“Why no atheist suicide bombers?” — Some remarks on atheist morality

rburgess Says:
October 1st, 2007 at 5:29 pm

My response to that quip is short, to the point, and brutally honest:

There are no atheist suicide bombers either.

Another great comment!  And it brings up an interesting point about atheistic morality. Atheists don’t practice suicide bombing for the very simple reason that no god is going to reward them for sacrificing their life. Since this mortal, earthly existence is the only existence we have, atheists have no alternative but to define morality in terms of what’s good and what’s bad in this world. And, as it turns out, neither do Christians.

Thou shalt not kill? People in heaven are immortal and can’t be killed, according to the Bible. The prohibition against murder is a moral precept based on the realities of this mortal, earthly existence. Thou shalt not commit adultery? That’s about this life too: Jesus said that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Adultery in heaven isn’t even an option.

Thou shalt not bear false witness? This life. What would you lie about in heaven? Especially with the indwelling Holy Spirit continually bearing witness to the truth in everyone’s heart, so that any lie would be immediately exposed? Stealing? You’d have no need to steal, having received all the rich rewards of salvation. Plus you’ve supposedly been purged of your sin nature, so you’re no longer even subject to greed and covetousness and other sins of the (mortal) flesh.

Christians like to pretend that morality comes from belief in some future heaven and hell, and that atheists therefore cannot be moral. But when we look at the actual moral principles that people do embrace, we find that the Christian, like the atheist, makes moral judgments based on the real-world consequences that we experience in this life, in this mortal existence. The moral principles we live by today simply would not apply in heaven (and wouldn’t do anybody any good in hell). They’re drawn from our experiences in this world, and they apply only to our behavior in this world. The argument that atheists have no morals is not only a baseless slander, it ignores the fact that Christians have the same morality as atheists do. Except for their spurious and superstitious additions.

3 Responses to ““Why no atheist suicide bombers?” — Some remarks on atheist morality”

  1. rburgess Says:

    Getting people to understand the idea that all morality is earthbound would go a long way towards easing the existential fear of eternal punishment. Thank you for drawing out a conclusion that I had incompletely thought out!

  2. ausyoyo Says:

    Never being raised a christian, (altho having read the bible of course) I hadnt thought through this point about morality in heaven. However it doesnt follow through for all faiths, in islam their is a form of female chattelhood/ marriage. Although for women they only get their own husband back. in buddhist belief you need to be moral in each life or you sink down the evolutionary ladder in each rebirth. just thinking aloud here but the “final release from earthly existance” in buddhist belief would take away the moral restraints at that point I presume.

  3. The Professor Says:

    Good point, but at the same time notice that our earthly experience is still the standard that determines precisely what constitutes good vs. bad behavior. Lying, stealing, killing, etc, are immoral in pretty much all religions, because these are the things that have negative real-world consequences here and now. And the things that vary from religion to religion (is it truly wrong to eat pork?) are the things that don’t actually have negative real-world consequences.

    Have you ever looked at Mormonism, btw? They believe that in the afterlife, good Mormons get to become gods themselves, and to create their own universes in which they can create physical bodies for the spiritual children the conceive in heaven with their resurrected wives. Though polygamy is officially frowned upon, Joseph Smith did say that it was essential for full Mormon “salvation,” so they practice what they call “sealing”, which binds a woman to a married man so that she can be his plural wife in heaven, once they’re out from under the jurisdiction of Gentile laws.

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