Has Atheism Made You a Better Person?

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I’ve heard on more than one occasion, from more than one person that their being an atheist has made them a better person. I find that curious. How is it that atheism has influenced a persons life to the extent that suddenly they are now something that they were not before being an atheist?

I’ve asked those same people that question. What changed in your life after atheism that wasn’t there beforehand? It seems to me that these statements are similar to a statement of belief that Christians make and therefore I’m curious as to how these people considered themselves before they concluded on atheism.

Believe it or not, I’ve had some very strange responses and I believe that these were not well thought out at the time. Some have said they’d become more humane. Really? I mean, you weren’t humane at all before atheism? What sort of person could this have been, I wonder.

Others have said that being an atheist has made them more open to other views they would not have considered before. This too is a strange response to me. How would not believing in a god or gods make anyone more open to anything else?

I never press the issue (maybe I should) but I often leave with a sense that these people are only atheist because, like many in different faiths, are looking for something that is missing from their lives. Maybe it’s because being an atheist is rebellious in the eyes of society and that makes them feel special in some way.

Atheism didn’t change who I am. The political and social views I had before are the same. I am no more or less a humane person than I was before. I was always a skeptic, except in the area of faith, and I’ve put that behind me as well. The only difference someone who knew me years ago as a person of faith and today? I’m an atheist.

4 thoughts on “Has Atheism Made You a Better Person?

  1. I would argue yes, it has. But I have to admit my argument depends on the definition of being a “better person” including “I’ve put that behind me as well.” That is, the more unreason and pseudoscience you abandon, the less credulous and the more questioning you become, and therefore the better off you are as a person. And, let’s face it, religion is the granddaddy of all pseudosciences.

    That being said, I agree that I’m also no more or less humane than I was before becoming an atheist, and I’m sure there are many religious people who are kinder, more charitable, etc. than I am, so if being a better person hinges upon humanity alone, then I have to say atheism is no guarantee.

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  2. I can’t think of any ways that atheism would have made me a better person. Education, critical thinking, skepticism, freethought, and a few other things that led me to atheism may have made a a better person in some ways. I guess I see atheism more as a consequence of these things though.

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  3. I would say yes, but only in a minor way. It’s made me stop looking to imaginary people in the sky to solve my problems, it’s made me stop looking to imaginary demons and devils to explain the evils of the world, it’s made me realize that I am ultimately responsible for my own successes and failures and I can’t go around blaming others. That’s probably one reason I’m conservative.

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  4. Saying that atheism has in any way made you a better person conflicts with previous claims made by you and others that atheism means only a rejection of belief in deities and that it has no implications beyond this. If atheism has no implications beyond disbelief then it can’t possibly have done anything to make you a better person, it can’t possibly have had any implications for your personal philosophy, system of values and and ethics, etc. But since you are now saying that it has then P.Z. Myers must have been right when he has argued in the past that atheism has implications beyond simply the dictionary definition.

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