I’m an atheist who takes his atheism extremely seriously, so I’m very frequently bothered by the inherent philosophical difficulties which come embedded within an atheistic mind-set; I can see why God is an appealing solution to these problems for some people. Personally find it unsatisfactory, mostly because I’m somewhat of an Occamite; postulating the existence of an entity for which there is no evidence in order to paper over the cracks in my philosophy is something I find rather intellectually unappealing.
So of course you need alternative solutions to many of life’s problems; a very tricky one being the question of morality.
I would say that there is no such thing as objective morality, that morality is inherently subjective. This is what makes writing an atheistic theory of ethics and morality almost inherently a fool’s errand, because without the notion of a pinning moral authority, the whole edifice falls apart. This has a whole plethora of unpleasant consequences, including the notion that morality itself is meaningless, especially in the face of one’s absolute free will.
Why can I not do anything I want? Murder, steal, sing like nobody’s listening, rape, crochet, etc. whenever and however I feel?
Personally, I believe the solution to the conundrum is that one should form one’s own code of ethics which one should then follow; by that I mean to say that one should become one’s own legislator, judge, jury, and executioner. Maybe I should make the internal decision that I find crochet immoral, for instance.
Sin then becomes an essentially relative phenomenon, when you realise that you have, through temptation, transgressed your own moral code. The parallels there with conventional Christianity are obvious; I suppose there’s then the equally tricky question of the meaning of redemption without a redemptive authority; how can we forgive ourselves our own transgressions? Can we be absolved? Is absolution even a desirable concept?
I suppose one could appeal to a kind of biologically-derived social morality; that we have inbuilt ideas of morality as a society because it’s an excellent survival strategy, so our behaviours are biologically modulated to exclude murder and the like because such things are deleterious to our chances of survival as a group, whereas activities like crochet are of a much more neutral character.
Of course, this would seem to violate the principle of absolute free will; perhaps the concept of freedom is antithetical to the concept of morality.
I don’t know. I’m only an amateur philosopher, after all.