If you want to infuriate an atheist, here’s a quick and easy solution: offer the opinion that atheists can’t be morally good. Even more, if you want to lead an atheist right up to the edge of apoplectic infuriation, tell him or her: “You can’t be good without God.”
The science vs. religion debate can generate some pretty animated conversations. And the more specific question of morality seems to generate some of the strongest feelings on both sides – often more heat than light. This particular blog post represents one brief exploration of that contentious question: Can atheists be good?
My answer to the question is, in the first instance, a resounding YES. At one level it’s a simple matter of logic, since what has been done can be done. We all know of good atheists: ipso facto, atheists can be morally good.
Indeed, I don’t doubt that an atheist could live a life that is morally superior to that of religious believer. An atheist may demonstrate a more loving attitude toward her spouse, or a more generous attitude with his money, or greater courage in the face of fear. Without believing in a supernatural source of morality, an atheist can live a life that is morally superior to someone who believes in just such a source. Continue reading