Are atheists immoral?

Posted: May 31st 2007

Dave Hitt www

Some are, most aren’t.

About 10% of Americans are atheists. If atheist’s morality matched theist’s morality you’d expect 10% of the prison population would be atheist. (Law abiding and moral are not the exact same thing, but there is a strong correlation.) If they were less moral, more than 10% of prisoners would be atheists.

The percentage of atheists among prisoners is .2%. Two tenths of one percent. What does that say about our morality?

Posted: September 16th 2008

See all questions answered by Dave Hitt

SmartLX www

There are enough instances of moral behaviour among enough atheists in this world to support me when I say no to this gross generalisation. Start with Atheist Volunteers for one big example.

A counter-question should be put to any believer who asks this: since athiests can so obviously be moral, how is it so if morality requires divine laws?

Posted: November 19th 2007

See all questions answered by SmartLX

Russell Blackford www

Atheists are at least as capable of being kind, loyal, peaceful, generous, and courageous as anyone else. No supernatural beings have to exist for those to be accepted as good characteristics.

The concern may be that some elements of traditional morality could not be justified except on a religious basis. Those include the ideas that piety, faith, and sexual puritanism are virtues. In my opinion, at least, we should be upfront about the fact that those things are not virtues – to consider them so is a warped view of morality.

Posted: June 8th 2007

See all questions answered by Russell Blackford

bitbutter www

Not believing in gods makes you no more or less likely to behave immorally because our morality doesn’t come from a holy book or a god. There are several reasons to come to this conclusion.

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies

  • We have much more solid explanations of where we get our morality from by looking at ideas from the fields of evolutionary biology, neuroscience and social anthropology.

Sam Harris elaborates on these points in his article The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos.

Posted: June 6th 2007

See all questions answered by bitbutter


Evolutionary biology and neuroscience are some of the scientific disciplines which have presented evidence showing human morality is hard-wired. For example, empathy is an innate human trait and contributes greatly to morality.

In the light of this evidence, it is not surprising to discover through historical research that the Golden Rule, that is, treating others as you would like to be treated, predates the Bible. The Bible, itself, contains many passages condoning activities like rape, murder, and slavery. However, societal morality has since slowly evolved to the present stage where many societies regard those acts as immoral and criminal.

In summary, atheists and theists both operate from the same, human base of morality, regardless of their secular or religious stance.

Posted: May 31st 2007

See all questions answered by logicel


Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum