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August 6, 2011


Where do you get your morals?

by juju2112

There was a pretty good comment made recently by user bobbiedilbeck on the post about childhood indoctrination. My reply is kind of longish, so I decided to make it a new post instead of just a comment.

Hey I have a couple of questions and comments for you.
I am wondering what atheist believe happens to a person when they die?

You said, And hopefully we can teach her that she can be a good person regardless of what she believes.” What is your being a good person based on? Whose morals are you comparing them to? I guess what I am asking is, what is the standard of good and where do you come by that standard??

Just wanting a little culture.

Hi Bobbie.

Most atheists only believe what they have good evidence for.

For myself, I used to believe in souls and the afterlife, and I thought I had solid evidence for my beliefs. Nothing would convince me otherwise because I had seen things for myself that proved it. I’ve since discovered that each of the experiences I thought irrefutably proved the existence of souls and the afterlife actually had other explanations. There were things I did not understand, and I had jumped to conclusions and built an entire belief system around it.

As far as death, when you die, that’s it. Your brain is you. Once it stops working, you no longer exist. This is evidenced by research in neuroscience. Practically every part of human nature can be turned off by damaging certain parts of the brain.

Some may say they don’t want to believe this life is the only life they get, because an afterlife would be much better. I no longer base my beliefs on what I think would be cool. I try to assess reality as it is. I think the truth is more important than feeling good.

As far as how I know what is moral and what is not, that’s something that I decide for myself. Some of it comes from self-preservation, but a lot of it comes from the social contract we have with others. It’s part of living in a civilization. We all agree to treat each other like we would want to be treated. Without this social contract, we would live our lives in constant fear of terrible actions from others. So we treat others how we would want to be treated, and punish bad behaviors by others. The result is a relatively peaceful society to live in.

Take murder, for example. I would never murder someone. First of all, I don’t want to spend my entire life in prison. I’m dumb enough to get caught. But more importantly, I’ve seen the pain it can cause others. The death of an individual shatters the lives of each person that was connected to the victim. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me, so why would I want to inflict that pain on others?

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 7 2011

    Very cool! You wrote a blog written about my question! How awesome is that. Thank you! I am interested in your beleifs. Do like to learn different cultures. We have been dialoging already on Aaron’s blog, under Anonymous with the pen name of Molly. I am not sure why but “blogger”, and I have an account, seldom lets me sign in under my name. Kind of weird but wanted you to know we are the same person. I have enjoyed our conversation and I hope to have more. I want to respond to this blog post but must get ready for worship. Hope to have more questions as the day goes on. Thanks again for your time in teaching me.

    • juju2112
      Aug 7 2011

      No problem! I like talking about this subject.

  2. Aug 7 2011

    Hey Donald,
    Thanks again for answering my questions. You say souls and afterlife actually have other explanations…Instead of souls being eternal and made in the image of God they are what?

    My brain is me. When I die that is it. Wow that is a sad way of life. If we leave the Word of God out of our conversation for the time being, how would you explain the people in foreign countries who have a great desire to worship something?? They build idols. They dance and chant. I know in my life and I am sure in yours there is a deep desire to worship something outside of ourselves. Can you deny you have that desire?

    And how to you decide what is moral and what is not? Who’s to say it is wrong to steal food from Wal-Mart if I am hungry and have no work? If I decide within myself that is right. I would think morals have to be based on something. You say we treat others like the way we want to be treated and the result is a relatively peaceful society to live in. I can this is NOT working for us in the United States…do you believe it is?

    I like to see the big picture, would you mind sharing some of your past beliefs and how you can to this change?

    You are really helping me understand people, God, and myself a little better. I do thank you!

    • juju2112
      Aug 7 2011

      Well, I don’t believe souls exist at all. I used to believe in them 100%. I used to see them and talk to them. I found out my imagination is very powerful. I was deeply involved in the occult. Talking to spirits, astral projection, dream walking, telepathy, past-life regression, spiritual warfare, that sort of thing. None of it was real. I was deeply deluded. I did learn a great deal about how people come to fool themselves, though.

      As far as other explanations for souls, it really depends on the scenario in which someone thought they experienced one. Given the standards by which someone should determine reality, there is no good reason to assume they exist.

    • juju2112
      Aug 7 2011

      I don’t think my way of life is sad. I enjoy my life. I like watching my kids grow up and spending time with my wife. I like my job and playing pc games at home. I think I live a pretty fulfilling and happy life. I even spend my Fridays hanging out with a group of atheists. Some of them are ex-Christians, and they tell me they’re much happier now that they’re atheists.

      But even if it were true that atheists are sad, that doesn’t say anything about whether God is real. Reality doesn’t change because you want to be a certain way. It just is.

      As for why people believe, I couldn’t say. I would speculate that it might be a side effect of the way intelligence works in the human brain, through pattern-matching. It works well most of the time. It allows us to associate sounds with letters and words, recognize faces, and the like. But it can misfire and allow us to see patterns in things where there actually isn’t a pattern. Pareidolia is a good example of this. (See here:

      For how I decide what’s moral and what’s not, as I said, *I* decide. It’s wrong to steal food from Walmart because you wouldn’t want that to happen to you. Do you want to live in a society where no one is punished for stealing? How would you prevent thugs from breaking into your house and taking things?

      I guess our society has its problems, but it’s not total anarchy by any means.

    • Aug 9 2011


      I am not sure we can all decide within ourself what is moral or not. Different people have different views. What I hold as moral you may not. But I do agree we should all treat each other as we would want to be treated. This is in fact a Scripture verse from the Bible. Matthew 7:12. I am sure you know this for you have spend much time researching the fact Jesus is not real.
      Thanks again for the insight.

    • juju2112
      Aug 9 2011

      So, are you saying that atheists are bad people with no morals?

    • Aug 9 2011

      NO! That is NOT what I am saying. Atheists, Beleivers, Jews, Muslims, are all people who are ALL created in the image of God. We were all created perfect without sin. You Donald as a person are NO different than me. I don’t think any less of you becuase you do not beleive. But sin did enter the human race and that distorts our morals and values. God has placed a concience within us to know right and wrong. This conciense gets distorted by different views. We need a level playing field to sort out these views. I beleive the Bible does that for us. If you don’t mind Scripture on these comments and you give me some time, I can list some. It will be good for me to search.
      So I am saying I am no different than you! I need a level playing field as well. I just don’t trust my distored view of morals. Matthew 7:12 is a good place to start. “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this the Law and the Prophets.” Which is what you follow.
      more later..I must work today!!

    • juju2112
      Aug 9 2011

      Ok, just checking. :)

      But do you think if I died today that I’d go to hell?

    • Steve
      Aug 15 2011

      And we can list hundreds of Bible verses where God and his followers inflict unimaginable cruelty and barbarism on other people. More often than not it’s religion and blind faith that distort people’s innate sense of morality. If you want otherwise good people to commit atrocities, the two best ways for that are patriotism and religion.

      In any case the Bible is a piss poor source of morality. Even if you leave out the Old Testament. We can do better than 2000+ year old texts written for completely different cultures. We have to do better.

    • Steve
      Aug 15 2011

      No, we don’t decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Since we’re social animals, we do that in a group. Society decides what is acceptable and history shows us that it changes all the time. We have debates about morality, ethics and the way we want to live. And your laws eventually reflect that.

  3. Aug 9 2011

    Donald, It does not matter what I think. What matters is what the Bible says. A person does not go to hell because you are a “bad” person. A person goes to hell when they refuse to trust the saving work of Jesus upon the cross. Look at Romas 3:10-18“There is no one righteous, not even one;
    11 there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
    12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”[a]
    13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”[b]
    “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[c]
    14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[d]
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
    17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[e]
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes

    This is who we are-You and ME!

    Look at Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    You see Donald we all deserve death and hell. Because we have turned away from God. We have rejected Him. But there is hope for us!

    Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in htat while we were still sinner, Christ died for us. He died for you and me.

    Romans 10:9-13 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[a] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    God loves you with an everlasting love. He loved you so much that He send Jesus to die in your place.

    I am sure this is nothing new to you. I did ask your permission first before I used Scripture out of respect for you, but to answer your question I felt I must.
    hope it helps and remember I want to learn of your culture. You know a lot of mine

    • juju2112
      Aug 9 2011

      I don’t mind bible quotes, but of course they don’t mean much to me since I don’t believe in god.

      I wasn’t really asking for a statement of 100% certainty. I was just asking your opinion. Do you think I’m going to hell? It’s okay to be wrong, it’s just what you think.

      It sounds like from what you are saying that you think I’m a good person, I’m going to hell, and I deserve it.

      I don’t really understand why a good person would ever deserve to be tortured for any length of time, let alone forever.

      That’s one of my morals. I’m against torture. For that reason, even if the god of the bible did exist, he would be immoral for setting up a system in which people are tortured.

  4. Aug 9 2011

    I am going back to work now. Yes you are correct. I beleive the Bible and it states if you do not trust beleive in Christ you will spend eternity in hell. But I will pray though all this other and give you an answer soon. I do not look down upon you for not beleiving. As I said before I feel God’s love for you and I am praying He reveals Himself to you.
    Thank you Donald and enjoy your day!

  5. juju2112
    Aug 9 2011

    Yep, this stuff certainly can take a lot of time to go through. I don’t expect either of us to have our minds changed from these types of discussions, but it does give us both something to think about.

    I still don’t understand how torture is justified just for not believing in God. Torture is always wrong. I’m not even for torturing Al-Quada agents, much less good people. Seems like a pretty cruel god to me. I know the justification is “You send yourself there by not believing in him”, but that’s kinda like someone putting a gun to your head, making you do something, and saying it was your choice to do it.

  6. Aug 15 2011

    Hey Donald,
    Sorry it has taken me so long to get back with you. I have decided I do not want to answer your questions. After reading through and listening to you web sight, I can see you guys are on a mission of ridicule to the Lord Jesus Christ. I refuse to get involved in that. Donald If you have true questions, I would be so pleased to answer them. Until then..

    • juju2112
      Aug 15 2011

      I do ridicule religion some, but I think I’ve been very respectful so far in our conversation. You’ve been a little disrespectful, too, threatening me with torture.

      Anyway, if you have any other questions, I’ll still be here.

    • Daniel Schealler
      Aug 16 2011

      … That’s a pity, Bobby.

      I was actually looking forward to some kind of response to the comments left for you on the previous thread. I favor a response to my own comments (obviously), but some of the other comments there were quite a lot better than mine.

      For example, your response from atheistdad on Aug 06 2011 was very thorough and well researched.

      There hasn’t been any ridicule of Jesus in the threads here that I have read (admittedly, I have only read a very small sampling of this overall blog).

      You claim that you arrived here to ask some very genuine questions. And you have been given some very genuine answers.

      So in the circumstances, it really is a pity that you’ve come to feel the way that you do.

      I hope you’ll reconsider and come back to inquire some more. And perhaps to answer a few of the questions and conundrums posed by those of us here that are attempting a genuine dialog with you.

      I’m subscribed to comments on both this thread and the ‘If you don’t indoctrinate’ thread as well. So like Donald, I’ll still be here too.

      Until then: All the best.

  7. Nikk Fors
    Aug 15 2011

    Bobbie, I believe he has asked a very serious question here. This would be the question that cemented my disbelief in Christianity. A man who makes only a minimal effort to follow the laws of the bible yet prays for forgiveness in the name of Jesus is rewarded with Heaven. A man who cannot convince himself of the existence of Jesus, yet lives a compassionate life, always trying to do good will be forever tormented in hell. What of good people who were simply taught the wrong religion? This strikes me as a petty and vindictive god and not one that I would be proud to serve. A coward could be expected to serve this cruel ruler soley to save his own wretched skin.

    • Cat Eyes
      Aug 15 2011

      Loved your post, Nikk!!

  8. Cat Eyes
    Aug 15 2011

    Bobbie–I just have to ask…as Nikk mentioned: What of good people who were simply taught the wrong religion?? Obviously, with the technological advances we continue to make, the world has gotten smaller, and more information is available in remote areas than there used to be. But what has happened to people in remote villages in days gone by who never had the opportunity to study the Bible, or be exposed to the stories of Jesus?? Were those folks sent to hell because of where they happened to live and because of what had not been shared with them?? Are you a parent?? If so, and you never mentioned to your child that the burners on the stove were hot when you were cooking supper, and he reached up and touched the stove, burning his hands and possibly neccessitating a trip to the emergency room, would you punish him for that?? Would he be spanked, placed on restriction, sent to bed without any supper?? Of course not, because while a parent needs to discipline a child when the child is wrong, a parent also needs to exercise compassion and sympathy when a child does something because he is ignorant of the consequences of his actions. If a parent used touching a hot stove as an excuse to BEAT a child…or burn him with cigarettes…or lock him in a closet for days…or keep him in a cage…wouldn’t most of us consider that child abuse?? Absolutely!! And it’s not only morally reprehensible in our society, it is criminal!! So why do Christians accept a “Heavenly Father” who is willing to abuse his own children by casting them into a place full of torture, burning, screaming, and death, simply because–through no fault of their own–they lack knowledge?? Why would anyone accept that from a supreme being when we don’t accept abusive behavior from our peers in society??

    As far as ridiculing religion in general, Bobbie, yes–we atheists have been known to do that. Why?? Because the existence of any god (or gods) makes about as much sense to us as the existence of purple unicorns, or little fairies that fly about scattering magic dust. But while we might ridicule religion, most of the atheists I know don’t make it personal. Donald hasn’t poked fun of you for what you believe, and he’s even tolerated your quoting scripture on HIS blog as evidence of what you believe. He’s been more tolerant than I would’ve been. I don’t accept the Bible as proof of a god’s existence–period–so your scriptural quotations mean nothing to me, and make a very weak argument. The Bible is simply a book of stories–some pleasant, some sinister–written by a bunch of very creative shepherds when their sheep were behaving and they needed something to do. Personally, I’d like to hear some justification for your beliefs that isn’t just a bunch of Bible verses. Can you support your Christian beliefs without relying on the Bible??

    I think it is interesting that you have apparently abandoned any dialogue. In the end, Bobbie, the burden of proof of the existence of a god lies squarely with the folks asserting that belief. Atheists have nothing to prove in this argument–we have no belief!!

  9. Katie
    Aug 15 2011

    All good points….. I’d also like to ask Bobbie what happens to the souls of animals who don’t have the capacity to understand or make a decision about the gods you favor. Any thoughts on that? I spend 8 hours a week volunteering at the local Humane Society (ooohhhh an Atheist who spends one day a week trying to better the life of homeless animals without any compensation or reward – imagine that!) and I can tell you right now that if your heaven is a place without dogs or cats, then I hardly think it would be “heavenly” at all and I’d have zero interest in going there. Thoughts?


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