There is a widespread uninformed belief in the context of Morality that theists’ belief in ‘God’ motivates them to be moral and ethical while atheists do not have any such motivation to cling on to moral values and principles. Is there any truth to this notion?
The above notion reflects why people choose to be theists or religious in the first place. FEAR. Someone’s watching over, so let’s not be in ‘his’ bad books.The moral compasses of atheists and theists are different. Unfortunately, assumptions of religion motivates people to be righteous or moral is outrightly false. Let’s look back and see what history tell us…
- Tony Alamo, Christian Cult Leader: Convicted of tax evasion and convicted of ten federal counts of taking minors across state lines for sex, and was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.
- Wirapol Sukphol, Buddist Monk: Sentenced for raping a 13-year-old girl and for fraud and money laundering.
- Abu Bakar Bashir, Muslim cleric: Sentenced to 15 years in prison who masterminded 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people
- Asaram Bapu, Hindu guru: sentenced to life for raping a 16-year-old girl
- Swami Premananda, Hindu guru: convicted of 13 counts of rape, molestations of two girls and a murder
- Ashin Wirathu, Buddist monk presides over some 2,500 monks: known as Burmese Bin Laden closely linked to DKBA, led the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims killing more than 200 people and displaced around 100,000 people.1
- Christian mobs attack Muslims in Central African Republic. Over 400 people died tit-for-tat violence between Christians and Muslims in 2013.2
- Buddist kids radicalised by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)3
- A Muslim man is being beaten by a Hindu mob. At least 45 others were ruthlessly beaten, lynched and burnt alive in broad daylight in India’s capital, New Delhi in 2020. As they were on a killing spree the mob shouted Jai Sri Ram (Hail Lord Ram; a Hindu God).4
- Sectarian Gujarat massacre in 2002 left more than 1000 people dead of which circa 800 were Muslims and 250 were Hindus.5
- Violent Islamist extremism by multiple groups with a common ideology to establish Islamic states and implement Sharia law are now operating worldwide. A report records at least 33,769 Islamist terrorist attacks took place worldwide between 1979 and 2019 and they caused the deaths of at least 167,096 people. 6
Above are just a few examples in recent history. All throughout human history, there have been tons of other violent crimes sprung out from religions or orchestrated by people deeply associated with religions. Far more depressing news is that violent sectarian conflicts motivated by the religious hatred are on the rise and virtually affecting every religious group currently.
I’m not suggesting that religions make people criminals but wanted to emphasise that morality is in no way dependent on religion or faith. However, under the guise of religions ‘Morality’ can be redefined to justify heinous acts. Conversely, there are also tons of examples of religious people exhibiting a strong character of compassion, love, humanism and helped to make the world a better place to live.
The bottom line is Morality is a personal choice, a promise that you make to yourself to behave in a way how you wish others to behave with you.
Finally, what’s the benefit of morality without a God and an imaginary report card? Benefits are unquestionably enormous. Committing to high moral and ethical standards results in stability, security, respect, peace and fulfilment for yourself and others around you.
“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” ― Robert A. Heinlein