The basis of a secular moral code is human need. The understanding that what is good supports basic human rights and anything that threatens it is bad. We do not need a supernatural deity or an ancient holy book to determine this.
If we stay the course of what religion interprets as morality then the mysticism of the cult-du-jour will completely prevail over logic and reason and we will retrogress into barbarism where the death penalty is the required punishment for adulterers, homosexuals, disobedient children and countless other people. There are sitting US Senators that already believe these characteristics should be punishable by death.
In spite of our societies being steeped in religion, every advancement we have made toward a tolerant society has come about through our use of reason. Reason is what defines humanity and insisting upon using faith to acquire knowledge flies in the face of everything that we have achieved as a race because doing so requires us to accept the imaginary as tangible, which is nothing more than an escape from reality.
This is known as delusion, and it is, for lack of a better definition, mental illness. It should come as no surprise when a religious person draws a completely different conclusion about reality than someone who uses logic and reason as their tools. The indoctrinated bases their world view on the arbitrary and the subjective, and encompasses their perceptions based on what they understand to be the desire and will of their deity. This process is almost completely emotional.
Reliance is not based on objectivity, but unquestionable intuition that is not to be examined on a deeper level unless it does not veer from their scripture. The end result is the believer being devoid of objective standards and each person of faith interpreting truth and morality in their own way. Subjective morality is problematic because it requires definition solely on the prejudices of their religious organization, leaving them without a discernible ability to determine right from wrong, rendering morality meaningless. This is irony at its zenith, because most fundamentalists preach against moral relativity. The cause of society’s moral collapse is religion, itself.
When a society removes moral responsibility by belief that the acquisition of knowledge comes from an unknown and mysterious venue, it loses its ability for rational conceptualization of values because they are stripped from the reality of this life and placed in an imaginary next life, which is a recipe for disaster. As we have seen, separate and subjective moral value systems are not conducive to conflict resolution in any way other than ultimately using force.
The history of religion is a history of war. Another problem with rejecting reason as the foundation for morality is that anything that is contradictory to the religionist’s world view is rejected purely by emotion. Thus, we have a very well documented anti-intellectual attitude at the core of most religions, and this is promoted in their holy books, as well. Eve’s sin of eating from the tree of knowledge is a perfect example.
Plainly, there is nothing mysterious about morality. All we need is healthy self-esteem, the desire to learn and compassion for each other and we have won most of the fight to becoming a moral person. Christianity promotes the belief that humanity is born into the world already depraved and compares us as filthy rags in the sight of God’s eyes. Reason or logic doesn’t even come into the picture, but they cling to the belief that only the bible, with its primitive system of rewards and punishments, can hold society together. What they fail to understand is that much of the decay of modern society is due to the unquestioning acceptance of religious dogma and doctrine.
Religious morality is harmful and benefits no one. There is nothing inherently positive about pursuing a “higher” morality. It is detrimental to the health of the individual and to society when a literal acceptance of any “holy” book is adopted. It results in a false view of reality, destroys self-esteem and causes division on many different levels.
If our species is to survive, we must remove ourselves from the self-induced mental torture chamber that is religion.