Though the creators of this website aren't atheists (being sure there's no God seems as big a "leap" as the belief there's a bearded guy in the sky managing our affairs), and you'd have to be a my-way-is-the-only-way fundamentalist to describe this site as "anti-religion" (see Quotations for proof), we do believe in the vocal, straightforward tactics used by thinkers recently dubbed "the New Atheists." In other words, the truth is important, misguided beliefs are harmful, and the fact that millions may share a belief does not make it correct, productive, or somehow immune to challenge. In fact, if beliefs are held by millions, they're potentially that much more harmful and really need to be examined.
Much is at stake. For example, if the majority of people on Earth believe that an all-powerful God is running things, and therefore that everything from genocide to global warming is somehow part of his plan, then there's little reason to get off the couch. The shirking of ultimate, final responsibility for our planet -- made even easier by the belief in an afterlife -- is ensuring that, ethically speaking, we remain children, God's or otherwise. There are many exceptions, of course -- people of faith doing difficult good works around the world, and we love and respect them for it (the "why" is less important than the "what"). But as a species, shirking big-picture responsibility seems to come naturally to us, and any objective observer would have to conclude that "relax, God's in charge" has not been a prescription for solving the world's problems. (Even worse is "God is on my side.") Modern worldwide human civilization without the assumption of a God and an afterlife has not yet been tried.
Going with the earlier child metaphor, a question: which child is more moral, more ethically mature -- the one who won't steal a cookie because he thinks his father is watching, or the child who won't steal a cookie because it's wrong?
Imagine a world where children (and adults) understood that the roots of morality are -- with the exception of chemical and/or neurological abnormalities caused by disease, toxins, or severe violence) -- shared by everyone. To understand how and why this is true, some basic understanding of evolution and human history is required. And the most boiled-down vehicle to get across some of that perspective may be a short, simple story. Let's inject the Parable of Grog and Zog into the collective consciousness. Let's make "Grog and Zog" a meme and a vaccination against what many have called humanity's most persistent mind virus. The story shows how aggression and gluttony were once beneficial and thus eventually bred into us, but it also does the same for cooperation, trust, empathy, learning, and responsibility. The same process brought about the fact that we're not born saints or born sinners. Despite the popularity of simplistic, black-and-white, good-vs-evil false dichotomies, we're just relatively complex animals who evolved over a long time, and did so successfully in conjunction with certain traits, some of which are now counterproductive, some of which are still adaptive and beneficial. And this more realistic, balanced view of ourselves happens to undercut the notions that nonbelievers can't be moral, and that "those other people of a different faith can't be as moral as I am." A reality-based view of humanity removes one of the main justifications for "Holy War" and "Holy Arrogant Bigotry."
Put simply: Morality is human, not Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. Helpful and counterproductive aspects of human nature – seemingly opposite traits – arose from the same source, the same natural process. It’s a much simpler and more elegant explanation: There’s no need for God or "his" texts in explaining the origin of morality, and there's no need for God’s horned opposite in explaining our worst behavior. There’s also no need for the ridiculous mental gymnastics required to rationalize a benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God allowing a starving toddler to be raped (or worse) as you read this. By the way, one’s revulsion at that has little to do with one's faith, and much to do with one's humanity.
Unfortunately, the stubborn assumption that the good in humanity comes from God will always trump rational arguments about the nature of the universe. This is especially true among the people we proselytizing nonbelievers are arguably trying to reach the most, relative moderates who value and frequently think about morality itself. Take it from people who live in Alabama (surprised?): the assumption that all morality comes from above is the main barrier to a more realistic, more accepting, and less judgmental worldview, a worldview that would be both more humbling and more responsible in the largest sense. We have to address the question, “But where would my morals come from?" A simple story that shows how evolution accounts for the roots of human morality is a good place to start.
Our natural heritage is complex, and it’s our job now to decide which traits to try to reinforce (we'd vote for cooperation, empathy, altruism, curiosity -- all of which are evident in the animal world, btw), and which traits to try to mitigate or outgrow (perhaps aggression, prejudice, fear of the other, gluttony). Evolution accounts for the “good” (still adaptive) and the “bad” (no longer adaptive) in our natures, and a short, reproducible story shows how. The tale of Grog and Zog isn’t quite as simple as “God made us that way,” but it’s simple enough to be understood and easily spread even as the truth it illustrates is so far-reaching and consequential.