A few months ago I read a blog post – I was trying to find it, but couldn’t recall which blog – where a pastor wrote about an encounter he’d had the week before with a teenager from his congregation. The boy confessed that he no longer believed in God. The pastor looked at the boy for a while, then asked, “So, how long have you been sleeping with your girlfriend?” This, in fact, was the case. The boy had no real issues of faith; what he had was an issue of morality.
I recall being told years back that most atheists rejected God for moral, not intellectual, reasons. I have not presumed this in my dealings with atheists, and would never go so far as to apply this to all atheists. However, over and over again I have run across outspoken atheists who are good machine-gunning intellectual arguments for atheism, but who turn out to have significant moral issues. They deny that morality has anything to do with their beliefs, but often the coincidence is too obvious, and their arguments are not that good.
Morality may be, after all, one of the more common reasons for atheism.
In searching for the blog post I mentioned at the outset, I came across another story that was almost identical. Coincidence? Perhaps. However, for someone dealing with guilt, unforgiveness, or simply a need to believe that right and wrong are not absolute, the easiest way to resolve the isse is to mentally do away with God, at least the Christian God.
I routinely read a blog by a young atheist who is very bright, and writes about atheism from a very logical point of view. He is somewhat refreshing as he does occasionally agree with the other side on a point or two, at least giving the appearance of intellectual integrity. Recently, I discovered that he also is a proponent of polyamory – good, old-fashioned licentiousness. Coincidence? Perhaps.
Issues of morality for which atheism provides some conscience-relief include sex outside of marriage, including adultery. As I mentioned earlier, unforgiveness – the inability to forgive or the resentment for not having been forgiven – can only be justified if there no God. The same is true for self-righteousness, which includes many arguments about the problem of evil and suffering. The only way to really make a good argument about evil and suffering is to somehow ignore the fact that you are a contributing cause; once that concession is made, the argument is somewhat deflated.
I am not saying that there are not purely intellectual arguments in favor of atheism (none are very good, in my opinion), or that people can’t sincerely believe in any of these arguments; however, more and more I see indications that people have reasons other than purely intellectual ones to chose to believe what they believe.
Obviously, I can’t prove this; however, this does seem to agree with Paul in Romans 1. At the very least, morality plays a large part in many people’s decisions concerning religion.