I often come across the view expressed by followers of the Abrahamic religions that there can be no morality without religion, and that therefore atheists are necessarily immoral. However human beings are social animals, the urge to help others is quite a natural one. Atheists also like to form friendships, and therefore they benefit from peer approval, which is more often a force for compassion than cruelty and callousness. The idea that people are immoral unless you instill into them the fear of terrible punishments in the “afterlife” is therefore not sound.
Another weakness in the argument that only the followers of Abrahamic religions are moral is that these religions all encourage beliefs that are irrational. Should we believe in things for which our senses see no evidence? Surely the avoidance of truth should be considered immoral?
The simple fact that prominent atheists risk their lives by publicly criticizing religions is itself evidence of morality in atheists. What else could be their motivation in risking their lives but a desire to serve the greater good?
Followers of the Abrahamic religions also tend to associate the declining birth rates in the West with the decline in religious observance. However this ignores the fact that countries that continue to have higher degrees of religious observance are also seeing declining birth rates. The pope may urge his followers not to use contraception, but the majority of Catholics take very little notice of this. Declining birth rates are undoubtedly a serious problem for Western civilization, but religion has largely failed to provide an antidote. Some groups such as the Amish and Mormon communities may be maintaining higher birth rates but their religious beliefs may be problematic in other ways.
We must look elsewhere for a solution to this problem, to reason. In future articles I will be putting forward rational arguments for, and suggesting ways to achieve, higher birth rates in Western countries.