Do Secular Humanists Have Morals?
So I was doing radio interview. In one segment, the host had on a secular humanist to offer some opposing points to someone ‘religious’ like me. Although I detest the term ‘religious’, I get it for the sake of rhetoric. The secular humanist was offering some things that he thought those from the faith perspective should know. One of his counter points was this:
Don’t assume that because I am a secular atheist I don’t have morals (or that I am immoral).
I don’t (and didn’t). But if I’m going to be honest, I do have one concern.
Humans tend to go in cycles. One cycle (and I know this to be true personally) is to become more permissive and loose in many areas of our lives. For example, we tend to gradually spend a little more money, eat a little more, experiment a little more, etc. Personally, I snap back because I have a set standard of principles and absolutes that guide me. Because these are not sourced in me and are above me, I can never change these. I can bump up against them, get mad about them, disregard them, but they don’t change.
For example, I make the rule that my kids can’t drink directly out of the milk jug in our homes. But because I made that law, I frequently decide when not to obey it. With regard to the absolutes I believe in, I cannot do that (or shouldn’t).
My concern is that, if morals are relativistic or you (as a human) are the supreme authority on your moral standards and code, where do you snap back to (if ever).
At this, I have been told that we have a type of social contract with society that guides all of our morality. It is an agreed upon moral code that we as a society have made law (this would be our Constitution and Bill of Rights).
I understand this, and agree to a degree, but basing it solely on what we all agree upon (or me/us) has it’s limits. For example, in ancient Roman culture pedophilia was common. So if society were to eventually agree that pedophilia is not a big deal for some reason, would that be okay? If this was reflected in the social contract, would it then not be immoral?
Now since I believe in absolutes, this would never be okay with me. Jesus held children in very high regard, so I do. I also believe in the dignity and sanctity of human life. Another reason pedophilia would never be okay. These standards are above me, so I can never change them to fit my particular emotional whim (not that I would with regard to this disgusting example, but you get the point).
So I do not think secular humanists are immoral. And I don’t think atheists don’t have morals. I also don’t believe all secular humanist are going to become pedophiles. I know many who are very good people. That’s not my point.
But I guess I do wonder, can a moral relativist have absolutes? And what do you base your absolutes on if you do not believe in a Creator or believe that there are inherent absolute truths out there? And will they change?