I’m an atheist, and I’m fed up with religious people – mostly american christians and british muslims – telling me I must be a bad person.
Why must I be? That’s simple. Without a god constantly watching me, what’s to stop me being a murderer, thief or rapist? There is the simple fact that I’m not a thief, murderer or rapist. I treat people well. So where have they gone wrong?
I think this says far more about the people saying it than me. In the last week I’ve been told that “Atheists can rape with a clear conscience” and “Where’s your rule book to stop you“.
I’ll tell you. It’s called a conscience. I don’t commit crimes or hurt people because I think it’d be wrong to do it. I treat people the way I hope they’d treat me if our circumstances were reversed. Christians will tell you that’s what Jesus meant when he said “Do unto others as you’d have done unto you“.
But why did Jesus need to tell people that? Isn’t decency instinctive?
These people seem to be saying that the only thing stopping them from being thieves, rapists and murderers is the belief that god will see them and send them to Hell when they die. Considering I behave well despite not having that fear, doesn’t that make me a good person and them simply bad people? How are they better than me because they need to be constantly watched just to make sure they behave well?
What’s more, I think it makes these people fundamentally amoral.
Morality is about doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. That’s me. That’s what I do.
But if you’re only doing the right thing because you’re being watched, and you expect a reward if you do well or a punishment if you do badly, that’s not morality. That’s pragmatism. You’re really doing it for you, not for the stranger you’re helping (or choosing not to rob, rape or kill).
So I humbly submit that not only are atheists not bad people, we are more moral than than those whose good behaviour is religiously inspired.
Perhaps this is why across the western world religious people are proportionately over represented in prisons, and atheists vastly under represented compared to their national demographic.