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Answer Yes. Atheists may be better people than some religious people.

Answer There is no simple "yes" or "no" answer to this question. The Chambers Dictionary's first definitions of morality are: "relating to character or conduct consider as good or evil; ethical; adhering to or directed towards what is right." This raises the question of what is good/evil or right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable and who decides what is good/evil, right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable for morality cannot be discussed without giving them consideration.

1. The Individual There are those who argue that something is acceptable/unacceptable based o

n what an individual believes; in other words, there is no objective criteria. What may be wrong/unacceptable for one person may be right/acceptable for another. The challenge to this view is that, on a practical level it can give licence to do anything and would make laws unenforceable. It would give justification to those who rape, murder or abuse children; all things which the vast majority of people find reprehensible.

2. Society Others are of the opinion that right/wrong is based upon what is good for the harmonious ordering of society. They see the need for some kind of objective moral code. Thus laws against murder, stealing and rape may be based on principles found in religious texts, but their value lies in that they promote harmony, peace and stability; there is no need for a religious underpinning of these moral codes.

The challenge to this view is that certain societies have enacted laws, and behaved in a manner which many find morally unacceptable. One needs only to think of the perfectly legal actions taken by the Nazis against such groups as Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and the mentally challenged. One may also consider the more recent prejudicial laws against black people in the Southern USA, the laws which discriminated against Catholics in Northern Ireland until the mid 1970s or South African apartheid which ended only in the 1990s. The Nazi state may not have been harmonious, peaceful and stable but the Southern states, Northern Ireland and South African were certainly considered to be stable and relatively peaceful. One also has to ask some questions: (a) are things morally acceptable simply because they are legal and designed to promote a safe and stable society - as they were in all of the above cases? (b) Are current laws restricting the freedom of women (and in some cases, regarding them as being subject to men) in certain Arab states considered to be moral; after all, they are designed to facilitate an harmonious society. 3. God People of faith believe that basing morality on individual preference leads to self-centredness and societal chaos. Likewise, basing morality solely on the beliefs of a particular society leads to equating morality with legality and thus potentially makes an act morally acceptable in one country and reprehensible in another. This would be seen as inconsistent and simply applying the principles of no.1 on a wider scale For those who consider scenarios no.1 + no.2 to be flawed, it is God who establishes the foundations of morality. For people of faith the external moral code is based on sacred texts such as The Bible or Qur'an; ideally, these moral codes are reflected in secular laws. Some religious groups (e.g. Catholics and Orthodox) supplement this external code with an internal moral one based on Natural Law; this moral guide is "written in the heart" of every human being and includes such things as the sanctity of life and the inclination towards fairness, goodness and cooperation. For the person of faith, it is not enough to consider the wishes of the individual, important though he or she undoubtedly may be; nor is it sufficient to consider the goal of an harmonious and stable society. For believers the underlying basis for morality is that all human beings are made in the Divine image and likeness; thus all are intimately connected. This is why Christ was able to say 'Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me." (Matthew 25:40) and John states "Let us love one another since love is from God, and everyone who love is a child of God and knows God." (I John4:7) Thus, for the person of faith, although it is quite possible to be a morally good person without explicitly acknowledging God, that very God dwells in the heart of everyone by virtue of Natural Law. Further, morality is not simply about an harmonious, fair and stable society but involves the realisation that every person is sacred and, in some real way, related to everyone else through a common bond of creation.

The challenge to this view is that religious people have been all-too-weak and frequently failed to live up to the moral guidelines they believe are from God. Further, some have used Scripture - out of context - to justify behaviour which would be considered immoral. Finally, people of faith must also confront the reality that some passages in sacred texts portray a God who advocates the destruction of innocent people. The response that these passages were written by men of a particular era (and thus conditioned by the thinking and moral codes of that period) might well ring hollow in the minds of non-believers. ConclusionIt is clear, from simple observation in daily life, that a person who is an atheist may live what most people would consider to be a moral life. For obvious reasons, it is unlikely that an atheist's moral code would be based upon thinking only of himself/herself (no.1 above). The morality of an atheist may then come from what is commonly held by the people of a particularly country and thus legislated by the state. However, what then happens if an atheist, who is also a pacifist, lives in a state which subsequently passes a law he/she considers to be unjust e.g. military conscription in time of war? On what basis does the atheist reject that law if his/her morality is based upon what is believed by the people of the state? One is inevitably led to position no.1 or the Catholic/Orthodox concept of Natural Law mentioned in no.3; the moral atheist would find both unacceptable, but would then have to find a way to explain his/her objection without falling into the position of either camp. The proponents of either position no.1 (the individual) or position no.3 (God) would have no such difficulty.

Answer: Answer: Yes it can as morality originated from altruism which in turn originates as a mechanism for the survival of a species without intellectual thought or divine direction.

Any discussion of morality rapidly diverges from a discussion of moral behavior to discuss doing things that are right (aka good) or wrong (aka evil). Many biologists and animal behavioralists have studied non-human species and discovered that there is a degree of altruism present that could be interpreted as moral or ethical behavior but is, in reality, a support for social interaction (living in groups) that is in turn an evolutionary tool for the survival of the species. In this case the altruism is simple that we all take a bit less than we could get for ourselves so that the community itself survives. This creates a currency of dependence in human society so that the people you leave a bit of food for or whose children you don't shoot are willing to help you fight off the attacks of the wolves.

Before we go to far on the general application of this altruism to the whole of the human race consider the Ik of Northern Uganda,a group of subsistence farmers that have abandoned almost all co-operative endeavors since being friendly (having to feed people who help you build your hut) would doom your family to starvation. The Ik have religion but we would see them as lacking morality. Wolves in British Columbia, as far as is known, have no religion. They however hunt in packs and share in the kill on a communal basis (some eat while others stand guard, then they swap duties)- altruistic or moral behavior. This is done in the face of the fact that a breeding pair of wolves can easily kill game. The pack behavior gives no advantage in effort required for hunting, and the sharing of food cuts down on the food per wolf reward. When biologists studied this they determined that the sharing is driven by he need to keep ravens away from the kill as a flock of ravens can easily strip a carcass as quickly as two wolves, and two wolves can't keep the ravens away and eat. As far as the terms right or wrong - there is no universal agreement on what camp many human activities fall into. Pro-life and freedom of choicers go at it, people kill each other over dietary preferences and which days of the week to rest. It is difficult to determine any good or evil activity that can't turned around to be on the other side in some circumstances. If a thing were true (right) than it would be always true (e.g. a dropped stone always falls towards the Earth)

So it comes down to the fact that morality (or altruism) can exist without religion or even intellect as a derivative of evolutionary need, and that the rightness or wrongness of the direction that this takes is entirely dependent on its advantages for survival of the species.

Because of the natural law imprinted on the hearts of men, we can come to a basic awareness of the rightness and wrongness of certain actions without being introduced to religion. For example, even atheists know that murder is wrong. So, in a sense, the answer is "Yes." But, some people advocate doing away with religion all together. They say that "religion" gets in the way of a relationship with Jesus, or of living a good life. We must disagree with such people. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines religion as "a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God." Without religion, without a rule against which to "test all things and hold fast to what is good," it becomes much more difficult for man to discern what is right and wrong. In a wonderfully paradoxical way, religion (particularly the Catholic religion) provides the boundaries that make us free.

Another Answer.

Morality can exist without Religion and without having a State - one need look no further than some of the isolated tribes in the amazon jungle. In fact morality exists in man even if one never heard of a prophet, god or religious teaching.

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9y ago
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10y ago
A:Yes, there can be morality without God. Some of the most upstanding people in history have believed in other deities and have not sought moral guidance from God. Consider Mahatma Gandhi, Ashoka, and Liu Xiaobo. Equally, consider Christians such as Adolf Hitler. Consider those members of clergy (in various faiths) who are now known to be paedophiles, or those who have allowed them to go unpunished.

Morality is an individual choice and can be present or absent, regardless of God.

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11y ago

Yes...... until he dies!


If he chooses to do so. Yay, free will.


Religion is not necessary to life, so yes we can live without . To have a religion or not is a choice.

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14y ago

Yes, you don't have to be religious to have morals. Qualities like honesty and altruism are older than religion , are printed in our genes and also taught to us by our parents, but it's fair to say that many people whose lives have gone astray (such as a result of substance abuse) have led more decent lives after converting to religion.

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7y ago

Another answer from our community:

Morality and religion, are like the two wheels, in any way, they both cannot be separated from each other. So, never, you cannot try to put morality a side and run the religion sans morality! Morality is a part and essential part of religion; it checks and controls the conscience of a practitioner!

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10y ago

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While the teaching of moral values is an essential part of most modern religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Bahai and others, that has not always been the case. The pagan religion of the Roman Empire was largely kept separate from morality and it was the role of philosophers to provide moral guidance. The Roman empire even provided remuneration for some philosophers so that they could perform this important social function. So, the ancient religion was not unethical, but merely separate from ethics.

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9y ago

I'm guessing that many answerers would say "yes." However, it can be pointed out that ethics have changed drastically. Here are just a few examples: Aristotle, who was among the greatest of the Greeks, and Seneca, the famous Roman, both write that killing one's young babies is perfectly ethical. In civil law, the Roman lexicon stated that anyone could accuse a man of owing them money and the debtor could be dismembered and killed (Roman "Twelve Tables of Law" code, 3:10). A Roman father could kill his son for any reason, without trial (Twelve Tables, 4:1). A Roman could be killed for assembling a noisy crowd at night and disturbing the town (Twelve Tables, 9:6). Elsewhere, incest was viewed as normal. More recently, abortion and the death penalty have moved in and out of legality depending on the changes in the Supreme court.
Therefore, a higher ethical standard - not invented by humans - serves as a safeguard against human misjudgments.

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9y ago

Human morality can and does exist quite independent of religion. Some of the most ethical people in history have been strong believers in some religion or other. Some of the most ethical people in history have been non-believers in any religion.

It could be claimed that the Abrahamic religions are more supportive of high standards of morality than the pagan religions of Greece or Rome, but that is readily disproven by looking at the failings on both sides. It is not a matter of which religion allows high standards of morality, but whether equally high standards of morality can exist in the absence of religion. The evidence show this to be the case.

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7y ago

Yes, most certainly. Non-religious people can be among the most moral of people. On the other hand, our prisons are full of people with religious convictions. This does not prove that atheists are always better than religious people, just that morals, or lack thereof, can not be readily associated with religion.

Philosophy is, to a large extent, the study of ethics, or morality. It looks at the role of conscience, separate from any religious beliefs the individual may hold.

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Q: Can human morality exist without religion?
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