Laika - it is simply that every record of all society, religious or not has some version of it indicating that religion appropriated it rather than created it unless you subscribe to the idea that religion created society and not the other way around. At the very best you could argue that the very earliest religion may have written it down and every other religion copied it.
Challenge to Athiests - is Religion a Pox on Mankind?
Ever been to a Wicca service, Phizzy? I have. Run by women. The men appeared fat and happy. The nude social swim night might have had something to do with it.
Q, Christianity very much popularised the rule in the West. Prior to Christianity there was very little charity in the Roman empire, if such good things appear naturally until poisoned by religion this would not be the case. It's not a guarantee that secular society would be as advanced as it is without certain religious influences.
Hitchins is doubtless eloquent.
Haidt's Moral Foundation Theory lists six ingrained, human morals:
We can't fairly say that religions appropriated these, can we, or that athiests invented them? Haidt has devised some ingenious experiments that show we will uphold these ingrained morals even if they cannot be supported logically.
Laika - evidence? I happen to be studying Roman Britain and the History of the British Isles prior to this at the moment and I disagree that charity was hard to find prior to Empire but I am willing to look at your sources. In particular it is too broad a brush to talk about christianity as a composite whole at this time as it was very different depending on which part of the empire you were in.
Pinker explores our violent nature in his book, "The Better Angels of our Nature", and argues that we are becoming less violent. I think it has to do with our expanding perception of "tribe". A small tribe is surrounded by many other tribes, all rivals. They talk different, they think different, and they smell funny. They are not completely human, so it is acceptable to wipe them out.
Our tribe has grown first to city-states and then to nations. Which still fight amongst themselves.
But something changed when we began exploring space and looked back at our earth. For many people, the whole earth has become our tribe, has an identity, and deserves protection. See the swell of support for Haiti after the earthquate, Japan from the tsunami, and the Phillippines from the typhoon. These are our brothers and we rush to their care.
This is the world-wide trend, and I think it will continue.
I wouldn't say that "atheists" invented them. They're innate.
Seems obvious that religion appropriated these things from humanity. (Since almost all religions claim exclusivity on "truth" the distinction seems valid to me)
[I'm out of my depth here though. Just voicing unqualified and uneducated opinion]
Ruby456: a myth that was generated after the reformation - secular states wanted to promote themselves as modern, secular, peace loving forces...
If there's one thing I know about democratic, political states is that they merely reflect the mood of the people. That is, if they want to be re-elected. So what was it in the people's makeup that had them sideline religion? Also, I am wondering about the timing.
Neoclassicism/Age of Enlightenment: ~1700 to ~1800
Second Great Awakening: 1790-1840's (Millerism, Jehovah's Witnesses)
When I visited New York and Chicago I was impressed by the Neoclassical structures, the parks, built for the people for their enlightenment and enjoyment, and wondered at the ideals of their builders. They really were building a new age. Then it stopped. I wondered at that, too.
It seems to me that reformation was a reaction to the excesses of the Universal Church. It was also the rise of the thinking man, as anyone could buy a book and read. Information was no longer the purvey of the priveleged few. So the church fragmented and fragmented again, never to enjoy that universalism again.
So we have the rise of secular, democratic states, who want to separate themselves from the worst of the past. So they go back further to the classical period, and attempt to build the platonic ideal. But people show themselves unwilling to be boxed...again.
Along with Neoclassicism and Enlightenment rise new religious movements (Second Great Awakening), a backlash.
So we have the two forces continuing to this day. We have the new thinkers building without God, and a reactionary group grasping to hold on to their values.
I don't think either tribe has it completely right. The polarism itself is dangerous though because we tend to see such neighbours as a threat. Dangerous even. Not quite human. They need to be wiped out.
We have examples in business. Coke and Pepsi are in a death match but they are too evenly matched to subsume the other. Bubble tea will sneak up behind them and conquer them both.
It would be wrong for a religion to claim exclusivity to these base morals. For one religion to say it has the truth above all others is false. They are, essentially, reflecting our own natures.