Moral values and ideals are natural and based on rational principles
I have heard this argument several times. There is an idea that the values represented in religious values and traditions are derived by a more rational means but that religion is used as a means of communicating them. Thus, it is thought, the moral values are valid even despite the irrationality of the religion that transmits them.
This is the greatest insult to the human intellect of modern times!
Looking at sexual morals, for instance, there is a broad and expansive history for the devaluation of the sexual experience in religion. It is considered wrong and evil not because it is better for society or for humanity to abstain from sexual experience or limit it in any way. Even the agrarian economic system could not show that. It is wholly the believe in a spirit and/or a god that gives rise to such a premise.
What makes it worse is that it is not the religious that present this argument. It is the nontheist or atheist who looks to the religion of their culture and the traditions derived from that religion with a sort of awe. They know that the religion is flawed, deny and denounce the metaphysical beliefs that are an inherent part of the theology, then present a sort of reverance for what the religion "attempts to" accomplish.
It's apologetics of a different sort. Totally irrational. And totally without merit.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds