It turns out that atheists are more immoral than theists, according to the perceptions of most people around the world.
This is the finding of a recent study of over 3,000 people spread across 13 countries with different levels of religious affiliation.
Perhaps most interestingly in the study, this perception of theistic morality was also present in atheists themselves.
In the study, titled ‘Global evidence of extreme intuitive moral prejudice against atheists’, participants were told of a man who expressed violent tendencies in childhood and throughout adulthood.
The participants were then asked whether their opinion of the man changed if he was:
a) a teacher, or;
b) a teacher who believes in God/who is atheist.
Part b) of the question varied for each participant in order to get a wider view of opinions and to avoid asking them directly about the effect that religion has on their perceptions.
The study, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, made this finding:
People overall are roughly twice as likely to view extreme immorality as representative of atheists, relative to believers.
They say that religious belief is ‘intuitively’ viewed by all, including atheists, as a central component of moral behaviour.
They say that atheists are perceived as ‘morally depraved and dangerous’.
As expected, mistrust was most prevalent in religious places such as the United Arab Emirates and the US.
In more secular places like Finland, there was little evidence of prejudice, so this proves that it is related to the religious state of the society in which these people live.
Professor Will Gervais, the lead author, told AFP why he believes atheists distrust other atheists.
I suspect that this stems from the prevalence of deeply entrenched pro-religious norms.
Even in places that are currently quite overtly secular, people still seem to intuitively hold on to the belief that religion is a moral safeguard.
Right then, good to know. Research revealed last year showed religious people are happier than atheists.
Argue away in the comments section below.