Where does morality come from?
Topics like this are why I’m so interested in psychology and sociology.
Morality is what we use to dictate proper behavior as an individual or within a group, and what is “right” and “wrong” is something we learn. Right and wrong can, and does, vary from one social or cultural group to another.
Because of this I do think most of morality is nurture verses nature. I also feel a lot of morality is subjective.
The concept that certain words are “bad” is learned. Certain clothing is improper. Having multiple sexual partners is wrong. Tattoos and piercings mean you’re a rebel and buck against authority, or a tramp depending on where they are located.
These are all learned concepts. These examples are just a few from American culture. These are things my society tells me are not ok. I can choose to accept or reject these “rules”, which dictates how I am viewed by the rest of my culture.
I do think there is a baseline of universal morality though. Most religions essentially say the same thing. Don’t be an asshole. Or in more positive words, be a good person. But really I feel that’s what being human should be about.
What guides my thinking about how to act?
The Golden Rule. Always and forever.
I treat people how I want to be treated. I don’t like being lied to, or stolen from, or disrespected, or abused, or any number of other things. So I don’t do those things to others. If having an action done to me would make me feel bad, then it would most likely make someone else feel bad, too, and I don’t like make other people feel bad.
It really is that simple inside of my head. Would that action make me feel good? No? Then don’t do it to someone else.
Do I choose to act morally mostly because of the promise of reward or the threat of punishment – from God or from some other authority?
No. I don’t. I choose to be nice because that’s that I feel is right. I think about the other person, what it would be like to be in their shoes. Would I like it if someone did this to me? If the answer is no than I try my best not to do it.
The threat of punishment or the temptation of reward reminds me of being a child. I did something like clean my room because I would get in trouble if I didn’t. As an adult I shouldn’t need the promise of a reward to not be a jerk. I shouldn’t need a book with a list of rules telling me what is and is not ok to do to others.
I should be compassionate and empathetic towards my fellow human because even if we’re different, we’re the same. We’re all just organisms trying to survive, and that’s hard enough with shit like debt and relationship woes trying to fuck us up all the time. We don’t need to make that task any harder than it already is by being inconsiderate to one another.
Do I agree with the writer that living life ethically is even more important if you are an atheist, since there is no God to forgive you?
This has to be the most fucked up question I’ve read in a while.
No. I don’t think it is more important. I think it is equally important for everyone to live ethically, morally. It is everyone’s job to be a good person. You don’t have to do crazy rituals or backflips or blood sacrifices to empathize with someone, to understand suffering is bad, and to avoid causing that type of pain to others.
You don’t have to be religious to do the “right” thing. Saying someone has to do “more right” than someone else just because of a learned belief structure is bullshit, in my humble, mostly biased opinion, regardless of what belief structure is being used. Everyone should do his or her part. It is everyone’s responsibility to correct the negativity and hatefulness in the world. We’re all in this together, regardless of how much we try to divide ourselves up by culture, race, age, sex, religion, blood type, sexual orientation, hair color, or favorite pet.
We’re all human. We all mess up. We all have a life we’re trying to live. Even if we’re different, we’re all the same, and I feel we all have a responsibility to, at the very least, not be jerks to each other.