I am compelled to respond to the uninformed column, "Defending morality in an atheist's culture is challenging" (CT, March 25), in which the author refuses to accept the fact that atheists can be inherently "moral" without a divine mechanism.
I don't want to focus on the volumes of scientific and philosophical literature that propose how "morality" can evolve as a biological phenomenon and offer alternatives to the author's specific beliefs. Nor do I want to point out the immoral atrocities done in gods' names or by "moral" religious people.
Instead, I want to focus on what I interpreted as an offensive and narrow-minded column. What specifically offended me was not the writer's use of personal beliefs as an argument made to seem rational and evidential, but the blatant intolerance and prejudice she espoused for a group of citizens who have the same right to free thought that she exercises. Paradoxically, with a single sentence separating her words, she says, "Our tolerance for differences of opinion is established by God, not man," followed by, "God help us if atheists ever get the upper hand because then our rights would be only as firm as one man's opinion..."
So, it follows, then, that no atheist should ever be allowed to hold public office or be a high-level federal or state employee because he or she believes something different from the column's author? Morality from God indeed -- would her words be tolerated if she said them about any other group in society? I don't think so. For example, inserting a random religious group into her sentence, "God help us if (Buddhists) ever get the upper hand because then our rights would be only as firm as (the Buddhists') opinion..."
Different gods and incompatible morals? The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment include giving atheists equal rights in respect of their different world-view.
instructor, biological sciences