One of my readers suggested that
this article, a discussion of a recent Pew study on attitudes toward religion, might be good fodder for my blog. I agree wholeheartedly… there is a lot that can be discussed here. I suspect that much if the distrust of atheists comes from a lack of understanding of where atheists might possibly get morals or ethics. This reader suggestion came close on the heels of the following image making it across my Facebook feed:
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek response:
Christians say they believe in God
I most definitely do not believe in Christians. I don’t find any logical reason that suggests a Christian should be trusted, since they claim that truth is absolute, morality is objective, they adhere to biblical standards, and answer to a higher power.
In other words, Christians are their own arbiters of morality, considering their imperfect interpretations of a self-contradictory millennia-old mythology to be absolute and above question. Considering the fact that the average Christian probably understands less than a tiny fraction of one percent of all knowledge in the universe, to call their perspective foolish would be an outrageous understatement.
So, what would be the rationale for trusting someone who sees no reason to not lie or act foolishly save for a threat of divine punishment, much less kill you for whatever divine justification he finds in his unassailable holy book?
I can think of none.
That’s okay, I don’t believe in Christians
As I said, this was at least partially tongue in cheek; it does, however, get at a very important stumbling block in the communication between atheists and believers. Believers are often so mistrustful of even the barest hint of moral relativism that they cling tightly to what they perceive to be the absolutes provided by divine authority. Nonbelievers, on the other hand, are often so mistrustful of the historical changeability of the interpretations believers have used of their holy books that they dismiss the possibility of absolutes.
What is often missed by the believers is that because of this distrust of claimed absolutes, nonbelievers often genuinely consider believers to be less moral.
I have another essay in the hopper concerning morality and ethics, but here’s a preview. While I don’t necessarily believe in the big-G good, I do believe in the big-B better. Given a situational context, choices can in fact be weighed against each other. More on this when I get to that essay.