Are Atheists really just as Moral as Christians?

Are Atheists really just as Moral as Christians?

One of the complaints that I often hear is that “Atheists are just as moral as Christians are”. The response is usually made when I present the Moral Argument. Well I always try to clarify that I never said or meant that atheists ARE immoral, just that they have no rational basis for their morality. And this is partly because we can always argue that expedience is always better, e.g. killing all the weak is actually better for society; stealing when no one will ever find out, will help preserve your genes; lying when you can’t get caught will help you make headway in society (and if YOU are better FOR society than all those other fools, then it will be good for society if YOU get ahead) etc.

On the contrary, Christians say character is based on “What you do when you know that you will never be found out,” regardless of the expediency.

But now suddenly there’s a glitch. Researchers in 4 independent and separate studies have found that conservatives are indeed much more “honest” and “moral” than “progressives.”

In the San Francisco Examiner Commentary – Peter Schweizer claims that “Conservatives are more honest than liberals”. –

He actually phrases it as a question, but the conclusion is that conservatives ARE more honest. (click on the link).

Now as you read it you’ll realize that he’s not talking about atheists or Christians specifically, but if you are out there and are an atheist and not a liberal/progressive, I want to talk to you. I’d be very interested in picking your brain. I don’t run into too many of those (I did once, i.e. a conservative atheist, but he became a Christian within 6 months of me meeting with him on a regular basis and giving him “The Case for Christ”).

As I see it, atheists are a subset of the superset of secular progressives. And while Christians are indeed a subset of conservatives, we all know that they are a majority of them in the United States where these surveys were taken. (Correct me if I am wrong).

Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I will stop trusting my atheist friends. I know them too well. I just had lunch with one of them last week and he’s a guy I’d trust with my life and fortune. I say this lest you think I actually think all atheists are not moral.

But point 1 is that:

It does seem to indicate that there may now be some statistical validity to the fact that if there really is no rational basis for your morality, one tends to be less moral. What say you?

Is this a valid conclusion?

This also lends itself to the second point/question:

  1. If it is true that morality is “good,” for society (and I surmise this from even the atheists’ vehement claim that they are also moral – so presumably morality is a plus for society even in their eyes)
  2. And it is true that conservatives and Christians are much much more moral than atheists and liberals

Does this not mean that the more GENUINE (and I emphasize that on purpose), the more genuine conservatives and Christians we have, the better for ALL of society?

In which case, shouldn’t even atheists encourage the Christians to continue what they are doing (including evangelizing) so they improve society for all of us?

Just wondering. Naturally next week a new study could come out that refutes these 4 studies, but since that hasn’t happened and we are scientists and philosophers that work with the facts that we have at the moment (and not hope for a future “revelation”), if these studies are true what does this mean? I could be wrong but it does seem to imply something along the lines of the two conclusions I’ve argued for.

Neil Mammen


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