Religions of the World
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Atheists are just as ethical as churchgoers

Atheists 'just as ethical as churchgoers'


Atheists are just as ethical and have as strong a moral compass as churchgoers, new research shows.



People who have no religion know right from wrong just as well as regular worshippers, according to the study.



The team behind the research found that most religions were similar and had a moral code which helped to organise society.



But people who did not have a religious background still appeared to have intuitive judgments of right and wrong in common with believers, according to the findings, published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.



Dr Marc Hauser, from Harvard University, one of the co-authors of the research, said that he and his colleagues were interested in the roots of religion and morality.



"For some, there is no morality without religion, while others see religion as merely one way of expressing one's moral intuitions," he said.



The team looked at several psychological studies which were designed to test an individual’s morality.

Dr Hauser added: "The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.



"However, although it appears as if co-operation is made possible by mental mechanisms that are not specific to religion, religion can play a role in facilitating and stabilising co-operation between groups."



He added that the findings could help to explain the complex relationship between morality and religion.



"It seems that in many cultures religious concepts and beliefs have become the standard way of conceptualising moral intuitions,” he said.



"Although, as we discuss in our paper, this link is not a necessary one, many people have become so accustomed to using it, that criticism targeted at religion is experienced as a fundamental threat to our moral existence."



The news article:


Link to the actual journal article published in "Trends of Cognitive Science"

Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years 15 weeks
I wouldn't quite call myself an atheist, more like a skeptical science lover. Anyway... speaking as an atheist, there's no God watching us and caring for us. There's only us caring for us. If all I have is you, and all you have is me, shouldn't we love and care for each other more? God can't save and protect us. We must save and protect ourselves. At the same time, many good Christians see themselves as tools of the Lord, and do His work on a daily basis. I don't think religion has anything to do with how solid a person's morals are; I'm glad this study agrees.
UnDave35 UnDave35 6 years 15 weeks
It's sounds like people on both sides (athiests and people of faith), have issues. Not every Christian is a smug S.O.B., and not every athiest has the moral compass of a dung beetle. It's a dissappointment that both groups get judged by the worst among them.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 15 weeks
I agree. It's the superior, smug attitude they have when really they don't know anything more than the next person. Faith is not knowledge, not matter how strongly you "feel" about your faith.
PinkNC PinkNC 6 years 15 weeks
You know for people that's supposed to feel so much, they have no shame at all.
PinkNC PinkNC 6 years 15 weeks
This is what I want say to SOME people..... Just because I don't believe like you do doesn't make me immoral, cruel, confused in life, and also my soul is NOT damned to a literal Hell. I get so tired of so-called upstanding Christian's and their judgemental attitudes. They love to make other people feel REALLY bad about themselves, especially atheists, gays, and Muslims.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 15 weeks
I just thought I would post the article. I find it interesting that moral intuition are pretty much the same regardless if someone is religious or not, but that religion conceptualizes moral intuition. I find it disturbing though that people feel that criticism of religion is a threat to our moral existence.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years 15 weeks
The t-shirt was from a website that has stupid t-shirts college boys wear. When I searched "morals" under google images, it was probably the simplest image I found that didn't portray atheists or theists in a bad image.
PinkNC PinkNC 6 years 15 weeks
That t-shirt irritates the heck out of me. *If it's supposed to be meant for an atheist to wear* I get so tired of people judging them so harshly lately.