The non-religious know their right from wrong just as well as churchgoers, according to new research revealing a strong moral compass among atheists. “The team behind the research found that most religions were similar and had a moral code which helped to organise society. But people who did not have a religious background still appeared to have intuitive judgments of right and wrong in common with believers, according to the findings, published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Dr Marc Hauser, from Harvard University, one of the co-authors of the research, said that he and his colleagues were interested in the roots of religion and morality. ‘For some, there is no morality without religion, while others see religion as merely one way of expressing one’s moral intuitions,’ he said. The team looked at several psychological studies which were designed to test an individual’s morality. Dr Hauser added: ‘The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments. However, although it appears as if co-operation is made possible by mental mechanisms that are not specific to religion, religion can play a role in facilitating and stabilising co-operation between groups.’”
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