Friday, April 25, 2008

Evils of Atheism

If you've ever used the Interwebs to discuss religion, you'll find that you invariably come up against religious people and atheists trying to blame each other for the world's evils.

a) a religious person will declare that you can't lead a moral life without god-belief.
b) an atheist will point out that many atheists lead moral lives and many religious people don't.
c) someone will point that Hitler was a Christian/Atheist and provide quotes to back it up.

I think this misses the point. There are nice people who are religious and there are jerks who are religious. There are nice atheists and jerk atheists.

The point I want to hit on is that there is a difference between religious and non-religious people when it comes to doing Bad Things. Bad People tend to do Bad Things, and it doesn't seem - as far as I can tell - that either religion or atheism can prevent this.

The crucial difference comes when a Bad Person tries to convince other people to do Bad Things with him. If the other people are religious, they have been taught obedience to a higher power in the place of logical morality. The more that religious people insist that "you can't be good without God", the deeper they dig this hole. What they're saying is that only God knows right and wrong and our job is to obey.

As an atheist, I find it extraordinarily frightening that other people would surrender their own moral centres the way that, for example, Abraham did.

If you can convince a man that whatever "God" says is automatically the right thing to do - regardless of the innocent people that will be hurt, regardless of any harm the act will do, regardless of the lack of humane benefit involved - then you can convince that man to do pretty much anything at all.

That, to me, is the crux of this discussion of whether atheism or a God-based religion provides a better moral compass.

If you want to convince an atheist to hurt other people, you have to convince him that a greater good is being done or that the people being hurt deserve it in some way. If you want to convince a devoutly religious man to hurt others, you need merely insist convincingly, but really on your own authority, that God wants it done.

Recommend this PostProgressive Bloggers

No comments: