The biggest misconception about being an atheist by those who see atheism as a bad thing is that atheists cannot possibly have morals because they do not have a God or higher power to guide them away from immoral deeds. Obviously, all atheists chose atheism to avoid being a moral human (and hang out in strip bars). How can you decide on how to do the right thing without guidance from a supernatural being? If your flimsy beliefs are the only thing preventing you from murdering me, you are no longer invited to my house for dinner. I pride myself in being a moral person not because I think someone or something is watching me but because I am a happier person without mistreating other people. I feel good when I do the right thing because what I do impacts others which in turn impacts me.
How do you know what morals are the right ones to follow? By the time you are an adult, your brain, your parents, and everyone else around you should have given you the skills to know right from wrong. If not, prison becomes an option. When your mom takes your hand as a child and walks you across the street, you are learning a valuable lesson about when it is proper and safe to cross the street. The bible tells you to obey thy mother and father but it is life that actually teaches you what is right or safe and whether your parents should be obeyed. If your dad drags you into the middle of the street almost getting you hit by a car, you are going to file this event down as the right thing to do (or file your dad as the wrong person to obey). Especially if your parents tell you to do what the Bible says and you see them openly ignoring their own advice, you are likely to think that morals are merely words that have nothing to do with reality.
Laws in the U.S. do more to keep people doing the right thing than the ten commandments ever did. Laws have changed throughout time because social norms have changed. To still adhere to laws from the past that most people agree do not apply to modern life is to live in the past (where people were much less attractive and the world smelled much worse). Many of the moral lessons of the Bible and other ancient religious documents are good guidelines today, but there are still lessons that are completely inappropriate in today’s world. The world has changed a great deal since these documents were written. Your morals cannot be stagnant. They need to change as the world changes. If you told people in 1937 not to be a Troll on the Internet, they would, at best, misinterpret that statement as a warning to avoid bridges.
A person must be forced to believe in a supernatural being to accept the rules of religious doctrines. These rules are drilled into children at an early age. The focus is mainly on learning these rules because they have to learn what not to do before they can start doing those immoral things. They are told what the rules are but not why they need to follow those rules. “Wait a minute!” you might say. They follow those rules because the religious doctrines tell them to do so. This is the equivalent of your mom telling you to clean your room because she said so. Your mom has no intention of going over the myriad of reasons you need to clean your room any more than religious parents have of telling their child why you do not take God’s name in vane. The difference between these two scenarios is the mom could actually list out the safety, aesthetic, and organizational reasons behind cleaning your room, but she is usually too exasperated to do so. The religious parents can only recite the same illogical religious text that the children questioned in the first place.
We have evidence all around us why someone should follow societal laws in a non-religious culture. When you see someone get hit by a car because they were walking outside a crosswalk or against the light, you see what happens when someone ignores these laws. He puts his safety at risk and he put others safety at risk to save one minute of using a crosswalk. If you look to the rules of religious doctrines, you will not be told what to do in this situation. You will not even be told to follow the rules of the government in which you live (unless the religious rules are built into your government). This creates a conflict between religion and society at large. When the government says all people are equal but your religion tells you that some people are inherently evil, you must decide which rules to follow (and a judge must decide how long to keep you in jail).