Christian lies about atheists – part 1 – lack of morality

disraeli quote

One of the most frequent lies Christians (and adherents of other faiths) spew from the mountain top is that atheists can have no morality since morality comes from God.   Case in point:


What  a piece of work, huh?  So much Christinsanity contained in one minute, it is truly breathtaking.

Now, let’s change up a little bit of what he says about dating and see where that takes us, shall we?

From the video:
Behar: “…a woman shouldn’t go out with a man who doesn’t believe in god?”
Harvey: “No, why would you?”

Now let’s change it up a bit.
Behar:  “…a woman shouldn’t go out with a black guy?”
Harvey: “No, why would you?”
Behar: “…a woman shouldn’t go out with a jew?”
Harvey: “No, why would you?”
Behar: “…a woman shouldn’t go out with a Christian?”
Harvey: “No, why would you?”
I threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention.  Seriously, how does he get away with this stuff?

Wait, wait I have one:
Behar: “…a woman shouldn’t go out with a dumbass bigoted comedian game show host?”
Foxhole Atheist: “No, why would you?”

Now, getting back to business. Believers argue that there must be some absolute (objective) moral benchmark, and only God can provide this.  Otherwise, how can we know to be moral if it is left to each individual to determine what is moral (subjective)?  Well, without delving into philosophical arguments for why this position is not sound (to glimpse such arguments, you are encouraged to read this short piece, I will muster more prosaic arguments.  First, I ask what is the believer’s source of knowledge of God’s moral edicts.  It has to come from scripture, unless God has directly spoken to the believer, and this is what I hear most often – that it is in the bible (I live in a predominantly Christian society, but I am sure adherents to other monotheistic faiths would make the same claim).  However, this cannot possibly be, as we currently do not countenance slavery (Exodus 21:2) nor killing of rude and disrespectful children by their parents (Exodus 21:17), and myriad other morally questionable edicts in the bible.  So when believers read scripture and do not follow these directives they are utilizing moral positions from without and not deriving these positions from within scripture.

So where do these morals come from?  Well I hazard they come from the same place as the morals of atheists.  We are of one species, and are social animals, and our morals derive from maximizing our species fitness.  And some aspects of morality change over time, which is a good thing.  See slavery, and increasing human rights for women and homosexuals and other minorities as examples of changing morality.

The second line of argument is the evidence that atheists do in fact have morals, or in any case act as if guided by morality.  We do not act more callously nor more immorally than people of faith.  I have never had the urge to murder someone, rape someone, steal from someone, nor have I disrespected my parents, and I have been happily married for almost 20 years without ever having committed adultery.  That accounts for five of the big ten (commandments), and I have not yet had any opportunity or desire to falsely testify against my neighbor, so I am good on 6 of the ten big ones.  For the other four, they are all about being subservient or worshiping the big guy in the sky and are not really about morality in the first instance.  So I am afraid I have contravened those four.  I am sure the majority of fellow atheists can make the same claims.  In fact, we atheists are either under-represented or at the most equally represented (based on percentage of population) with people of faith in the American prison system.  A recent Pew Research Center survey of prison chaplains has reported the highest percent yet (~11%), but the catchment group was those without religious preference and not solely atheist so the percentage is likely lower.  So it is clear that atheists have morals, and are at least no less moral that believers. Given that atheists can be moral without God, we must dismiss the claim that we need God to have morality.

To finish off this post, I will raise a few questions.  Imagine a scenario whereby 2 people have the opportunity to take the money from an unmanned cash register; neither take the money.  One of the two people have the belief that he/she is being surveilled by an all-knowing, all-powerful, moral authority.  The other person has no such belief.  Are they both acting morally?  Is one morally superior to the other?  If so, which one?

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  • sam jam

    I’m Christian but I haven’t seen any more atheists who are immoral than I’ve seen Christians who are immoral. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with religion. Rather, it seems to be a matter of a person’s own values. They also say there are no atheists in foxholes…I’m ex-military and I can tell you that too is absolutely false. I’ve also studied many near death experiences where the atheist had a heavenly experience and not a hellish one. So maybe people need to start questioning their own understanding of morality, and the Bible they use to condemn so many people.

    • Hi sam jam,

      Thanks for the comment. I am often told that morality comes from scripture, which is the word of for the Christians (and other religious folks) that I have spoken with, the ultimately morality is derived from god. And without belief in god there is no morality to be had. I would like to ask what you regard as the source of morality?

    • daisy1968

      I agree…I really feel that whether or not you’re a moral person has little to do with your views on religion. Some people just seem to have an inner moral compass that tells them that certain things are wrong (genetics? upbringing?), while others don’t. I don’t feel that anyone stops and consciously uses the bible as a guideline when choosing how to act on a moment to moment basis.

  • Who is the author of the quote?