Considering atheism (Part 1)

Victor Martelle –Technology Director

Atheists are a largely undiscussed and misunderstood population.

Pew Research suggests 45 percent of Americans state that belief is necessary to have good values, and astonishingly, a plethora of studies propose atheists are at trust levels of rapists. When it comes to voting with respect to religion, a 2015 Gallup poll claims Americans would vote for a Christian (95 percent), a Muslim (60 percent), and at the bottom of the list, an atheist (58 percent). Some states even forbid atheists from holding office. Perhaps, consequently, not a single person in Congress identifies as an atheist.

I believe this discrimination arises from perceived origination of morality. What I gather from these statistics is that many people wouldn’t trust an atheist like myself, primarily based on my moral standing aired by my atheism. How could they though, when I ultimately have no divine laws to adhere to? In the words of Steve Harvey, “…if you don’t believe in God, then where is your moral barometer?” A thought-provoking question! Where do my morals come from? How can you trust me if I seemingly have none?

If we want a direct answer, we can look toward science and philosophy. From there, one can make a case that morals are deeply rooted in evolution and culture, where even right and wrong are observed in other “non-religious” intelligent species.

Morals have also changed throughout time with the advancement of philosophies, ideas and laws. So much so, that even some teachings that were once followed in many of the popular religions are now disregarded or excused. From this evidence, it looks as though morals are built through many years of both Darwinian and philosophical evolution.

While atheists are not bound to laws set by a god, truth be told, you can still trust them as much as anyone else. Hypothetically, if you decided to be atheist, would you suddenly become unhinged? Unless you can cut evolution, the answer is almost certainly not. And if you’re confident that you would indeed abandon your morals under this circumstance, then perhaps the atheist barometer shouldn’t be questioned, your individual self-control ought to be instead.

Putting morals aside, the more important, immediate question is “why?” Why do I and other atheists not believe in something that so many people do? Maybe there is some merit to it.

In next week’s article, I will be answering this question, and perhaps even convince you that atheism is a sensible and reasonable position.