It seems to me quite morally-telling that well-read atheists, those who have learned just how easy it is to become a huckster, create a new religion, and cash in on the seemingly endless searchers of knowledge of the great unknown; the creation of a simple series of psychological tricks, and a quick wit could elevate such a person to religious stardom and secure a lucrative retirement nest egg, yet we (atheists) don't do that (at least not that I've heard, except perhaps for L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith) because it is morally reprehensible.
Am I justified in thinking that atheists are morally superior to the evangelicals preachers who appear on TV and radio and rake in the dough year after year until they get caught?
Fast easy money has a way of skewing one's sense of morality and ethics. As long as there are sheeple to be taken advantage of these slick suited evangelists will continue to rake it in.
I'm sure there are bad atheists just as there are basically good religious people. Unless, of course, your view is that if they are bad then they can't be atheists. However, that would be an example of the no true scotsman fallacy.
Yeah, but the bad religious people justify their bad actions using their religion. That's rarely true with bad Atheists.
Why would an atheist justify his reaction using his religion if he has none? He'd use something else, such as by abusing logic.
For bad atheists, one could cite the behavior of Communist overlords. Communism is officially atheistic. "Religion is the opiate of the people," remember?
The religious are conditioned to trust an authoritarian figure no matter what that figure commands them to do. In large groups the religious are frightening. Mass atrocities are not the hallmark of skeptics. They are the hallmark of people who will act on faith and throw away their individual morals.
That's too simple. What about all of the political movements, ethnic cleansing, and revolutions of the last century? These people weren't all acting on religious faith.
Not saying all of the deeds are based on religion, but on the conditioning to believe in authority fostered by centuries of religious bullshit. Do you think an average person would really murder another human being just because of their ethnicity without a predisposition to follow authority? I make no distinction between god and a dictator, they are one and the same.
This is what Hitchens means when he says it poisons everything.
I see what you mean. My point is that you can learn to follow authority in or outside of church and you can be motivated with or without religious faith to do horrific things.
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
― Steven Weinberg
Huh. I always thought that was a Frederick Douglass quote--or a Mark Twain quote. I did find another version of the quote (also from Steven Weinberg) where Weinberg actually makes that connection.
“Frederick Douglass told in his Narrative how his condition as a slave became worse when his master underwent a religious conversion that allowed him to justify slavery as the punishment of the children of Ham. Mark Twain described his mother as a genuinely good person, whose soft heart pitied even Satan, but who had no doubt about the legitimacy of slavery, because in years of living in antebellum Missouri she had never heard any sermon opposing slavery, but only countless sermons preaching that slavery was God's will. With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”
Frederick Douglass does talk about religion, too.
Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.”
No. There are horrible atheists and horrible believers.
I see what you mean, but I don't think you can take the behavior of the leadership of any religion (or the newer American religious cults you reference) and cast a judgement on the morality of the rest of that group. I agree that L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, and Televangelists engage(d) immoral behavior with a great deal of self-awareness and all the guilt of a psychopath.
Additionally, I have to say that choosing not to become the next Joseph Smith doesn't make you a paragon of virtue...it simply means you're not morally bankrupt. Let's not pat ourselves on the back for not being evil. Let's strive to be better than that...to hold the bar higher.