Religious believers often ask where non-believers get their morals without God. This is ironic, because to the non-believer, all religions are tantamount to mythologies. So to them, it’s like being asked, “Where do you get your morals, if you don’t believe in mythology?”
The answer lies in the question, because if all religious rules were written by men, then the only way anyone has ever defined any moral rules was by making them up. That doesn’t mean no rules have any value. The value of a rule isn’t determined by who says it, or how they came by it, but by how useful it is.
For example, it’s no accident that multiple religions and governments all around the world had already invented the rule, “Do not murder,” before the authors of the 10 Commandments. Anybody tasked with making rules for a society would immediately come to the logical conclusion that forbidding murder should be one of the first rules on the list.
At the same time, the authors of the 10 Commandments also list human beings as things that can be legally owned as property, but any rational person would come to the immediate conclusion that legalizing slavery dishonors the value of life and should be forbidden.
Nobody speaks for God. Every moral rule you’ll ever encounter was created by existentially lost humans, but that doesn’t mean we’re helpless. We all have cosmic supercomputers inside our skulls, and rules are nothing more than guidelines or best practices for accomplishing goals. So if you can use your brain to figure out that people should wear safety goggles when operating a table saw, you can invent useful rules for any and every aspect of your life.
If you don’t know where to start, try looking at other people’s rules and finding what you like or dislike in them. Use that as a springboard to developing your own list of life’s best practices. You can start by constructively criticizing mine:
- All life is infinitely valuable. Treat it accordingly.
You don’t need God to tell you all life is infinitely valuable. Even if there’s not enough evidence floating around the universe to deduce why life exists, there’s enough evidence lying in plain sight, a child could come to the conclusion that all life is infinitely valuable.
The universe may seem like a savage, cruel place, but that’s just because it’s indifferent. The universe is operating on autopilot, and it might seem like the universe is out to get you when it runs you over, but if you step back and look at the grand design, you’ll find so much elegance and perfection you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that the universe is too elegant and genius for a human being to comprehend.
From what we know, the universe shouldn’t even exist at all, let alone life. Yet we live in a universe that has been meticulously designed to sprout life on giant, spinning balls of compressed matter that perpetually rearrange themselves according to fixed rules. The universe is an inexplicable life machine that shouldn’t exist. Every living thing is lucky to be here, and we only have a flicker of time to make the most of the privilege. Value life according to its rarity, elegance and the amount of work that went into creating it. Treat your life and others accordingly.
- Your life is your responsibility.
The universe is not out to get you or help you any more than it already has by giving you the universe and the tools to make the most out of your life. You don’t deserve, and will not receive, any miracles, bargains or any other entitlements from the universe.
You may receive aid and instruction from people, but you’re not entitled to any. Society doesn’t owe you anything you haven’t signed a contract for. The responsibility to make sure your life is good and complete, falls entirely on your shoulders.
- You are lost. It’s up to you to find life’s purpose.
Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but you have all the tools necessary to find answers, and ultimately, purpose, in life. Your life will only be as effective and meaningful as the purpose you live towards. Nobody can decide your purpose for you, though many will try. You must find it yourself for it to be yours. Choosing not to find purpose is choosing to live without it.
- Consider and honor the cost/benefit analysis of your actions.
The value of your actions are determined by how productively they accomplish a goal. Ultimately, the value of all actions are relative to how productively they fulfill the meaning of life. Whatever you do, ask yourself if the benefit to the end goal outweighs the cost. Take risks at your discretion, but always honor the cost/benefit analysis of your actions.
- Never stop learning and studying.
You are your mind. The quality and quantity of your mind is relative to the information inside it. Never stop learning and teaching yourself so that you may never stop growing.
- Think rationally.
Mastering the art of thinking is a moral imperative, because every mental and physical action you’ll ever perform are based on decisions you calculate in your mind. The more effective your reasoning skills are, the more effective you’ll be at everything.
- Put everything you learn to the test of truth.
Nothing is true by divine authority. The truth of a fact is determined only by the quality of the evidence supporting it. So question everything, especially your answers, because the more reality-based your beliefs are, the more effective they’ll be in the real world.
- Find and define yourself
Some aspects of your personality were set at birth, and others you get to pick. Discover what makes you who you are, decide who you want to be, and then become that person. The more you, you are, the more you exist, and the more able you are to fulfill your purpose. The less you, you are, the less you exist.
- Take care of your body.
Your mind and body are parts of the same machine. The better you take care of your body, the better your mind and body can do what they’re designed to do. The less care you take of your body, the less you can do and the harder everything is.
- Enjoy the moment.
No one knows why we’re here or what happens after death, but we do know we’re here now. If we can’t know anything else about life, we know the current moment is an opportunity to enjoy yourself. No one has found any irrefutable reasons why we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves. If you take nothing else from this life, find ways to take joy out of it before it’s too late.
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