Atheist Morality

This was taken from an anti-Creationist website:

http://www.creationtheory.org/Morality/AtheistMorality.xhtml

One of the most popular creationist attacks upon evolution theory (and science in general) is the moral attack. As the argument goes, science, evolution theory, and atheists are immoral, so they must all be wrong. This is a bizarre and logically indefensible argument; there are a lot of things about nature which are brutal and which may strike us as immoral, but that doesn’t change the fact that they exist!

Even if we were to accept the nonsensical argument that a scientific theory can be judged by the morality of its proponents, would the “moral argument” hold water? In order to for it to hold water, one would have to first show that atheists are immoral, and not only have creationists never produced a shred of evidence, but they’ve never even tried. As far as they’re concerned, it’s an unquestionable truth and no evidence is required.

In “1984”, George Orwell’s totalitarian state altered the language and created “NewSpeak” because its leaders understood that if you can control the language, you can control the way people think. Did Orwell invent that idea? Hardly. Any student of the English language can see that this is precisely how religionists have been subtly influencing people’s thinking for centuries. The growth of the English language has taken place under the care of evangelical Christians, and it should come as no surprise that it was deliberately designed to glorify religion and vilify rationalism. The word “materialism” refers to the idea that the material universe is all that exists (ie- the atheist viewpoint), but it is also synonymous with greed and selfishness. The word “faith” describes religion, but the word “faithful” describes trustworthiness and loyalty. In other words, the English language itself subtly reinforces the idea that religion is virtuous and atheism is immoral!

The English word “atheism” has a literal meaning, which is simply non-theism. Therefore, it is defined in most dictionaries as the absence of theism, or the refusal to believe in a God or gods. However, the Third Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (copyright 1992,1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company) still retains an older definition which happens to be quite convenient for the fundamentalist hate-mongers:

Atheism
Noun.

  1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
  2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
  3. Godlessness; immorality.

Did you notice the third definition? According to the American Heritage Dictionary as of 1996, atheism is immorality! What is it about America that breeds Christian fundamentalism? Why should it surprise no one that the “American Heritage” dictionary still shows the ancient 18th century definition of atheism as “immorality”? Whatever the reasons, America is a land of overt hostility towards atheism, and the continued use of the above definition is only a minor symptom. Perhaps the Minnesota Atheists put it best:

“Religionists regularly slander atheists as immoral and it goes far beyond a difference of opinion. Because of our supposed immorality, for which no evidence is ever given, we are barred from admission to organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the VFW and the American Legion. We are insulted publicly by clergy of all faiths, who seem to consider us unworthy to be citizens of the United States. A climate of opinion is created in which the chances of a known atheist being elected to office, no matter how ethical and well qualified, are slim to none.”

They aren’t exaggerating. In the 2000 federal election, both prospective leaders loudly and repeatedly bragged about their piety, in an obvious attempt to court the religious bigot vote. Newsweek magazine commented that it doesn’t matter which religion a candidate belongs to, as long as he is religious. The notion that “religious piety = moral fortitude” is deeply ingrained into the public consciousness, and no one ever stops to consider how hateful its consequences are: if piety is morality, then a lack of piety (ie- atheism) must be immorality! And with that, millions of Americans are instantly slandered as immoral, perverse degenerates who are unfit to hold public office. In fact, the state of Texas is one of several states which has even enshrined this bigoted policy into law: its state constitution bars anyone from public office if he does not acknowledge the “existence of a Supreme Being”.

Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever for religionists’ bizarre assumption that atheists are immoral, and while it would be considered hateful to make similar attacks upon Jews or Muslims, no one raises an eyebrow at this continued, public mistreatment of atheists. These pages were written with the goal of explaining, in some detail, the following points:

  1. Christians have been systematically rewriting history in order to pretend that Christianity versus Atheism is symbolic of Good versus Evil. We are never allowed to forget evil atheists (eg. Stalin), but evil Christians receive a distinctly different treatment. Their crimes are minimized or forgotten, and their religious affiliations are either concealed or misrepresented as atheism.
  2. You don’t need faith in God in order to be moral.
  3. Humanist morality is universal, while Biblical morality is not.
  4. Humanist sexual liberation is not the assault on family values that the fundamentalists seem to think it is.
  5. Humanists are no more likely to commit immoral acts than Christians.

Personal note by Dale Husband: My own experiences tend to support this. Athiests, as well as Christians, can be either enlightened or bigoted, and religious affiliation, or the lack thereof, seems to have nothing to do with one’s moral character.

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3 thoughts on “Atheist Morality

  1. I can’t agree with you more, Dale.

    I was brought up in a Catholic home, and at age 11 I rebelled in a big way. It all just felt wrong. Suddenly I saw people as they really were and there was so much hypocrisy. I went round and round with my parents when I refused to ever set foot in another church, and it’s a subject we veer away from to this day. They even make excuses for priests who molest children! Oh, he must be sick. Sick, my arse. He’s bloody evil, is what he is!

    That’s my 2 cents for now. Keep up the great work, Dale. You’re a wonderful writer, a great talent.

    Bright Blessings,
    Leslie

  2. Too true, Dale. I find more often than not it is not our religious affiliation which determines our goodness but rather our arrogance and hedonism which makes us hateful, not limited by faith, creed, or philosophy (unless your a ethical hedonist, in which case it’s kind of guaranteed.)

    As a Baha’i, I find less of such things in the Baha’i community than others, but your past writings indicated that you found otherwise, and as such, you became atheist finding no advantage to religion. Were I to have had the same experiences, no doubt I would follow the same path as you in the face of such hypocrisy, but I have not.

    Here’s one to unity, and again: happy skepticism.

  3. In order to be moral you have to know what is right and what is wrong. For instance, murder. If you could kill someone who caused you great suffering all of the time and get away with it with no social consequences, would you do it? If not, then I would say you have behaved morally. Anyone can behave morally (in my opinion, being a Christian). But is it logical for the atheist to believe this as well? That’s the problem here. By what standards can you judge what is right and wrong that would logically apply to all humans without objective morality? Objective morality cannot be instituted by humans themselves because we are all subject to our own emotional perspectives. That would be highly subjective. Which means you cannot say that someone else is wrong for murder or rape, only yourself. It cannot deal with objective morality at all. This doesn’t mean atheists are mean people that go around hurting people and doing whatever they want. However, an atheist should re-evaluate his beliefs (in my opinion) if he experiences any regret for “immoral” actions.

    I do agree that it incorrectly described atheism as “immoral.” I’m not sure in what way that would really work at all. Atheism doesn’t recognize the existence of morality.

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