Morality depends on religion

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A Pew study of 39 countries found that the majority of people believe that belief in God is necessary for morality. The strongest agreement was in Indonesia (99%) and Ghana (99%), and the lowest level of agreement was in France (15%), Czech Rep. (19%) and Spain (19%). The United States was split with 53% agree and 46% disagree. [1]

"if the atheists are right, then we might as well lie, cheat, and steal to get what we want because this life is all there is, and there are no consequences in eternity[2]"

"All ethics begin with religion. We must determine what moral laws to accept and reject. We must distinguish between real and false prophets."

Chris Hedges, I Don't Believe in Atheists

"The pervasive idea the religion is somehow the source of our deepest ethical intuitions is absurd. We no more get our sense that cruelty is wrong from the pages of the Bible than we get our sense that two plus two equals four from the pages of a textbook on mathematics."

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Contents

Evidence

Religion makes people moral

Some apologists claim that converting to their religion makes people more moral. Of course, there is no evidence of that, except in the case of making people more generous and charitable. [3]

"You “were” a homosexual, thief, or adulterer; but “are” no more. Why? Because the moment you believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, your identity changes. [4]"
"The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions. [3]"
"Wisneski and his fellow researchers found that religious and nonreligious people commit similar numbers of moral acts. ... And regardless of their political or religious leanings, participants were all found to be more likely to report committing, or being the target of, a moral act rather than an immoral act. They were also much more likely to report having heard about immoral acts rather than moral acts.[5]"

Countries with high standards of living tend to be more secular. Secular states (e.g. Vermont and New Hampshire) within the United States tend to Rank higher than religious states (Mississippi and Alabama) for positive societal indicators. [6] If religion caused people to be moral, and secularism caused people to be immortal, one might expect to observe societal collapse in more secular societies.

A study of 1200 children from six countries found that children with a religious upbringing were less altruistic and more punitive than non-religious children. [7]

Apologists argue that, without religion, atheists are immoral.

Moral argument

The moral argument is a popular argument for the existence of God that says that for morality to exist, God must also exist.

Counter arguments

Majority atheist countries function quite well without religion

The majority of secular countries function quite well without religion and are among the happiest places on Earth, such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark. [8]

"After all, there is nothing intrinsically moral about being a believer or a nonbeliever. There are many people of great moral probity and courage who seek meaning outside of formal religious structures, who reject religious language and religious ritual and define themselves as atheists."

Chris Hedges[9]

"[The disciples of Jesus] were a little intolerant [believing that] those who do not have the truth, cannot do good. [see Mark 9:38-39...] This was wrong [...] Jesus broadens the horizon. [...] The root of this possibility of doing good - that we all have - is in creation."

— Pope Francis[10]

Religion depends on morality

"a sense of morality must exist for a religion to function [11]"

Religion makes people less moral in some ways

Main Article: Religion is harmful to society

Religion may negatively affect individuals physiologically and financially. Many societal problems, such as terrorism, bigotry, discrimination and totalitarianism, have been laid directly at the feet of religion.

"Wherever morality is based on theology, wherever the right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established."

— Ludwig Feuerbach

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."

Blaise Pascal

Most philosophers are non-theists and moral realists

A survey of over 900 academic philosophers shows that 14.6% "Accept or lean toward: theism" but 56.4% "Accept or lean toward: moral realism". [12] This shows that many philosophers accept moral realism without depending on theism. [13] This of course depends on philosophers being an authority on morality, which is certainly debatable.

Moral behavior depends on natural causes

"Any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well developed or nearly as well developed, as in man."

Charles Darwin

References

  1. [1]
  2. I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist
  3. 3.0 3.1 [2]
  4. http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2016/02/is-fatherlessness-the-root-cause-of-homosexuality.html
  5. [3]
  6. [4]
  7. [5]
  8. [6]
  9. I Don't Believe in Atheists, 2008
  10. [7]
  11. [8]
  12. [9]
  13. [10]
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