Why don't Atheists use empathy as an argument against Religious/biblical/god morality claims?

 

I have asked this of several different non-theist sources and have yet to get a satisfactory answer. So I thought I would pose it here for your thoughts. This article is how I've argued against biblical morality. This is Matt Dillahunty discussing this point. Debate after debate atheists come close to talking about this but miss this documents point completely. I always end up yelling at the speaker "what about empathy". Please comment on anything you feel I've gotten wrong. For your contemplation. Here we go.

Why don't Atheists use empathy as an argument against Religious morality claims?

Theists argue that you can not have morality without god because god gave us our morals. That there is no scientific way to measure morality Thus it must have come from god. Beside it being a great leap to say it was god not some teapot around Jupiter that did it.

Even though empathy is not a physical thing made of matter that you can hold in your hand. Empathy can be proven to exist by scientific method. We know all animals have the ability of having and expressing empathy. The examples of a lion nursing a baby antelope, dogs nursing a cats kittens, animals adopting members of their own species and others. We have all seen evidence and cute pictures of this. When you see a child hungry you feed it because you feel empathy. You know how it feels to be hungry. It feeds baby because it can see it needs help just like you would. There is lots of examples of empathy. It's provable and experimentally repeatable. I would even bet money that the dinosaurs felt and displayed empathy. They had children didn't they.

How you respond to the empathy you feel is directly proportional to how moral you are doesn't it?

So the action of empathy is morality. We institute moral rules because of the empathy we feel. We show or preform empathy when we bandage a bleeding child or feed a hungry child. We do not spill oil and burn all the trees of other nations because we imagine what our lives would be like if it was done to us. Or how our children would be affected. Even the morality of something as immoral as war.  We can feel how your life would be to survive such an attack. So the action is an agreement not to use chemical weapons in war. The father away from empathy we get the more immoral we get. Thus after making the agreement you use band weapons you are immoral. Empathy is being able to place yourself in an others situation in our imagination or experience.

A lion though killing animals to eat lives by it's own moral code. They are unable to empathize with their prey does not make a lion immoral for feeding themselves or their young. Unable to imagine what being an antelope must be like but can imagine what being a baby is like, thus will nurse a baby of it's prey. We have moral rules instilled in us from living with empathy. The more reasoning ability an animal has the greater probability that it will develop a moral code just as we have done all by ourselves. The next step in our moral evolution after banning war might be ,say, not eating meat. We feel empathy for how it must be like to be someones food. If we discovered cows felt that way we would have to stop eating cows to be truly moral. It's moral to eat cows because they don't use reasoning powers the same way we do. Through evolution of the human mind from ape to hominid to modern our morals evolved with us in a fully natural way. Through empathy, no god or religion needed. So we have proof of empathy through a repeatable scientific method and no proof that the bible or any book was here before empathy or morality. Which is more probable?

So why don't atheists use empathy as an argument against the existence or need for a theistic morality? Is there a theistic point that makes empathy moot that I'm not seeing?

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Tags: athiest, biblical, empathy, evolution, god, morality, religien, science

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Comment by Gene Griffis on December 19, 2013 at 7:51pm

I think J Morr makes a great point that empathy can be used to argue that god is not the only one that can provide mankind with moral values. I was recently speaking with other Atheist about evil and I was challenged that there is no such thing and I disagree. I would agree that there is no such thing as sin but to say there is no such thing as evil is another issue altogether. I think crime against humanity and possibly our animal friends is evil. I know some will wonder why I say possibly our animal friends but I question the labeling of it as evil but am not opposed to it per say. 

Comment by Grinning Cat on December 9, 2013 at 8:28pm

...some of the old testament morality is blood curdling...

Taking a scripture as the "inerrant word of god" opens the door to horrific immorality:

Comment by James Kz on December 25, 2012 at 7:03am

Which brings to mind two Steven Weinberg quotes on morals and religion:

Many people do simply awful things out of sincere religious belief, not using religion as a cover the way that Saddam Hussein may have done, but really because they believe that this is what God wants them to do, going all the way back to Abraham being willing to sacrifice Issac because God told him to do that. Putting God ahead of humanity is a terrible thing.

Fredrick Douglass told in his Narrative how his condition as a slave became worse when his master underwent a religious conversion that allowed him to justify slavery as the punishment of the children of Ham. Mark Twain described his mother as a genuinely good person, whose soft heart pitied even Satan, but who had no doubt about the legitimacy of slavery, because in years of living in antebellum Missouri she had never heard any sermon opposing slavery, but only countless sermons preaching that slavery was God's will. With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on December 25, 2012 at 12:06am

Another point-theistic morality is the greatest abdication of responsibility. You dont have to use your noggin to solve issues. And some of the old testament morality is blood curdling and anti-equality so of course it is a fail.

Comment by J. Morr on December 24, 2012 at 11:50pm

2 points:

A theist by default is more immoral than any atheist. A theist says god gave us morals to live by as an authority on the matter. An atheist does not say there is a social moral code only there own, empathy. So the religious person that believes the laws and in god and leaves the church and does what he wants is more immoral than the atheist that is not asserting anything and does as he wishes.

Or this premiss,

Our prime minister in Canada is a Cristian. He does not believe that global warming or air pollution is his problem to deal with. He and others feel that green energy is pointless. He feels no moral obligation to his children's future. So open up the oil sands in Alberta and become the 28th most polluting offender country on earth. Why? He believes Christ is coming back within his or his children's life time. Christ is going to make the earth a paradise for 1000 years just for the believers only. So there is no point saving the future of mankind or any conservation at all. Recycling and conservation is just a silly waist of time. This god is going to come down and fix everything no matter what he does to help save the earth. How can that possibly be perceived as moral? Does this make religion by default immoral.

Atheist prayer " If there is a god would you please rapture these a**hats right now." :)

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on December 24, 2012 at 11:22pm

Good argument J.Morr.

In fact it is also true that empathy has been repeatedly demonstrated in animal kingdom and that mirror neurons are prevalent in other animals, the neurons associated with empathy. A minor argument in favor of evolution and against special creation.

So I do agree that empathy drives morality. I think you can extend the argument and assert that theism tends to reduce morality by overriding our natural empathy. So that it is a sliding scale of morality with theists in which the greater the devotion and orthodoxy of the adherent the greater the likelihood that the adherent's natural moral impulses will be superceded by inculcation of theistic morality. 

You want examples: suicide bombings, honor killings, inquisition torture, abortion clinic nastiness etc.

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