I’ve long been amused by the belief of many religious people that you cannot be moral without believing in god. They buy Dostoyevsky’s load of crap that “without God all is permitted.” Atheists, apparently, have supernatural powers allowing them to ignore laws of physics, economics, social behavior, or natural consequences of any sort. Wait… am I alone in thinking that sounds downright awesome?
If only it were true. Morality can only come from free will. People who behave themselves because they fear punishment if they don’t aren’t acting morally at all. They’re acting selfishly, out of a sense of self-preservation. If you need some big guy in the sky to threaten you with eternity in Hell or whatever in order for you to play nice, then no amount of playing nice will make you an ethical person. Quite the opposite. You will likely remain immoral and fundamentally corrupted for the rest of your days. A prison does not turn criminals into saints.