Welcome to my series of articles on the topic of morality and religion. This box will appear at the top of each article as a table of contents for the series. They are intended to be read in the following order:
2. Objective Morals
3. From Human Nature
4. The Problems With Faith
5. Doing It Right
This is the first in a new series of articles describing my views about one of the biggest debates regarding religion and atheism: Morality. This first article is very brief since its primary purpose is simply to set the basis for what the series will be discussing.
What is morality?
Morality has a few definitions:
Morality just means how a person or group thinks that people should behave; what they consider to be desirable behavior and beliefs, right or wrong, good or bad. This definition is the one found in most dictionaries.
But people tend to use the word in a more specific way: that being, what we should do in order to maximize happiness and minimize suffering.
That is why we are so concerned about it. Living beings tend to care more about suffering – at least their own – more than anything else, so that is what we base our concepts of right and wrong around. If alleviating suffering is ultimately the purpose of your views on right and wrong then such concepts of right and wrong would simply be irrelevant to our lives since no one would have any reason to care about.
Morality therefore means trying to reduce people’s behaviors that cause suffering by classifying different behaviors as desirable or undesirable.
This is a general definition but that is what defines morality at its core. To be any more specific about the basic definition of the term would be to declare opinions about what the best moral beliefs are, which is not the purpose of this part of the series.