Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Atheist Integrity

Atheism has no integrity. Atheism is not even a coherent group or idea capable of possessing such a quality. In fact, atheism to me is not so much a defensible stance as it is the reality which has never been successfully challenged. One need not build a wall around atheism when not a single stone of truth has been hurled by theism. However, sometimes atheists would have you believe atheism is all about integrity, and that atheists are better people.

The premise: Atheism makes one a more law-abiding citizen.

The facts: There are proportionately less atheists in jail.

The flaws: Correlation does not equal causation.

It is true, there aren’t a lot of atheists in prison, and yet we make up about 10-20% of the population. As discussed in the comments of a previous post, these are statistics of criminals in jail. To my knowledge, there is no data regarding the actual statistics of a criminal’s religion at the time of conviction. Even if there is, it is irrelevant for several reasons.

Atheists are an unusual demographic. They tend to be more affluent. They are more likely to have a college degree. In short, they’re not likely to be convicted of a crime. I choose my words carefully, because I know full well that they are not less likely to commit crimes, they’re just more likely to get away with it scot-free. Why? The affluent hire better lawyers, have a more professional courtroom presence (see also: white), and/or just have the money to soundproof their basement and get away with anything.

Then there is the small matter of whether law-abiding is the measure by which we judge a person’s morality. I for one think many criminals have done nothing morally wrong, perhaps because I feel many laws are unjust. There are many legal actions taken by individuals which are much worse than using drugs or prostitution. I think our Puritanism should go the way of the Puritans. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

Atheism has no integrity, but atheists with integrity already know this.


  1. Great post..... And, that is the privilege of education even further. A stat, that on the surface seems to appear tp be in favor, can be critically reexamined and conceptualized.

    When I first began to vocalize my atheism, I really did not think that it was so associated with education. But, it is, sadly. And, it is an unusual demographic, no doubt about it.

    I am glad that the info that I gave you challenged you on some level. That is good! Maybe this whole blogging thing is worth it.

  2. It is too bad the researchers did not list the limitations of the study. Good research reports potential flaws to account for the findings. It would be interesting to see how much of it is due to conversion during incarceration.

  3. Few of us ever come in contact with research. Unless you regularly peruse scholarly journals for various fields of study, you only hear about the research second- or third-hand through news reports which are written with the sole purpose of selling papers. The actual research often discusses these issues, and may even explain how they accounted for them in the final results (thereby making my criticisms made in ignorance completely obsolete).

    I also doubt education leads to atheism. Rather, those who "get an education" are more likely to leave their home and go off to college, away from the influence of close family and friends.

    Some may begin to reject the faith of their childhood once they have stopped going to church with their family and they see religion was attempting to fill a non-existant hole in their lives. Many people even convert to an entirely new faith, and this is a common time for those raised atheist who "find" religion (most often the faith of someone they really want to marry/fuck).

  4. Yes, I am going to really try to see if I can lay my hands on the actual study. I should be able to. And, yes, I agree. Third party reporting often really distorts the actual findings.

    I do not think that education leads to atheism either. My dad is atheist (always was) and I am more educated than him, and I arrived at it later in life than he did. I do think that education, however, does tend to make a person more critical, which could lend to becoming atheist.


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