A Facebook "friend" recently posted a link to this article which discusses a study which seems to show that Atheists are distrusted about as much as rapists are.
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in.
It is believed by some researchers that this has something to do with the fact that many people believe a person cannot be moral without religious belief.
I take issue with that view. Understandably.
I took a deep breath and commented on the post with:
What I find interesting is the notion that some people have that one cannot be moral without a belief in a deity - as if the only thing that is keeping Christians from breaking the 10 commandments with abandon is that they are afraid they will go to hell.
[I found it amusing that my comment was initially misunderstood by someone who stated, frostily, that not all Christians avoid certain activities because they fear hell. I noted that this was my point and we continued.]
See... morality does not appear to come from religion but from society, itself. Children from all different backgrounds are taught right from wrong, good from bad - and we don't need a belief in a deity to tell us which is which.
Oftentimes a person will say that they believe that their deity dictates what is right but this argument doesn't hold water. If a god tells you to torture a child to make him behave, for example, that isn't going to make it morally right, is it? Of course not. The argument that your deity wouldn't tell to do something that wasn't right doesn't work, either, as that proves that morality exists outside of the deity, now doesn't it?
No... the only conclusion I can come to is that one group of people have as much of a chance of being "moral" as any other group of people. That is: We all follow the norms of the society we live in, for the most part. [Yes. There are certainly exceptions but those people are not more likely to be Atheists than believers.]
Personally, I think this study shows that non-believers have their work cut out for themselves. It's time to step out of the closet and show other people that we are "normal" folks just like them. After all, I think I'm fairly average - and moral - and I'm an Atheist.
Image courtesy of NASA