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Why a moral compass will always elude atheism

09 July 2013, 10:53

Why a Moral Compass will always Elude Atheism

Will atheism* always fail to find a universally convincing secular moral compass or “slogan” to offer its followers? Writer thinks he can clearly show this.

 “Humanism”, the “Golden Rule”, "increase the well-being of conscious creatures". These secular attempts at an objective moral compass or "slogan" will always fail if atheism is true. Why? In short: Justification. There exists no simple and convincing justification for these moral compasses if atheism is true. But more than that, Writer would seek to show why one would also never be found...

But Writer think he can also show that a simple yet convincing justification outside of atheism does indeed exists for these moral compasses - one that is not based on the coercive power of "fear for the hereafter".

1. No Justification

If there is no simple and convincing justification for secular moral compasses, then they would always merely be discarded in desperate times. Indeed it is in the most desperate of economic or political times that moral values need to prevent the types of ideologies that caused the atrocities of an Adolf Hitler**, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot or communism in general. And it is at all times that they need to prevent the next Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer.  Complicated philosophical justifications might exist, but in the end only a convincing and easily understood justification would work.

But what could be universally convincing for man? We all know that at the root of what man follows in the absence of God is selfish worldly motivations.  Altruism is done for recognition, love is for reciprocal love, and kindness is for admiration. So if we could find a simple Justification that appeal to man's Selfishness, this could indeed Convince man to follow some noble secular ideology!

But the problem is that no two people are the same. So if you do not need recognition, reciprocal love or admiration, then you would merely reject altruism, love and kindness.

And in that simple example lies the crux of the dilemma. The diversity of man might very well make it totally impossible to find a universally convincing justification for Any moral compass if atheism is true. 

But could this truly be right? Is there really nothing else than selfishness and reason that could propel us to follow a moral compass?  Writer can think of nothing else if atheism is true.

But should we really conclude that man differ too much to use reason and selfishness to inspire him to be good?  Do reason and selfishness really pull man into too many different directions to serve as a grounding of Any secular moral compass?

2. Atheism's failing attempts

It does indeed seem that all well intended secular moral compasses: Humanism, the Golden Rule, "increase the well-being of conscious creatures", suffer from the same fatal flaw, namely the lack of a simple and universally convincing Justification. They all lack the answer to the question of "why" they should be followed. If you are poor and can improve your family's plight through murder and theft, then you would ask why..?  If you enjoy inflicting pain like the sadist, then you would ask why..? If you only live for pleasure and for yourself like the hedonistic egoist, then you would ask why..? If you are one of the leaders everyone look up to to improve the plight of your nation, then you would ask why...?.  Why follow these moral compasses? Who decided that they are true? Why are they true?

Indeed it seems that all secular proposed moral compasses can Always be Successful argued against. For instance from the egoist: "Ants live and even die for the improvement of their species.  This is purely due to socio-biological evolution. So it being "noble" is no justification of a certain moral compass - we are surely more evolved than ants are we not!" [1]

On the opposite side the fanatical craziness of eugenics can be arrived at by rejecting the well-being of the individual for the "more important benefit of the group". From the genocidal leader (or war lord): "It being a "human right" is no justification for a certain moral compass - we surely need to improve mankind (or our nation) through natural selection (or war and genocide) to get rid of social problems!" [2]

It seems that any secular moral compass can always be called either the result of "socio-biological evolution" or mere "noble lies". [1]

3. A Moral, Simple and Convincing Justification for moral compasses

But it may surprise the reader to learn that a universal and convincing justification does indeed exist. One that is grounded neither in the coercive power of fear of punishment in the hereafter (as offered by most religions), nor in man's selfishness (as attempted by some secular ethicists). One that is already available to approximately a third of the world's population. The secular inability to justify the various secular moral compasses is in stark contrast with this moral, simple and extremely convincing justification.

What is this justification if not heaven or hell, you may ask?  What is able to thoroughly justify an unselfish moral message of neighbourly love? One that promises no selfish reward, yet seems capable of propelling many of its followers to selflessly disregard their own well-being in their efforts to improve the lives of the poor, the ill and the downtrodden in the most backward parts of the world?  What if not the fear of hell or the reward of heaven can propel one to act in this way? Why ever disregard your own wellbeing for the benefit of others?

This non-coercive, moral, simple and extremely convincing justification seems unique to none other than the Christian message and faith.  The primary justification of the moral compass from the Christian message seems neither to be fear of God nor that of hell.  This makes Christianity quite distinct from other religions that usually hold this coercive type of justification only.

So what is this "unique" justification? It is in two words:  "Immense Gratitude".

Unique to Christians is their believe that God being the source of "good", literally became man and died for us. The humiliation and sacrifice that was made by the Creator through necessity of His nature is not only infinitely humbling to Christians, it also creates in Christians an infinite moral obligation. A moral obligation of Immense Gratitude. For nothing they do can ever repay that infinite gift of atonement. This is the moral, simple and extremely convincing justification of the moral compass from the Christian message (the Bible as interpreted by Christianity). [3] 

But the coercive power of the hereafter remains, you might say?  Not at all. The Christian believes that salvation is immediately received when one truly regrets and sincerely repents of his/her immoral ways, when one truly believes in Jesus of Nazareth's divinity, believes that He died for our sins at the cross 2000 years ago. If one accepts this Devine gift, if one accepts Jesus Christ, then he/she is saved. [6]

Then there is no more good to be done to earn salvation, no more bad that can be done to lose salvation. No fear that motivates. The Christian is free to do whatever he/she wants to do. Indeed Christians believe only they know the true meaning of being free.

4. Can one be free yet be good?

So what happens when we see people's lives turned around after coming to Christ? Why is it that newly converted Christians so regularly are freed from alcoholism, from drug abuse, from sexual immorality and from many other immoral slave masters. It cannot be fear of hell because they know that they were immediately and completely freed from hell when they sincerely repented and accepted Christ.  No, it can only be the Immense Gratitude they have and (so Christians believe) the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit that regenerate true Christian believers.

So the Christian message...

- provides its followers with total freedom

- yet the will to do good

- without being coerced by fear or reward

- indeed the Christian Wants to be good because of the moral, simple and extremely convincing justification of "Immense Gratitude"

- the perfect justification of (they believe) the perfect moral message

In contrast, without God many of us tend to:

- become slaves to our vices

- lack the Reasons to do the right thing

- need the fear of the force of law to coerce us in being good and to avoid being bad

- all because a simple and convincing justification for doing good escapes us,

- and so does a perfect moral compass[4]

So if the Christian message is true, then we have moral hope. But if God is "dead", then man is morally dead. 

Therefore on behalf of all mankind who wants to see secular moral compasses succeed (including Writer), we need to respectfully request atheism to hide their message [4] of un-believe in God until they find a simple convincing moral Justification for man to follow those pretty good secular moral compasses.  For what other redeeming value or purpose could its message of godlessness have?

Yet the reader might be surprised to learn that an increasing number of western philosophers are convinced that logical proofs or arguments exist for God's existence. All proofs are purely from nature, science and the human condition. [5] Indeed, they assert, we can from pure reason clearly conclude that the existence of God is more probable than not.  What would be better than to follow a God given moral compass if He truly exists..? [3]




[3] To read why Writer believe the morality contained in the Christian message could be the solution, go here:

[4] To read more about Writer's views regarding the "moral consequences" if atheism is true, go here:

[5] Atheist philosophers have tried but failed for centuries to disprove the existence of God. Little known fact is that there is a renaissance in theistic philosophy. That the percentage of theistic philosophers in the west have actually been increasing over the last 50 years. What we now see is the remnants of atheistic philosophy of 50 years back making its way through to pop culture. Hitchens, Atkins and many other new-atheists debated Christian philosophers like Dr William Lane Craig for instance - and lost, badly! But listen for yourself at

Or read more Christian philosophy here:

[6] Anyone who is ready to truly break with the old immoral ways can through a sincere prayer find God today:

*  "atheism" = as defined in philosophy, namely "the believe that God does not exist"

** Yes Writer knows Christians failed to stop Hitler, and Writer knows Hitler grew up catholic. From wikipedia though:

"Richard Evans concluded his statements on Hitler's religious views by suggesting that the gap between Hitler's public and private pronouncements was due to a desire not to cause a quarrel with the churches that might undermine national unity.[89]"

"In a 108-page outline titled "The Nazi Master Plan" Office of Strategic Services investigators argued that the Nazi regime had a plan to reduce the influence of Christian churches through a campaign of systematic persecutions. "Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked to meet this situation [of church influence] by complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion," said the report. The most persuasive evidence came from "the systematic nature of the persecution itself. In Hitler's scheme for the Germanization of Eastern Europe, there was to be no place for Christian Churches." from:

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