Short Response To Tristin – Atheism and Morality

In this essay, I will be responding to the reactionary Instagram account @patriotic.patriarch regarding his essay about atheism and morality. I feel that pretty much everything in this “essay” is just idealist nonsense, and I will explain why in the paragraphs to come. So, let’s begin. He starts off the essay by saying,

So, where do we get our morals? We get our morals, especially now, from society. In society certain things are rendered completely taboo like having sexual relations with a child when you are over the age of 18, or having sexual relations with our family (disregarding the states where the age of consent is lower and in the south where some people are incestuous) So how do we know that these things are wrong? Well society teaches us these things. Now where does society get these ideas that they are wrong? Well from the people of course, and where do an obscene amount of people get the ideas that these are wrong? well most likely from their religion.

The first part of his statement in which he makes the claim that we get our morals from society is simply false. Morality, at its most basic form, is not something that is to be learned. If it were that simple, then psychopaths wouldn’t exist. The problem with many so called  “propertarian empiricists” nowadays is that they claim to speak the truth and care about the truth, and yet are scientifically illiterate and use outdated methods of analyzing society. So, let’s look at what the scientific literature says regarding morality. Based on the findings of many scientific studies done across a vast array of fields, neurophilosopher Patricia S. Churchland concludes in her book “Braintrust” (1) that moral behavior evolved over time to as a favorable biological trait. Further analysis of how morality is a biological trait can be found in many species, most notably ants. Cooperation, and what we’d consider “moral behavior” among ants is vital, because a solitary ant has a near 0% chance of long term survival and reproduction on its own. However, as part of a group, colonies can thrive for decades and the only way ants can participate in groups is by working together, and acting “morally”, and those who don’t, simply won’t have a chance to pass on their genes. As a consequence, ants are one of the most successful families of species on the planet, accounting for a biomass that rivals that of the human species (2). They are able to do this, all without having the brain power to process an all powerful god, and that’s because morality is biologically wired in us due to the fact it was naturally selected over time because it was a desirable trait. Tristin lastly goes on to say,

Seeing that a large majority of society gets their morals from religion, people would tend to get their morals inadvertently from a religion or holy book.

Once again, for his beginning statement in saying “most people get morals from society” he provides zero evidence to back his claim, and fails to realize that the majority of people do not get morality directly from religion, but rather from biological material factors that influence their decision making. Not to mention the fact that if you cannot be moral without accepting a deity then how come it is that the majority of the prison population, whom you’d consider immoral most likely, are not atheists? Atheists make up >0.2% of the prison population (3) and if they were less moral than the average person; this demographic would be much higher considering around 20+% of America is atheist/non-religious (4). Also, even if this idea that people can get morality from religion were true, how does it prove your thesis that atheists can’t be moral? If we use the latter that morality does originate from religion are you saying religion is the only way to derrive morality? And if so, where’s your evidence? You failed to clarify any of this in your essay, and so future reference I would suggest you do so.

In conclusion, Tristin wrote this essay purely out of right-wing propertarian dogma rather than actually doing research by looking at what’s published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature; and one can therefore conclude that Tristin was not interested in the truth while writing this “essay” (if you can even call it that it’s so short) but was rather just interested in pushing a religious agenda to support his nonsense ideology. If you would like me to expand on anything I stated in this essay or have general questions, please feel to comment or DM me on Instagram.

References:

  1. http://www.wiringthebrain.com/2011/06/where-do-morals-come-from.html
  2. “The origin of cooperation”. Journey to the Ants. Cambridge, Mass; London
  3. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/16/what-percentage-of-prisoners-are-atheists-its-a-lot-smaller-than-we-ever-imagined/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_States
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