Morals And Self-Control In The Absence Of Religion

Morals And Self-Control In The Absence Of Religion

Religions supply a predefined set of morals.   The higher power, deity or deities is or are believed to reward moral behavior and to punish transgressions.   People are motivated, instigated, coerced or manipulated to follow rules restraining their behavior, either with or without any insight in the benefits and necessity of the rules.    
When people discard religion, they often discard the morals of this religion too, because they misunderstand the morals as an arbitrary restraint without any benefit.   Experiencing moral rules only as religious ballast restricting behavior without understanding their protective benefits is a sign of ignorance, immaturity, selfishness or superficiality.  
 
Becoming an atheist is not a valid excuse for the backlash and regression to behave as ruthless, inconsiderate and cruel animals driven by instinct.     When someone leaves behind a religion and feels free to automatically leave behind all moral rules of this religion too, he becomes a psychopath.  

Leaving a religion and remaining a moral persons requires to replace the morals of this religion by a new set of morals based upon responsibility and consideration.   This means a conscious evaluation of every moral rule of this religion by asking the simple questions:  Who suffers without this rule?  If the rule does protect someone from being hurt or harmed, then this rule needs to be maintained and not discarded.  

Without a religion, to be guided by morals of any kind requires
  • the conscious insight and acceptance of the need of morals and of rules for behavior
  • the awareness of and interest for the consequences of the own behavior upon others
  • self-control to act in accordance with the accepted rules 

A study connects self-control to religion, and this has important implication for people striving to behave morally without being religious.  Since self-control appears to be eased by religious indoctrination, for any non-religious person it is very important to consciously focus on learning self-control.  
"Study participants were given a sentence containing five words to unscramble. Some contained religious themes and others did not. After unscrambling the sentences, participants were asked to complete a number of tasks that required self-control -- enduring discomfort, delaying gratification, exerting patience, and refraining from impulsive responses.
Participants who had unscrambled the sentences containing religious themes had more self-control in completing their tasks.
"Our most interesting finding was that religious concepts were able to refuel self-control after it had been depleted by another unrelated task," "
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124113045.htm
 
This is a copy from my ERCP-blog

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Comment by Maruli Marulaki on January 27, 2012 at 8:44am

I have no statistical evidence, only my own observations.

The following discussion is one of several instances, where men on AN vehemently defend promiscuity.  

http://www.atheistnexus.org/forum/topics/comparing-false-beliefs?gr...

Also there is my disappointing experience on dating sites.   When I search for men, who are atheists, on the dating sites, which allow men to indicate that they are also looking for flings, no strings attached or such, the combination of atheists only looking for long term comitment is very very rare.   

It is my personal frustration, that exclusively monogamous atheists are more difficult to find than winning the lottery.  

Comment by Russell20 on January 27, 2012 at 8:29am

"Christianity protects women from harm by a strong enforcement and requirement of monogamy. Monogamy is the only really beneficial and attractive aspect of christianity."

  Really ? try asking the wife of Ted Haggard (the evangelical guardian of  the nations morality) he indulged in affairs with other men whilst condemning both homosexuality and non-monogamous relationships from his pulpit. Whilst I recognise that this is anecdotal and not necessarily the behaviour of any of his congregation, it still suggests that at a micro-level religious belief is no guarantor of morality or commitment to the monogamous ideal.

"Unfortunately for atheistic women, many men discard monogamy together with christianity, when they become atheists"

 Again really? and your evidence for this would be what ? You seem to suggest that as Atheism steps through the front door, morality and commitment sneaks out the back and for no other reason than a lack  of belief in a deity.And why would this lack of belief lead to promiscuous behaviour ? Do you for instance believe that as Atheists men have no moral compass and therefore will have no capaciy for love and commitment ? If that is the case then morality has no human input and exists only via a belief in an intangible deity which outlines acceptable moral behaviour.

Comment by Maruli Marulaki on January 27, 2012 at 5:24am

I do not mean to say, that atheism has no morals, nor do I deny the golden rule as a general moral guide.

But while religion specifies clear behavioral rules converted into automatic habits for every aspect of life, the responsible atheist needs very conscious evaluation of all interactions to transform the general golden rule into responsible and considerate behavior.

Here is an example:
For many women, physical intimacy automatically creates emotional attachment. These women have a strong emotional need for the exclusivity of reliable monogamy. Whenever such a woman gets cheated upon or dumped by a promiscuous man having used her body but refusing commitment, the woman suffers a lot of pain. The social and psychological consequences are sometimes quite drastic. Any man, who claims promiscuity as progressive and a liberation, is either immature or a psychopath without a conscience.

Christianity protects women from harm by a strong enforcement and requirement of monogamy. Monogamy is the only really beneficial and attractive aspect of christianity. It is the one reason, why I sometimes regret, that I cannot love a christian.

Unfortunately for atheistic women, many men discard monogamy together with christianity, when they become atheists, without replacing it with a conscious atheistic morality based upon consideration and responsibility for women's needs and emotions.
If a man is driven by instincts towards promiscuity, this cannot be helped. But being driven is no justification to allow cruelty instead of learning responsible self-control. While for an atheist, monogamy is not a duty to a god, an atheist needs to replace this by moral rules based upon consideration and insight:
Whenever his promiscuity drives him towards getting physically involved with a woman's body, he needs to stop and reflect, what he is planning to do. Before he becomes a jerk, as a moral man he firsts asks both himself and the woman, if his lack of commitment will hurt her. In the case of yes, atheist morals means to refrain from using her.

Comment by Russell20 on January 26, 2012 at 12:50am

For those not familiar with the concept of altruism please see the link below

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

Comment by Russell20 on January 25, 2012 at 11:06pm

why do replies need prior approval here

Comment by Russell20 on January 25, 2012 at 9:37pm

Some people,Atheists in particular don't indulge in "killin,lyin,cheatin,etc" because they observe the "Golden Rule"  (whether they do so consciously is open to debate) which to an extent can be reduced to "do as you would be done to" which is related to our genetic propensity for altruism.This in turn lends itself to our need to co-operate for survival purposes but can still be observable moral acts.No God/ religion involved and no need for either of them.

The problem I have with studies of this nature is that it implicitly accepts the religious paradigm vis-a-vis moarality, that is, we can't be moral without God. Thus any subsequent rejection of God can and does lead to moral decline.If that is the case I want to see the evidence which is not present in this study.

Comment by Maruli Marulaki on January 25, 2012 at 11:54am

When people discard religion, they often discard the morals of this religion too

 

Comment by Dogly on January 25, 2012 at 11:17am

The original premise, "When people discard religion, they often discard the morals...", is not based on any facts.  Who says we discard morality?  More pseudo-science, and B.S.

Comment by Dogly on January 25, 2012 at 11:13am

What a stupid "study".  The self control (and obedience) demanded by this protocol had no relationship to observable results. "enduring discomfort, delaying gratification, exerting patience, and refraining from impulsive responses".  Why?  If it were to endure discomfort to get a tooth fixed, or delaying gratification to help a sexual partner 'catch up', or exerting patience to allow a disabled person get on a bus before us, that would be exerting self control for a useful, or compassionate purpose.  Just obeying someone's instructions because he is in a position of authority, shows no virtue, but just blind, cringing subservience.

We, atheists, had enough self control to examine the teachings of religion with an open mind, to consider scientific knowledge, and use the scientific method to make sure what we are told is fact.  We are far less likely to commit atrocities because, "we were just following orders."  There is no good methodology in this study.

Comment by Maruli Marulaki on January 25, 2012 at 10:22am

that people don't actually get their morality from religion.

Some people consider not stealing, not killing, not lieing as behavioral rules, that are part of their religion, as behavior owed to their deity.   Atheist morals need to reconsider the reasons, why such rules are important.

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