The Point

The Point: Are Atheists Less Moral?


John Stonestreet

It’s an age-old question… For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

According to a new survey, most people view atheists as immoral—even other atheists view atheists this way… The research, published in Nature and Human Behavior, shows that religious belief is widely seen as a safeguard against immorality, while “atheists are broadly perceived as potentially morally depraved and dangerous.”

So, even those who reject God suspect it’s hard to be good without Him. But are atheists really worse people? Since so many who identify as religious live as practical atheists, that’s a tough question. Statistically, professing atheists don’t commit more crimes, and professing Christians sometimes act terribly.

This survey indicates, though, that folks understand intuitively that atheism lacks both a motivation to be moral, and an explanation of what morality is. If we’re just cosmic accidents it’s hard to explain justice, mercy, honesty, and altruism. The real question is not “can we be good without God?” but, “what is good, without God?”



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