One of the oddest things I hear about atheists is that without a belief in a god we can’t be moral or ethical. For one thing, if we as modern men used the ancient religious texts of Christianity our morals would pretty far off the modern-mark. Stoning people to death for their sex life is nothing to aspire to.
For another, morals and ethics exists in all religions, including godless ones. If a Buddhist can be moral without god, then an atheist can moral without god too. Empathy, kindness and understanding don’t require a deity. They require a healthy human psyche. And possibly a healthy psyche that’s not human, as we’re finding more and more that animals experience their world a whole lot more fully than we ever gave them credit for.
I like the above graphic from humanistcommitments.org it shows just the kind of people atheists strive to be. The kind of person I strive to be. I know the value of empathy, kindness, of not stealing, of not hurting people. It doesn’t take belief in god to understand right from wrong. It doesn’t take the fear of god to keep me moral either. Morality doesn’t come from avoiding punishment, and it doesn’t come from garnering reward either. Morals are how you act when no one is looking– and that includes a god.