Saturday, April 30, 2011

The moral high ground may belong to the non-religious

You can find it here- http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-do-americans-still-dislike-atheists/2011/02/18/AFqgnwGF_story.html


Here is a snippet:
"Is this knee-jerk dislike of atheists warranted? Not even close.

A growing body of social science research reveals that atheists, and non-religious people in general, are far from the unsavory beings many assume them to be. On basic questions of morality and human decency — issues such as governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation or human rights — the irreligious tend to be more ethical than their religious peers, particularly compared with those who describe themselves as very religious."

Citations from the article to other research were interesting reading (in particular Zuckerman)

HH. =)

3 comments:

shane said...

I think what Nietzsche had to say about the genealogy of morals plays a role in common perceptions of atheism. The problem is that ethical behavior and christian behavior have been conflated, confined by what Nietzsche calls the slave ethic--so there isn't any way an atheist can declare him/herself moral and non-christian at once. And while we've become a more secular society, we haven't yet invented a new moral system to replace the old Master (Classical) and Slave (Christian) ethics we've inherited. And sometimes atheists perpetuate the problem by unconsciously subscribing to the old ethics and looking to those old ethics to denounce christian oppression. I'm not exactly sure what the new ethics should be (and I'm not sold on Nietzsche's Will to Power as an alternative), but I'd like atheists in general to work more on creating that alternative. In my view, that would make the movement a lot less reactionary than it is under the current "New Atheists" leadership--and then I might wear my membership badge more often. What d'ya think? Maybe the exmo blogger crew can create a new ethic for the world at our next get together!

Rod said...

The article certainly confirms my real-life observations, both as a child growing up in a conservative church and as an adult atheist.

However, I would guess that this article would be dismissed out of hand by most religious types as it doesn't fit in with their worldview.

HH said...

shane, a new ethics is certainly called for. Given that Ron has read Sam Harris' latest tome on the moral lanscape, I think the Gnu Atheists may have more to say on this issue. I think the axiom of "redued suffering" is a decent starting point.

Rod, I agree. Most would dismiss it before even reading it. Sad but true. You need to join our blogger-fest coming up soon since you will be living here. I need another empiricist to balance those wacko postmodernistas. *wink*

Trav out.