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Published: Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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marxist
Salt Lake City, UT

"If atheists are right and there is no God, then right and wrong are religious concepts we can dispense with. " Dispose of them if you wish, but Right and Wrong are not exclusively religious concepts by a long shot. A good thing!

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

I agree wholeheartedly that we each have the light of Christ. But that makes the job of limiting morality to the religious more difficult, not less. Because those who do not have any religious thoughts are still imbued with a sense of right and wrong. Hence many folks are moral. Not simply the religious.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"then we can murder, steal, and lie with impunity. "

I am really sick of hearing that. It is just so easily disproved.

Societies, with a belief in God or not, have always had rules to live by. A society with rules runs better. It is more peaceful. It cannot thrive without order. Rules are necessary to have order.

Heck, even the higher intelligent animal species have rules within their groups.

So, please dispense with this self serving notion that has been disproven by countless historical examples.

Ranch
Here, UT

The saddest part of this letter is that the author believes what he wrote. You can be a good, decent, moral person without a god. If the only reason you act in a decent, honorable way is because you're afraid of a god, then are you truly a moral person? Not imo.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

So if religious societies are less violent and non-religious societies are more violent then I'm guessing Europe is far more violent than the middle-east, right?

South Africa must be a paradise!

Brazil, the world's most catholic nation, must be a very peaceful place without any violent crime, kidnapping, or drugs.

Where is the mafia from again?

And Mexico must never have any beheading or otherwise horrific acts of crime, right?

Anyone familiar with the crusades must laugh at this letter.

Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

So what you're saying is that the _only_ reason you don't go around killing people and robbing 7-11's is because you fear punishment? You truly believe you are incapable of figuring out right and wrong on your own?

History refutes the assertion that religious belief equates to moral behavior.

These hyper-simplistic and wildly inaccurate depictions of atheism by those claiming to be religious is one reason why organized religion is faring so poorly in our society.

FT
salt lake city, UT

Religon is the worst thing that ever happened to God. Christanity is a little over 2000 years old and Mormonism only a few generations. Human beings lived with a moral code long before that and many more live a strong, righteous life without religon now. The most moral, righteous people I've met in my life are those that freed themselves from the fear of religon and discovered what is truly right inside of them. Whether people believe in a God or not is irrelevant to being a righteous person or a just society.

Esquire
Springville, UT

I am no atheist, but the premise of this letter as stated in the first paragraph is utterly wrong.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Where did rules come from? Look at the history of "civilization". How many societies believed in slavery? How many killed children? How many treated women as chattel? How many had tribes led by war lords? Where were the "rules" in those societies? Why did they murder and rape?

"Goodness" comes from God. America was founded by people who actually believed that our liberties are a gift from our Creator, our God. Our forefathers wanted us to remember that fact. They put the words, "In God We Trust" on every coin and on every denomination of paper money that is issued by the Government.

"In God We Trust" is much more than a motto. It is a recognition that God is the giver of "goodness", that His rules apply to any society that wants to be free from the iron boot of a tyrannical government. The people of America were slower to understand that concept, but slavery has been abolished. Bigotry is fading.

Unfortunately, some have forgotten who gives us "rules". Some tell us that their self-made rules replace eternal laws. Remove God and you'll remove goodness.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

The problem atheists have is moral relativism. If there is a God, the ultimate lawgiver and the ultimate judge of us all, moral relativism can not exist because it is God that defines morality and everything else is just an opinion. On the other hand if there is no God, each person can define morality any way they want and we get chaos, any free society crumbles and we get anarchists who enforce their "morality" onto others like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao ste Tung and dozens of other moral relativists the world has produced. Do you really want to live in a world where morality is relative? Really?

pmccombs
Orem, UT

I think this is an unfortunate letter. If this is how religion views morality--as something that only matters if there is a God--then we are in trouble.

Luckily, I have seen better than this. I know an atheist who disproves this notion. For many years, he sat by the side of terminal AIDS patients who had been cast off by their friends and families. He told me that sometimes he would attend as many as one funeral a week. He had empathy for the suffering and wondered, if there is no God to wipe away their tears, then who will do it? So he did it himself.

And that is perhaps something to be said about atheism: It allows for the possibility that one might do well for sake of goodness itself. That, in fact, we might be good because goodness is found inside of us and not imposed upon us by some religious decree or commandment, which otherwise we would not care to observe.

I have a feeling that people like this atheist friend of mine may get into heaven before those who think that goodness only matters if there is a God.

Demosthenes
Rexburg, ID

Certainly atheists can be good, moral people, but the point is that their choices have no concrete basis. They are pure opinion, changeable, debatable, subjective, and contextual. For millennia, religious texts have provided a solid basis for societal law and behavior. Sure, there are debates and vagueries, but let's face it, it works and is superior to anything atheism can provide.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

― Marcus Aurelius

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"How many societies believed in slavery? How many killed children? How many treated women as chattel? How many had tribes led by war lords? Where were the "rules" in those societies? Why did they murder and rape?"

Mike. What you list is occurring in societies today. And the most egregious instances occur in the most religious societies.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . Right and Wrong are not exclusively religious concepts . . . ."

True. But those conceptual definitions take on a dangerous flexibility in the hands of those who believe their actions are not subject to review by a Higher Authority.

All you have to do is look at Hitler's Germany, Leninist/Stalinist Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Syria's ruling elite, Iran's ruling elite, Venezuela's ruling elite, Bolivia's ruling elite -- even America's ruling elite. They've all bent, molded, and redefined the "good" and "bad" concepts to mean things that are attractive to them and their ideology, but destructive of the lives of real people.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

“If atheists are right and there is no God, then right and wrong are religious concepts we can dispense with.”

If this first sentence was used on a Logic test, the student would receive an F.

@Mike Richards – “"How many societies believed in slavery? How many killed children? How many treated women as chattel? How many had tribes led by war lords? Where were the "rules" in those societies? Why did they murder and rape?"

I couldn’t help but notice how accurately this describes a certain bronze-age desert tribe, even after they were given rules set in stone by their god.

KJB1
Eugene, OR

Mike Richards:

And how societies have used "God" as their justification for slavery and for dominating women?

And while it's true that "bigotry is fading", it often happens over the strong objections of those who claim to be "religious." Take a look at any talkback here that involves same-sex marriage...

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Joe,

"Religious societies" and God's rules don't always coincide. Do you think that terrorists worship God? Why would you think that? How do their ACTIONS show that they worship God? Hasn't God told us to do no murder? Are you claiming that their religion teaches them to murder? I've read the Koran. I found no directives in that book to murder innocent people.

Telling us that "religion" is the cause of evil is misleading. If God is the giver of life (which He is) and if God has given us rules whereby we can learn to love each other (which He has), then we must also believe that opposition to Him and to His rules must exist (which He told us is an eternal principle). The question then becomes who or what teaches terrorism, who or what teaches mutilation, who or what teaches murder? It certainly is not our Creator, our God, our Heavenly Father. It is a mockery for people to assign sinful behavior to God.

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

The difficulty is there are false Gods and therefore false religions. There are even some people who apostatize from truth (parable of the sower). Part of our purpose on this earth is to discover truth and reject falsehoods. Truth is the knowledge of things as they really are, as they always have been and they always will be. "Seek (for truth) and ye shall find it", said Jesus. Hint, "By their fruits ye shall know them".

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

Well then... I guess the letter writer better not lose his faith... wouldn't want him going on a killing spree... I really don't see how people can believe this sort of nonsense that atheism makes everything a free-for-all.

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