Here’s a good post by Ricky Gervais: ‘Why I’m An Atheist‘. If you’re an atheist, it has nothing new; if you’re a believer, you will likely overlook what he is saying to say and take offense instead. It’s a deadlock of sorts.

However, one point he makes interests me most:

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. Buts that’s exactly what it is – ‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Religion fosters morality (except when it doesn’t), and is cited as one of the reasons why religion is important. On the other hand, there still isn’t a formal system to link atheism and morality. I once asked a spiritual guru if morality could exist without the concept of god. His answer? A flat No.

I disagree. In fact, many atheists believe in and know the importance of morality. However, they arrived at it out of their own introspection — which is the best way one can learn morals. The most effective way of teaching morality is not teaching it at all. Theists find it hard to understand why someone wouldn’t commit murder if they didn’t believe in god or heaven/hell. This has been said before: If god is the only reason why you aren’t killing a fellow human, there is a problem .. with you.

The way I look at morality — independent of organized religion — can be summed up as: There is no reason why you should be good, but there are plenty of reasons why you could be good.