Saturday, June 16, 2007

Atheists are immoral?

This is something that's been floating around the blogosphere quite a bit lately, and it strikes me as being absolutely absurd. The premise behind the idea is that because Atheists don't believe in God, they can't have any idea of what being moral if morality can only come from God. But one God's morality is another's immorality, so who's right?

If you look at the animal kingdom, you will actually see a lot of moral behavior. In general, animals don't kill each other indiscriminately, at least no more than humans do. A wolf will not kill another wolf if it bares its throat, and there is quite a bit of moral behavior among the great apes and the cetaceans. In fact, I think humanity could learn a lot from the bonobos and the way their culture works. I know a lot of people might get upset about me using the word culture in relation to an ape, but I think it's the right word.

It's almost impossible to define "morality," because like I've said, it varies from person to person, but I think most of us would agree that the majority of criminal behavior is immoral, right? Therefore, if Atheists truly are immoral, you should see a much higher percentage of them in American prisons. This, in fact, is not what you see at all. Roughly ten percent of the American population is Atheist or Agnostic, and yet in the American prison systems, the number of Atheists and Agnostics is about one-quarter of one percent...significantly lower than what would be expected if Atheists were truly immoral.

This idea of immoral Atheists so permeates American culture that in a recent poll, people put Atheism as the one thing that would make them most likely to not vote for a presidential candidate. Gender, race, and even sexual orientation were not seen as bad as being an Atheist.

This argument, however, will fall on deaf ears among the more radical religious people because fact does not matter to them...only what they believe on faith...


Marva said...

I always considered atheists the most highly moral people on earth. Reason: they behave ethically based on their own decision, not some stupid threat of going to hell. Those who are good because they fear the afterlife aren't good at all. They're cowed into it not from their own desire to be good to their fellow humans (and animals). I saw a news show some years back on atheism which showed these religious school kids assuming that atheists commit evil acts. Sad. Opium of the People, right?

Shannon said...

Unfortunately, with over 85% of the US being Christian and not experiencing morals without religion- this is a losing argurment. How can they understand morality is subjective & our idea of it changes over time when it is just rules they have accepted because a religion handed them down? Atheists also have the advantage of knowing that they can't just commit a "sin" and then "ask for forgiveness". Their actions are judged by their own thoughts, a much harsher judge in my opinion with much more "moral" results.
That said, I have come to the conclusion that some people do need this "morality in a box" and without it who knows what more chaos we would be living in.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think it's immoral to believe something regardless or in spite of the evidence. For ex., if members of a jury made faith-based as opposed to rational decisions.

Faith = prejudice and bigotry.

What other business nowadays, besides religion, gets away with openly discriminating against women? If Ford or GE behaved like the Catholic Church, there'd be protests and a class action suit. The situation in Muslim countries is even more obvious. The world's religions are incredibly backward when it comes to human, civil, and equal rights; they do not deserve any special privileges, protection, or respect.

Robert Porter