Skip to comments.Can You Be Good Without God?
Posted on 01/29/2014 4:37:11 PM PST by NYer
Atheists and agnostics like to claim that religion or belief in God isnt necessary for living a moral life. I can be a good person without God, they say. Some go a step further and try to build a case for why they can be even better people without God. For example, they might claim that whereas theists are concerned about obeying religious commands that will get them into a heavenly afterlife, unbelievers are able to apply all their energies to making this world a better place.
In a certain sense, its correct to say that one can be a good person without God. History demonstrates this. Classical Western culture, which did not have divine revelation or formal religion, held up natural virtue as the highest goal. Confucianism lays out a sophisticated moral code without a supreme being.
That said, I think a strong case could be made that its both easier and more logical to live a truly moral life as a religious believer than as an unbeliever. If you ever find yourself challenged by an atheist with the good person argument, here are four reasons that might help your answer.
1. God Grounds the Good
What is the measure of morality? How do we know right from wrongand thus what it means to be a good person rather than a bad person?
Without God, or something like God that is both authoritative and transcendent, we can only point to societys definition or morality, or to our own personal code.
The problem with this? Societys definition of morality changes, and sometimes its obviously wrongthink of Nazi Germany or the slave-state South. And our own personal moral codes are even more fickle, variable, and subject to error. To say, Im a good person because Im living my personal moral code is dangerously close to saying, Im living the way I want to live. Is that morality?
Believers, on the other hand, have a standard outside themselves: authoritative and unchanging. God and his moral lawswhether positive laws (specific divine commandments) or the natural laws that originate with himare the best and most reasonable basis for determining what it means to be a good person in the first place.
2. An Eternal Perspective
I mentioned before how some non-theists argue that belief in the afterlife leads to neglect of this life, but I think they have it backwards. Because believers see eternal consequences for their actions (Matt. 21:35-46), it heightens the moral drama of this world immeasurably. Just on the face of it, without any further information, who would you expect to take his moral conduct more seriously:
The person who thinks his everlasting destinyand perhaps the destiny of othersdepends on his living an upright life not only in deed but in word and thought?
Or the person who thinks that his life will end with the death of his body; that there will be neither reward nor reckoning for how he lives it? And that whatever good (or evil) he does to others will be but a momentary gesture, bringing nothing more than a flicker of comfort or annoyance in an absurd and ultimately pointless existence?
Unbelievers can try to gin up some home-cooked earthly motivation for living a moral code, even though its benefits are entirely confined to this life. But the believers eternal perspective so powerfully raises the stakes for being a good person, and thus the motivation, that it must make it easier to accomplish.
3. True Humanism
This next reason is related to the last one. A big part of morality, especially for unbelievers (who are generally less concerned about the morality of actions that dont directly affect others), is doing good for our fellow man. Some would even say that unbelievers are nicer to other people on earth because they theyre not all preoccupied with pleasing an imaginary person in the sky.
But for an atheist, this humanistic impulse rests on pretty shaky ground. Why be nice, or good, or loving, or charitable, to other people? Whats so special about them?
Some will shrug their shoulders and say it doesnt matter. They just think we should. It feels right. Others will try to argue that charity towards others is actually in our self-interest: either because it eventually will rebound our way like karma, or because it just makes us feel good about ourselves.
But what about when it doesnt feel right? What if the other person is a jerk? What if being good to another clearly inconveniences us or even harms us? Why should we do it then? The unbeliever has no answer.
The believer does. Theism provides a foundation for authentic humanism. We are to love one another not only because God commands it, but because its justbecause God made those other people, and keeps them in being, and loves them, and thereby infuses them with their own value. How can the even boldest secular humanists in history compete with that glorious vision of mankind?
4. Got Grace
If theres a more universal constant in human experience than sin, I dont know what it is. Believers and unbelievers all know what its like to know what is right but to do the opposite anyway (Rom. 7:22-23).
To what do unbelievers appeal in this unhappy circumstance? All they have is themselveswhich is the problem in the first place. Yes, some extraordinary people are able to go quite far on natural virtue alone, but theyre an exception. The rest lie on analysts couches and crowd self-help seminars desperate for some natural key to improvement. Or they despair.
Even if there were no God, I think that even the idea of divine help is helpful. Believing that were not on our own, that with enough faith and practice and perseverance we can overcome sin, because we have access to spiritual energy outside of ourselves, can only aid us in our quest to be good people.
So even if belief in God were just a moral crutch, it would be a handy and effective crutch. But most theists think its more than a crutch. We believe that God not only sets out the moral law and tells us to obey, but gives us the power to obey itwhat we call actual grace. Were able to transcend merely natural virtue, go beyond all that we have to give by our own power, because God gives us his power.
That power perfects our natural virtue, making us better people than we could otherwise have hoped to be. Better still, it enkindles in us supernatural virtue, moving us from being good people to a moral state nonbelievers cannot attain: holiness.
I do not believe so personally.
My belief in Jesus and my belief that I will have to account for the contents of my life to Him is what keeps me on the straight and narrow.
Blacks are the most religious race, followed by Hispanics, then Whites and then Asians
Now what’s this about needing to Believe in God to be good?
Religious? Maybe if your god is government.
Some of the most moral people I know are atheists.
depends on what you mean by good
Men certainly can’t be good without God, Because men were conceived in iniquity and have the sin nature of their father Adam, the federal head of the human race, men can’t be good with God either. However, they can be forgiven. Men can cast their sin on the Son and stand in the courts of heaven and be found righteous, but it’s not because of any goodness or righteousness in them, it’s because His perfect righteousness has been imputed to their account.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”
“Belief in Jesus” and trying to do good is not enough. Satan believes in Jesus. You must accept that Jesus is the one true son of God and that He is the ONLY way to get to heaven. “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I think a person can but few choose to be.
I personally think Democrats want a godless electorate because a godless electorate doesn’t care about right and wrong and will accept obvious lies without caring.
You can be good, but you won’t fear being bad.
Mar 10:19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'"
Mar 10:20 And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth."
Mar 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Mar 10:22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Mar 10:23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
Mar 10:24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!
Mar 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
Mar 10:26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?"
Mar 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."
“n a certain sense, its correct to say that one can be a good person without God. “
Not according to Romans.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of a man’s education. You wont pass go without it.
Being good but denying God is an exercise in futility. We believers celebrate Christmas because a gift was sent by God in the Saviour Jesus because His sacrifice gets us to heaven and not our so-called goodness.
Being good and being saved are two different things. Yes, people can be good apart from God, but not saved.
I’m sure they can be good, but they won’t be their best.