After watching Peter Hitchens make the absurd claim that secularlistis steal their morality from Christianity, I decided that I needed to demonstrate how utterly backwards his claim was. My first reaction was atonishment at his audicity and clear lack of curiosity. Then, I realized it makes sense that he'd not only get it wrong but get it backwards. After all, anything short of viewing the matter completely backwards would lead an otherwise bright man towards recognizing how ridiculous his claim is.
The core message of ChristianityEdit
After all, what is the core of christianity? That man is born in sin, original sin, due to the choice of one man: Adam. Being born this way we are worthy only of damnation. We are therefore in need of salvation. Fortunately, despite our worthlessness, a redeemer, a savior was offered to us. God sent his only son to be sacrificed for our sins. A human sacrifice, a scapegoat, that took the burden of our sins away from us and onto his shoulders. He died so that we may be saved.
This is a moral foundation?! Man is guilty from birth? Man is incapable of being a moral agent? Man cannot save himself? Man is corrupt and incompetent by sheer fact of his existence? A god creates us, forces sin on us, purposely creates us as unforgivable and is unwilling to salvage us from destruction unless we do something unforgivable first - accept a human sacrifice on our behalf. Human scapegoating - an act, that Christopher Hitchens pointed out, that any morally decent person would be duty bound to prevent.
And yet, like most theist concepts, more problems explode from the claim. Consider also the implication that all sins lead to same eternal torture! Then, take yet another step back and consider that eternal torture, mind you, is to be considered a just 'punishment' of finite beings created by an omipotent, omnibenevolent yet, creator for the crime of existence.
Oh, and if this were not enough, theists when defending this most hideous of all concepts: the eternal torture of beings, well tell you with a smile that this all due to god's love for us. He didn't want to force being saved upon us. (But has no problem forcing damnation and torture upon us!)
And secularists want to steal from this?! To quote Christopher Hitchens, It's all no wonder, after all, christians are not humanists, they are eschatologists.
If my use of irony has confused you, let me speak plainly: The concept of vicarious redemption through human sacrifice is immoral. As Hitchens stated: I may pay your debt for you, I may even serve your sentence for you. But I can't take away your responsibility. This is scapegoating. you pile sins on a goat and drive it into the wild to kill it. This is repugnant. There is a further implication. I am told i have to have a share in this, to either accept the sacrifice in my name or accept that by my rejection of the offer I am responsible for driving the nails into the wrists of Christ myself. This is not only immoral but totalitarian. To even want this, let alone accept it as a belief is not only not a basis for morality it is an acceptance of immorality.
Then there are the 10 Commandments
Compulsorary love is not morality.
We have no innate sense of right and wrong?
The discarding of what makes us useful, what distinguishes us from the other animals.
Note concerning the Key points of the refutationEdit
One key problem with refuting the theist claim that morality comes from 'god' is that the claim is so absurd on so many levels at once that one nearly stumbles over themself concerning which error to refute first. For this reason I will leave aside the incoherence of 'god' references and simply refute some of the elements of the moral claim itself.
So let's try to take this apart piece by piece.
The bible's stance on morality is self contradictory and absurdEdit
1) The bible holds that all people are born sinners and unable to avoid sinning. This nullifies man's ability to act as a moral agent.
Whatever your take on Rand and Objectivism, Rand's response to this problem was written so well that I think simply quoting her will suffice:
"Take a look at what you dare to call a moral code: Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good, which is defined as what is impossible for him to practice. It demands that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start with a standard of evil, which is himself. The name of this monstrous absurdity is "original sin".
- (However) if man is evil by birth then he has no will, no power to change it. If he has not will, then he can be neither good nor evil. to hold man’s nature as his sin, is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence can possibly exist is a mockery of reason.
- To destroy nature, morality, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched.
- John Galt, addressing the world by radio, in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"
2) The bible holds that all 'sins' are equivalent. How can I say this? Well, if all sins lead to the same 'punishment' - and the bible holds that they do, then all sins are rendered equivalent. This means that a rapist a murderer and a person who failed to a library book are all equals in 'christian morality'
3) The bible speaks of an infinite reward for blind obedience (heaven) which undermines any intrinsic motivations for behavior - which is the basis for real morality - if one agrees with Spinoza that the highest morality is an action that serves as its own reward. Furthemore, blind obedience and not good works is rewarded. This means that Jeffery Dahmer resides in heaven while Gandhi burns in hell.
4) There is an infinite punishment for disobedience, which is a mockery of justice, seeing as a) an omnipotent creator and sustainer must be perfectly, ultimately responsible for all ramifications of his creation in the first place and b) no finite act by a finite being can logically incur 'infinite punishment',
Can there be any doubt that lurking behind all of this is at all times is a desire for this life to come to an end. A yearing for those who have no right to be prideful to be lifted up over their superiors.
Actual Chrisitan behaviors serves as a refutation of these claimsEdit
Christians implicitly concede that the bible offers no moral blueprint through their behaviors, Christians actually live according to secular morality which holds that:
1) Man obviously has a value onto himself.
Many Christians act as if this is the case. Otherwise, why treat people in the Kantian fashion as an 'end in of themselves'?
2) Man IS a moral agent.
Otherwise, why even anticipate that others, particularly non-Christians, will act morally? Christians claim to beleive that without god, all things are permissable, yet in their dealings with others they anticipate moral responsibility.
3) All 'sins' are obviously not equivalent
No christian treats the theft of a pen from a workplace as akin to rape. Even the bible contradicts itself with "An Eye for an Eye"
4) Infinite torture is morally wrong
Why else do Western nations hold that there are some punishments that are 'cruel and unusual'?
5) It is a mockery of justice to hold a man morally culpable when he has no intent to do wrong.
Yet how do we hold Adam guilty of the original sin when he was created without knowledge of good and evil?
Otherwise, why even hold to the concept of responsibility? Why even hold to "innocence by reason of insanity"?
So then, what is the bible talking about when it talks in terms of sin?
The Bible is about Obedience, Not Morality.Edit
The morality of the bible is based on divine command ethics. Something is said to be moral because it eminates from a divine creator. The commands are enforced through external motivations for behavior - infinite rewards of heaven, ultimate punishments of hell. (Whatever else the bible may claim on the matter of morality is ultimately undermined by these inifinite reinforcers and rendered moot.)
This is not morality, it is coercision. Those who follow the system are not moral as much as they are merely prudent. It is wise to avoid torture, it is equally wise to seek out pleasure. For this reason it should be clear that there is no moral system to be found here at all. I hold that Christians must steal from secular moral systems and that their behavior clearly demonstrates this - they do not act as if any of the ramifications of their supposed moral system are true. We will consider this point by point.
In fact, the bible holds that man is incapable of being moral. The bible holds that a person must 1) concede that humanity is worthless, 2) believe that an intelligent, loving god is will torture his own creation and 3) hold that the best thing a person can do is submit to this tyrant, or face hellfire. This is not the inculcation of morality, this is coercion.
One is forced to obey, or be destroyed.
If it isn't already indubitable why this is so, consider the following examination of the development of morality:
What morality actually is: Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Reasoning Edit
If we look at Kohlberg's stages of moral reasoning, we see that a system built upon punishments and rewards is pre conventional morality, the morality of infants. Consequentialism.
Stages 1 and 2 in the preconventional level involve an "egocentric point of view" and a "concrete individualistic perspective" in which the person makes choices based on the fear of punishment and the desire for rewards.
Stage 1 Punishment/Obedience - Consequentialism. This stage is characterized by avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power as values in themselves. Simple Hedonism. Morality is seen as based on self interest; the goodness or badness of action is determined by their physical consequences, regardless of any human meaning attached to these consequences.
Stage 2 - Instrumental Relativist Orientation - defined by a focus on instrumental satisfaction of one's own needs, as the determiner of "right". Reciprocity may be present, but it is of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind.
Conventional Stage (Late childhood, early adolescence)
In Stages 3 and 4 of the conventional level, persons make choices from a "member-of-society" perspective, considering the good of others, the maintenance of positive relations, and the rules of society. This level generally involves a move towards gaining approval or avoiding disapproval as the basis of morality; law and social rules are seen as valuable in their own right.
Stage 3 - Interpersonal Concordance (Good boy/girl orientation) - this stage is driven by a desire to please or help others with hope of winning their approval.
Stage 4 - Law and Order orientation - Focuses on the maintenance of social order and the importance of authority and strict rules. This is not the blind, unquestioning belief in power of stage one, however.
Postconventional level (This may develop in late adolescence, more likely in our mid 20s and beyond. It may never develop for most of us.)
Persons in the final stages of the postconventional level, Stages 5 and 6, reason from a "prior-to-society" perspective in which abstract ideals take precedence over particular societal laws.
Stage 5 - Social Contract/Legalistic Orientation - This stage involves a recognition of the relative nature of personal values, and the importance of having procedures for reaching a consensus and changing unfair rules. The individual at this stage can separate the legal world from individual differences of opinion.
Stage 6 - Universal Ethical Principle Orientation - This stage involves defining what is "right" in one's own conscience in a way that is consistent with one's own abstract ethical principles that are based on inclusiveness and responsibility to others; there is a clear emphasis on universality, consistency, logic and rationality. The highest stage of moral development in Kohlberg's original theory. Some state that stage 6 is only hypothetical. On the other hand, philosophers like Ken Wilber point to a 7th stage - the centaur - where universal concern for humanity is combined with a concern for all nature - identification is broadened to the universe itself, care is held for all nature in a manner such that one cares for the universe around him just as another cares for his own body.
Christian 'morality' is preconventional morality.. it's external, it's based on obedience... on fear, on punishment and rewards. Such a "morality' is mere prudence, driven by a hedonistic need to avoid torture and seek out pleasure.
The morality of adulthood is more than the threat of external control, it is internal. It's part of your character, of who you are. It's a set of values - literally things that you value other than just yourself..... It's an inter-subjective standard - the morals of their community, which in turn are founded on human empathy. The childish response that this leads to selfishness leaves out that no man is a universe unto himself, the consideration of others is a part of our own universe of concerns. To say otherwise is to turn to a strawman. To ignore empathy is to avoid the obvious engine behind human morality.
In order for a man to be moral, to reach levels 3, 4, and beyond, he must disregard the claims of theism, and move towards intrinsic rewards for moral actions. As the philosopher Spinoza stated: "A moral act is never an act done solely for an external reward, it's done because the act, itself, is rewarding". So again, Christianity can only undermine morality through it's infantile use of external threats.
Here's a nice quote from Alan Dershowitz to support this view:
"There is a wonderful Hasidic story about a rabbi who was asked whether it is ever proper to act as if God did not exist. He responded, “Yes, when you are asked to give to charity, you should give as if there were no God to help the object of the charity.” I think the same is true of morality and character: in deciding what course of action is moral, you should act as if there were no God. You should also act as if there were no threat of earthly punishment or reward. You should be a person of good character because it is right to be such a person."
So even if we take the Christian at his word, his argument that these biblical actions are 'moral' because they are the rules of an unquestionable tyrant, still falls to pieces, because prudence is not a true morality.
And the Christian himself secretly agrees, because he himself rejects this paradigm as a moral system in his own daily life... Just look at his actions: he recognizes that some immoral actions are worse than others, he places moral actions on a hierarchy. He expects others around him to be reliable moral agents... he doesn't consider his fellow man incapable and loathsome, but someone to be relied upon. He lives as if his morals as something internal to him, something to be done because they act itself is a value... he helps others not because he will receive a reward, but because the helping behavior itself is the reward.
The Christian expects, in other words, that both he himself, and others around him, will operate under a conventional morality, a secular morality, a true morality.
Christians must steal their moral rules from secular morality. They have no choice, as the bible does not offer a moral system, it only offers a series of contradictory commands and a supposed threat of punishment in the "afterlife" for not following them - a punishment that is given equally to all violators - whatever the sin.
In reality, Christians realize that some actions are more moral than others. They realize that moral actions exist in a hierarchy, and that rape is far worse than stealing a pencil. Yet the bible holds that all 'sins' are equal, as all deserve the same punishment.
Christians also realize that humans can be moral agents... they expect moral behavior from others, and they view their own children as something to value. Yet the bible holds that man is worthless, that he cannot be a moral agent, and that his sole salvation comes from grace.
The fact that a Christian can't go five minutes without contradicting his bible and stealing from secular morality says it all.
The bible's moral code includes non moral commandsEdit
To not make graven images? To not covet?
The Bible commands actions that any reasonable person would call ImmoralEdit
Rape, murder, slavery and genocide. From old testament to new.
The Bible's immoral injunctions.Edit
Find me a theist who finds any of these actions moral:
In Genesis God holds Adam morally culpable for disobedience for eating the fruit of knowledge of good and evil... mull that one over and then explain how one can be morally culpable without knowing good or evil?!
In Genesis 3:16 god punishes all women, innocent or not, with painful childbirth and subjugation to men.
In Genesis 7:4 god decides to drown innocent babies, and animals both wild and domestic.
In Exodus 4:11 god boasts about making people handicapped.
In Exodus 4:23 god resorts to hostage taking and terrorism in order to get his own way. He does this via threatening a baby. Soon, he is slaughtering little babies all across Egypt.
In Exodus 9:19-20 god slaughters Egyptian cattle.
In Exodus 9:29-30 god kills off innocent babies, and whatever cows he missed earlier.
In Exodus 20:17 god tells us not to free another's slaves.
In Exodus 32:27-28 god tells the sons to slaughter their neighbors: 3,000 men are slain.
In Leviticus 19:20-22 god demands that raping a slave woman is punishable by scourging the victim. The rapist is to be forgiven.
In Leviticus 25:44-46 god tells his followers to make slaves of their neighbors.
In Leviticus 27:3-7 god helpfully provides a pricing guide. According to this guide, as a male between the ages of 18 and 60 years (the most expensive category), I am worth approximately US$25. How much are you worth to god?
In Numbers 14:18 god's idea of justice is explained: little children are to be punished for their great-great grandparents transgressions.
In Numbers 31:1-54 god tells his followers to commit genocide, "sparing" only the virgin girls, who are to be raped. Even god gets some "unspared" virgins.
In Numbers 33:4 god kills of another batch of Egyptian babies. Abortion is a sin because...?Answer: because god didn't command it.
In Deuteronomy 2:33-36 god demands genocide again. No mention of virgin girls this time, unless these children are raped to death...
In Deuteronomy 7:2 god demands more genocide from his followers.
In Deuteronomy 13:12-16 god demands new and improved genocide, now including cattle. Oh, wait, we've had that before. Damn cows.
In Deuteronomy 32:21-26 god glories in being a psychotic terrorist. Don't miss the atrocities of Deuteronomy 28, either!
In Joshua 6:18-19 the omnipotent creator is short of cash, again.
In Joshua 8:22-26 god demands more genocide, plus some more slavery as detailed in Joshua 9:21-27, but this time, in Joshua 10:10-11, we get slaughter and a chase scene!! Go, god!!
In Joshua 10:28-32 god demands still more genocide.
In Joshua 11:6-17 god still demands more genocide. There are more exceptions to "Thou shalt not kill" than there are to a rich man's tax code.
In Judges 1:2-7. god's takes a break from genocide, has his followers kill "only" 10,000 people, but at least they get to torture and mutilate somebody by cutting off both thumbs and big toes!
In Judges 1:12-13 Caleb offers his daughter as prize to anyone who conquers the City of Debir. The girl's cousin wins the contest, thus the prize.
In Judges 1:17-19 god gets back to good, ol' regular genocide. Killing innocent people is serious work!!
In Judges 2:14 god has a temper-tantrum and sells Israel into slavery.
In Judges 3:28-29 & 4:15-16 god reverts to, you guessed it, genocide.
In Judges 5:30 god hands out a damsel or two to each of his rapist soldiers. Booty Call!!
In Judges 10:17 god gets angry at Israel, again, and sells them into slavery, again.
In Judges 12:6 god slays 42,000 innocent people because someone with a speech impediment mispronounces the word "shibboleth". I'll bet you thought the word "lisp" was cruel jest.
In Judges 15:4-8 a "righteous" Samson captures 300 foxes, ties their tails together, and sets them on fire. Abusing animals is almost as righteous as killing babies, apparently.
In Judges 19:22-30, after taking in a traveling Levite, the host offers his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine to a mob of perverts (who want to have sex with his guest). The mob refuses the daughter, but accepts the concubine and they "abuse her all night." The next morning she crawls back to the doorstep and dies. The Levite mounts her dead body on an ass and takes her home. Then he chops her body up into twelve pieces and sends them to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
In Judges 21:7-23 in order to find wives for the Benjamites, who were unwilling to use their own daughters, the other tribes attacked and killed all occupants of a city except for the young virgins. These virgins were then given to the Benjamites as "wives".
In 1 Samuel 2:10 if god doesn't like you he will send a thunderstorm to break your body into little pieces. In 1 Samuel 2:31-34, if god really doesn't like you, he will cut off your arm, consume your eyes, grieve your heart, and slay your sons & grandfathers. In 1 Samuel 5:6, 9, and 12 we learn that if god really, really doesn't like you, he will give you hemorrhoids in your "secret parts".
In 1 Samuel 5:11 god wipes out another city.
In 1 Samuel 15:2-3 god demands more genocide, this time as punishment for some no doubt petty transgression committed hundreds of years previously by the forefathers of these innocent people.
In 1 Samuel 15:7-34 god goads Saul into torturing & slaying his prisoner, a King.
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus strongly approves of the law & the prophets. He hasn't the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament.
In Matthew 8:21 Jesus shows no compassion for the bereaved, saying to a man who had just lost his father: "Let the dead bury the dead."
In Matthew 8:32 Jesus abuses animals by sending some devils into a herd of pigs, causing the pigs to run off a cliff & drown in the sea below. The acorn does not fall far from the tree. Was there a local shortage of Egyptian cows? Moo!
In Matthew 10:15 Jesus becomes a terrorist, and threatens genocide against cities.
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tries to scare people by telling them that his dad can beat up their dad.
In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus threatens more cities.
In Matthew 12:47-49 "Mister Family Values" himself (Jesus) is disrespectful to his mother and rude to his brothers.
In Matthew 13:41-42 Jesus threatens to send his angels against any who offend him, and send them straight to hell. Love, peace, tolerance, and forgiveness are beneath him, apparently.
In Matthew 15:4-7 Jesus commits hypocrisy by demanding all others to honor their parents. "Sorry about being rude back in Matthew 12, Mom."
In Matthew 18:8-9 Jesus advocates self-mutilation, but for others, not him. He's perfect, thank you.
In Matthew 18:25 Jesus advocates slavery.
In Matthew 25:29 Jesus proposes a system of economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
In Mark 5:12-13 Jesus spooks 2,000 pigs, causing them to jump of a cliff and drown in the sea. Is this evidence of more animal abuse, or is the story from Matthew 8:32 getting better with each telling?
In Mark 6:11 Jesus resorts to threatening cities again. Die, innocent babies, Die!!
In Mark 7:9-13 Jesus criticizes people for not killing their children, as they should have, according to Old Testament law. The same law Jesus broke when he was disrespectful to his Mother in Matthew 12:47-49.
In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus will reward men who abandon their wives and children.
In Mark 11:13-14 Jesus kills a fig tree for not bearing fruit, even though it was out of season. Apparently, "Mister Perfect" wasn't much of an agronomist, or ethicist.
In Luke 8:20-21 Jesus is disrespectful to his mother and rude to his brothers, again. Or still?
In Luke 8:27-37 Jesus heals a naked man who was possessed by many devils by sending the devils into a herd of pigs, causing them to run off a cliff and drown in the sea. This messy, cruel, and expensive (for the owners of the pigs) treatment did not favorably impress the local residents, and Jesus was asked to leave. This story does get better with each telling!!
In Luke 10:10-15 Jesus terrorizes entire cities, claiming they will be violently destroyed and the inhabitants "thrust down to hell" for not "receiving" his disciples. No doubt these people preferred their pigs.
In Luke 12:46-47 Jesus likens god to a sadistic, diabolical slave-owner, who will beat you "with many stripes".
In Luke 14:26 Jesus decides that it is not enough for men to abandon their families; they must actively hate them, too. Where is the love??
In Luke 16:17 Jesus declares that all the vicious, irrational laws of the Old Testament are binding forever.
In Luke 17:27 Jesus talks about Noah, neatly demonstrating his own ignorance of science, history, and justice.
In John 2:4 Jesus is, again, rude to his mother. She seems so nice, too.
In John 5:14 Jesus announces that god handicaps people as just punishment for their sins.
In John 7:8-10 Jesus lies to his family about attending a feast.
In Acts 5:1-10 Peter, with god's help, kills a man who sold his possessions, but did not fork over all of the earnings. Why is the omnipotent creator always short of cash?
In Acts 13:48 we learn that only pre-ordained people would be allowed in heaven. So much for freewill...
In each case, the average 'Christian' would hold that each of these claims is immoral. And they can do this because their sense of morality is extra-biblical - it comes from secular sources.
A Theist ResponseEdit
"God interjects a moral sense into us that we call our 'conscience'. Our conscience often is at odds with our desires, which is proof of its origin outside of us. - C. S. Lewis.
Problems with this response.
1) As St. Augustine stated, anything that we can conceive cannot be 'god'. "god" is therefore taken on faith alone, and is an incoherent term without any explanatory power. Once we realize this, we recognize that appeals to 'god' as 'the answer' are completely equitable with saying "I don't know. The statement then reads "we don't know why we have a moral sense".
2) Supernatural claims are the least parsimonious 'explanations' possible, they multiplies complexity into infinity.
3) While it is true that much of our moral sense does not necessarily originate inside us, it's not true that we have no idea where a moral sense comes from. ('god' claims are only expressions of ignorance.) There is an answer from psychology as to how we could have moral ideas inside us that are not of our own creation: parental introjection.
We know from analytical work that we have a more parsimonious explanation for conscience: our conscience is introjected into us, as young children, through the rules and desires of our parents. What becomes our conscience was once the words of our parents, our families, etc.
So those who argue after C. S. Lewis that we have an internal moral compass that couldn't have come from us are right.... but they are intellectually irresponsible when they leap from their personal ignorance to a supernatural 'deux ex machina'.
Most of us do have a 'super ego', or a 'conscience', and it can be sensed as stern and external, but this is born of the fact that no one personality is truly a 'personality' but in fact an inter-personality, who we are is formed through interactions with others. This interactional, interrelational aspect of who we are provides us with a basic ability to sympathize and empathize with the plights of others. We can take on the other's point of view because a part of what we are comes from other people.
This part of 'us' is interpersonally created. Hence, there are aspects of us that do not originate within us solely. Should this surprise you considering that what you are is the combination of two people's genetic code? Should this surprise you considering that the first 9 months of your life take place within another person? Should this surprise you considering how important your first interactions are with your parents. Should this surprise you considering the immense amount of interactions you have with your parents? (Can you hear your mother's voice in your head? Can you hear your father's words when you do something he may disapprove of?)
But this alone is merely the more parsimonious explanation, and not the refutation. The refutation comes from Horney, in her concept of the "Tyranny of the Shoulds"
In her work with patients, she found that many statements stemming from the conscience of her patients were NOT moral in character, only in tone. What I mean by this is that people's conscience often speaks in a moral sounding way on things without any moral bearing.... "I should be able to get through traffic without delay" "I should be able to finish my work faster than my co workers:
These "shoulds" have the same moral tone of any other conscience statement, yet they are without any actual moral import.
So from this, it is clear that there is no "supernatural moral law from a god' introjected into us... our conscience is not merely a set of 'moral rights and wrong' but all sorts of statements that have the tone of 'right and wrong' but not always an actual moral character.
For this reason, it is not only more parsimonious to hold that conscience is a set of family values introjected into us as children, it is logical to reject the idea that our conscience is a moral thermometer set up by any god, seeing as our conscience is not wholly moral at all.
So, once we remove the erroneous presumption that our conscience is solely a 'moral guide' the theist argument loses its power.
Then there is yet one more aspect of reality that is in accord with the secular explanation and in discord with the god claim: the fact that moral systems differ across cultures.
Note: along with psychology, philosopy, evolutionary theory and sociology, neuroscience has a good deal to say about the origin of morality:
Without god everything is permissible.Edit
Always the christian gets it backwards. WITH GOD everything from rape to slavery to murder to genocide is not only permissible but ordered. Just read about Moses.
Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates
The theist argument for morality is based on a false dilemma: that people left to their own devices have no certain, objective morality. The simple response is: you are right, theist. Left to our own devices we have no certain, objective morality. But so what! Isn't this precisely where we are at now, where have always been? Isn't it the very reason we debate things like abortion or war? The answer to this is that theists fear the idea of having to rely on themselves!