The One Great Source of Moral Wisdom? Ourselves.

Many times, here and around the city where I live, this question is asked:  “What is the source of moral values for Freethinkers?”  The implication being Freethinkers have no way to establish moral values.

Pat Robertson’s approval of divorcing a spouse with altizmers disease surely falls into the category of a decision involving moral values.  He did not quote a Bible verse or any other source of wisdom in his comment.

The idea moral values come from religion seems a hard one to defend.  First of all it needs to be established what moral value one is talking about.  This changes over time.  It used to be about working on Sunday and drinking beer.  Now it is about gay marriage and abortion.  Religious moral values are a moving target.

So, if we don’t get moral values from religion, where do we get them?  We get them the same place humans have always gotten them, from ourselves.  That is, even when people say their faith provides them with a moral foundation, they are really referring to things they figured out for themselves.

What we refer to as moral values are really nothing more than pragmatic decisions we make about our behavior based on our collective assessment of what is good for our society.  Some people lean more toward concluding what is good for them, personally, is the best for society.  Others sacrifice well being for themselves to benefit the greater good.

That’s where our collective “moral values” come from.

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Coming up Saturday, Freethinkers’ conference:  www.redriverfreethinkers.org

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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15 Responses to The One Great Source of Moral Wisdom? Ourselves.

  1. entech says:

    The topic “Economics and religion in the US” could almost have been a training run for this topic. My responses at Sept 20 4:38 and 7:00 am as well as Sept 21 3:24 am could almost slide in unchanged.

    Much as I dislike quoting the continuation of Deuteronomy used in 7:00 am is worth repeating.

    8:19 Now if you forget the Lord your God at all and follow other gods, worshiping and prostrating yourselves before them, I testify to you today that you will surely be annihilated. 8:20 Just like the nations the Lord is about to destroy from your sight, so he will do to you because you would not obey him.
    Now the last two verses are crucial to understanding the basis for religious morality, my King James Bible uses the words “ye shall surely perish” for “surely annihilated” and to me the basis for Christianity is the unspoken commandment the one that makes all the rest suspect – that is ‘Lest ye perish’. A morality based on fear is no morality at all – it is blatant hypocrisy.

    Italics and emphasis changed.

  2. Henry says:

    “…and to me the basis for Christianity is the unspoken commandment the one that makes all the rest suspect – that is ‘Lest ye perish’.”

    The atheists can proudly cling to the Law for purposes of derision. I’ll cling to the gospel with my brokenhearted soul.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Hank 3:13 Cling to the part that makes you feel good. Ignore all the rest. Makes sense. That each person makes up their own version of morals and such was the point of the blog.

      • entech says:

        Jon, did I read that last response correctly. Atheists obey the law others make up their own? No wonder there are comparatively few atheists in jail.

      • Henry says:

        “Cling to the part that makes you feel good. Ignore all the rest.”

        Jon, which part do I ignore? I would like to correct.

        To the noise out there, clinging to the Law for purposes of derision does not necessarily equal obeying the Law.

        • Henry says:

          P.S.S. Christian Mr. Left was very gracious, respectful, and accomodating for you in this morning’s free interview/conference plug. He allowed you to shine in the best light you could muster.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 11:51 Henry is referring, I believe, to a radio interview I had this morning to publicize our upcoming Freethinker’s conference. The hosts of both interviews I’ve done in the last couple of days have allowed me to “shine in the best light you could muster.” I’m not sure I shined in any muster at all, but I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the conference and Freethinking.

  3. Bob says:

    I think one of the most powerful things we can do for our children is let them be freethinkers. Let them be free to explore right and wrong without Abrahamic text brainwashing. Let them be free to explore morality in all its facets. If religious parents were honest with themselves and their children, they would point out the contradictions of their religious texts, and also how nasty the Abrahamic gods are. Like crazy Mohammed’s telling muslims to kill the infidel wherever you find them. Jesus saying in Mathew to bring the unbelievers before him and slay them. The old testament god, or torah, telling Abraham to kill his own child to prove his loyalty, like its a joke. If you read the Abrahamic texts with a freethinking mind, you will find there’s no good morality in them.

  4. entech says:

    Bit childish being so indirect but I did promise myself.
    “To the noise out there, clinging to the Law for purposes of derision does not necessarily equal obeying the Law.”

    Who cares I have learned from the master, relevance has nothing to do with anything, distort whatever comes up, it doesn’t matter what the other person says it only means what Hank wants it to mean. So: I notice Hank Baby, did not deny that the law of the land is irrelevant only his gospels, does that mean we can soon expect to see a big resurgence of stoning or worse.

    • Henry says:

      The presumed educated Entech is resorting to namecalling following his earlier distortions. This level of intellectual dishonesty from a presumably educated man does not merit further response.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .E Interesting, thanks.

    • Henry says:

      We have a family member who is autistic, a little less than perhaps “high functioning”, more the traditional type. Everything revolves around the autist. Length of stay at church services, suppers, swimming, playing, etc. for the family is determined by the autistic. When they are ready to go, they go. When they want to keep staying, they stay. Anything different as determined by others, and all hell breaks loose. Intervention to change what they think the status quo should be flips them out. A kind heart exists with ours as long as all aspects of interaction with others is on our autist’s terms. As a general rule, our autist functions very self-centeredly. Here is a definition that matches our experience: 2. a tendency to view life in terms of one’s own needs and desires.

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