The Morality of Atheism

Topics: God, Religion, Morality Pages: 4 (1183 words) Published: August 10, 2005
That there is a difference between religion and morality is uncontroversial. How can atheism be interpreted as a moral alternative? Although religion and morality reflect different values, they are deeply tangled for most individuals. In many cases, a person's moral principles are grounded in religious commitments. In other cases, people find the source of morality outside of religion, such as the inherent value of all human beings. My central claim is that atheism rather than a theologically based value system offers the moral high ground.

Theism is defined as the belief in a God or Gods. The term theism is sometimes used to designate the belief in a particular kind of god the personal God of monotheism but, theism signifies the belief in any god or number of Gods. The prefix a means without, so the term, a-theism literally means without theism, or without belief in a God or Gods. Atheism, therefore, is the absence of theistic belief. One who does not believe in the existence of a God or supernatural being is properly designated as an atheist.

Atheism is sometimes defined as the belief that there is no God of any kind, or the claim that a God cannot exist. While these are categories of atheism, they do not exhaust the meaning of atheism, and they are somewhat misleading with respect to the basic nature of atheism. Atheism, in its basic form, is not a belief it is the absence of belief. An atheist is not primarily a person who believes that a god does not exist; rather, he does not believe in the existence of a God.

What propels people toward atheism is above all a sense of revulsion against the excesses and failures of organized religion. Atheism is ultimately a worldview of fear a fear, often merited, of what might happen if religious maniacs were to take over the world. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. (Psalms 14.1)

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