"Despite not believing in God, and not believing in an afterlife where I might be rewarded or punished for my behaviour, I try to be a good person. That's the most any of us can do." - Alom Shaha, The Young Atheist's Handbook.

It's a favourite argument of the Theists: 'How can you be good without God?'

Even supposedly 'enlightened' Theologians (mean?) like William Lane Craig stick by it, dragging the masses along with them. It's a powerful argument, precisely because the assumption of moral superiority is not something with which people have much incentive to wrestle with, I suspect. After all, if you can claim to give black and white, definitive answers straight from the creator of the universe, why even bother to listen to those who can't?

It's funny then, that many once-steadfast believers leave religion behind precisely for moral reasons - and years can go by before they even encounter the 'intellectual' arguments for their non-belief. We're emotional, social creatures, and the difference between 'right' and 'wrong' is important to us, whatever it means.

While I have no trouble admitting that I feel that most scripture - be it the Bible, or Qur'an, or Torah etc - with it's claims of moral certainties stuck millennia behind anything we know today regarding informed scientific opinion (such as the general consensus of psychology and neuroscience regarding mental illness, for example) is not very moral, I will admit that the vast majority of those subscribing to scriptural schools of thought are, in fact, nice people (despite the bits in their holy books that condone rape and slavery). It simply is true that the more secular a country is the more likely it is to accept homosexuality, gender equality, the rights of the child etc - but on the level of individuals, no complete assumptions of character should be made.

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Tags: Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Morality, Religion, Shaha, YAH


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