This seems to be an obvious question, that should be quite easy to answer, but there seem to be a few layers to it. How would it affect atheism? How would it affect various religious ideas? How would it affect society as a whole? These are some of the questions that could be raised, for those who have other questions I encourage you to post in the comment box at the bottom of the post.
Atheists, in my initial post on subjective morality (I plan on returning to this post, it was a bad argument, but not for any of the reasons pointed out by those who commented), argued against objective morality, but I felt, didn’t really feel provided an argument for subjective morality. The idea that morality is subjective isn’t an atheist condition though, it is held by ecumenical religious groups as well. It is also not a universal expression of atheism, prominent atheists such as Sam Harris argue for objective morality. This argument, of course, provides more fuel for the argument that religion and science are not non-overlapping magisteria, but that is another discussion. I haven’t read Harris’ book, The moral landscape, but I can say that I disagree with his definition of morality, which regards negative effects on conscious beings, as he expressed in a presentation on TED. I feel that any definition of morality that would act as a foundation for a study on objective morality would have to start of by being universal, and with human sacrifice being a part of old world practices, Harris missed the mark in my opinion, so I tried to define morality as a characteristic in order to take my own personal views of morality out of the equation. Leah Libresco of Unequally Yoked, posted here about the book, and expressed here belief that absolute morality is compatible with atheism. I may believe that morality is absolute, but I’d find it hard to argue outside of religious circles, but it can’t be absolute if it isn’t objective, and we could find with objective study that some things are absolute, which would go a long way to helping Leah prove her point.
The question though, was, how would this affect an atheist? The answer is fairly simple, if science could tell us what was right or wrong, at least in some cases, the moral compass argument used by Christians, and other religious groups would fall apart (I personally think this argument is invalid for other reasons.) It would actually strengthen the argument that people don’t need religion as a moral compass, since it is something which is measurable. Objective morality, should actually be seen as a blessing to atheists, since it gives them something to build on, perhaps my definition of morality in morality as a characteristic is unsatisfactory, in which case the measurable affects of morality (part one and part two) would have to be revised, but at least it gives atheists something to work with, beyond simply ruling it out as subjective.
I will do follow up posts to answer the questions as they relate to society, and religion, since the discussion on atheism is longer than I thought it would be, this will make it easier to manage the discussion though, since each question is a different discussion.