I've been writing a series on Richard Carrier's attempted rebuttal of J.P. Moreland's argument on Morality found in his book Scaling the Secular City. (Carrier's original essay can be found here and the first part of this series can be found here, the second part can be found here, and the third part can be found here.) Coincidentally, in my e-mail today came the e-newsletter from the Humanist News Network which linked to an article entitled HNN Readers Share Stories of Morality without God. The newsletter starts off with the following comment:
You've probably heard the straw man argument used by religionists who claim that people can't act morally without belief in God.
Actually, I've never heard any Christians claim that "people can't act morally without belief in God." In fact, I just googled the statement "atheists cannot act morally" and found nothing written by any "religionist" in the first few pages that took that position. In my own series, I have not taken that position and stated several times just the opposite.
Now, it is of course true that I haven't read everything in the world, and there are probably some people out there who have made this silly argument. However, I don't believe that the view being criticized at the Humanist News Network is the least bit common or widespread -- at least in Christian circles. Rather, the argument that Christians make isn't that atheists cannot be moral people, but rather they have no firm philosophical basis for acting morally or for even determining what is moral in any absolute notion of the word. That is the argument that is made and debated related to atheism and morality -- not some silly argument that atheists cannot act morally.
Is any organized Christian groups or any well-respected Christian thinker actually claiming that atheists cannot act morally? I doubt it. It seems to me that if anyone is setting up a straw man argument it is the Humanist News Network.