest thinker would want to know what is sufficient evidence for the reliability and validity to support belief.
 
According to the legal decision in 1950, evidence is sufficient when it satisfies an unprejudiced mind. Sufficient evidence can be said to reference the evidence of such value as to support the belief. The word sufficient does not mean conclusive. Conclusive evidence is evidence that serves to establish a fact or the proven truth of something. Ref
 
To me, the test for belief analysis in relation to the offered evidence attempting to affirm the belief, would be is it sufficient evidence such as, could any rational addresser of the belief in question to find the essential elements of the issue sufficiency evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt. it is reasonable to require a greater level of evidence proportional to the importance of the belief or the external effects of the belief.
 
IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF LUCILLE CRUSON STATE LAND BOARD V. LONG, ADM’R, ET AL. OREGON SUPREME COURT. ARGUED JUNE 13, 1950 REVERSED AUGUST 29, 1950 *538538 APPEAL FROM CIRCUIT COURT, LINN COUNTY, VICTOR OLLIVER, JUDGE.


Here is the “The Ethics of Belief”: http://www.uta.edu/philosophy/faculty/burgess-jackson/Clifford.pdf

Ps, someone asked why would a critical thinker follow another old book from 1877? Well the age of evidence or thinking is relevant if it is reasonable. Saying it’s age is old is not a refutation of its arguments.


 

Moreover, it could be said that for ethical atheism applied logically “to me” in general ethics must be equally applied or the concept of ethics has no ethical meaning to begin with. Ethical atheism could be seen as thinking that if the idea of god implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation against of human rights, dignity, and liberty. Therefore ethical atheism holds a necessarily requirement to disbelief in order to end such unethical thinking and to end a god only morality enslavement of mankind. Ethical atheism holds all to ethical standards therefor if god did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him so we could be freely utilize human rights, dignity, reason and justice. Ethical atheism promotes atheism because it is both the logical and the ethical position to take in a world where religious people fly planes into skyscrapers, blow themselves up on crowded busses, and do all sorts of horrible things in the name of an imaginary sky monster. As an atheist ethicist, I am not just an Atheist (disbelieving claims of gods), an Antitheist (seeing theism as harmful) and an Antireligionist (seeing religion as untrue and/or harmful). Also as an atheist ethicist I value and require reason and evidence to support beliefs or propositions as well as am against all pseudohistory, pseudoscience, and pseudomorality. Why are gods even concerned with belief, as if they truly wanted it so bad they would be real and being more than just mental projections of which they are now they would show themselves and we all would believe. Therefore we can rightly conclude with no evidence of them at all, that belief in god(s) is the thing people do when playing at reality is valued more than understanding the actual natural only nature of reality. 1


 

Using a universal declaration of ethical principles to build a better world?

The Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists describes ethical principles based on shared human values across cultures. It reaffirms the commitment of the psychology community to help build a better world where peace, freedom, responsibility, justice, humanity, and morality will prevail. It also provides: (a) a shared moral framework for psychology to speak with a collective voice on matters of ethical concern; (b) a moral guideline to identify harmful aspects of societal changes, and to advocate for social changes that benefit to all persons and all peoples; (c) a global consensus on the fundamental attitude toward good and evil, and on the basic guiding ethical principles for decisions and actions; (d) a tool to help psychologists to focus on ethical thinking and behavior across all aspects of professional and scientific activities; and (e) an inspiration to strive toward the highest ethical ideals as psychologists and citizens of the world.
 
Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the promotion of the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists will have a significant influence in time on the creation of a safer, more just and more prosperous world.
 
All professionals and laypersons that provide community mental health services around the world are citizens of the world. Mental health providers who adhere to ethical principles in their work within the world’s many different countries and cultures contribute to a stable society which enhances the quality of life for all human beings. Together, by participating in the promotion of ethical principles such as those in the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists, mental health providers can make a significant contribution to global human rights and to building a global society based on respect and caring for persons and peoples.
 
Ethics and human rights: strengthening and complementing each other, There is a clear and strong link between the articulation of professional ethics and of human rights. Both share two fundamental goals: the protection of society from harm and the enhancement of the quality of life of its members. Both rely on recognized moral imperatives to achieve their goals.
 
In 1948, in the aftermath of WWII and before the development of ethics codes in psychology, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the endorsement of all nations to maintain human rights and to protect their peoples from harm. In 2008, sixty years later, in an increasingly globalized world, the International Union of Psychological Science and the International Association of Applied Psychology adopted the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists. This latter declaration commits psychologists worldwide to be guided by fundamental ethical principles of respect and caring in all of psychology’s interactions with persons and peoples.
 
There is a high level of congruence between the ethical principles and values recognized in the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists and the moral imperatives underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, there are differences in language, concept, structure and emphasis between the two documents. These differences strengthen and complement each other. Here are some examples:
 
(1) For example, with regard to framework, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is written for nations and defines human entitlements to be promoted and protected by all nations. On the other hand, the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists is intended to be applied to professional relationships and emphasizes respect and caring for individuals as well as for families, groups, and communities, with the aim of addressing the balance between the individual and the communal, and allowing for appropriate differences in the interpretation, for example, of such ethical concerns as informed consent, confidentiality, privacy, professional boundaries, and ethical decision-making across cultures.
 
(2) For example, with regard to language, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is more specific and prescriptive because it defines human entitlements to be promoted and protected. In contrast, the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles is more aspirational and inspirational in nature because it describes ethical principles based on shared human values across cultures. It is not meant to be a worldwide code of ethics or a code of conduct that would be agreed upon and adhered to in all countries.
 
(3) For example, with regard to concept, it is noted that the term ‘‘human rights’’ does not appear anywhere in the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists. The reason is that the term is taboo or negatively perceived in some parts of the world and its use in the Universal Declaration would not have been endorsed in those regions. This is not to say, of course, that the Universal Declaration ignores ‘‘human rights’’. Nothing would be further from the truth. Actually, it does speak to human rights, but it does it without ever using the term ‘‘rights’’ or ‘‘human rights’’. For example, under Principle I, we have ‘‘non-discrimination’’. This is the right to ‘‘equality’’. We also have ‘‘fair treatment/due process’’. This is the right to justice.
 
(4) For example, with regard to structure, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is structured around 30 articles that are specific and prescriptive in terms of content because it defines specific human entitlements to be promoted and protected. On the other hand, the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles is structured around ethical principles because its purpose is to highlight shared human values across cultures. For fear of being criticized for being too generic, earlier drafts of the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles included under each ethical principle articles which were aspirational in nature, but which also focused on the fundamental values contained in the principle. The concept of articles was later abandoned because it was a source of confusion for some psychologists who tended to see the document as a universal code of ethics that would not be relevant globally rather than a universal declaration of ethical principles.
 
Reference: Ethical principles and human rights: Building a better world globally. – Janel Gauthier
Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Volume 22, Issue 1, 2009


“Universal ethics: there are several ethical standards that are considered to be self-evident, and seem to apply to all people throughout all of history, regardless of cultural, political, social, or economic context. The non-aggression principle, which prohibits aggression, or the initiation of force or violence against another person, is a universal ethical principle. Examples of aggression include murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, robbery, theft, and vandalism. On the other hand, the commission of any of such acts in response to aggression does not necessarily violate universal ethics. There are obvious reasons why universal ethics are beneficial to society. For example, if people were allowed to kill or steal, this would lead to widespread chaos and violence, and would be detrimental to the well-being of society. Most people agree that it’s better to prohibit aggression than to allow everyone to commit it. Therefore, aggression is intrinsically immoral. Although nearly all societies have laws prohibiting aggression, this does not mean that universal ethics are necessarily reflected by that society’s government or its dominant ideology. In ethics, a ‘universal code of ethics’ is a system of ethics that can apply to every sentient being.” 1


In general as an Atheist Ethicist I am Generally a Universal Ethicist
I  would like to first offer my understanding of how I see the layout of morality, values, morals and ethics as I see them. I see the term “morality” proper as the main moniker to a philosophic group (values, morals and ethics) or a main heading that involves the subheadings of values, morals and ethics. Values, morals, and ethics, in a basic observational way should be understood  as falling under branches expressing different but similar thinking and behavioral persuasion. Values are the internal catlist often motivating our thinking and behaviors. Such as, a value of all human life, would tend to motivate you to not wantonly end human lives. Just as a lack of value for all human life, may tend to motivate you to not have an issue with the wanton ending of  human lives.  Morals to me, are the personal persuasion that you value, such as having a desire for truthfulness. Then we have ethics and we know this is a different branch of the morality tree, as there is business ethics/professional ethics but not really business morals or professional morals; other than one’s self chosen persuasion which may be adopted from business ethics/professional ethics. Ethics are as I have expressed our social universal prescriptions/persuasions public morality whereas morals to me are personal morality. Therefore, we can hold others to universal ethics standards (public morality) and not our moral proclivities that are not universal on others, as morals are for us (personal morality).
 
I am a Universal Ethicist holding the value of universal ethical principles and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a moral doctrine, a justice reasoning not for or by any mythology or toads direct opposition to any religion or faith in goddess or gods (Kuhmerker, Gielen, & Hayes, 1994). Universal ethicists is one who draw from collective values, no matter what country or varied cultures, claim that what is acceptable generally are common ethical standards that can be used to judged moral behaviors regardless of location (Newton, 2009). Universal ethical principles are a form of natural and rational moral code for all humankind not fixed or proclaimed by moral prophets or the founders of the world’s religions (Foldvary, 1980). What Universal ethical principles and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights are is a strict standard of freedoms, justus and principles applicable to all. Such values extend to all children and adult alike having the same rights. All rights are interconnected and of equal importance (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, 2008). A Universal Ethicist Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (United Nations, 2008). A Universal Ethicist value of universal ethical principles is different to religious proclaimed moral codes because universal ethical principles is ethical codes to set all free to believe and live as they wish but strive to do no harm and applicable to all humankind whether religious or not (Foldvary, 1980).
 

Universal Ethics?
 
Here are the universal principles of Social/Global Ethics:
 
*Global justice (as reflected in international laws)
*Society before self / social responsibility
*Environmental stewardship
*Interdependence & responsibility for the ‘whole’
*Reverence for place
 
Here are the universal principles of Professional/ Political Ethics:
*Impartiality; objectivity
*Openness; full disclosure
*Confidentiality
*Due diligence / duty of care
*Fidelity to professional responsibilities
*Avoiding potential or apparent conflict of interest
 
Here are the universal principles of Personal Ethics:
*Concern for the well-being of others
*Respect for the autonomy of others
*Trustworthiness & honesty
*Willing compliance with the law (with the exception of civil disobedience)
*Basic justice; being fair
*Refusing to take unfair advantage
*Benevolence: doing good
*Preventing harm (Colero, n.d.).

But What Good is a Set of Principles?

There are many tools for decision making, but few (secular) guides to indicate when situations might have an ethical implication. Yet this awareness is a crucial first step before decisions are made. Recognizing the moral context of a situation must precede any attempt to resolve it. Otherwise, what’s to resolve?

Ethical dilemmas rarely present themselves as such. They usually pass us by before we know it or develop so gradually that we can only recognize them in hindsight – a little like noticing the snake after you’ve been bitten. But what are the signs that a snake might be present? An ethical framework is like a ‘snake detector’.

I offer the following principles as landmarks – generic indicators to be used as compelling guides for an active conscience. They are NOT absolute rules or values. They are more like a rough measurement where an exact one is not possible. They often conflict with each other in practice, and some will trump others under certain circumstances. But as principles that need to be considered, they appear constant.

These principles are compatible with the argument that we should simply follow our intuition and rely on the ‘inner voice’. However, that voice is not always audible, and today’s society presents a wide range of complex circumstances that require more guidance than simply ‘concern for others’ or ‘does it feel right?’ And so these principles are offered effectively as a more detailed reference.

In a sense, the principles are outcomes of the mother of all principles – unconditional love and compassion – which appears in virtually all faiths, and is expressed here as ‘concern for the well-being of others’. (This principle is at the heart of the stakeholder model of ethics, i.e. what is my impact on others?) At first glance, they will appear obvious and perhaps trite or simplistic. Keep in mind that they are meant to be practical rather than groundbreaking, and that many people have found them useful in the absence of other guides.

The principles have been organized into three categories for ease of use: personal, professional and global ethics.(Colero, n.d.).



But Why do I Hate Religion?
 
I was asked why I openly and publicly am so passionate in my hate of religion. further asking what specifically in your life contributed to this outcome.
 
I hate harm, oppression, bigotry, and love equality, self-ownership, self-empowerment, self-actualization and self-mastery, as well as truth and not only does religion lie, it is a conspiracy theory of reality. Moreover, not only is religion a conspiracy theories of reality, it is a proud supporter of pseudohistory and or pseudoscience they also push pseudomorality. Religion on the whole to me deserves and earns hate, or at least disfavor when you really analyze it. Not to mention the corruption it has on politics or laws. As well as how destructive this unworthy political influence has and creates because of these false beliefs and the harm to the life of free adults but to the lives of innocent children as well (often robbed of the right to choose and must suffer indoctrination) as the disruption of educated even in public schools. Etc…
 
I as others do have the right to voice our beliefs, just as I or others then have the right to challenge voiced beliefs.
 
Long live mental freedom…