So, morality. I’ve heard it stated by certain religious types (usually the ones I want to put arsenic in the soup of) that atheists cannot have any sort of moral code etc.etc. They then often go on to tell me that nor can I what with being a pagan and all. I don’t personally believe that you need to have a big beard in the sky for any sort of moral system so it kind of bugged me the other day when, in a discussion that touched upon morality, an atheist who I have some respect for, objected that ‘there is no higher power’ to my making a point of conscience.
It is true that I was brought up a Christian and also that that upbringing has certainly had an affect on my moral choices. But, I do not feel I need a big beard in the sky telling me ‘Thou shalt not yadayada’ in order for me to make a moral choice. Nor though is my moral compass gauged by what my gods tell me. We bargain and discuss and I accept taboos (currently not supposed to eat rabbit) out of respect more than anything else. It is not the same as a rote list of black and white commands to follow and not to follow, the taboos are more fluctuating for one thing (the other year I couldn’t eat pork). But I do have a distinct sense of right and wrong and follow that, not because anyone has told me to but rather because that is what I have decided I will do. Of course the problem comes with these non black and white moral systems that the world is full of complicated things and what is right in one situation doesn’t always fit with another. But then it would be worse, I think, if I were facing the world armed with a black and white list of thou shalt nots.
So where do moral systems come from? They absolutely have to come from within, in order to be followed you must totally agree with them from right inside, so why assume that they must be imposed when you have to look at the world and say ‘this is wrong’, ‘this is right’. I suppose if they are imposed simplistically it makes looking at every situation you go into easy enough but then the world becomes separated from you and your decisions are worthless as your own decisions. It is my decision to work with gods and my reaction to respect them, but as for anyone being responsible for my moral choices let alone some giant beard in the sky, to claim that would be to deny all the choices that I have made, and I’d rather own them proudly. And in a couple of cases own them without pride.