What is morality? This is the sixteenth of a series of short posts about whether gods exist and why the question is an important one.
What do I mean by morality? I make a distinction between good and bad, which relate to outcomes, and right and wrong, which relate to intentions.
An outcome is objectively bad for a sentient being if it harms that sentient being by causing it to needlessly suffer. An action is objectively wrong if the agent of the action unjustly harms a sentient being.
In any given situation, because so many factors are interacting, it can be easy or hard to know what is good and bad or right and wrong.
However, if there was an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful god that is the source of morality and cares about human beings on planet Earth, then at a minimum, we would expect it to be able to give us all the same moral message.
If that happened, we would expect to see that different sets of people at different times and different places in the world would have the same sense of morality. But this not what we see.
On the other hand, if there are no gods, then we would expect to see that different sets of people at different times and different places in the world would be evolving different ideas and codes of morality. And this is indeed what we do see.
In parallel to applying reason to the evidence of reality, in order to try to understand what is objectively true about reality, we can also apply reason to the evidence of our behaviour, in order to try to understand what is objectively true about morality.
It is simply false to suggest that we need the idea of a god to assist us in doing this. There are many approaches to moral philosophy that do not invoke gods.
Like this article? It is one of a series on this topic.
Click here to read the other articles in this series.