How is Atheist Morality Derived?

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Many theists consider the argument from morality a very effective argument against atheism. I don’t. I believe it is perfectly possible for atheists to develop a sound moral framework (it wouldn’t be an argument even if it wasn’t). I have some idea of how I would do it if I were an atheist.

But I have yet to hear any atheist give me a good explanation of naturalistic morality so I am curious in any atheist has one. Now I am not referring to you just telling me that you live by the golden rule and that is your morality. I would like to know how you derive that morality from your worldview.

As an explanation of what I mean by this, let me give an example of how to derive a bad version of morality.

1) There is no God.

2) The universe began by naturalistic means.

3) We got here trough natural selection/ evolution

4) In order for our species to survive we should take control of our own evolution and be mindful of our gene pool:

  • We should make sure that intelligent people reproduce more then stupid ones
  • We should not allow genetic diseases to get passed on so we should prevent reproduction in certain cases
  • We should prevent interbreeding in some cases etc.

Even though the above reasoning leads to some shady “moral” principles, at least I could sit someone down and explain to them why I think by accepting my worldview as a starting point and following my logic one would arrive at the same conclusions about morality.

I would like to hear an atheist explain how they derive their moral principles from their worldview and if they feel that their logic would lead others to the same moral principles.



  1. Lausten North  February 13, 2013

    My view is that we are limited in what we know. We might be limited in what we can know, but we don’t know that yet, but we can agree (I hope) that the question “what is true”, is as yet unanswered. To answer it, we first must ask, “how do we discover the truth.” Logic provides that we state a premise and follow it with what we can conclude from that premise. This gives us a system wherein we can question the premise and question how we arrive at the conclusion. We can only claim to be approaching truth.

    A primary premise is that there is a high degree of consistency in the universe. This is sometimes referred to as the laws of the universe. Where the laws come from is not germane to this question. For people, we know we have a desire to live, to procreate and to do those things with some amount of comfort. We can share those ideas and verify that others feel the same. We have experimented with a variety of systems and have determined that some amount of cooperation leads to those goals. We have observed less intelligent creatures and can guess they have similar desires.

    From there, it is just a matter of arguing about how much cooperation we want from each other and how comfortable we want to be.

    • Unapologetics  March 13, 2013

      One thing I can go along with here is the idea of learning from past experiences. We have historically experimented with different systems and we can pick what worked best.

      The question remains however, how do we determine what is better? One person might look at different systems and conclude that one is better while another person something else.

      • Lausten North  March 14, 2013

        The simplest answer is that life is better than death, except in very extreme cases.


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