On Feb 19, 2009, Dr. Frank Zindler – former president of American Atheists – spoke on “Ethics Without gods” at an event sponsored by the Case Center For Inquiry student group. He presented the group with several books, one of which he authored.
Exploring the nature of morality, Dr. Zindler observed that it is as much a part of human nature as is hunger. All Morals are human made – none originate from a higher authority – they are part of our DNA.
On a higher power:
If god is perfect, then why is there good and evil? If god is good and has the power to prevent evil, they why doesn’t she? If god does not have the power to prevent evil, then is he all powerful?
On the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”:
How does one apply this to masochists? Or to Human Sexuality? (It might be noted that Lao Tzu’s form of this rule- “Don’t do to someone else what you would not wish them to do to you”- avoids these issues.
Ethics must be: improvable, adaptable, and self-correcting – our survival depends on ethics based on science, not superstition.
On Religion in general:
Religion was part of our evolutionary progress, as are other things we no longer need. There is no external standard for religion, as opposed to science. Religion contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. We are all atheists in our minute to minute activities – one does not need piety to wash the dishes or repair the car. He shared Steven Wienberg’s observation;
“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”
We must develop an enlightened self interest: maximize intensity and duration of doing well for ourselves and for others.