From: SKEPTICMAG@aol.com

Because of the way I wrote the post about Dr. Laura's resignation and our phone conversation, it was confusing to some people when she was speaking and when I was speaking.

To make it clear, I believe it is not only possible to be a moral person without a belief in God, it is observable everyday in most of the people I know (and probably amongst those whom you all know on this list). It is Dr. Laura (and most religous people, as you know), who believe it is not possible to be moral without a belief in God. I wrote Laura a letter in which I asked her the following question:

"Who would you rather marry? 1. A man who says he will love you, be faithful to you, and be a good father and husband because the Bible says he should and God will reward him if he does and punish him if he doesn't; or 2. A man who says he will love you, be faithful to you, and be a good father and husband because he loves you for your own sake, because he promised he would in your marriage vows, and because he has the courage, character, and conscious to live up to his promises and principles.

(I see #2 as a higher form of morality.)

If you choose #1 because religion provides a deeper commitment to moral principles, then I would ask you: from your huge database of 20 years of phone calls, don't you find religious people rationalizing their immoral actions just as much as nonreligous people? If not, do you know of any studies conducted to attempt to measure moral differences between believers and nonbelievers?"

Her response, three words scribbled in the margin of my letter (faxed back to me) was "not only choice." Does anyone out there know of any studies comparing religious with nonreligious folks on morality, etc.?

Michael Shermer


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