Morality - Where does it come from?

Years back I posed the following question to a Rabbi at my children's Sunday school.

"Christians have the fear of hell to keep them in line.. What do Jews have?"

His answer without any hesitation was

"That's what Jewish Mothers are for!"

I laughed and agreed.. To those who do not understand.. There is a cultural joke about Jewish mothers and their propensity to give the gift of guilt that lasts lifetimes. Years later after I became an Atheist I realized what the Rabbi was actually telling me.

It was not the fear of or the power of guilt.. He was telling me that Jewish mothers teach their children what is right and what is wrong. Sure.. There is a certain amount of dogma involved in being raised in any religion. The real truth is that you learn morality not from books but from the examples provided to you as a child. My mother never told me I was making baby Jesus cry. I was never told that I was going to hell. But yet I have a form grasp on reality and what is right and wrong.

Thanks Mom!!!

** From my personal blog at

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Comment by Matthew F. on May 5, 2009 at 12:45pm
Thank you for your comments. So in short. Morality is relative to your culture during the times you live. This is a given. No need to define morality in this case. It is always relative.

My point was simple. Morality is not defined in books or dictated by fear. My words are directed at those who say Atheists can't be moral because they don't follow words in an ancient book. They are wrong and I would argue that I am more moral than they are. I've been given a gift of free thought. I've decided what is moral without any fear or prejudice. That makes me a better person.

Atheists in general do not hold any predefined prejudice. I have not meet an Atheist that (yet) that is against gay marriage, hates minorities or wants to restrict the freedoms or choices of good people.



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