Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

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dustyroads
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Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by dustyroads »

I know many people who are Christian (as I am sure many of you do) some are more religious than others, but many claim a "moral superiority" or at the very least that athiests/agnostics are "morally inferior."

I recently realized that many of the people I associated with, I do so because they have a high standard of morality. What's odd is I don't associate with many Christian people. I asked myself why, and realized that many of the people I know who are Christian seem to have less morality than those who are without religion.

How can this be you ask? Simple: people who do not have a set of teachings to tell them what to do must actually ponder and have to live with the consequences. To a Christian it is either right or wrong in the eyes of god. "Thou shall not steal" so you don't steal. If a person kills someone, but feels that it is "god's work" they may not lose a lot of sleep. On the other hand, a person who only has themselves as a moral compass must think about the impact of their actions, "Do they have a family?" "How would I feel if this situation was reversed?"

Instead of looking inside and actually thinking about the ramifications of one’s actions a Christian will look to the bible to guide him/her. The issue is that this may be interpreted many ways.

Any other thoughts?
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fluffy
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Re: Are athiests/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by fluffy »

I don't know if religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are tied that closely to morality. I think a lot of Christian teachings do not encourage personal soul searching, it's more of "Here's the rule book, learn it and follow it." And while agnosticism/atheism may seem to encourage the use of ones own moral compass, there are many that simply act on instinct or emotion without any deeper thought at all.

"Morality", at its roots, takes much the same shape no matter what your belief system. Once all the crap is stripped away, once the anger, fear, personal agendas and outside influences are gone, then right and wrong tend to take on an absolute quality.
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Re: Are athiests/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by OREZ »

As to the original posted question I can only say this; A question which requires a sweeping generalization as an answer is not a basis for an intelligent discussion... Not that you will have any trouble finding participants from the usual crowd for yet another session of good old religion bashing.
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Re: Are athiests/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by Glacier »

OREZ wrote:As to the original posted question I can only say this; A question which requires a sweeping generalization as an answer is not a basis for an intelligent discussion... Not that you will have any trouble finding participants from the usual crowd for yet another session of good old religion bashing.

+1
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WhatThe

Re: Are athiests/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by WhatThe »

wHat actually are morals ? Is it something one is born with or taught? Or both?
And why does it go out the proverbial window when it's convenient?

I disagree Orez, they may be sweeping generalizations but OP has a line of thought that may be intersting if pursued in an unbiased manner.(no religion bashing)

Myself, I believe morals to be instict that has refined itself based on environmental dictation and pressures, and now education. In Very simply terms... The greater the struggle for life, the less likely "moral" conduct will be manifested.
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Re: Are athiests/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by Glacier »

I agree, WhatThe, that this thread has the potential to be an interesting topic, Unfortunately, when the OP used several fallacies including the Straw Man in the first paragraph, it sets a biased tone to the thread.

Onward and upward. :sleepdeprived:
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fluffy
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by fluffy »

Well it's not like self-righteousness isn't alive and well within the Christian community, luckily they are in a minority, just like people who wish to carry their atheism/agnosticism like some sort of badge of honour, it's not enough to just not believe in God, they have to be seen as such as if it adds some validation to their existence. While appearing to be from opposite ends of the scale, what these two groups do have in common is that they fall more under the heading of "talking the talk" rather than "walking the walk".

I think what I'm trying to say is that the existence of character faults (bad morality) is not dependent on religious beliefs, there are good and bad Christians, just as there are good and bad athiests/agnostics. If you're asking are there more immoral Christians than there are immoral atheists/agnostics then it would have to follow that yes there are, since there are more Christians than atheists/agnostics in total, but if you're looking for percentages then, all other things being equal, I'd guess they are the same.
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katzenjammer
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by katzenjammer »

This discussion kind of depends on how you define 'moral'.
From Wikipedia I found this---------
"A key issue is the meaning of the terms "moral" or "immoral". Moral anti-realism would hold that morality is derived from any one of the norms prevalent in society (cultural relativism), merely the speakers' sentiments (emotivism), or an unsupported belief that there are objective moral facts (moral nihilism). Like the cultural relativist, the moral relativist holds that there is no correct definition of right behavior, and that morality can only be judged with respect to particular situations within the standards of particular belief systems and socio-historical contexts. This position often cites empirical evidence from anthropology of sharply contrasting views of "good" as supporting its claims.[4] Poles apart are the views of moral realism, which hold that there are true moral statements that report objective moral facts. For example, while moral universalists might concede that forces of social conformity significantly shape individuals' "moral" decisions, they deny that those cultural norms and customs define morally right behavior. This may be the philosphical view propounded by supporters of the science of morality (ethical naturalists), however not all moral realists accept that position (e.g. ethical non-naturalists). Positions which claim that morality is derived from reasoning about implied imperatives (universal prescriptivism), the edicts of a god (divine command theory), or the hypothetical decrees of a perfectly rational being (ideal observer theory), are considered anti-realist in one ("robust") sense, but are considered realist in the sense synonymous with moral universalism.

A disambiguation in the usage of the word 'morality' can be made. In teleological ethics the word 'moral' is used as a synonym for ethical. In deontological ethics the word 'moral' is used in a more narrow sense: that act of which one can at the same time will that it becomes a universal law[5]. A remarkable consequence of this is that teleological ethics is immoral from a deontological viewpoint."

That should probably kill this thread----sorry

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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by fluffy »

Sorry, all them ten dollar words have me boggled. I'm gonna need a translation.
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by subversionist »

I like the way Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 13 essentially saying the religion that does not lead to love is worthless and irrational.

I think a big part of the problem for us Christians is we've been more worried about being right than being good. I don't think you can be one without the other.

Whoever says "I am in the light," while hating a brother or sister is still in the darkness. James 2:9
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by dustyroads »

It was never my intention to "bash" religion. Every person is their own, and I would never assume anything about an individual.

I think there are two differences in thought process that will effect a person's decisions:

1) Interpretation. Any written religion will have many interpretations; People may also choose to focus more on some parts than others. When you want something to be true, it can be a lot easier to find justification for your actions. If a person has no teachings to guide them in how to act, what do they base their decisions on? A christian might ask, "What would Jesus do?" or "what scripture applies here?" while a non-religious person might ask themselves "What if everyone did this?"

2) Accountability. We are all accountable for our actions, but there are differences between religious and non-religious people. e.g. a Christian is accountable to god. A non-religious person is accountable to themselves. I think that by being accountable to only yourself can make a person think a little closer about their actions. By being accountable to someone or something else, the blame can be taken off someone (e.g. it was god's will)
WhatThe

Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by WhatThe »

dustyroads wrote:It was never my intention to "bash" religion. Every person is their own, and I would never assume anything about an individual.

I think there are two differences in thought process that will effect a person's decisions:

1) Interpretation. Any written religion will have many interpretations; People may also choose to focus more on some parts than others. When you want something to be true, it can be a lot easier to find justification for your actions. If a person has no teachings to guide them in how to act, what do they base their decisions on? A christian might ask, "What would Jesus do?" or "what scripture applies here?" while a non-religious person might ask themselves "What if everyone did this?"
most certainly written script can be open to interptretRion , we see it in the fact there are different sects for the same religion. On that note however I dint thnk jesuses personal teaching are, apple falling far from the tree or he without sin cast the first stone sort of stuff. I don't believe in a creator, not in the sense religion shows. Jesus howver was a real historical person wise beyond his years. The things he's said are quite profound and I've felt that if ever there was a moral person it would be he. Some years ago I watched a vid clip of group of women opposed to the Vietnam war speaking before and to congress they said (paraphrased) " if Jesus was standing right here, would you still justify and continue the heavy bombing?". The what would Jesus do thing has stuck with me ever since, how could anyone justify mass murder or war to a man so full of love and wisdom, a man capable of such sacrifice on behalf of others.
2) Accountability. We are all accountable for our actions, but there are
differences between religious and non-religious people. e.g. a Christian is accountable to god. A non-religious person is accountable to themselves. I think that by being accountable to only yourself can make a person think a little closer about their actions. By being accountable to someone or something else, the
blame can be taken off someone (e.g. it was god's will)

even though were accountable to our own actions, we are also accountable to others because invariably our actions will have some sort of consequence for others. I think this is instinct to recognize this. today things are vastly different than for our ancestors, where literal survival depended on the clan or tribal unit. For example, safety in numbers or why kill the hunter that brings you dinner. If there was a free for all how would we ever made it as a species. It's very complicated and very hard to put into words. Animals don't operate on cognitive decisions but on instinct and emotion, much like we do, and some species. Theres a bird for example(I can't remember the name) that will push the eggs of another species out of the nest and then lay her own to let them be incubated by the "duped" bird. Is that immoral? To the offending bird, no , it is a survival strategy that works for them.
Just a few of my thoughts hopefully they are understandable.
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Tumult
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by Tumult »

dustyroads wrote:
2) Accountability. We are all accountable for our actions, but there are differences between religious and non-religious people. e.g. a Christian is accountable to god. A non-religious person is accountable to themselves. I think that by being accountable to only yourself can make a person think a little closer about their actions. By being accountable to someone or something else, the blame can be taken off someone (e.g. it was god's will)


Non-religious people are just as likely to seek or create impersonal reasons to account for their actions e.g. Cheating on your partner is the result of our genetic programming for reproduction; or the perennial favorites of blaming it on society, upbringing or television.
Someone who feels that they are accountable only to themselves has only to justify any action within their own mind while those who feel accountable to others (family, society, a supernatural being, etc.) have more reason to temper their actions.
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by rideforever »

OP wrote:Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?



[Religion bashing]
I think they are, for the reason you stated. Some people think for themselves about morals, some people do what they're told. Atheists tend to fall in the prior, churchies, the latter.

That's one of my biggest problems with religion.
[/Religion bashing]
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Re: Are atheists/agnostics more moral than Christians?

Post by fluffy »

rideforever wrote: Some people think for themselves about morals, some people do what they're told.


When devoted to the teachings of a particular religion, devotees don't often look past those teachings for alternate points of view, hence a narrower view than those who draw on wider sources. This doesn't necessarily mean atheists and agnostics, as many of those by their very nature spurn the teachings of any and all religions, most of which have some decent behavioral guidelines. People who "think for themselves" are limited to their personal education and experience as a source upon which to make moral (or immoral) decisions, so the simple fact of being an atheist or agnostic does not in itself bring with it a heightened level of morality any more than sitting in a church would automatically make one a "good christian".
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