Morality & Politics

Atheist Morality

One of the most popular creationist attacks upon evolution theory (and science in general) is the moral attack. As the argument goes, science, evolution theory, and atheists are immoral, so they must all be wrong. This is a bizarre and logically indefensible argument; there are a lot of things about nature which are brutal and which may strike us as immoral, but that doesn't change the fact that they exist!

Even if we were to accept the nonsensical argument that a scientific theory can be judged by the morality of its proponents, would the "moral argument" hold water? In order to for it to hold water, one would have to first show that atheists are immoral, and not only have creationists never produced a shred of evidence, but they've never even tried. As far as they're concerned, it's an unquestionable truth and no evidence is required.

In "1984", George Orwell's totalitarian state altered the language and created "NewSpeak" because its leaders understood that if you can control the language, you can control the way people think. Did Orwell invent that idea? Hardly. Any student of the English language can see that this is precisely how religionists have been subtly influencing people's thinking for centuries. The growth of the English language has taken place under the care of evangelical Christians, and it should come as no surprise that it was deliberately designed to glorify religion and vilify rationalism. The word "materialism" refers to the idea that the material universe is all that exists (ie- the atheist viewpoint), but it is also synonymous with greed and selfishness. The word "faith" describes religion, but the word "faithful" describes trustworthiness and loyalty. In other words, the English language itself subtly reinforces the idea that religion is virtuous and atheism is immoral!

The English word "atheism" has a literal meaning, which is simply non-theism. Therefore, it is defined in most dictionaries as the absence of theism, or the refusal to believe in a God or gods. However, the Third Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary (copyright 1992,1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company) still retains an older definition which happens to be quite convenient for the fundamentalist hate-mongers:


  1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
  2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
  3. Godlessness; immorality.

Did you notice the third definition? According to the American Heritage Dictionary as of 1996, atheism is immorality! What is it about America that breeds Christian fundamentalism? Why should it surprise no one that the "American Heritage" dictionary still shows the ancient 18th century definition of atheism as "immorality"? Whatever the reasons, America is a land of overt hostility towards atheism, and the continued use of the above definition is only a minor symptom. Perhaps the Minnesota Atheists put it best:

"Religionists regularly slander atheists as immoral and it goes far beyond a difference of opinion. Because of our supposed immorality, for which no evidence is ever given, we are barred from admission to organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the VFW and the American Legion. We are insulted publicly by clergy of all faiths, who seem to consider us unworthy to be citizens of the United States. A climate of opinion is created in which the chances of a known atheist being elected to office, no matter how ethical and well qualified, are slim to none."

They aren't exaggerating. In the 2000 federal election, both prospective leaders loudly and repeatedly bragged about their piety, in an obvious attempt to court the religious bigot vote. Newsweek magazine commented that it doesn't matter which religion a candidate belongs to, as long as he is religious. The notion that "religious piety = moral fortitude" is deeply ingrained into the public consciousness, and no one ever stops to consider how hateful its consequences are: if piety is morality, then a lack of piety (ie- atheism) must be immorality! And with that, millions of Americans are instantly slandered as immoral, perverse degenerates who are unfit to hold public office. In fact, the state of Texas is one of several states which has even enshrined this bigoted policy into law: its state constitution bars anyone from public office if he does not acknowledge the "existence of a Supreme Being".

Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever for religionists' bizarre assumption that atheists are immoral, and while it would be considered hateful to make similar attacks upon Jews or Muslims, no one raises an eyebrow at this continued, public mistreatment of atheists. These pages were written with the goal of explaining, in some detail, the following points:

  1. Christians have been systematically rewriting history in order to pretend that Christianity versus Atheism is symbolic of Good versus Evil. We are never allowed to forget evil atheists (eg. Stalin), but evil Christians receive a distinctly different treatment. Their crimes are minimized or forgotten, and their religious affiliations are either concealed or misrepresented as atheism.
  2. You don't need faith in God in order to be moral.
  3. Humanist morality is universal, while Biblical morality is not.
  4. Humanist sexual liberation is not the assault on family values that the fundamentalists seem to think it is.
  5. Humanists are no more likely to commit immoral acts than Christians.

Continue to 1. Was Hitler an Atheist?

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