An Alternative to Religion

We don’t need religion to make us good human beings.

From “An Alternative to Religion” by Dr. Dennis Morris; an essay in the book “atheos: Without God, Down Under” published by the Atheist Foundation of Australia.

Morris’s excellent essay discusses alternatives to basing our moral outlook and ethics on humanity rather than religion, here are a few experts I particularly liked:

Instead of the meaningless expression of: Body, mind and soul, we can rather use: Physical, intellectual and emotional;

He also has a good alternative to the use of the word faith:


Considering the number of times I’ve got into hair-splitting discussions with people over the use of the words ‘faith’ or ‘belief’, from now on I’m going to use the word ‘confidence’ when I’m not 100% sure about something but I strongly believe it to be correct have confidence it is correct.

Morris also discusses the difference between religious and social ethics. Religious ethics are authoritarian, which is, as he says, “quite literally childish”, whilst social ethics aren’t. He has a good example:

To a small boy the reason he must not pull his sister’s hair is that his mummy will be angry or punish him. He has made a great leap forward toward maturity of moral judgement when he realises that the reason why he should not pull his sister’s hair is that it hurts her.

I have confidence that the world will be a better place when the whole of humanity realises that: whatever we do we should do in an attempt not to harm others, because we understand it may hurt them, not because some divine being has told us not to.

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Filed under atheism, ethics, religion

2 responses to “An Alternative to Religion

  1. Hi! Once heard a comment that “faith fills a mental vacuum”. It’s a wonderful thing, allowing people to believe what they wish to believe without question, to do terrible things to other people, to develop biggoted and hateful attitudes and cast responsibility to a mythical being. Hey not bad. Can i sign up?

  2. the chaplain

    I like the idea of using “confidence” instead of “faith.” David Eller urges atheists to remove the word “believe” from our vocabularies too. According to him, we either know something or don’t know it; what we don’t do is insist that our beliefs should be accorded the same dignity as our knowledge.

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