Atheists are just as ethical and have as strong a moral compass as churchgoers, new research shows.There is no source, as seems increasingly common these days. Newspaper articles appear link to their sources less than bloggers. I think the study may be "The origins of religion : evolved adaptation or by-product?" (doi:10.1016/j.tics.2009.12.007).
People who have no religion know right from wrong just as well as regular worshippers, according to the study.
The Telegraph article goes on to state
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.If I am correct about the source article, this may be in reference to this moral evaluator which the article links to. This looks at difficult, artificial, unlikely moral dilemmas, what to do when faced with competing loss of life, and the issue of double effect. It does not ask which type of behaviours are right or wrong.
Of course knowledge of right behaviour does not equate to practice of right behaviour. But is this information surprising? Christianity teaches all men know about God's requirements.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1)Study author Hauser states
The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.While one would hope that Christians exhibit better moral praxis than atheists, Christianity does not require or specify that atheists only perform immoral actions. What Christianity argues is that atheism as a philosophy offers no reason for morality to exist at all. It is not primarily whether atheism makes people eumoral or immoral—though that is also a point, one I do not think the study adequately addresses—rather it is that atheism logically implies that all actions are amoral. There is no ought, only preferences.