One of the arguments an atheist faces most often is that there is “no moral code” to live by. My one religious friend recently asked me how I knew right from wrong — How do I know that killing is bad? I went into a little bit about human nature and compassion and how religion doesn’t own the intellectual rights to compassion. In any case, my friend vjack at the Atheist Revolution posted a link to an article that I really enjoyed reading.
Read the article here: http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070121/OPINION08/701210324/1109/OPINION
Note the statement that Appleby makes:
When a child hits another and the second child cries, the first one doesn’t need to have read the Bible or gone to Sunday school to know his action was wrong. Nor does he need to fear eternal damnation to discourage him from doing it again.
I wish I had this article to show my friend during our conversation before. I may send it to him now, after the fact.
I like using the example of Buddhism to talk about morality and atheism:
According to the Buddhist philosophy, every bit of suffering that I feel can be traced back to a particular point in time or a particular feeling or action that has led to my own suffering. In other words, we cause it ourself, whether it be through a lack of compassion or something as broad as a general attachment to a desire to feel needed. This is karma. Many people use the word karma to mean something completely different, where the effect is very separate from the cause. In karma, cause and effect are related.
Buddhism points out that the human condition is all that is needed to be able to know right from wrong. Societies can base their laws off of basic human instinct. We don’t need a guidebook to teach us these lessons.