Buttle's World

16 February, 2010

Can Atheists Be Good People?

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 11:36

This is an old trope of many religious people. To them, their religion or their deity is the source of morality, in which case those who reject gods and religion must be immoral.

New research shows that morality developed in humans independently of religion.

Considerable debate has surrounded the question of the origins and evolution of religion. One proposal views religion as an adaptation for cooperation, whereas an alternative proposal views religion as a by-product of evolved, non-religious, cognitive functions. We critically evaluate each approach, explore the link between religion and morality in particular, and argue that recent empirical work in moral psychology provides stronger support for the by-product approach. Specifically, despite differences in religious background, individuals show no difference in the pattern of their moral judgments for unfamiliar moral scenarios. These findings suggest that religion evolved from pre-existing cognitive functions, but that it may then have been subject to selection, creating an adaptively designed system for solving the problem of cooperation. (Emphasis added.)

Note that this sense of morality is found in children who have not yet had the possibility of religious indoctrination. There was a good episode of WNYC’s Radio Lab, Morality, dealing with this also.

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2 Comments »

  1. Nice article. It’s always entertaining to witness the Theists claim to morality.

    Also, if your looking for a reason to abandon the hopelessly bankrupt Republican party then this survey should provide food for thought..

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/35698_Poll-_Bad_Craziness_in_the_GOP_Base_Part_2

    Comment by bob — 17 February, 2010 @ 10:08

    • Poor Charles really kind of went off the deep end, there, didn’t he? I was going to do a blog post on that, but the executive summary is that he seems to think that “the right” is a who, not a what.

      That survey demonstrates nothing more shocking than that there are people with weird beliefs out there. I could find just as many on the Left or in the Democrat Party — if not more.

      Some of the responses aren’t even close to controversial, though. Anybody who doesn’t recognize Dear Leader as a socialist is as deluded as someone who believes the earth is 6,000 years old. That survey is pretty useless, as are most surveys.

      Comment by buttle — 17 February, 2010 @ 13:17


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