I have so far two comments on my post. Here is an excerpt from Peta-Marie:
The basis for knowing what is right, wrong, good, bad is having high morals and ethics which we learn from our parent, grandparents, family and our peers not a higher power.
And here is an excerpt from kiwi:
Its people's desire to abide by the laws of their society and internal conscience. Just because an athiest dsoen't believe in a higher power in the form of a god dosen't mean they think it is ok to commit crimes, or act in an immoral way.
Internal conscience? So.... does that mean you believe that we are born with an innate sense of right and wrong? If that is true, then we as parents would never have to teach our kids right and wrong - our children would just know.
And your statement that an atheist doesn't have to believe in a higher power in the form of a god - then what higher power do you think the atheist would believe in? Does the atheist become his/her own "higher power"? Webster describes atheist as one who believes there is no deity, which would include one's self, if taken to that extreme.
We are born neither good nor bad. We are born with needs that must be met in order to live. Then we have wants - we want our mother's attention, we want a puppy, we want a toy... We are born self-centered because it is all we know - we must have food, shelter and love to survive, and as humans we will do anything we can to get that. It is instinctual that we cry as babies to get those things we need. And without guidance, the self-centeredness will continue to be our nature
If parents teach morality to their kids - where did these moral principles come from? How far back do we go to establish where moral principles began?
If there is no religious background for determining what is right and wrong, it is possible that someone would think to themselves, "How would I want to be treated?" and base their actions on that assumption. (This also assumes their parents brought them up to think of others and not just themselves.) But what if that person didn't equate his moral choices on common decency and instead considered his actions moral based on other criteria? What if that person believed that they knew better than everyone else and that their choices were moral while the rest of us were idiots or morons for behaving in what we see as a moral fashion?
What if a society believed it moral to kill babies who are born "defective"? To kill elderly adults who have become a burden or outlived (by some arbitrary standard) their useful life? To allow one to steal from someone who has more when someone has less? If this is what a society believes as moral, if this is written into their laws, then would we still, as outsiders looking in, say that their actions are moral?
I just have all these questions and need a complete and intelligent discourse on how morality can be taught without there being some link to something other than one's own idea of right and wrong.