Are Atheists Morally Superior to Religious Fundamentalists?

Neece at Heaving Dead Cats offers 10 reasons why atheists are morally superior to religious fundamentalists:

No god tells me to hate gay people, so I have no reason to hate them. In fact I think if gay people love each other and want to get married, more power to them. Why should we stop love and caring? I encourage it.

No god tells me to pray instead of seek medical attention. I believe in all kinds of scientific research and medicine. I even believe in stem cell research. I also think a woman has a right to choose what to do with her body…

No god promises eternal life to me, so I understand that this life is precious. I take personal responsibility seriously, and I live my life the best way I can because it’s the only one I’ve got. I value the lives of others too, for the same reason…

There’s plenty more where those came from.

Of course, not all people of faith follow these principles — not even all who call themselves fundamentalist. But we all know or have heard of far too many people who do act like this — who claim that they know what it means to be “moral” and that we atheists couldn’t have any proper knowledge of that word without God.

Given a choice, would you rather live in a world full of “moral” atheists who create their own definition of the word or religious fundamentalists who strictly follow someone else’s definition?

I find that to be an easy choice.

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  • http://www.mindblink.org Linda

    Given a choice, would you rather live in a world full of “moral” atheists who create their own definition of the word or religious fundamentalists who strictly follow someone else’s definition?

    I’d rather live in a world full of people of all colors and beliefs so I continue to have a choice. I don’t want a world “full” of any one type of people.

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    I don’t think any one group is more or less moral than other groups. I think you can only talk about individuals and morality.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    writerdd, I don’t think it is helpful to speak of morality as if it were a individualistic enterprise, since morality helps us pool our efforts as a group and keep each of our individual interests from stomping on the others in the group. That’s a side point, though, that’s not related to the question of whether atheists are morally superior or not to fundies.

    I don’t see much point in even arguing over moral superiority, since it is so ill-defined.

  • http://www.mindblink.org Linda

    Clarification: I just realized that I wrote “people of all colors” above. I meant all colors of thought, not necessarily skin color. Although I do want to see that as well… :-)

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    J.J. I don’t think it is helpful to speak of morality as if it were a group enterprise, because you will find people of all different moral leanings and characteristics in any given group. Speaking as an ex-fundy and an atheist, there is no difference morally between the individuals in the two groups.

  • Cathy

    I didn’t like her support of the death penalty…The death penalty is disproportionately used on poor blacks and does not leave enough room for appeal, thereby permanently killing innocent people. Lethal injections can cause foot long chemical burns, and some people wake up and suffer terriblely as they die. It is actually considered cruelty to animals for an animal shelter to euthenize this way. Also, a death penalty case costs tax payers about six million dollars.

  • Justin jm

    I think the linked article makes one major mistake: assuming that (religious) morality is based solely on what a god supposedly wants. It seems that such a view on morality is depressingly common, but not all believers view morality strictly as a series of divine commands.

    Many believers understand that morality stems from concern for other people. So do many nonbelievers, but as writerdd said, you can’t judge anyone’s morality by group association.

  • Aj

    It’s a dumb question. What does “moral superiority” even mean? The supernatural elements that factor into religionists, not just fundamentalists, morality are almost certainly false, so they’re going to get things wrong. Also, what they consider moral is very different to what I consider moral. Atheists in the west are going to conform far greater to my judgement, so I would prefer atheists to fundamentalists.

    I don’t understand why:
    the murder of a person or goat would relinquish guilt.
    the guilt of someone should be passed onto their kin, even to their descendents who didn’t exist at the time.
    believing in things without evidence or reason is a good thing, rather than something that is dangerous and often leads to bad things.
    if someone finds something disgusting, they think that its immoral and others shouldn’t do it.
    tradition should be respected, when the only justification for it is that someone else did it, or that people have been doing it for a long time.
    people in your group are more valuable than people not in your group.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    J.J. I don’t think it is helpful to speak of morality as if it were a group enterprise, because you will find people of all different moral leanings and characteristics in any given group.

    That’s not a good enough reason to ignore that the concept of morality doesn’t make much sense in the context of an individual in isolation. The really basic moral rules, such as don’t steal, don’t kill, or the Golden Rule, all relate to how we behave toward one another. Indeed, differences in moral leanings wouldn’t be a source of tension or conflict if they didn’t relate to differing ideas as to what other people should or shouldn’t do.


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