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Many would agree with the statement that morality without religious belief is impossible, because religions provide an unchanging moral code whereas secular morality varies depending on society and culture. Documents such as the Decalogue transcend time, but constitutions and laws of man are constantly being amended and reviewed. Morality without God is merely subjective; two people will have different ideas on what is to be considered moral. This will only lead to confusion. For example, some cultures today still regard the beating of wives and children to be moral even though our western society would disagree. Without a religious standard, who is to say we hold the correct opinion?
It is worth noting that majority of people that are revered for their good works and ethics are religious, such as Mother Theresa and the Dali Lama. Correspondingly, some of the most notorious criminals such as Hitler and Stalin were staunch atheists – this is not to say that all atheists are on the level of these men, but it is evident that when a society attempts to crush religion rampant immorality will soon follow. You cannot look to a leader of a country for your morals because they are fallible humans just like you. You need a perfect standard to look up to: God. Atheists lack this perfect standard to base their morality off.
On the other hand, many would assert that you can be moral without a religious belief. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he states that morality can be achieved once five basic conditions are met: food water, shelter, homeostasis and sex. Religion is not one of his points. Additionally, atheists have a conscience. They feel guilt just like a religious person would when they do wrong. Even the smallest child knows that certain actions are wrong without any understanding of religion. This suggests that an adult’s morality could owe more to upbringing than religious understanding; this would explain why standards of morality vary between people.
Moreover, religions have been known to cause vast immorality. An early example of this would be the Crusades, when Christians butchered Muslims in the name of religion. A more modern example would be the rise of Islamic extremism, causing incidents such as 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings. If religions are supposed to inspire morality, why do they cause so much harm and bloodshed? Finally, morality can be achieved through legal means. Human laws prevent us from harming ourselves or others through our actions. An atheist can follow these laws and be a good person without religious beliefs.