Where do your morals come from — your family? Your faith? Your philosophical worldview? How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?
That is what a lot of people ask me first when I tell them I am an atheist. If I am not afraid of eternal punishment for my sins, why am I not stealing, raping and murdering? My response is usually somewhere along the line of “And those who steal, rape and murder, does it seem like their fear of certain doom and eternal punishment is stopping them?”
It is true, and it is certainly diplomatic, but it isn’t an answer. Why am I not a homicidal misogynistic kleptomaniac, but a nice security guard in a neat uniform who is happy with being underpaid for his crappy working hours?
I have often pondered that question. I used to be catholic, and the formulation of a moral code in ten bullet points is a pretty neat achievement. There are hundreds over hundreds of asterisks to every one of those bullet points that tell you when it is o.K. or even demanded that you ignore them. Well, the first 3 are etched in stone. They are like the axioms in Math, the basis of everything, which is why people think they are required to believe in a divine power to have morals.
But, there is a loophole. This God, that the major monotheistic world religions base their morals on, they also refer to Him as the Heavenly Father. So, Father tells you not to steal, not to kill, not to desire your brother’s wife, and not to lie. Why do you follow these commands? Sure he could smack you if you disobeyed. But why do you follow his laws when he’s not looking?
Because you love him, and you want to make him proud. All you need is Love.