Is Morality An Illusion Because God Does Not Exist?
Is morality simply an illusion? The atheist philosopher, Dr. Michael Ruse, recognizes that on atheism, moral standards amount to nothing more than opinions and emotions. In an article titled "God is dead. Long live morality" he makes the following admission.
Morality is just a matter of emotions, like liking ice cream and sex and hating toothache and marking student papers. But it is, and has to be, a funny kind of emotion. It has to pretend that it is not that at all!… The trouble is that [if] everyone [recognized the true nature of morality] there would be no morality and society would collapse and each and every one of us would suffer.
So morality has to come across as something that is more than emotion. It has to appear to be objective, even though really it is subjective… I am not saying that we always are moral, but that we always know that we should be moral.
Am I now giving the game away? Now you know that morality is an illusion put in place by your genes to make you a social cooperator, what’s to stop you behaving like an ancient Roman? Well, nothing in an objective sense. But you are still a human with your gene-based psychology working flat out to make you think you should be moral. It has been said that the truth will set you free. Don’t believe it.
Ruse correctly recognizes what atheism really implies: there is no objective basis for morality. That is, nothing exists outside of our mind that entails we should behave one way or the other. However, in contrast to Ruse, the vast majority of people sense that morality is NOT simply a matter of emotion. They recognize that human beings have an objective value and worth that is not shared by, for example, bacteria and rocks. They recognize that certain things really are wrong, such as torturing a baby for fun or murdering someone just because of their race. And once those facts are acknowledged, there is only one conclusion that can follow: God definitely DOES exist.
Michael Ruse, “God Is Dead. Long Live Morality,” The Guardian, March 15, 2010, sec. Opinion, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/mar/15/morality-evolution-philosophy.