Some xians say that without their bible atheism has no morality.

We know that's nonsense but some of us reply from various defensive positions, such as by telling them how our moral values resemble or differ from theirs.

I don't do that. I tell them the laws–-federal, state and local–-partly define my morality. Few of them seem able to manage this little bit so I need say no more.

We know there's more to atheist morality than that, much more.

For instance there's science, especially the social sciences and what research tells us of how people react to what others do, or don't do.

There’s also the biggie, evolution and its method natural selection. Our morality determines some of our views on living and dying: how much should the government (the taxpayers) spend on health care, especially early in life and late in life, but also when mid-life events affect health and when genetic problems apppear.

Our occupying an indifferent universe (not a hostile universe) also partly defines atheist morality. For instance, the universe has no purpose; only each of us has or doesn't have purpose.

Those are but starting points. What does atheist morality require of us?

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Some months ago I read of impoverished towns centuries ago who put unmarried pregnant girls outside their walls where they had to fend for themselves.

Our prosperity now partly determines our morality.

And our morality explains the distribution of our prosperity.

Prosperity and morality probably grow or shrink together.

Tom, are you serious? "Our prosperity now partly determines our morality." If I read history correctly, our prosperity occurs because of our being able and willing to make decisions that are immoral, unethical, and just plain unjust! The worst of the offenses is "justice delayed is justice denied"!

i.e. Crusades, Inquisition, colonization, slavery, exploitation of workers, marginalization of women, manipulation of markets, corruption in all walks of life. 

The good news is, individuals who think and act based on "the ethic of reciprocity, which means we believe that people should aim to treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves – with tolerance, consideration, and compassion."

In response to your question, "What Does Atheist Morality Require of Us?" Nothing! Atheism is  "A lack of belief in gods." There are no rules, laws, principles, regulations, decrees, assumptions, cannons, commandments, or dictates because of atheism. 

"Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.  Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. ... To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods."

~ American Atheists

Atheism is "A lack of belief in gods."

Ok, Joan. What is atheist morality? Or does it not exist?

If it exists, does it include universal health care?

If not, we can accept as inevitable the results of natural selection and not try to save the lives or health of children born with birth defects.
Joan, our prosperity now allows unmarried pregnant girls to give birth and either keep their babies or give them for adoption.

You are free to attach a name other than "morality" to that.

- - - - - - -

Regarding how you read history, I doubt that moral, ethical and just decisions make prosperity impossible or improbable.

Quite the contrary, morals, ethical, and just decisions can make prosperity both possible and probable. Take, for example, the prosperity of our nation during the period following WW II; 

"In the 60 years after World War II, the United States built the world's greatest middle class economy, then unbuilt it. And if you want a single snapshot that captures the broad sweep of that transformation, you could do much worse than this graph from a new Pew report, which tracks how average family incomes have changed at each rung of the economic ladder from 1950 through 2010.    

"Here's the arc it captures: In the immediate postwar period, America's rapid growth favored the middle and lower classes. The poorest fifth of all households, in fact, fared best. Then, in the 1970s, amid two oil crises and awful inflation, things ground to a halt. The country backed off the postwar, center-left consensus -- captured by Richard Nixon's comment that "we're all Keynesians now" -- and tried Reaganism instead. We cut taxes. Technology and competition from abroad started whittling away at blue collar jobs and pay. The financial markets took off. And so when growth returned, it favored the investment class -- the top 20 percent, and especially the top 5 percent (and, though it's not on this chart, the top 1 percent more than anybody).   

"And then it all fell apart. The aughts were a lost decade for families, and it's not clear how much better they'll fare in the next."

What changed? From Keynesians to Reaganism? Increases in access to the world's labor forces?  Technology replacing mining and manufacturing as income producers, especially advantaging "unearned" income? Women entering the paid labor force? Increase in civil rights for minorities? 

Thank you, Joan.

Now, does prosperity make morals, ethics, and just decisions possible and/or probable?

 The bible gives constant and consistent accounts of how prosperity was dependent upon the booty both literal and figurative of other nations. Morality in the bible is often arbitrary and based solely on convince.


Pol Pot and Josef Stalin proved that.

They were atheists, and no more, and that just wasn't enough.

Which is why I don't call myself an atheist, even though I consider the god of Abraham and Isaac a monster of fiction.

I call myself a humanist.  That means that without supernatural beliefs I set for myself high standards of behavior.  We have no creeds or rules; we just expect ourselves to behave well.  Don't hurt anybody without solid justification; help when you can.

Which is why I'm never fully comfortable on this site.  There are great people here, and I enjoy interacting with them and their ideas.  

But atheism by itself just isn't much of a standard.

Sorry if this offends.

Jerry, no need to feel sorry if you offend anyone. Besides, you make good sense. There are other strong voices on this site who agree with your assessment of the use of the word, "atheist" and there are those who refer to themselves as, "humanists". Go to "Groups" type in "humanist" and you will find others. 


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