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Drinks and Discussion: Morality and Ethics in the Absence of God

  • Feb 18, 2013 · 6:30 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Please join us for a monthly discussion group! Thank you to Pete and Heryl Kroopnick for hosting this month's group!

We'll provide drinks, you bring the conversation! Each month we'll have a different topic - sometimes posted in advance with related articles, videos or other information you may find helpful to exploring the topic. This is a relatively informal, round-table style discussion, facilitated by Cori and a host.

For questions or to suggest a particular topic, email or call Cori at 928.710.6429.

*Not an event for children.*



The essay below can also be downloaded here:



Morality and Ethics in the Absence of God

One page of reading to foster discussion on how free-thinkers view morality:


Psychologist Matt J. Rossano muses that religion emerged after morality and built upon morality by expanding the social scrutiny of individual behavior to include supernatural agents. By including ever watchful ancestors, spirits and gods in the social realm, humans discovered an effective strategy for restraining selfishness and building more cooperative groups. The adaptive value of religion would have enhanced group survival.


[from Erik_PK writing at]

I think there are sound evolutionary reasons for morality – and there’s a wealth of literature out there that discusses it.  Simply put, “every man (or animal) for himself” only makes sense if there are no situations in which cooperation is better than going it alone.

This is pretty obvious in mammals. Mammals “care for” their young because their young share their genes (i.e. young who have parents who tend them are more likely to pass on their genes). Mammals work together (in packs/prides/whatever) because 1) it increases their own personal chances of survival (some hunting is possible only in packs) and 2) animals generally share genetic lineage with those in the group.

You see this in humans as well – we have tighter bonds to our families than to others, though we do generally extend our moral rules to other humans, not just those that are closely related to us genetically.  As for morals and god, morals cannot come from god, pretty much by definition.

The essence of making a moral choice is that the choice is not related to any possible benefit or punishment for the person making the choice. If I choose not to cheat on my taxes because I don’t want to go to jail, that’s not a moral choice – it’s a pragmatic one. If, on the other hand, I choose not to cheat on my taxes with the understanding that I could do so and not go to jail, that’s a moral choice.  If you ask people why they don’t steal, the majority will say they don’t do it because it’s wrong to steal (and they may make an analogy that they don’t want people to steal from them). That’s a moral judgment.  What does this have to do with god? Well, when god (and I’m assuming the xtian god here) says, “thou shall not kill”, if one does kill, not only may one end up in hell, one may miss out on heaven. Not killing for that reason is therefore a pragmatic choice, not a moral one.  Or, to put it another way, “follow these rules or else” is not a moral code. 



  • If you are coming NORTH from Prescott downtown: Come on Willow Creek road. Turn right at Smoke Tree Lane (by the Texaco station). If you are coming SOUTH from Pioneer Parkway: Turn left at Smoke Tree Lane (by the Texaco station). 
  •  Go up Smoketree past the fire station on the left side. Put you bright lights on since there are no street lights in this neighborhood. Where Smoketree curves to the left, take the RIGHT fork onto Sequoia. If you see Leah Lane, you have gone too far and missed Sequoia.
  • Go around one bend on Sequoia and take the first left onto Desert Willow. Go slow as you turn, as there are two driveways right away on the left side. Kroopnick House is the second one, with the black mailbox on a RED post, #2457.
  • Please park either on the gravel by the driveway or along the street. Then walk up the paved driveway which is long and uphill. Mobility restricted guests should call upon arrival and we will remove the barricade so you can park up by the house (two cars only).
  • Call Pete and Heryl is you have any questions:[masked] 0223.

Join or login to comment.

  • Monica

    Exciting discussion.

    February 21, 2013

  • Myra W.

    Sorry I had to cancel this time. Homework beckons. I would like us to consider a different day if possible.

    February 18, 2013

  • Sean S.

    This is a tentative yes, as I will be in Phoenix the today and tomorrow and may not make it back in time...

    February 17, 2013

  • Ward S.

    It might be a good idea to watch this : (Matt Dillahunty on secular morality. It's not his full 1 hr talk, this is an abbreviated 1/2 hour that's not really a condensation, but is provocative)

    1 · February 16, 2013

    • Cori

      Yes - I recommend everyone watch this first. Thanks Ward!

      February 16, 2013

  • Mark

    Looking forward to seeing you again, Pete and Heryl!

    February 11, 2013

  • Diana R.

    Michael too!

    January 23, 2013

  • Cori

    Please let me know if you have a location for this or any upcoming Discussion Groups!

    December 29, 2012

14 went

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