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It is unfair to assume atheists are less moral

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According to a report published by Nature Human Behaviour, atheists are more likely to be seen as immoral compared to religious believers.

Logically, you're probably more likely to do something that's defined as immoral if you have no real belief in certain guidelines and expectations as to how you should act. 

Religious believers who may think that it's wrong to do something that would go against their faith in moral terms may be inclined to think, "wait a minute... what would God think of this?"

The very moral frameworks that religions base themselves on are supposed to predetermine for the believer what is right and wrong. But retracting an individual of their free will to think, feel and act as they wish must surely be an immoral act.

Take enclaves of belief in various parts of the world. Morality here is totally dependent on religion. When someone decides that their faith is no longer the solution, their vacating is viewed from the religious point of view as inherently immoral and evil, yet anywhere else in the world, it would simply be viewed as practicing freedom of choice.

The Guardian carried a story about a man named Shulem Deen who left an Ultra-Orthodox community in New York. After severing ties with the circle, Deen lost all contact with his five children and wasn't even invited to his eldest daughters wedding, all in the name of a religion. 

Stories like this aren't far and few, they cover the whole of the world, especially in places like Saudia Arabia, where atheists are branded as terrorists and heretics, a crime worthy of capital punishment. In these conservative sects of religion, believing in anything other than scripture is so immoral, it justifies murder as a moral act.

Atheists who are set on the fact that existence needs no explanation, and that we just 'are', could be seen as dangerous individuals who have no morals to lawfully bound them from committing immoral acts such as murder, theft and any of the like. Although, just because atheists haven't wrapped themselves up in belief, it doesn't mean that they have no moral values to follow.

Moral values are basic human instincts. As a young person, you may make bad and immoral decisions because, as an individual, you're still learning what it is to be human. But eventually, the majority of people have some sort of moral guidelines through tangible experiences, like what happens if you cheat on a partner, or what happens when you hurt someone else. You don't need a religious belief to tell you what is right and wrong: only the individual can truly answer that.

To label people as "immoral atheists" is to overlook the bigger picture of struggles with mental health, social, economic and an endless list of other problems that lead to people doing things that are universally accepted as "immoral".

Generally, people who are religious will probably be more likely to initially refrain themselves from doing something immoral because they've got that niggling voice in the back of their head that constantly reminds them of "what would God think?" But atheists equally would have the very same niggling voice in the back of their head, that would say "what would humanity say?"

It's even plausible to suggest that religion as a way of morally grounding believers is more dangerous than immoral atheists. In an incident that an atheist had freely opted to practice immoral actions (without any existing mental health conditions etc.) at least that individual had rationalised (no matter how irrational the actions) a choice for him or her to undertake.

For a religious believer to rely on their belief for moral guidelines is much more dangerous, as it is something that exists only in their world. They have not tangibly chosen these moral guidelines to follow. Instead, they have learned them from religious belief, that will always have questionable morality surrounding it.

Of course, this doesn't suddenly brand all religious believers as individuals who think atheists and any other non-believers deserve to be punished for their apparent ignorance. But considering we live in the 21st century with so many social developments through the ages up until this very moment, the question must be asked as to whether or not we should rely on and follow religion for morality.

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