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The Atheist's Moral Compass


"Inevitably, moral choices based on our own moral compass will often be wrong choices. And wrong moral choices can result in consequences ranging from minor disappointments to major disasters emotionally, relationally, physically, and spiritually."

This quote from Josh and Sean McDowell's book "The Beauty of Intolerance" was posted to social media a few weeks ago, and it sparked some interesting responses from atheists and agnostics. Here is one such response that I feel needs a bit of unpacking and a response. 

"Atheists and agnostics can still have a strong moral compass that is informed by reason, empathy, and a desire for human flourishing. In fact, many atheists and agnostics base their moral choices on the principles of humanism, which emphasizes the importance of compassion, rationality, and ethics in guiding our behavior."

Unconditional Love or Unconditional Affirmation?

Introduction- Unconditional Love or Unconditional Affirmation?

It is increasingly becoming popular in culture to think that unconditional affirmation of one's thoughts about themselves (identity), whether objectively true or not, is a necessary feature of unconditional love. The idea is that if you claim to unconditionally love someone, you will always affirm their identity and celebrate every action and behavior that reinforces their identity. If you do not affirm and celebrate, then it is impossible for you to unconditionally love that person.

This cultural idea, though, is increasingly showing its intolerance of even the slightest disagreement, even among those who generally agree on a modern view of tolerance. Those who have championed this view for years are now finding themselves splitting from each other along the lines of sexual identity- not just what they prefer but what they are. 

I believe that this newer cultural split and even the foundations of the modern tolerance movement are enabled due to a conflation between the meanings of "love" and "affirmation." Unless and until our culture distinguishes between them again, the modern tolerance movement will continue to splinter along ideological lines until every individual stands alone with neither the love nor affirmation of another.