On Average, Are Atheists as Moral as Theists?
This useful introduction to atheism addresses several of our questions, including Are atheists less moral than religious people?, Is there such a thing as atheist morality?, and Isn’t the whole of life completely pointless to an atheist?
Kaminer refutes the assumption that religion is essential to virtue.
Carrier refutes the claim that the killers were atheists who shot Cassie Bernall after saying that she believed in God.
That Colossal Wreck (1997)
Ravi Zacharias’s A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism is an unsuccessful attempt to refute or discredit atheism. He concentrates on some of the more prounounced problems with atheism, as he perceives them, and in the course of this review I will show why some of his approaches fail. I say ‘some’ because I will address only the most salient errors. A thorough refutation of all of the mistakes in his 200-page book would require another 300 pages or more, as these sorts of things are short in the telling and long in the refuting.”
Paul Copan responds to Doug Krueger’s critique of Ravi Zacharias’ book A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism. Copan argues that Krueger’s own arguments regarding the book’s purported philosophical and theological shortcomings lack convincingness.
Krueger responds to Paul Copan’s defense of Ravi Zacharias’s book, A Shattered Visage. Along the way, Krueger refutes Copan’s assertions that Hitler was an atheist and that morality “points” to theism.
Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look (2005) (Off Site PDF) by Gregory S. Paul
In this landmark study, Gregory S. Paul compares rates of religiosity and societal dysfunction between 18 democratic nations in the developed world in order to “test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health.” Paul finds that “in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction,” demonstrating that widespread religious belief does not improve societal health, and that moreover there is a positive correlation between a first-world country’s level of religiosity (e.g., the degree of confidence that a traditional monotheistic God exists) and level of social dysfunction (e.g., homicide rates).
Religious Cosmologies and Homicide Rates Among Nations: A Closer Look (2006) by Gary F. Jensen
Gregory S. Paul’s “recent analysis of variation in homicide rates among nations argues that homicide is facilitated by high levels of religiosity…. Because there are numerous dimensions to religiosity and a variety of alternative explanations of homicide rates, a more complex analysis is required before more definitive conclusions can be reached. This study attempts such an analysis for a much larger sample of nations and tests Durkheim’s hypothesis that religious passion, as a variable characteristic of nations, is a positive correlate of homicide rates. A multiple regression analysis reveals a complex relationship with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it.”
Vuletic argues that atheism’s foundation for morality is superior to that of Christianity.
Morality, Ethical Behavior, and Atheism on NPR’s Talk of the Nation (Oct. 5, 1998) (Off Site) [ Audio ]
Timothy Gorski, M.D. Pastor, North Texas Church of Free Thought, Margeret Downey President, Anti-Discrimination Support Network and President, Free Thought Society of Greater PA, and David Silverman, Director, NJ State Office, American Atheists, talk about ethical behavior and atheism. Requires RealAudio Player.
More Research Concerning Atheist Morality (1997) by Michael Wang
A summary of a study which shows that religious belief and ethical behavior have little to no correlation.
The foundation of the fundamentalist claim that the “Bible is necessary for people to know how to live moral lives,” Till explains, “is of course erroneous. It is even contradicted by the Bible itself.”
In this hard-hitting article, Grünbaum critically evaluates the persistent claim that theism can help solve moral crises while secularism only exacerbates them. More specifically, Grünbaum considers two theistic claims: (1) theism is normatively indispensible for the acceptability of moral imperatives; and (2) theistic belief is motivationally necessary, as a matter of psychological fact, to assure such adherence to moral standards as there is in society at large.
Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammo (1999) (Off Site) by Steve Chapman
According to Chapman, not only is there no evidence indicating a positive correlation between religion and morality, there is evidence of a negative correlation.
The Results of the Christians vs. Atheists in Prison Investigation (1997) (Off Site) by Rod Swift
Rod Swift contacted the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons and asked for data on the religious beliefs of the federal prison population. This summary lists the number of inmates per religion category.
In this review of Michael Shermer’s most recent attempt to ground secular ethics in evolutionary biology, Kenneth Krause outlines some of the highlights of The Science of Good and Evil before turning to a discussion of some of its deficiencies. Among the former is the emphasis that moral problems “must be subjected to rational scrutiny,” that moral sentiments and behaviors arose from evolution rather than God (and exist outside of us in this limited sense), and that while religion may have had limited success in “identifying universal moral and immoral thoughts and behaviors” and canonizing them, religion did not generate them. Krause then turns to a survey of empirical evidence for the thesis that “monotheism has proved an ineffectual prescription for morality,” finally noting statistics showing that widespread American belief in God hasn’t improved social problems like crime rates. This paves the way for Shermer’s secular alternative. Many of Shermer’s points were not original, but still valuable since they clearly “cannot be repeated enough,” and his core standards are fairly intuitive and thus hardly revolutionary.
The most famous and controversial atheist and secular humanist in African history (if not the only one of any real renown) was the Nigerian nationalist Tai Solarin, who sadly passed away at the age of 72 in 1994. This is a story of his life, ideas, and accomplishments, which are a lesson to us all.
Graham Oppy explains the ways in which his reasons for rejecting Christianity differ from those offered by Bertrand Russell in his famous paper of the same title. In section I, Oppy considers how Christianity should be characterized, the best way to build a case against theism, and the nonrational reasons why people believe in God, among other things. In section II, he offers an account of his journey to unbelief and the philosophy of religion. By section III, Oppy explains why he is not a Christian, as well as some of the things that he does believe. Here he pines in on appeals to contingency and causality in theistic arguments, the problem of evil, free will, the mind-body problem, the history of the universe, human history, and the historicity of the Gospels–outlining his “supervenient naturalism” along the way. Oppy wraps up by considering the meaning of life and whether virtuous behavior relates to Christian belief.
Adolf Hitler–Christian or Atheist?
Adolf Hitler – Christian, Atheist, or Neither? (1999) (Off Site) by Dean Mischewski
According to this Christian apologist, Hitler was neither a Christian or an atheist.
Murphy refutes the fallacious claim that Hitler was an atheist.
Argues that Hitler was a theist.
“Whenever I critique the inherent, ubiquitous, and incessant relationship between Abrahamic monotheism and senseless violence, I inevitably receive defiant rejoinders not only from Christian rigorists but from misinformed moderates and secularists as well. Such people offer Hitler and Nazism as verification of humanity’s purely secular propensity toward excessive bloodshed. But contrary to popular opinion, Adolf Hitler was not an atheist.”
Murphy argues that Hitler was a Christian, not an atheist.
Argues that theists and atheists often get too caught up in a pointless debate over the metaphysical leanings of despotic historical figures.
Was Hitler a Christian? (Off Site) by Kevin Davidson
Although the purpose of this article is to demonstrate that Hitler was not a Christian, the article also concedes that Hitler was not an atheist.
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.