You might think this another editorial about theists behaving badly... bombing schools, molesting kids, writing bad checks and what not... but no. Quite the contrary, most theists are pretty ethical people. That's why it's still pretty chill to get a latte in Aviano, despite Italy's 94% belief rate. (by the way last time I did that a medium size drink was actually referred to as "medium" not "grande". Hear me, Starbucks douchbags?) We atheists know better because we're just as ethical minus the pervy Big Brother in the sky. We know that education in moral philosophy is important and that reason guides our ethical considerations.. except that it isn't and it doesn't.
Everyone is wrong. Sorry you've all overbid! That's what Harvard psychology maven Marc Hauser learned when he decided to put it to the test. Turns out religion and education are both entirely irrelevant to our most basic moral reasoning. Hauser's study used 5,000 people from 120 countries and asked 19 questions which were hypothetical moral scenarios. Most of these were a variation of the "trolley dilemma" of the form "would you throw a switch diverting an oncoming trolley from killing 5 people on the track if it meant killing 1 person on the alternate track". Hauser did not merely consider the yes/no answer but asked for justification. It isn't just that the answers were the same in terms of yes/no (they were) but everyone justified their answer in the same way. Nationality, age, religion, gender, and even education in moral philosophy played little to no role. This is also part of the topic of Hauser's book Moral Minds. The study has many other interesting implications I will not here belabor but it is worth a read.
Click here for a video of Hauser explaining the study and here is a link to the actual paper published in Mind & Language (pdf).