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Does Atheism Lead to Better Morals?

04/25/12

Permalink 11:01:00 pm, by Norgaard Norgaard Email , 531 words   English (US)
Categories: Secularism is Flawed

Does Atheism Lead to Better Morals?

In recent years, there have been a few prominent atheists who have made a detailed case against religious faith. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are probably the most notable examples of these writers, who in general argue that traditional religions are largely irrational and often lead followers to commit immoral acts. These writers argue that a life free of religion leads one to form a more logically sound way of thinking, a better understanding of nature, and living based on more humane values. I believe both Dawkins and Harris have argued that the world would be a better place if more people were atheists.

I actually agree with Dawkins and Harris on many of the main points that they made in their books attacking religion. While I am somewhat religious myself, I do acknowledge that traditional religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are based on blind adherence to what is written in some books. It did take me a few years, but I came to realize in my 20's that there is simply no justifiable reason to believe something just because it is in a book. This idea that the Bible is the word of God is simply ridiculous, and after realizing this I am surprised that more people haven't figured this out as well.

I also acknowledge the immorality that religious faith has brought. People simply believe that their “holy book” is true with regards to morality rather than figuring out what makes the most sense on their own. I don't need to list all of the terrible things that people have done in the name of their religion here. Dawkins and Harris have already done this, and other writers as well. The most important thing to understand is that if one simply believes what is written in a book or what they are told by others, that they will likely be led at some point to commit immoral acts. If one figures out what is right and wrong from observation and reason, from personal experience and reflection, then they will be able to see right from wrong with much more clarity.

I do, however, disagree with this idea that atheism leads to better morals. Whether one believes in a higher power or not is actually unrelated to whether they think for themselves about what is right and wrong. I have actually come to the conclusion that the universe must have been created by a higher power that can be called God. For me, this is based on reason, not religious faith. I am a Deist, not an atheist. I have heard a lot of arguments against Deism, but these are not moral arguments. The reasonable arguments that Dawkins and Harris put forth that traditional religion leads to immorality do not actually hinge upon the belief in God. They hinge upon the acts that people commit because they don't think for themselves about what is right or wrong. Because of this, I don't think that atheism necessarily leads to better morals. I believe that people will more likely have better morals if they realize the irrationality of religious faith, but they can still realize this and believe in God.

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