Can Atheists Be Humanitarian?

So here’s an interesting thought; without religion would there still be a need for humanitarianism?  This comes from the part of the Anti-Theist argument; that wars are caused by political strife which is built upon religious belief systems.  Therefore, if there were not religions there would be less or even no wars.  Now, if there were no wars would governments then focus on the food shortages, water supply, medical, and educational needs of their populations?  Would things like the warlords of Somalia and refugee camps of Rwanda go away?  Would infant rapes and rampant AIDS be stemmed in South Africa?  Would the Caste system and human trafficking of India be eliminated?  Last I checked Human Trafficking, the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, had nothing to do with religion.  

While I’m not saying that Atheists don’t have morals, what I’m pointing out is that Religion doesn’t have anything to do with the majority of the problems in the world.  Yes, pastors do dumb, hypocritical, and immoral things (embezzle, adultary, rape), but let me know when Billy Graham is indicted for human trafficking or Rick Warren is arrested for shipping heroine.

One Atheist blogger put it this way: “you NEVER read about Atheists doing #@*% like this. Atheists don’t fly planes into buildings, don’t turn themselves into “Holy Explosions”, don’t shoot Doctors because they perform services they don’t like, don’t rape, pillage and burn the folks in the next village because they believe differently.  So . . . someone tell me again how people can’t be moral WITHOUT religion????”

My question though isn’t about morals though.  It’s about humanitarianism.  I’ve never questioned whether Atheist’s have morals or not.  But you can have morals and not care about the plight of humanity.  Not doing anything about famine in the horn of Africa doesn’t make you immoral.

But what if there was no religion and everything was left to scientific reasoning?  Would we even care about humanitarian aid because under this reasoning couldn’t everything be chalked up to “Natural Selection”?  If that’s the case, why isn’t that logic applied now?  It’s survival of the fittest and wars, famine, disease, slavery, and global warming are all just a part of billions of year of evolutionary process to develop the most superior species.  And wouldn’t it therefore be moral to ease the suffering of someone who wishes to die peacefully from pancreatic cancer by granting their wish, rather than watch them painfully waste away?

There’s a Southpark episode in which Richard Dawkins is finally able to convince mankind of its folly and the entire world becomes Atheist.  While this is happening Cartman freezes himself and is discovered 1500 years later and thawed out.  When he wakes up he finds that the new Atheist world has divided into 3 groups that are constantly at war with each other over which group is more logical.

I don’t believe that secularism dictates peace anymore than religion dictates conflict.  There are plenty of Atheists living at great odds with everyone around them just like there are plenty of religious nuts blowing things up.  What I question is how does logic and reason compel compassion?


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