Actually, ciep, you and I agree on the belief that moral are objective. I'm not an atheist. I'm Catholic and went to Catholic school were you actually have to study ethics. My high school teacher had his master's degree in philosophy so we talked about the nature of morality.
Originally Posted by ciep
"A thing is either real or not real." That quote applies to morality as well. So moral are either objective, aka Moral Realism (you can google the term), or they are not objective, aka Moral Anti-Realism (which can also be googled).
I have debate atheists on the implication of moral relativism for years. I now the arguments inside and can even argue from the atheist POV better than most atheists. I never lose the debate simply because the vast majority of people who call themselves atheist don't understand the Meta Ethical implications.
Atheism is meaningless without a metaphysical belief that materialism is true. But since materialism holds to a basic belief that science (the scientific method) is the only rationally means knowing what's real, what's reality, ethics gets relegated to the stuff as theology.
Materialism (and atheism) believes that the study of theology is pointless....that is, one god is equivalent than any other.
Materialism (likewise) holds to the exact same belief with regards to moral certitudes.....that is, one culture's moral codes is equivalent to any other culture's moral code.
So let's play with this a little bit: I have had atheists tell me that they are "more moral" than theists because they do "good" without the pressure a god's retribution. What's wrong with that argument? From a materialistic POV there's a couple of things: "more morals" implies some kind of objective moral standard we could refer to measure which moral is factually better. And "good" also implies and objective quality.
There is no scientific method to determine if something is intrinsically "good"...or "evil." Because science fails on the question of Universal objective morality, materialism concludes that morals are not real.....qualities. Therefore, there is no such (real) thing as a Universal Human Right. Moral codes simply become the culture codes to controlling social behavior.
Which codes then? Doesn't matter. Since would be arbitrary a person could flip a coin and pick Sharia Law. Since, to materialism, all moral codes are equivalent and the stuff of social invention (and because human existence is pointless and meaningless, as per materialism) one moral code is as good/bad as any other. That's hard for people to get their heads around...and is why most atheist can't do so either when forced to confront it.
Using a slightly different POV: What's the scientific definition of "Person"? There ain't one.
Why not? Because, were ethical codes are moral qualities a person is a moral entity.
Since materialism holds that all morals are arbitrary being socially construed humans getting the privilege of being defined as a "person" (of having person-hood statues) is also arbitrary. So within our arbitrarily cultural history slaves were not entitled to person-hood statue based upon the arbitrary decision of the color of their skin. Was the right or wrong, good or evil? For materialism it's neither. To materialism right and wrong, good and evil are human cultural inventions. Today, we've changed the meaning of person from a fetus to a new born baby. Atheist, Prof Peter Singer, wants personhood status to not begin until 28 days after being born. He wants to allow infanticide. He also wants to deny personhood to status to those who have advanced Alzheimer's. To drive home the point, to materialism moral codes and moral entities are arbitrary.
This is what materialism leads to....that there is not such thing as an inherent human right. Women in Saudi Arabia simply do not have the equal personhood status as men based upon....Saudi Arabia's culturally constituted moral codes. And BTW one political ideology could not be any better that any other political ideology....so much liberals democrats believing they have the moral high ground to conservatives....and visa verse.
I my experience most atheists do not think this stuff through to the end results. They will argue that they are being rational with regards to issues of science. And I completely agree with that, esp when they are debating a fundamentalist reading Genesis as some literal history of the world. But then -- based upon philosophical materialism -- many of these same atheist will go on to irrationally argue morality as if it were objectively knowable....You and I believe morals are objective but since we aren't materialists we don't rely upon materialism to hold that belief.
Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?