Followers of Abrahamic religion (christianity, islam or judaism) believes, by following the correct religious doctrine you will enter heaven in the afterlife, if not you will be consign to hell. This mechanism raise the ultimate cost and benefit of good and bad to infinity. Without it there is in the long run (death) no cost nor benefit to acting morally. This is perhaps what fear the Abrahamist about atheists the most. Not only do the atheist deny the existence of heaven and hell, they consider the very concept of afterlife to be complete nonsensical.
I suspect that there are closet-atheist-elitist (CAE) who denounce atheism and promote religion because while they are comfortable with themselves living without heaven or hell, they are uncomfortable with others doing the same. These CAE fear the freedom of knowing the ultimate cost and benefit is zero may lead to nihilist social unrest. They imagine nightmare of nihilists going around raping and pillaging, doing whatever they want with completely disregard for other people, and if thing turn for the worse, either because they got caught committing crime or whatever they can just kill themselves to set all balance to zero.
I as an atheist obviously do not subscribe to CAE’s fear. I am convinced that human internal moral compass develop via evolution and the incentive mechanism of modern legal institutes are very effective. To the contrary of CAE’s logic, if ultimately the cost/benefit is zero after death, than the only cost/benefit is that will affect you when you are a life. It does not make leading a life of crime more attractive, it make it less so.
While its extremely difficult to have a watertight demonstration of correlation between believe/non-believer and morality/criminality, because we dont have the technology (yet) to read peoples minds to know if they really believe in god or they are just paying lip service. There is at least some evident to suggest that atheism dont necessarily lead to more, but less crime.
More than half of Japanese consider themselves to be irreligious, they also have one of the lowest homicide rate in the world – 0.5 case per 100,000 people. While in the United States, where only 15% consider them self to be irreligious, their homicide rate is 10 times higher than japan at 5 cases per 100.100 people.
Ricky Gervais sums up the benefit of teaching your kids Christianity (he is now an atheist).
My atheism is ultimately faith based
My atheism derived from my observation of reality,
since the accuracy of observation cannot be proven,
conviction in my understanding of reality is therefore an exercise in faith.
Thus, my atheism is ultimately faith based,
as with almost all forms of knowledge,
except for the existence of self.
(hat tip: René Descartes for “cogito ergo sum“, and Monicks for my muse.)
In response to Sue Lawley’ introduction as a “devout atheist”
“I don’t know what it is to be a devout atheist any more than what it would be to be a devout non-stamp collector.” – Anthony Grayling (link).
Critical atheist Christopher Hitchens, the author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”
It’s been more than a month since I began warning Sen. Barack Obama that he would become answerable for his revolting choice of a family priest. But never mind that; the astonishing thing is that it’s at least 11 months since he himself has known precisely the same thing. “If Barack gets past the primary,” said the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times in April of last year, “he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.” Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he’d one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago “base” in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.
You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)
Read the rest.
Tolerating atheist Sam Harris, the author of “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.”
Obama was surely wise not to mention that Christianity was, without question, the great enabler of slavery in this country. The Confederate soldiers who eagerly laid down their lives at three times the rate of Union men, for the pleasure of keeping blacks in bondage and using them as farm equipment, did so with the conscious understanding that they were doing the Lord’s work. After Reconstruction, religion united Southern whites in their racist hatred and the black community in its squalor–inuring men and women on both sides to injustice far more efficiently than it inspired them to overcome it…
…Despite all that he does not and cannot say, Obama’s candidacy is genuinely thrilling: his heart is clearly in the right place; he is an order of magnitude more intelligent than the current occupant of the Oval Office; and he still stands a decent chance of becoming the next President of the United States. His election in November really would be a triumph of hope.
But Obama’s candidacy is also depressing, for it demonstrates that even a person of the greatest candor and eloquence must still claim to believe the unbelievable in order to have a political career in this country. We may be ready for the audacity of hope. Will we ever be ready for the audacity of reason?
Read the rest.