Who Gets to Claim Morality?

Posted: November 19, 2011 in atheism

So, there’s a ton of little myths about atheists running about, and JT at WWJTD  asked his readers to amass a whole bunch of them.  There’s some really facepalm-y ones, like “You’re just an atheist because you’re mad at god/just want to sin”, some that set my teeth on edge like “There are no atheists in foxholes” or anything such “you’ll come running when shit gets real”, and others that are just purely insulting.

One of the more insulting ones is my personal bugaboo, usually phrased like “Without God, where do we get our morals?”  I admit, I get really punchy when I hear this claim, mostly because, even if the person saying it is meaning well, they’ve just discounted the majority of the modern world that isn’t Christian, a huge chunk of the ancient world, and societies that existed before this “God” upstart started taking over.  Then again, most people fool enough to say something like this usually also believe that there wasn’t a “pre-Christian” society in existence, and if so, that huge unproved flood took care of them.

So, why is it my bugaboo?  Because I am a moral person.  My lack of belief didn’t strip me of empathy or the of the desire for a better world.  I didn’t suddenly gain the desire to harm others, to steal, to be a nuisance to my community.  Societies have always had rules to run their shit, and some really good ones trump the Ten Commandments by far.  What does minding the Sabbath or not worshiping idols have to do with caring for your fellow humans?  For a list that includes the phrase “Thou shalt not kill,” there’s a metric buttload of cases where someone died due to the influence of the book this list in found in, up to and including a bunch of cases in said book.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good moral people who attend church every Sunday, but I respect them as humans enough to say that they are good people in spite of the bloody book that bases their beliefs.  The majority of people in the world are decent people because as a species, we had to give a fuck about each other to survive, just like every other social species on this planet.  It’s the bullshit beliefs, mostly religious, that fuck things up.* It’s religion that says even though your neighbor gives to charity and helps out in the community, he’s a “sinner” because he loves another man.   It’s religion that says the straight A student is an evil murderer because she had an abortion.  It’s religion that says the family that doesn’t attend your church or believe in your god must be made uncomfortable to the point that they must be run out of town.

Religion is just as imperfect as the humans that made it up, and it shouldn’t take the credit anymore for the good in the world (though, ironically, when someone does something immoral in the name of religion, like say, honor killings or throwing out their lesbian daughter, people get to say “they’re not a real *insert reglion here*”, the ultimate in co-opts if I’ve ever seen one, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant all it’s own).  By saying things like “Atheists can have no morals because they have no god”, you’re claiming the market on goodness for you and your religion.  It’s ignorant and it’s wrong.

*Yes, I’m aware that greed and politics and other religion-neutral things also account for the ills of the world, but this rant is about religion.  Deal.

  1. nwoslave says:

    For all your claims of being a moral person your joyous attack of someone elses beliefs screams hatred. Athiests can despise the actions of gays as well. No faith in any God is needed. The athiest communists starved 10s of millions of peasant to death because they were Christians. The athiest communists had all the power, the Christian peasants were powerless. To claim athiests have any superior morality to any particular faith doesn’t coincide with historical events.

    Your complete intolerance of any faith but atheism is testament to your bigotry and hypocrisy. To actually have any morality it needs to be proven. Athiests like yourself prove quite clearly your zealous hatred far exceeds any zealotry by any other faith. Since you seem bent on inciting hatred towards all faiths other than atheism, try not to be too shocked when that hatred is returned with equal vigor. Deal.

  2. Niki M. Quirkypants says:

    The athiest communists starved 10s of millions of peasant to death because they were Christians. The athiest communists had all the power, the Christian peasants were powerless

    Provide proof of your statements or STFU, oh dear Troll of the Year.

    ETA: I take that back, since any casual internet search will show that it was a cult of personality, not atheism, that lead to the horrors you’re probably alluding to (i.e. a dictator wanting the people to worship him). So, either provide me actual proof of full on atheist driven persecution of any religion or go find another bridge to troll.