Are Atheism and morality contradictory?

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Answered by: Adam, An Expert in the Ethics and Issues of Morality Category
Atheism, as many people already know, is a belief that there is no God, or any other supreme being that rules over human kind. Focusing on science, critical thinking, and the general belief in people; atheists seek to live a life that is about knowledge and facts as they are able to be seen and proven. On top of that, many are fierce political activists, who try to get religion out of our laws and schools, so that we may progress as a society.

Recently, it seems that there has been a large increase in people who identify as atheist, as culture starts to move away from the various churches, and more toward fact based information that is easily spread via schools and the internet. Strangely this has brought up, at least in America, the problem of ethics and issues of morality.

This trend toward atheism seems to have many people that are religious worried that their way of life and everything they were taught will be destroyed. Some believe that atheists are a work of the devil, a notion that would be impossible if there is no God, and thus no devil.

Along these lines, there are people of religious belief that feel that if you are atheist, than you have no moral compass and have no knowledge of right versus wrong. Those people feel that only religion and the Bible can give a person that knowledge, or that without fearing in a God, a person has no reason to not do wrong. They feel that atheism and morality cannot coexist and are contradictory.

Recently, Phil Roberson, a member of a reality show about a family owned hunting supply company, illustrated this feeling that atheists are immoral. He brought the topic of atheist ethics and morality to the spotlight at a prayer breakfast he was a guest at in Florida. He used a graphic hypothetical story about a family and a house invasion, where the criminals raped and murdered the homeowners family in front of him, all while taunting him, that since the homeowner thinks there is no God, than there is nothing wrong with what they were doing. The end of his statement is enough, and the least graphic part, to make it clear how he feels:

"...hold it in front of him and say 'wouldn't it be something if this was something wrong with this, but you’re the one who says there's no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong…. so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head'...."

People like Mr. Roberson feel that atheists just can't live a moral life, because for them, only religion gives someone the sense of right or wrong. For them, atheism and morality are like oil and water. But isn't that kinda the same opinion held by extremist Muslims against Christians? Either way, it is an extremist view, and not one all religious people hold, but like many minorities factions with a vulgar opinion, they are usually the loudest.

The truth is, morality is ingrained in us as humans and taught to us by our family and our peers. We inherently know not to harm someone or to do ill and we are able to show that those people who don't actually know those basic principles have medically evident issues that require medication and/or therapy.

So Is it possible to live a moral life, while being an atheist? The answer is yes, of course an atheist can live a moral life, just as any Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Wiccan. Because religion is not the determining factor for morality, nor is it the basis who a person really is.

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