It seems many theists are certain that because they claim their own morality comes from their faith alone, then those without faith must inevitably be immoral. The facts, however, show faith is not required for humans to lead moral lives, and sometimes hinder it entirely.
If you examine Americans for the "fruit" of their morality, what you see is striking. As an example, Christians make up about 75 percent of the overall U.S. population and, as expected, about 75 percent of the prison population. Atheists make up between 5 - 12 percent of the population, but only 0.2 percent of the prison population.
If the measure of morality is based on so-called "traditional family values," the facts are equally damning to those trying to promulgate the falsehood that atheism necessarily equals immorality. For instance, 25 percent of Americans have been divorced, but for "born again Christians" it is 27 percent, making it higher than the overall U.S. population. Atheists and agnostics have the lowest divorce rate of all groups at 21 percent.
The answer to the question, "Where do atheists get their moral code?" is the same place believers get their own: From our own innate consciences. We increase our own fitness, and thereby our offspring's, by creating stable relationships and civil societies. These things are a product of empathy, not faith. How else can one explain the commonality of moral values across almost all societies regardless of religion?
If atheism led to a less moral lifestyle, then surely there would be some evidence of it in our country with some 30 million atheists. Or perhaps in the least religious nations in the world, which happen to have the lowest crime rates and happiest citizens.
One of the verses in the Bible that holds real wisdom is Mathew 7:16. If you examine the fruits of atheists' lives you find them to be exemplary. It is a sad indictment of the person who claims the only reason to lead a moral life is belief in God.
How much more courageous is the atheist who does so without the bribe of heaven or threat of hell? Because we don't spend our too brief lives in preparation for eternal reward, because we don't get a second chance or an appeal to an almighty arbiter, we must strive to do everything we can while we are here to make the world a better place today. In other words, to live as generously moral a life as we can.
To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)