Britons View Atheists As More Moral Than Believers, Religion More Harmful Than Good

This post by Frank Minero originally appeared at Addicting Info.

An eye-opening survey conducted in the UK reveals a truth many in the United States will find shocking. When asked if atheists are more or less moral than religious people, our allies across the pond favor atheists.

The British feel those who identify as atheists are more likely to be good people. In fact, 12.5% of Britons believe atheists are more moral, while only 6% say atheists are less moral.

Fewer than a quarter of Britons believe religion is a force for good. On the contrary, over half believe religion does more harm than good. Even 20% of Britons who describe themselves as ‘very religious’ are on record stating religion is harmful to society.

The poll, conducted by Survation for the HuffingtonPost UK’s series Beyond Belief doesn’t address why Britons have come to this conclusion, however faith in God and religion is falling in America as well. Jerome Baggett, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California told The San Francisco Business Times why he thinks people are retreating from religion in the United States,

“Religious institutions themselves have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of many Americans due to sexual and financial scandals, or political overreaching ‘by the so-called Christian right.’”

Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, told The Huffington Post UK she found the results of the poll “striking,”

“This confirms something I’ve found in my own surveys and which leads me to conclude that religion has become a ‘toxic brand’ in the UK. What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some of that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people.”

Woodhead explains the reason Britons are distancing themselves from religion are “numerous” and include: sex scandals involving Catholic priests and rabbis, as well as Islamist terror attacks and conflict in the Middle East,

“I’d add religious leaderships’ drift away from the liberal values, equality, tolerance, diversity, [which is] embraced by many of their own followers and often championed by non-religious and atheist people more forcefully”.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association had this to say,

“This survey just confirms what we know is the common sense of people in Britain today – that whether you are religious or not has very little to do with your morality. Most people understand that morality and good personal and social values are not tied to religious belief systems, but are the result of our common heritage and experience as human beings: social animals that care for each other and are kind to others because we understand that they are human too. Not only that, people understand that religious beliefs themselves can be harmful to morality: encouraging intolerance, inflexibility and the doing of harm in the name of a greater good. We only need to look around us to perceive that fact.”

In an unrelated video, noted American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist Sam Harris offers a detailed explanation of why he feels morality based on the Christian God is lacking.

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76 COMMENTS

  1. A Ponzi Scheme is a form of fraud which lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors. Investors may be led to believe that the profits are coming from product sales, or other means, and remain unaware that other investors are the source of profits. A Ponzi scheme is able to maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as there continues to be new investors willing to contribute new funds and most of the investors do not demand full repayment and are willing to believe in the non-existent assets that they are purported to own.

    The growth in religious practices, particularly as they have become institutionalised from around 3,000 years ago, in partnership with Governments, have developed into a gigantic Ponzi Scheme. It is a scheme that is a form of fraud which lures its adherents to profit from a promised life after death for an investment of support for the church, commitment to an established set of beliefs, and prayers to a mythical figure who will deliver ultimate salvation in an afterlife. Although the members who are heavily invested in this scheme have never seen the ultimate prize, have never met anyone who actually received and benefited from the promised reward, nor ever met directly with this omnipotent, omniscient, beneficent, omnipresent, metaphysical figure, they are encouraged to maintain the faith by thousands of other investors and by the earthly intermediaries of the scheme.

    Occasionally the scheme receives a setback when corruption is identified among some intermediaries of the scheme who use their referent powers to take advantage of their investors (pedophile priests, witch hunts) and break all their own rules of the scheme (lies, celibacy), or when some of the claims in the prospectus (the Earth is the centre of the Universe) are shown to be false. Many exit the scheme on these occasions; but the allure of the prize is sometimes too great and the illusion of a sustainable life after death tempts them easily to return to the scheme. “It is better to be in a sham scheme and not be rewarded than not to be in a legitimate scheme and miss out,” they reason. And as one generation instructs the next on the incredible benefits of the scheme, it continues to grow exponentially (among the very young, the uneducated, the disadvantaged, the ignorant). There is a threat that all investments must be kept current because at any time the end time may arrive unexpectedly in a prophesied apocalypse for the individual or for everyone regardless of investment . One must be continuously prepared for the certain event of personal demise and continue to contribute to the scheme to demonstrate one is willing to believe in the non-existent assets that they are purported to own. And of course, the brilliance of the scheme is that no one is able to report back on the truth of the promise either to laud its success or to expose its fraud. Religious ideology and practice offer the most brilliant Ponzi Scheme of all time!

  2. I didn’t grow up attending church. If someone invited me to attend a wedding, memorial service, a musical concert, etc., I might attend. But otherwise, I had no use for religion, or religious doctrine.

  3. The United States is gradually moving in this direction. Unfortunately, I live in the Bible Belt with a bunch of backwoods hillbillies that marry their cousins and regurgitate what their evangelical preachers tell them, because they can’t read or think for themselves.

  4. The reason that religion creates "bad" people is because, in most religions, there is a fanatical element that is not reigned in by the majority of non radical elements. We have the present day fanatical Islamic terrorists; fanatical Buddhists are killing Muslims in Burma; fanatical Hindus burn anyone alive who attends another religion's services; Even Catholicism has had fanatical terrorists like the Irish Republican Army which, until the 1990's was killing innocent people in Britain in an effort to have Britain cede Northern Ireland to Ireland; etc., etc.

    In contrast, there are over a billion people in China who are atheists but who still manage to be "good" people because they have been taught high morals by their parents. The problems in the Soviet Union were initiated and carried out by a cruel dictator, Stalin, not by the people generally.

    Religion could be a force for good if the fanatical elements are either controlled or eliminated but this never happens. For example, how often do you hear Islamic Imams criticising Muslim terrorists? Their silence indirectly condones what their terrorists are doing.

    I firmly believe that Religion DOES cause more problems in society than it prevents and that we would be far better off if it had never been invented.

  5. I would say there are about six and a half billion gods as it appears to me that most godsters create their own version of their deity , in their heads, so that amazingly this lord of theirs always agrees with their opinions. Put simply god didnt create man in his own image, man created god in his own image. Just my theory.

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