June 22, 2024

The atheist and naturalist magazine ‘Nature‘ published a research paper on the association between atheism and moral depravity in public perception. In the view of researchers, the study did not assess the actual behavior or morality of atheists; instead, it investigated the stereotypes and biases that people hold. Participants were presented with a fictional scenario involving a morally reprehensible individual, and they were asked to speculate about the likelihood of the wrongdoer being a religious believer or an atheist. The sole purpose of the said paper was to malign religion and religious people.

The outcomes of the research, as delineated in the study, underscore a global inclination to associate religious conviction with an inherent bulwark against the enticements of egregiously immoral behavior. This comprehensive international investigation, conducted by a diverse team of scholars, expounds that atheists are commonly perceived through an intuitive lens as individuals possessing the potential for moral depravity and a consequential proclivity towards danger.

Delving into the nuances of this extensive study, which surveyed the attitudes of over 3,000 individuals across 13 nations spanning diverse continents, reveals a broad spectrum of perspectives. The sampled countries encompassed a spectrum from notably secular societies, exemplified by China and the Netherlands, to those characterized by substantial religious adherence, such as the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and India. Notably, these nations exhibited predominant religious affiliations, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and non-religious orientations.

In the research methodology, participants were presented with a detailed portrayal of a fictitious malefactor who, in his formative years, engaged in the heinous act of torturing animals, subsequently evolving into an adult who, as a teacher, perpetrates the murder and mutilation of five homeless individuals. The survey was divided into two cohorts, with one group tasked with assessing the likelihood of the wrongdoer being a religious adherent, while the other half gauged the likelihood of his atheism. The results unveiled a pronounced tendency, with individuals being approximately twice as inclined to presume the perpetrator’s atheistic inclinations.

Both World War I and World War II involved major powers that were, to varying degrees, characterized as secular states. The term “secular” in this context refers to a political system where the government is officially separate from religious institutions, and decisions are made without direct influence from religious authorities. Here’s a brief overview:

World War I (1914-1918):

  • The major powers involved in World War I included nations with a mix of secular and non-secular governance. For example:
    • United Kingdom: A constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system, where the government operates independently of the Church of England.
    • France: The French government has a long history of secularism, and the concept of laïcité (secularism) is deeply ingrained in French political and social life.
    • Germany: Germany had a mix of religious denominations, but the political system was characterized by a secular approach, especially with the establishment of the German Empire in 1871.

World War II (1939-1945):

  • The major powers in World War II, including those on the Allied and Axis sides, were predominantly secular in their governance:
    • United States: A constitutional republic with a clear separation of church and state, as mandated by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
    • Soviet Union: The Soviet Union, led by the Communist Party, adopted an atheist stance and promoted state atheism, suppressing religious institutions.
    • United Kingdom and France: As in World War I, these countries maintained a secular political structure.

World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) were two of the deadliest conflicts in human history. The estimates of the total number of people killed in each war vary, and it’s important to note that these figures are approximations due to the challenges in collecting accurate data during times of war.

World War I (1914-1918):

  • The total number of military and civilian casualties during World War I is estimated to be around 15 to 20 million.
  • This includes approximately 9 to 10 million military personnel and 6 to 9 million civilians.

World War II (1939-1945):

  • The total number of casualties during World War II is estimated to be between 70 million and 85 million people.
  • This includes both military and civilian casualties. Military deaths are estimated at around 21 to 25 million, while civilian deaths, including those from genocide, bombings, and other war-related causes, range from 50 to 60 million.

Secularism is the collective outcome of atheism. Both systems agree to deny the importance of divine guidance in human life. So despite the difference in the scopes of atheism and secularism, these systems overlap and support each other. So the involvement of secular states in the deadliest bloodshed recorded in human history proves that atheists tend to have immoral behavior.

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