There are two main arguments I have against the belief that morality comes from religion. My first argument is, well, the fact that nobody can explain how that’s even possible in the first place. There is nothing moral about being commanded. Ordering someone to behave a certain way has nothing to do with morality; it’s just obedience versus disobedience. Where is the connection between that and morality? There is none.
My second, and primary, argument against this notion is the obvious fact that morality is, unfortunately, subjective. I don’t want to accept this any more than religious people do, but morality really is what we as individuals decide it to be, for ourselves. For example, I have no problem downloading a song from YouTube for free (when I don’t care about the poor quality). Technically, that’s stealing, isn’t it? On the other hand, I find it absolutely reprehensible when people cheat on their partners. Now, some people can forgive infidelity, some couples even do it on purpose with no problem. Who’s right or wrong here about anything I just listed?
Morality doesn’t objectively come from anywhere except our own personal nature as individuals. Now, most people tend to have a large percentage of their morality in common with everyone else, and there likely is a reason for that. Most people find infidelity to be deal-breakers in relationships. Most people find murder to be evil, as well as theft and vandalism. So, even though everyone technically has a different moral code from everyone else, how are these common principles so common?
The fact that we are social animals. We need each other for virtually everything we do and to acquire everything we have. We also need each other just for something to live for. This is why solitary confinement is the worst kind of imprisonment. Having no social interaction of any kind for too long can make us go insane or commit suicide. So, because we are social animals, we are biologically programmed to work with the group – to desire to benefit the group so that we in return benefit. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years ago, our ancestors figured out that working together can accomplish substantially more than working alone. After a long time, that shifted from knowledge to being in our very DNA.
This is why everything, from taking care of babies to loving others, is ingrained in all of us. Well, most of us. Our morality is based in love itself, and love is entirely a social-animal instinct. It’s based in emotion. This is why all other social animals feel love. Some animals, like orcas, feel love more strongly than we do.
Don’t mistakenly think I’m saying we are biologically built to love everyone and everything. Not even all other human beings, actually. All social animals are this way, too. Take lions for example. When a new male takes over a pride, guess what he does first? He kills every cub in the pride that is not his own. I’ve seen footage of a male lion carrying the lower half (yes, I said half) of the cub he just tore apart. Social animals aren’t built to love everyone of their species, just their own ‘tribe.’ Humans are no different. Whether that’s an ethnic tribe, or a religious tribe, or an ideological tribe, humans greatly favor those in their own tribe and despise outsiders. Humans’ capacity to love is also what gives us the capacity to be monstrous.
We are built to be tribal, like all other animals. We are vicious to those we don’t accept as ‘one of us,’ while being excessively tolerant and accepting of people we consider as one of us. We fear what is different; we fear what we don’t understand. Atrocities humans have committed against each other, such as slavery, concentration camps or gulags, are only possible when we think of certain groups of people as, well, not people. Hitler thought of Jews as rodents. Stalin thought everyone was a traitor. When you allow yourself to see ‘different’ as not even one of your own species, it makes cruelty easy.
This is the core basis for why I’m a liberal. It is what I have chosen as my moral compass – to love everyone and to defend everyone regardless if they’re part of my ‘tribe’ or not. It’s not just my large capacity to love everybody, it’s also to keep myself centered toward certain types of people I do not like. I am someone who loves most everybody naturally, but unfortunately not everyone. I don’t like that about myself. Being a liberal suits my nature, and makes up for the parts of my nature that I wish weren’t there. I believe that, objectively, liberalism is the ultimate cure for the worst aspects of human nature itself. Or, if not a cure, it’s the best suppressant. Humanity itself should be your tribe, not just your race, religion, geographic location, political affiliation, preference of cats or dogs, or whatever else.
Mother Nature gave us our morals, not an imaginary space daddy.