One of the more popular myths is that religion is a necessity for morality. With it to guide us and keep us in line, we would all be out raping, murdering, stealing and otherwise making life hell for our fellow humans. But, is that true?
Sam Harris in The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos writes:
If religion were necessary for morality, there should besome evidence that atheists are less moral than believers. [emphasis added]
Atheists account for approximately ten percent of the American population, but account for less than one percent of the prison population. According to one study the marriages of atheists last longer than those of Baptists. Outside of the United States, the most secular nations are the ones that are in the lead in terms of human advancement while the lowest ranking nations are religious.
There has also never been an undeniably atheistic leader running about the planet killing people on the basis of their atheistic beliefs. Some leaders, such as Hitler, have used pre-existing religious hatred to further their goals. Others, such as Pol Pot, are testaments to what happens when critical thought is not utilized.
As Sam Harris put it:
I know of no society in recorded history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.
In short, religion is not the basis of morality and a failure to obey the dictates of a holy book does not result in moral chaos. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The more religion is banished to the private sector and the more holy books are ignored in the realm of public law Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the more reasonable the society becomes as a whole.
If religion and holy books are necessary for anything it is the continued enslavement of humanity to all manner of hate, bigotry and ignorance.