February 13, 2015
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In the past, I’ve written here about my view that atheists are actually more moral than those with religious beliefs. This flies in the face of the conventional wisdom, particularly in America, that you have to believe in God, particularly the Judeo-Christian view of God, to be moral and ethical.
I’ve believed for a long time that conventional wisdom on this point defies logic. It’s nice to see that one of my fundamental beliefs has been somewhat confirmed. (Hat tip to my sister, who sent me the article.) What I find most fascinating about the article, and believe me there are lots of nice little tidbits in it, is this:
“For secular people, morality is predicated on one simple principle: empathetic reciprocity, widely known as the Golden Rule. Treating other people as you would like to be treated,” writes Zuckerman. “It is an ancient, universal ethical imperative. And it requires no supernatural beliefs.”
This has been the foundational concept by which I have tried to live my life, not always successful of course. It is so incredibly simple and one does not need to believe in a god, the afterlife, heaven or hell, or anything other than what is inherently logical and rational. That one must treat others the way one would like to be treated. There needs to be no religious basis for this concept. It is the only way we can survive and thrive as a people.
The second best tidbit is the statistic about how many atheists are in prison. 1/2 of one percent — significantly lower than the number of atheists in society. This puts a lie to the idea that the prisons are filled with atheists. Some day, the conventional wisdom may actually reflect reality. Some day, maybe we can recognize that those who don’t believe are just as capable of moral and ethical behavior, if not more so, and that maybe, just maybe, there is an aspect of modern day religion that actually leads to the opposite result for far too many believers.