Atheism != Morality

The Chapel Hill shootings are a terrible tragedy. Three people were murdered, and it is possible that they were murdered for being Muslims. The man arrested for the murders is Craig Stephen Hicks and he is an atheist and supposedly an anti-theist.

In my opinion he is just another individual who believed in the mythos of “might makes right” at the time he committed the murders. I do not know what he believes at this moment, and he has not been found guilty in a court of law, but the evidence is overwhelming that he committed the crimes for which he has been arrested. There is no controversy over who killed the victims in this tragedy. The controversy is about why Hicks murdered these people.

Hicks is an atheist, and I am seeing many blog posts about how this crime is the result of his atheism. The claim that being an atheist leads to a person becoming a murderer is absurd. These three murder victims were not killed because of atheism. These three people were killed because of Hicks who just happens to be an atheist.

I do not know what Hicks’ motive was in this case. The police have stated that he killed three people over a parking dispute. Others believe that he committed these murders as an act of bigotry against Muslims. I can say with certainty that the victims were not killed as a result of atheism, because atheism has no moral code attached to it.

Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is a belief that there is no god, and atheists derive their morality from other sources. Hicks apparently derived his from a gun, and I derive mine from a principle that life is to be respected. No one came down from “Atheists Headquarters” to give Hicks and me a handbook. It just does not work that way.

Religions do teach a moral code. Many religious texts include instructions on when a person is to be killed for violating the moral code of the religion. This is why we have “holy wars” throughout human history. Yes, many religions teach their followers to perform acts of kindness as well, and that is the point of this article. Religions have moral codes and atheism does not.

If you believe that this means religions are morally superior, well keep in mind the following:

  • 9/11
  • Jonestown
  • Dr. George Tiller’s murder

The above list is far from complete, but all are example of people committing murder in the name of their religious beliefs.

We know that there are murderers amongst the ranks of any group. I wrote about how extremists exist even amongst atheists, and this was before the Chapel Hill shootings occurred. The big difference though is that atheism has no moral code, and religions do. You cannot kill in the name of atheism. You can, and never should, kill in the name of religion.

In the end though, it is you and you alone who are responsible for your choices. Never choose to harm others regardless of what you believe. The three Muslim victims killed in Chapel Hill should be alive today, and nothing can justify Hicks’ actions regardless of his true motive.