- Religion and Philosophy»
- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Good Without God?
Christian Misconceptions about Atheism
Among religious communities around the world, there is an innumerable amount of misconceptions about atheists and atheism. There are, however, a couple I would like to address:
1) Atheists just want to sin
2) Atheists have no morals
These two misunderstandings about atheism rank among my favorites, probably because I've thought the same things when I was a christian.
In this hub I will briefly address the first misconception, but I want to focus more on number two. I've previously written a hub on the immorality of the bible so I won't beat a dead horse here. What I want to do is show that atheists have morals, and it is immoral to cite the bible (or anything, for that matter) as a moral authority. With the demonstration of the latter, I will show that secular morality is superior to the morality of those who use the bible as the foundation of their morals.
Number 1: Atheists Just Want to Sin
Real quick: No we don't. And by "we" I mean atheists in general. I can't speak for every atheist out there since there is no "Atheistic Dogma" we all strive to adhere to. I would like to say I represent the typical level-headed, emotionally sound, reasonable, working class atheist. Just a regular person trying to make the best of this life.
Again, we don't want to sin; that is not our goal in life. We don't even believe in sin. That doesn't mean we don't think people can't commit immoral or evil acts, we just don't accept the concept of Sin. The concept that our actions here on Earth will be judged by a superior supernatural being where we will be dealt punishment or reward accordingly is an absurd notion to us.
It's similar to saying that atheists hate God. As with the idea of sin, atheists don't even believe in God, so how can we hate him?
Because we don't believe in the concept of sin, essentially rendering ourselves immune to the psychological torment associated with eternal punishment or reward for our actions, coupled with the fact that we don't believe in God, we are often mercilessly accused of having no morals. Which brings me to the second misconception: Atheists have no morals.
Number Two: Atheists Have no Morals
I know I could ramble off a list of atheists doing great and amazing things to better the world and compare it to a list of christians performing absolutely atrocious acts. But that would be a failed attempt at making my point and supporting the idea that atheists do have morals.
So I'm going to go about it a little differently here. To start off, where do christians get their morals? For the most part their moral foundation comes from the bible and what their church leaders say. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as they don't rigorously adhere to what the bible teaches. But what gets me though, is that by cherry-picking the moral pronouncements made in their holy book and choosing to follow only certain ones, then they are making moral judgments on their own. So I don't understand why they continue to refer to their archaic book for morals when they are already relying on their own judgement.
Where do atheists get their morals? Since we don't believe in God or the asserted infallibility of the bible, or any other religious ideology, where do we get our morals? Well, where christians refer to moral pronouncements from an unsubstantiated moral authority, atheists, generally speaking again, make decisions based off reality and the understanding of the consequences that follow. Atheists get their morals from the understanding that their actions directly affect the people around them. Sure, there are crazy people who have zero amounts of empathy, but I'm not referring to them. I'm referring to the rational and reasonable people out there. Besides, crazy people can be found in both the atheist and theist demographics.
Immoral to Cite the Bible?
As I stated before, it is immoral to cite the bible as a moral authority, even if we assume that the bible is morally infallible
As I mentioned before, the bible makes moral pronouncements. That means it instructs, in a very black and white way, what is moral and what is not. The problem with this is that not every interaction, social or otherwise, that calls for a moral judgement is covered. Additionally, the bible doesn't teach people how to reason out moral decisions when confronted with a scenario that isn't covered in the bible.
When the bible says that action 'X' is moral, it doesn't explain why 'X' is moral. But when people claim that God is the ultimate moral authority and whatever he says is inherently moral and no further explanation is required, they are making a moral judgement on their own. If they can't trust their own morals, how can they make a moral judgement about God and say that he is the ultimate moral figure?
Below is a video clip from The Atheist Experience. In the video, Matt (host) and Tracey (Co-host) are on the phone with a christian who claims the bible is the ultimate moral authority. Matt and Tracey do a wonderful job of explaining why the bible should not be referenced to as a moral authority.
Atheists Have Morals
Christians get their morals from an unsubstantiated moral authority, subjecting themselves to moral pronouncements with no way of knowing how to reason out if their moral authority is even right.
Atheists, generally speaking, make moral decisions based on reality and what is conducive to the overall well-being of themselves and others.
Christians make certain moral decisions because they are christians, atheists make moral decisions because it is beneficial and conducive to survival.
Humans are a social species and we depend on each other for a great many things. Whether it's simply talking and being social with each other or providing emotional support, we all depend on the kindness of each other.
Atheists don't need the threat of hell and eternal damnation to be good people; we're good people because we're good people.