Atheism/further on morals


"As I pointed out in both, the true scientific Materialist, by definition, respects his fellow men and reveres all life, since he recognizes (through his philosophy) that they share a planet that may be unique in the cosmos."

How can you convince someone who do not agree in the above statements. How could such person derive their morals.  People kill animal life for food, so how could the above statement be justified. What is the basis for your premise in deriving morals.

As I pointed out earlier, it is not specifically "morals" (which has too great a generality), but practical, utilitarian ethics.

I noted:

"We can determine a relatively objective ethics (morality is much more general) by appeal to scientific materialist criteria. I set out many of these both in a book published in 2000 (Ch. 6 of 'The Atheist's Handbook To Modern Materialism') as well as an essay appearing in The Barbados Advocate Newspaper in 1991.

As I pointed out in both, the true scientific Materialist, by definition, respects his fellow men and reveres all life, since he recognizes (through his philosophy) that they share a planet that may be unique in the cosmos. Thus, the true Materialist treasures and conserves the Earth's finite store of resources, since he comprehends that Earth also has one life to live - and there is no more after the existing resources are consumed.

Embodied within the preceding there abides a practical ethics, forged out of the Materialist's reason and his priorities. This has one overriding aim: to cherish the Earth and all life upon it. Consequently, the true Materialist disdains all forms of violence, since ultimately these are inimical to the community and to species' survival. Since violent acts undermine a community's cohesion and threaten its very existence, the true Materialist must regard them as irrational. The Materialist is compelled to co-operate with his fellows and promote a common good, not out of fear for the wrath of a deity, but to held insure a thriving, harmonious community with high survival value."  

I also added:

"Any persistent observer of human social interaction will note that the vast majority of people are law-abiding and decent folk who naturally practice a common-sense, utilitarian ethics similar to what has been described. For proof, one need only look as far as the upstanding Atheist or agnostic who inhabits every community and who - though he disdains a deity, nevertheless treats his fellows with compassion and respect. No supernatural law or commandment ordains this behavior. Instead it is the conscious and deliberate recognition that the promotion of the welfare of others is directly linked to the one's own welfare."

Now, because a human "kills animals for food" does NOT imply any disrespect for life. After all, human life supersedes animal life (i.e. the latter serves the former) and even the Bible compels readers to "subdue the beasts". It is, therefore, ethically okay to kill animals for the purpose of life preservation, for nutrition. (We can't all be vegetarians and besides, it is much more difficult to fashion an adequate diet from veggies alone. )

Now, if a hunter simply goes out and shoots deer for no good reason, and doesn't use the killed animal for meat (venison) than that IS showing disrespect for life because the killing is done gratuitously- with no other purpose in mind.

I believe then that in all the previous posts I HAVE given the basis for deriving a practical ethics, not morals (which are more open to subjective interpretation).

Lastly, I do not expect everyone to agree with a materialist ethics as I've defined them. There are many ways they are bound to differ with me, especially if they are themselves supernatural believers - as you appear to be.

In effect, I am NOT out to convert or convince people to my definition or perspective on ethics, which requires no special supernatural force. SO they are entitled to believe whatever they wish.

You asked me to define and present the logic behind my ethics, which I did. Now you are demanding I issue a version with which virtually everyone can agree. But those are two different things entirely. It is one thing to present my ethics ipso facto, it is another for me to try to argue that everyone must somehow agree with my proposals. They don't!

Do I believe my ethical prescriptions are superior to supernatural ethics? Of course I do! But that is not the same as me trying to argue that every manjack must agree with them and practice them!

I hope this has now been made clear and will enable you to better hone future questions you ask, and get away from simply using questions to take issue with my ethics system because you may not approve of it or like it.


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Philip A. Stahl


I specialize in the areas of scientific materialism and consciousness described as a materialist epiphenomenon. Also can answer questions pertaining to general atheism, atheist-agnostic differences etc.


I have been an atheist for over 36 yrs. and have written four books on the subject: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), and 'Atheism" A Beginner's Handbook', 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Intertel, Mensa, American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union

Atheist articles: 'The American Atheist' magazine, assorted U.S. newspapers (e.g. Baltimore Sun, Denver Post); papers-articles published in Intertel's Journal: Integra. Books: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), 'Atheism: A Beginner's Handbook' (2007), 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Master of Philosophy in Physics. Also took more than 3 yrs. of theology and metaphysics courses at a Catholic University (1964-67) - before I became an atheist. Thus, I have much more religious familiarity & background than many atheists.

Awards and Honors
Writers' Digest Award for the essay 'The Atheist in America' (2000), Government of Barbados research in solar physics award (1980-84), AAS Solar Physics Award (1984)

Past/Present Clients
American Atheists, Barbados Philosophical Society, Harrison College- Barbados, Colorado Springs Freethinkers

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