New Poll Suggests That Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality

BeliefInGod (1)A new Pew Research Center report found that, worldwide, many people believe that it is necessary to believe in god to be a moral person.

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, the clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in god to be moral and have good values. This position is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East – both of which are – incidentally, or not – regions experiencing some of the highest murder and violence rates.

At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in god is essential to morality.

In the Middle East, roughly seven-in-ten or more, such as Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Lebanon, agree that god is essential to lead a moral life.

The irony, of course, is that countries that experience the highest rate of such things as overall violence, bigotry, intolerance, rape, misogyny, oppression, racism, subjugation and thus various degrees of civil and human rights violations – all of which are, unequivocally,  immoral –  exhibit the highest percentage of people who believe that belief in god is essential for morality/

Let’s do a round-up of all these moral entities:

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India’s capital city of New Delhi, which is one of those countries where the overwhelming majority, 70%to be exact, believe it is necessary to believe in god to be moral and have good values, had 1,121 rape cases in the first eight months of 2013 alone. And these are only  the reported and registered cases and in one city alone. The actual numbers are probably much higher as not all rape cases all reported for obvious reasons.

Also interesting to note is that between 2004 and 2010, Indians have committed the second most rapes in the world, right behind the United States.

Belief in god a source of morality, indeed. I can just see the morality shining through everytime a believer in India rapes someone.

Looking at the Pew poll it is painfully obvious that the countries whose populations assert belief in a god as a condition for morality , are, in fact, some of the most violent, murderous and  thus immoral countries in the world. In fact, one could assert that the more religious a country is, the more violent, homicidal, criminal, intolerant  and immoral.

In Pakistan, which has one of the world’s highest homicide rates, a whopping 98 percent of respondents tied morality to religion/belief in god.

Venezuela, a country where 80% of respondents tied morality to god, had 24,000 murders last year, rendering it one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

Brazil, where 86 percent of respondents believe that religion/god breed morality, is the most dangerous country in the world based on murder rates alone (i.e not including assault, attempted murder, rape and other types of violence and/or crime), followed by our shining beacon of morality, India and then Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and the United States – all of which are countries where the majority (United States, Mexico) and overwhelming majority (70% and above, such as Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa) believe that one does need god to be moral.

Uganda, which recently made homosexuality illegal and punishable with life in prison, is another shining haven for morality where 89 percent of respondents polled believe that religion is necessary for morality.

Again, it is interesting to note how some of the most self-proclaimed pious countries in the world exhibit some of, if not the, highest rates of violence, murder and all sorts of other notably immoral behavior.

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It is also interesting to note that the survey found that people in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in god to have good values than people in poorer countries do, indicating that poverty, and with it ignorance, may be linked to religiosity.

Interesting to note, however, is that two countries stand out as clear exceptions to this pattern: the U.S. and China. Americans are much more likely than their economic counterparts to say belief in god is essential to morality, while the Chinese are much less likely to do so.

It is painfully obvious that belief in god does not produce morality and that, in fact, quite the opposite appears to be true, namely that belief in god – and with that I mean most notably the god of Abrahamic religions that is plaguing most of the nations in this poll,  even though this can be said about the concept of god in general –  creates anything but tolerant, loving, charitable, merciful, honest and thus moral people.

When you are intolerant and bigoted, when you rape, murder, subjugate, oppress and engage in all sorts of heinous acts, you cannot claim to be moral. In fact, you are blatantly immoral. By suggesting your god or religion makes you moral while you pull another dead body off your street, you are not only markedly immoral but also delusional and deeply ignorant.

It is very ironic, as well as a testament to the sad state of affairs, that given the above, it is atheists who are the least trusted entities in this country (and world-wide as it would appear) aside from rapists.

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poll by the Federal Bureau of Prisons concluded that only 0.209 percent of prisoners identified themselves as Atheists, far lower than the more than 39 percent of prisoners who identified as Catholic.

Morality Independent of Religion

Theists believe that morality is intelligible only in the context of religion and that humans have essentially no  internal compass telling them the difference between right or wrong, or moral and immoral. In the view of the theist, one needs religion to be able to distinguish right from wrong, moral from immoral, good from bad.

Reality does not support such a ridiculous assertion.

As Christiopher Hitchens remarked ”Our knowledge of right and wrong is innate in us. Religion gets its morality from humans. We know that we can’t get along if we permit perjury, theft, murder, rape, all societies at all times, well before the advent of monarchies and certainly, have forbidden it… Socrates called his daemon, it was an inner voice that stopped him when he was trying to take advantage of someone… Why don’t we just assume that we do have some internal compass?”

Atheists don’t need the crutch that is religion to understand what moral behavior is and how to apply it to their lives. In fact, humans don’t need the crutch that is religion because recognizing that positive inputs lead to positive outcomes is common sense.

On the other hand, the morals of religious people are elicited out of them by instigation of fear and shame and punishment and the wrath of god, messiahs, prophets and hell.

Religious people often ask the atheist “but how do you define moral behavior when you have nothing to guide you and tell you what that moral behavior is?”, as if atheists where these mindless shells devoid of deductive reasoning and moral principles and could only be whole and moral if told by something or someone else what that morality is. As if atheists were incapable of making that distinction themselves by virtue of being a human being with a functioning brain.

There is just something deeply insincere about someone who believes they need to be good because some elusive divine power says so and not because they genuinely believe that being and doing good is better for all of us – whether some perceived divine entity endorses it or not.

If you are a good, moral person because you are afraid to be punished in the afterlife or go to hell, then you are selfish and only doing “the right moral thing” to dodge the bullet. But it means so much more if you are a good person because you really believe that by being good, being generous, giving, understanding, tolerant, charitable etc. the world will be a better place and everyone around you better off.

top rapists

Moreover, and as has been illustrated above, being religious is nowhere near a guarantee that its followers and perpetrators will actually lead moral lives. On the contrary, one can expect to find some of the most immoral people in places that make the biggest claims about god and religiosity.

As Greg Epstein, the current Humanist and Chaplain at Harvard University noted, “sociologists have recently begun to pay more attention to the fact that some of the world’s most secular countries, such as those in Scandinavia, are among the least violent, best educated, and most likely to care for the poor.”

Given the violent and bloody history and facts surrounding religion, it is quite ironic of religious people to argue that morality and a sense of what is good or wrong cannot, or could never, have existed without religion.

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