New Atheists: Have your values changed?
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21-07-2010, 01:52 PM
 
New Atheists: Have your values changed?
This is a gross oversimplification, but I used to believe that all life was sacred: that only God gives life and only God can take it away, abortion is murder, capital punishment is wrong, assisted suicide is cheating, and suicide will get you sent straight to hell; and that virginity is admirable and sex should be saved for marriage (or at least a committed relationship.)

Now I believe there is no heavenly creator, nothing is 'sacred', that fetal cells are merely lumps of insentient tissue, that a woman has a right to choose if she will or will not bring a new life into this world, and that no one, unborn and mass murderer alike, has a soul that need be considered. I think assisted suicide is merciful, and suicide, because sometimes "god" does put more on your plate than you can handle, is a desperate, sad, but personal decision (especially in light of the fact that this is it, there is no happily ever after spirit world to escape to); and that religion taints sex, creating taboos that don't exist among others in the animal world. I would prefer my children experience sex before committing to a partner and live with them before committing to a marriage -- take them out for a test drive in other words.

The Golden Rule holds firm, but otherwise, so much has changed.

Has anyone else seen a swing in their moral compass since becoming an atheist?
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21-07-2010, 05:16 PM
 
RE: New Atheists: Have your values changed?
I don't think I did, but I definitely didn't have the drastic shift in/away from belief that you did.

I imagine that my journey was more along the lines of realizing I was an atheist all along rather then changing a massive world view. I was raised with very little religion, I only went to church a handful of times when visiting my Grandparents and I think my mom only made me go to make Grandma happy.

I always thought organized religion was silly, but recent events and experiencing first hand how different (to be nice) people of extreme religious views were from me made me realize I needed to really define myself. I didn't take long for me to "declare" myself an atheist.

So, all that being said, I can't seem to come up with a moral change in myself except that, maybe to compared to 5 years ago I now view several tenants of Christianity (and other various religions) as immoral, such as the described relationship between human beings and God, like the threat of hell etc.
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22-07-2010, 08:20 PM
 
RE: New Atheists: Have your values changed?
I am definitely more moral as a rationalist than when I was young & religious. Like so many in America, I had customized my own version of Christianity which suited my life and allowed me to find avenues to justify and/or make excuses for my shortcomings. I'm certainly not perfect now but I am not the liar and disappointment to myself that I was when I allowed myself to justify almost any belief out of convenience.
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22-07-2010, 08:38 PM
 
RE: New Atheists: Have your values changed?
If your moral compass changed you need to revisit the basic words: Morals, Ethics, and Virtues. Once you have these straight read Spinoza and Dennet on these issue, Harris is good too, vene if he is not sure what he believe, but he has some great lectures on You Tube about this very thing.

My bet is you are morally better, and enlightened, but a very similar person. Your beliefs in what is moral has changed but you heart and mind are prety damn close to the sright place.

I'm with bellis301 - I am more moral as a non-believer. Best contemporary thinker on the subjects is Peter Singer at Princeton (see his video interview with Richard Dawkins)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYYNY2oKV...re=related

One more thing: I am with Hitchens on the golden rule, it is immoral. If you really want to test your moral changes look-up his talk about the ten commandment and his talk about the golden rule, but that may be the anti-theist speaking in this old boy. .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6v-Btagnw0
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23-07-2010, 07:11 AM
RE: New Atheists: Have your values changed?
Perhaps a different way of looking at things....

I think that it's possible that for many, the appearance of a moral shift is something of an illusion. Though my acceptance of atheism wasn't a drastic change like it was for some, I feel that my morals led me to atheism, not the other way around. A very important moral I try to live by is to always seek and live the truth. I've found this to be very important to most atheists I know, and it's logical that if truth is something that's important to you, then it would eventually lead you to atheism.

I also see a common theme among "new atheists". Often they "accept" they are atheist, as opposed to "becoming" atheist. Once they accept what they are, their morals don't nescessarily change much, but instead, are reinforced. It's almost as though they give up that one thing - ie.religion - that finally allows them to truly live their morals.

Like I said, maybe it's just another way of looking at it, but I thought I'd share my perspective. Food for thought.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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23-07-2010, 08:19 AM
RE: New Atheists: Have your values changed?
What's interesting to me is how little my values have actually changed. I think this comes from the fact that my values began to change long before my "religious" outlook did. For the most part, things that I thought were morally wrong before I became an atheist are still wrong. What letting go of religion has done, however, is that I now seem to have a more complete understanding of why I think certain things are right or wrong - from a broader social standpoint, at least.

I have begun to lean farther liberal in my political tendancies, but even that hasn't taken a huge leap. I am a lot more concerned with separation of church and state now, that's for sure.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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