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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Stupid Religious Questions: Where Does An Atheist’s Morality Come From?

In the time I’ve had this blog, I think the entire Christian population of the world has either asked where I get my morality from or insinuated that without the Bible, I could not possibly have any.

Annnnnd…. breath, 2, 3, 4, breath, 2, 3, 4…

This is my favourite topic because not only is the asker insulting me while standing on a moral soapbox, which is like, double-fucking-hypocritical, but they’re making it painfully obvious they’re working with fewer cards in their deck than Trump.

Asking me where I get my morals from, if not from the Bible is like asking, “if you didn’t get your milk from Walmart, how can you possibly have milk?” Listen, honey, just because you’ve been suckered into grocery shopping at Walmart doesn’t mean that’s the only fucking place one can get milk. In fact, milk existed long before Walmart ever did.

That, really, is all I should have to say. I could shorten it to fit into a tweet or craft it as an easily-consumed Facebook post and be on my goddamned way. But that’s never what happens. I bet you already guessed that because you’re reading my blog, and that means you’re fucking smart.

So let’s address this ridiculous question, shall we? First, we have to establish a few things.

  1. In order for anyone to be able to believe that without the Bible, I could not have morality, they must believe the Bible is the only source of morality. Follow?

  2. If the Bible is the only source of morality, then there must not have existed any morality at all prior to the Bible first being written, and the word of god spread, amirite?

  3. If the Bible is the only source of morality, the only moral people who exist on this planet are people who accept the Bible as truth.

  4. 31.5% of the current world’s population accepts the Bible as truth, according to Wikipedia.

From these four very basic points, we can deduce that 68.5% of humanity has zero morality and that before the Bible, the entire world lacked it.

This is what I imagine total moral chaos might look like.
This is what I imagine total moral chaos might look like.

Based on this logic, we should be living in absolute fucking moral chaos, and we would have been since the beginning of our species.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I left my house today, and shit was not falling apart. I didn’t witness any murders. I didn’t see anyone steal anything. Granted, I am sure someone somewhere stole something at some point in time today, but if it were total goddamn chaos out there, I would have seen something go down in my own ‘hood.

From the fact that we are not living in a perpetual state of moral meltdown, we can glean that most of the world has some sort of morality. Certainly more than 31.5%. Leaving us sure that there are indeed other sources of morality than the Bible.

A Christian who asserts that you cannot have morality without the Bible is basically saying to you that he, himself, cannot figure out right from wrong without instructions. That he has no intuition nor natural compassion. That he essentially must be babysat by a fairytale hero, to whom he begs for guidance, in order just to be decent.

And because he is this way, we all must be.

Which is, of course, fucking insane.

So, you want to know where I get my morals from, then?

My Dad – my Dad was a family counsellor who founded the crisis centre in my hometown in the 70s, which has since prevented thousands of suicides and helped many suffering people find mental health treatment. He used to get paged in the middle of the night to the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver to drag sex workers away from their abusive traffickers and find them safe places to go. My Dad knew of and worked with women who ended up buried on the Picton farm. He had a knife held to his throat one day, and the next, he was helping the man who did it kick heroin. He came home exhausted and never got any sleep, and still had time to be that Dad on the block. You know the one. The Dad that all the neighbourhood kids came knocking for. They were never asking for my brother or me. They asked to play with my Dad, and fuck did we have fun. My Dad is and always has been an atheist.

My Mom – my Mom was a teacher who taught 6th grade in an unorthodox way that was so profoundly effective that there was an article about her in a major paper after she drew a little boy out of his autism-induced social anxiety and disinterest in learning. He is now a graduate of BCIT. That’s just one of her success stories. She is an agnostic but was raised a Christian. Who has sadly succumbed to QAnon, but that doesn't erase how she raised me.

My Grandparents – Both were outspoken atheists, and when my Grandfather was stationed in Jamaica in WW2, he treated the POWs in the internment camp with great respect and dignity. He was known for this.

Empathy – Yes, we non-Christians are actually born with the ability to recognize feelings in other people, and we can feel sympathy toward them based on it. We did not need a book to teach us the golden rule because we have empathy.

Common fucking sense – Different from common sense, common fucking sense is far more common. This is the type of sense a 2-year-old has. Shit has consequences. Toddlers can learn this, and they can’t even read the Bible yet, nor understand the concept of eternal damnation. What the fuck leads a toddler to understand that shit has consequences? You guessed it, geniuses: common fucking sense.

These are the five basic sources of my own morality. There are plenty more, though, such as the law, experiences, my conscience, new knowledge, books, documentaries, conversations, the fucking weather, instinct, genetic predisposition, etc.

I question every one of these sources of morality. I would never, under any circumstances, take anything on as part of my moral framework based solely on someone or something telling me I should. That is a sure sign of mental weakness.

So, now you know where I get my morals from. What about other atheists? I asked my Twitter followers, and here’s what some of them said:

As you can see, all of our answers are pretty similar. So, if not from the Bible, where does your morality come from?

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