31 0

Morality without God

Question is from a deeply Christian relative of mine on Facebook several months ago, I'm wondering how y'all respond:
"To every agnostic/atheist out there, how do you know what's right and wrong without God? For instance, how is murder wrong when a person is just another animal?"

By AaronW3
Actions Follow Post Like

Post a comment Add Source Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


I would point out that there were moral codes of behaviour in practice as long as there have been human beings alive and living collectively on earth and that is probably around 5 million years. Our primitive ancestors had to adopt a moral structure in order to form communities, it’s a matter of survival. Anyone who stole or transgressed from the group would have either been killed or cast out, which amounted to the same thing. It’s in our own interest to co-operate and act morally towards the others in our tribe. Even tribes in remote parts of Asia and South America today, who still have never seen or heard of the Christian god will have some sort of moral code which they live by. As far as Christianity is concerned, along with Judaism and Islam....they are very recent inventions by man, compared to the age of humanity, and therefore morality is very much older than these religions.


Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it, especially a religion that backs up the orders with threats of hell. Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority. - Amanda Marcotte

ldheinz Level 7 Mar 13, 2019

Pretty sure you're my new superhero. Idheinz.


if you need religion to act righteously, someone failed to teach you right from wrong.


We all know what's right and wrong without gods. Some of us just don't know it.

My question would be how can you consider yourself a good person, if you need to be promised an eternal reward or threatened with eternal punishment to force yourself to be a decent human being?

JimG Level 8 Mar 23, 2019

EMPATHY. If you care about others you cannot hurt them.

ToolGuy Level 8 Apr 2, 2019

I'd suggest your relative has never actually read, let alone studied the Bible(s). The Christian God is a murderous fiend. (God killed 2,038,344. *Fun fact: Satan killed 10.)


My first response would have been "I'm sorry to hear you don't think you can judge morality without consulting a book that has many provable errors". Second would have been "any human who experienced the death, no less murder of a loved one should be able to clearly see murder is immoral".

Bobby9 Level 7 Apr 2, 2019

I believe there are many things that are instinctive in human beings and morality has nothing to do with it. I believe we instinctively avoid deliberately harming other human beings.

alon Level 6 Mar 26, 2019

you could ask your relative how s/he knows what is right or wrong WITH god -- how s/he knows that what she is calling god and calling right and wrong isn't just his/her devil playing mind games? how does s/he feel about killing animals? is killing animals okay? s/he seems to think so, saying a person is JUST another animal. does s/he not have an inner feeling about what is right or wrong, so that s/he can recognize it without consulting the bible in each and every case? does s/he not trust him/herself? and if god is the only reason s/he doesn't murder or rape or whatever, how much more moral an atheist must be, to be beholden to no god and even SO not murder or rape or whatever!


genessa Level 8 Mar 26, 2019

Golden rule pretty much sums it up for me. It's very simple.

TCameron Level 4 Mar 25, 2019

Its also worth noting that morality and ethics are not the same thing. And many Christian morals are unethical.


A better question might be: "How can you know what's right and wrong or have morals with God"? Considering how much war, torture and murder have been inspired by religion throughout history, a God who gives children cancer, a bible that commands stoning a woman to death if she's not a virgin on her wedding, beating slaves to death, etc. And speaking of animals, God seems to have set up a system whereby most animals get nutrition and survive by eating other animals. I think we make much better decisions and act more humanely when we just use our own brains and our own intuition rather than relying on the invisible sky .

I am constantly curious about Atheists defining stance about the non existence of God and yet they consistently blame this "God" for things. So I think the better way to approach any conversation about "Gods" influence needs to start with; "Since God does not exist let's look at the true reason why this is happening/happened, your role in it and how we can change/fix it." Would you agree?

@Quarm I've never come across any atheists who blame god for anything, because it just flat out doesn't exist.

@Freespirit64 The individual above me Downtowndan stated "How can you know what's right and wrong or have morals with God"? Seems like a direct reference a non existent being. He identifies as an Atheist. I have read many posts with a similar sentiment or reference. Blaming this "God" for things. In most cases in lieu of confronting the people or groups actually doing or not doing something etc. In fact I would say a large portion of people post about how much God sucks. It is amusing to me and I think it illuminates an interesting question; would Atheism have purpose if "God" was proven without doubt to not Exist?

When an atheist talks about god I think it kind of goes without saying that we're making a point, not that we actually believe it exists.


The US has the 8th highest homicide rate in the World. Yet, nearly 70% of the population identify as being " Christians". It would seem that it is the 'devout' who can't tell the difference between right and wrong!

davknight Level 7 Apr 16, 2019

I think that what they object to is that atheist morality does not include the “get out of jail (hell) free” card that they use. Also it is much easier to get their imaginary sky daddy to declare native Americans, negros, Moslems , etc as not people than they need to continue their policies. You cannot convince someone of something if their livelihood depends on them not believing it.

Detritus Level 6 Apr 16, 2019

Animals have been shown to have morals. Presumably they haven't read the bible.

ldheinz Level 7 Apr 15, 2019
  1. When was the last time you saw a horse murder another horse? They are animals yet don't murder each other.

How much dumber than a horse can a Christian be? If you explain ti slowly and wave carrot in their faces to keep their attention, they just might get it.

  1. Submitting to "god's" declaration of right vs wrong, is no different from a man in a deeply partiarchal society threatening his wife with violence unless she rejects all her own opinions and parrots her husbands from now on.
MLinoge Level 7 Apr 13, 2019

For your relative. I know what's right and wrong because I'm part of an evolved species. The bible on the other hand isn't an evolved anything, it's a story book, you might as well find your moral compass from a Noddy book.

ipdg77 Level 8 Apr 6, 2019

Murder is wrong because it does harm. If you can't figure that out without an imaginary friend to tell you so, I can't trust that you're mentally stable.

Deb57 Level 7 Apr 5, 2019

To think that morality comes from gods is wrong. Morality is an education process that starts with fear and ends in empathy with or without fear. Morality comes from the structure of the society you live in and is therefore ever changing. Some people are afraid that if they kill, god will punish them. Most modern people feel that if they kill (and get caught) society will punish them. If any gods are "writing on your heart" it is because you believed in them in the first place.

DenoPenno Level 8 Mar 16, 2019

Believing morality comes from god is in itself a bit presumptious. Society developed morals before religion.

Francool Level 5 Apr 25, 2019

I would go with Matt Dillahunty's definition of morality. when you're talking about what is moral, What most people are referring to is well being. when discussing the topic of morality see if you can get the other party to agree that when they're talking about morality they're talking about well being. once you're both talking about well being you'll be able to objectively show why X is moral or immoral based on the standard of well-being.

If they don't care about well being, then when you say something is moral or immoral, you may be talking about something completely different than what the person you're talking with means when they say something is moral or immoral. for example, some people will say that something is moral because God said so. if you want to know more about this definition of morality you can search for Matt Dillahunty morality on YouTube and find a bunch of videos he discusses his views on the subject in Greater detail.


Instead of instructions from some self-appointed spokesman for “god,” most humanists take their cues from the fact that we are all human. If I don’t like getting punched, I rationally assume you don’t, either. If I treat you unfairly, I can expect you to do the same to me, so we both lose. The basis of humanity is rational thought and consideration of others (including the creatures we share the planet with). Anyone who needs an invisible sky fairy to tell them that murder is wrong is in serious need of professional help.

Rghurst Level 5 Apr 13, 2019

So to xtians, killing animals is OK?

ldheinz Level 7 Apr 2, 2019

Who said they stop at animals? ?


How do you know fucking your daughters is wrong when Lot did it according to the Bible. Or is that ok?

Jk1960 Level 6 Mar 26, 2019

First a human is not just another animal. There are huge differences between humans and any other species including other primates. Second, I know because I can think and I can easily see what hurts others, such as losing a loved one to murder. Conversely what makes any pronouncement from a being that can't even be proved to exist worth reading?

Bobby9 Level 7 Mar 26, 2019

There is morality and morality. Some have a book that tells them slavery is moral and it is OK to beat your slaves as long as they don't die for a few days. Then there is humanist morality that believes slavery is immoral. As for us being animals, moralists understand that we are animals (There are a few of the sciences that have given us that idea.) where some fools are gullible enough to believe we were made from dust by a magician less than 10,000 years ago! In the 21St Century people who pretend to be educated say women were made from a mans rib no less! Murder is morally wrong unless the person is a witch or a heretic, doesn't believe in sky faeries or wears cloths of different fabric depending on how low you set your morals.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text 'q:308398'.
Humanist does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content read full disclaimer.
  • is a non-profit community for humanists!