How might I respond?

To this:* "Religion does not have a monopoly on morals, nor does it instill morality. It instills FEAR, one is not moral because of religion, one is moral because of the FEAR religion instills in them. Sweden is one of the most Atheist countries on Earth and has lower crime, happier people, and a better standard of living compared to us and other countries. Japan is an extremely structured society and their most crime ridden city, Osaka, has a lower Crimes per capita than our LEAST crime ridden city.

I am not religious and I follow the laws. Some I don’t agree with but I do follow them. I don’t harm people unless my life, or the life of my family is in danger. I don’t discriminate against people because everyone deserves the same rights as everyone else. I don’t violates other peoples bodies either with surgery, violence, or laws. I follow the code of empathy and that is I care for EVERYONE. Please tell me again how religion has encouraged oneness and an open society where people are free to be themselves without causing harm to others?"*

This was a friends (Atheist maybe Agnostic) response to this video, another friend posted.

youtube.com/watch?v=YjntXYDPw44&feature=share

"Religion does not have a monopoly on morals
And pretty much most religions and religious people (at least those I have studied or talked with) don’t actually claim religion does have a monopoly on morals.
nor does it instill morality.
Unproven assumption/opinion presented as fact
It instills FEAR, one is not moral because of religion, one is moral because of the FEAR religion instills in them.
An even bigger unproven assumption than the above
Sweden is one of the most Atheist countries on Earth and has lower crime, happier people, and a better standard of living compared to us and other countries.
Your friend must like assumptions- assumes atheism is the cause of all those, assumes Sweden is somehow the model of a good/desired society. Also, ignores the fact that some of the worse societies in history have also been some of the most atheistic ones- like Revolutionary France, the USSR, Cambodia
Japan is an extremely structured society and their most crime ridden city, Osaka, has a lower Crimes per capita than our LEAST crime ridden city.
Assumes that atheism is somehow responsible for this and that its valid to compare US and Japanese society, assumes crime rate is the metric for morality; ignores the fact that Japan has been an extremely structured society since the rise of the Shoguns;

I am not religious and I follow the laws.
Following the laws doesn’t make one moral, it makes one law abiding, assumes that laws are in themselves are always moral and that the legal and criminal systems are systems of morality.
Some I don’t agree with but I do follow them.
So apparently law abiding is more important than moral integrity.
I don’t harm people unless my life, or the life of my family is in danger.
Ignores the fact that religions (such as Catholicism) teach this.
I don’t discriminate against people because everyone deserves the same rights as everyone else.
Except apparently the religious
I don’t violates other peoples bodies either with surgery, violence, or laws.
Good for your friend, but not really representative of atheistic societies as a whole. Oh, also assumes religions call for or require the violation of other peoples bodies blah blah blah
I follow the code of empathy and that is I care for EVERYONE.
The code of empathy? Never heard of the code of empathy. I also assume (now your friend has me assuming) your friend sides with the law when this apparent code of empathy and the law conflict.
Please tell me again how religion has encouraged oneness and an open society where people are free to be themselves without causing harm to others?"
Why because your friend has done a great job showing otherwise? Unproven assumptions being used as fact.

Human beings have an innate sense of what is right. This is part of what is referred to as the “natural law.” A wide varieties of societal and environmental factors can corrupt this innate sense leading to people who accept or even promote immoral behavior. Sometimes it happens this innate sense is so corrupted the individual sincerely believes the immoral activities are moral.

Most religions provide a framework and exercises to promote care and cultivation of the innate sense of what is right in a person. We usually refer to this as their moral code.

Some people may follow a moral code out of fear, just as they follow any other rules or laws out of fear. Other people follow the rules because they believe the rules are the just and proper thing to do.

You don’t have to be religious to be a good person, but it certainly helps guide you if you are ever uncertain of the proper, right, or just course of action.

The Gospel message is full of examples where Jesus demonstrates the love of God to the people. It also provides the moral edict that Christians are to love their neighbor as themselves. Not “love their Christian neighbor,” just their neighbor. I don’t think you can find a more powerful encouragement to oneness and freedom to be the person you were created to be anywhere. One caution: please don’t confuse freedom with lack of rules or the ability to do anything I think of at the moment. True freedom has boundaries, and those who are truly free know those boundaries and embrace them. This includes telling someone else when they may have gone astray - with kindness, compassion, and love.

Excellent info. Thank you & God Bless.

I would ask, "Well, why do you follow the laws? Isn’t that out of fear for being punished? Now, you might say no, because you see what it takes to live harmoniously with others and that is what you try to follow, like a sort of instinct. But just because religion is in the picture does not mean that religious people only do good because they fear God. They have that same instinct.

"But, you also say that there are laws that you disagree with. On what grounds do you disagree with those laws? If there were a law made that went against your “moral instinct” would you follow that law? Or would you challenge the authorities, and on what grounds would you challenge those authorities? Based on your “instinct”?

"You assume that religious laws are bad simply because they are religious. This is poor assumption. Laws are laws, and I’m sure you would agree that they are made in order to allow society to function. But why doesn’t society function on its own? Because sometimes people get into situations where their “moral instinct” is ignored for a more base instinct, “self-preservation”. When things get tough, people tend to resort to this more base instinct and this is not an instinct that involves empathy.

“Religion does not have a monopoly on morals, but is does have a concrete set of morals that are applied in all situations, and not dropped or compromised because things get tough. And when there is someone that you disagree with morally (like, say, your government) religion gives a set of morals that applies even to the authorities so it is not just “He who makes the laws decides what is right and wrong.” Right and wrong has already been decided, you just need to have the strength to stick to it when you would rather lie, cheat, and steal based on “life-preservation.””

this is kind of a lot, but I hope it helps.

I would probably respond with, “What is your point?” I mean, ignoring the statements in there that are debatable points, I don’t understand the point of the entire argument. People don’t follow religions because they think they are good for their morality. People follow religions because they believe they are true. It may be argued that being part of a worship group is good for you in many ways, and there is probably a great deal of truth to that, but no one in their right mind joins a faith they don’t believe in because they think the code of conduct is good for society and the socialization is good for their health. I don’t think I can think of words strong enough to descibe the absurdity of someone kneeling in front of a piece of bread, not because they actually believe it is the Body of Christ, but because they agree that the ten commandments are a good basis for laws in society.

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