Morality Without God
First of all, how can we have morality WITH God ? God can decide that unjustified cruelty is good - and many times in the Bible God does exactly that. Why should we trust God ?
Another dilemma is : does God decide what is Good, or does God use a standard of Good ? If God decides, then morality is subjective. If God uses a standard outside of himself, then God is not needed to be moral.
How can we be moral in an atheist universe ? Atheists have varying reasons to be moral, but three basic facts come back agann and again :
* Atheists know they are responsible for their own actions. They do not rely on "salvation" to excuse their evil, unlike Christians.
* Atheists know that our life is limited, and that we must protect it, unlike Christians.
* Atheists trust science and what it tells us about human nature, unlike Christians.
This is why all morality studies show that atheists are under-represented in jail, cheat less, lie less, have less divorces, and so on. Here are some examples of studies you can consult :
Study conducted by Roper Organization (erported in "Freethought Today", September 1991, p. 12), 12% of the respondents have claimed to driving intoxicated after being-born again, compared to 4% before. Same result for drugs - 5% were drug-users before they converted, and 9% take drugs now. Also, interestingly, illicit sex was also more frequently done by born-agains (the percentage after being born-again jumps from 2% to 5%).
A study published in the 09/11/93 edition of the San Jose Mercury News made by the Josephson Institute of Ethics shows, notably, that 13% of people who regard religion as "essential" in their lives have lied to get jobs, as opposed to 5% of irreligious people, 30% of religious people cheated in college, compared to 29% of irreligious people : on the other hand, less religious people have stolen merchandise in stores, or sumbitted other people's papers as their own in college.
According to the Skeptic magazine vol.6 #2 1998, in multiple studies, there is a negative correlation between theism and morality. By Franzblau's 1934 study, there's a negative correlation between religiousity and honesty. Ross 1950 shows atheists and agnostics are more likely to express their willingness to help the poor than the deeply religious. 1969 Hirschi and Stark found no correlation in lawbreaking by churchgoing children and non-churchgoing children.
Countless studies show higher rates of religious affiliation among criminals and juvenile delinquents than among the rest of the population. In addition, the three countries with the highest religious attendance in the world (U.S.A., Ireland, and South Africa) have an extremely high violence rate, whereas the three countries with the lowest religious attendance (Denmark, Sweden, and Japan) have an unusually low rate of violence (Sex and Reason, Richard Posner).
In research by Lee Ellis at the University of North Dakota at Minot, Jews were found to be the least criminal, by far, and Catholics the most. But the group with a crime rate equal to or lower than Jews was of people claiming no religious affiliation. So religion is not only bad for the individual; it is bad for society.
In another study, researchers asked students about their willingness to cheat on a test. The majority of only one "religious" group resisted cheating -- atheists.
If you don't like abortion, you should recommend against religion. Surveys (Janus Report) show that only 22% of non-religious people have had abortions, compared to 32% for Protestants and 29% for Catholics.
A recent study commissioned by the National Catholic Educational Association covering 16,000 high school seniors show that Catholic school seniors consistently have a worse record than public school seniors in use of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and shoplifting (overall, 40% of Catholics, only 29% of non-Catholics).
From "SAVE AMERICA Ministries" (http://www.saveus.org/sam/lighthouse.htm) :
# 77% of mainline protestants do not believe in absolute truth. While only 71% of the nation at large does not embrace absolute truth.
# 75% of "born-again" Christians lie regularly - conscious, premeditated lies.
# The divorce rate among fundamentalist "Christians" now exceeds the nation as a whole by 4%.
# The divorce rate among pastors now equals the national rate.