“Can you be good without believing in God?” is a different question than “Can you be good without God?”
Clearly, an atheist can do good things and abhor certain evil things.
But can an atheist make a case that some things are inherently good, and other things are inherently evil?
Or is Richard Dawkins correct, when he states that the universe is a place of “no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference?”
This video, from ReasonableFaith.org, lays out the basics of the moral argument for God’s existence:
12 thoughts on “Video — Can you be good without God?”
Excellent video. Spot on.
Pity that most sceptics instinctually respond with “But atheists can do good” when this topic is discussed.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Grahame — Thanks. As fellow Christians, you and I have much more in common than the secondary issues that we differ on.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Amen, brother. Amen. And I hope neither of us ever forgets that.
Solas Christus. Soli Gloria Deo. (I hope I got my Latin right!)
LikeLiked by 1 person
Another common atheist recourse is evolution. Although (quite unsurprisingly) moral behaviour is evolutionarily advantageous to social organisms, and although morality and sociality have turned out not to be unique to us, this cop-out again misses the point: how to account for our universal sense (at least apart from the nihilists) that certain abstract concepts “bind” us, that there are “good” things that we “ought” to do and “wrong” ones that we “ought not,” i.e. accountability, conscience, the “That is not fair” cry, etc.? Why was the holocaust “wrong”? Certainly, it was destructive to our species (although the Nazis were convinced they were actually weeding out the broken reeds amongst us), but was it “wrong”? Why should perpetrators of genocide be “punished” and the victims somehow “recompensed”? What are “crimes” about, after all? A purely materialist/naturalistic (evolutionary or otherwise) is patently wanting.
As an atheist I think many Christians miss the point when discussing absolute morality. For one, Christianity is not the only religion in the world so why should Christianity afford the luxury of claiming to hold the knowledge of absolute morality? A Muslim could just as easily claim the same fact. Whereas an atheist doesn’t claim to abide by absolute morality, instead, any decent atheist (by decent I mean a person who doesn’t harm others) lives their life through empathy, which to me is the ultimate foundation of morality. If we all asked ourselves “would we like this done to us or our loved ones” then the world would be a better place. Furthermore, this world wouldn’t require a book to tell us how to be ‘moral people’.
Moreover, Christians have no hard evidence that the Bible is the word of God, it’s all a matter of faith. So it’s impossible to claim that the Bible teaches absolute morality. It’s still a Christian’s opinion that it’s absolute, whereas to others it might actually be unmoral. If God intended us to abide by absolute morals he wouldn’t have published them in a book that took 1000s of years to spread, and even now, there’s huge parts of the world where the Bible could never reach, not through deliberate avoidance, but just due to remote locations of tribes and communities. So how are these remote peoples supposed to learn absolute morals without access to the Bible? If this was God’s plan it seems a pretty weak one.
We Christians aren’t really missing the point, but you do seem to completely misunderstand Christianity and the Bible.
The Bible isn’t a book about absolute morality. It’s a book telling us how our original parents rebelled against God resulting in all having sin and being separated from God because of it. God makes known His plan to send a saviour to redeem us, and shows us the history of how He accomplished this. The New Testament reveals that saviour, Jesus, and makes known the awesome love of God towards us through Him, in that He gave up all things in order to suffer and die through crucifixion that our sins would be paid for. Having risen from the dead, He now is able to forgive us. For Jesus was not only man, but also fully God who was before all things.
Yes, we have hard evidence. I know I do. You assume much here. Faith is not just a blind belief. There is substance to our faith which is a gift from God.
And you can’t really be an atheist. To know there is no God, you would have to possess one of the attributes of God – omniscience. You would have to know all things that are in this universe, and beyond, and seeing there is no God, you could then declare it. You don’t have this knowledge. Furthermore, you know full well there is a God who has created us, but you deny and repress this knowledge in your sin. Your problem is you don’t want Him to exist so that you may have your sin and not be accountable to Him.
God’s plan is a weak one? No, not really. You can settle this now by telling Jesus you have sinned against Him and ask Him to forgive you and give you eternal life. For He does love even the atheist.
http://biblehub.com/romans/10-13.htm All who call upon Him will be saved. And this salvation is not of some blind faith. It is of great effect. We know of what we speak who have been saved by the Lamb of God who shed His blood for all. I pray the Holy Spirit will draw you now to Christ. For unless He draws, none can come to the Lord.
May God give you the grace to believe and be saved.
Wow, what a tirade of offensive indoctrination I just read from you Scott. I thought we were here to have a philosophical debate about the topic discussed in the video. It seems you’re simply intent on recruiting others to join your clan.
After sifting through your recruitment drive and inflated claims to know how I think, I managed to pick up a few points I’d like to offer a rebuttal on. Firstly, atheists have never claimed to know God doesn’t exist, just as theists can’t prove God does; it’s all about belief. We believe God doesn’t, you believe God does. We’re all agnostics in that sense.
You claim to have hard evidence for God. If this is the case then I’m very interested in learning about it as you’re probably the only person in the world who does. Unless of course you mean ‘philosophical’ evidence, in which case I’m not interested as it’s likely to just be based on a belief system that’s been ground into you from an early age.
So anyway, please refrain from the recruitment process and try to actually provide valid counter arguements to my points in the future.
We can prove God does exist. But hardened sinners don’t want to accept that proof. No, we’re not all agnostics. I know He exists. No, I’m not the only one. By far.
No, it’s not an offensive recruitment drive. I know you’re headed to Hell. I don’t want you to go there. I’ve shown you the way to be saved from going there. That’s called……love. I’ve cared enough to point you in the right direction. Your response indicates I was correct in my previous post. You don’t want there to be a God, neither do you want to admit your sin before Him.
Perhaps you have heard of Penn and Teller? They are a famous comedy team. Penn is an avowed agnostic. He has made several youtube videos speaking about how if we Christians who know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true don’t ever engage in pointing people to Him, we are actually being evil. Adopting a sort of depraved indifference if you will. Though I paraphrase him here. He actually seemed to be genuinely touched in one video recounting how one man shared Christ with him, and he, Penn, could see the man genuinely cared for his soul. He didn’t call it an offensive recruitment drive. He had the discernment to see the love of one man towards him. But he still rejected Christ.
You’re not claiming to know God doesn’t exist? You’re saying you’re an agnostic? Then you’re not an atheist. The word ‘atheist’ means ‘no God’. I’m sure you know this. Atheists are saying there is no God. That’s what they believe. If you aren’t believing this, stop saying you’re an atheist. But don’t tell me I’m an agnostic. You don’t know what I know, or why I believe as I do.
Do you want to know the only true and living God? Again, I point you to Jesus. If you don’t want to know Him, you won’t go. Judge your own heart. What do you see there? Do you want to know Him or not? He does love you.
First off, I’m not deliberately denying the existence of God because I wish to continue sinning. I have no concept, nor any desire to learn the concept, of Christian sin. My rationale behind not believing in God is simple: no evidence. Show me hard, tangible evidence and I’ll take a look at it. Again, atheism is not about disproving the existence of God. How can anyone logically prove the non-existence of anything? It would be like me claiming to have unicorns living in my back garden then asking you to prove they don’t exist. The onus of proof is always on the claimant. Atheism is about living a life without believing in a God, so I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from with regards to atheists having proof God doesn’t exist. I can only guess you live in the USA where atheism is frequently likened to rape and other dispicable acts, hence your false impression of it. I personally think you need to meet and speak to more atheists as you seem to be getting false information from somewhere.
I originally came to this website as I frequently enjoy debates of this nature with Christian and Mormom friends living here in Hong Kong. I thought this site was visited by Christians who were of a more open minded nature and enjoyed a good debate with regards scientific data and philosophy. However, during our conversations it seems apparent that you’re simply intent on saving me from a destiny that I don’t, and never will, believe in, so I guess we’re just on different wavelengths.
So on that note, I wish you all the best and I’m genuinely happy that you’ve found a path in life that you believe in; as have I.
I am sorry it has taken a while for me to get back to you. I have been on the road.
I welcome the dialog, and will be up front and say that I am on a recruitment drive. I want people like you to become Christian, and will do my best to give you reasons to believe. But even if you don’t believe, I will treat you with love and respect.
I agree with you when you say that Christianity is not the only religion in the world that makes claims about morality. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other religions have moral codes that outline how we ought to live. Atheists and agnostics have moral codes as well. We pretty much all agree that it is wrong to torture puppies, rape children, and steal other people’s property. In Christianity, the Golden Rule as taught by Jesus is “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:1). This same rule can be found in the Hindu Mahabharata—“This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you”—and in the holy books of just about every religion.
The goal of the moral argument for the existence of God as presented in this video is not necessarily to prove that Christianity is true, but that morality must have some sort of basis in reality. A universe without God does not provide a basis for morality, so there must be a God.
The Golden Rule seems pretty near universal; you yourself said “would we like this done to us or our loved ones?” What is the better explanation for the existence of universally-held moral beliefs?
The theist will say that the Golden Rule is true because there is a God, that the Golden Rule is consistent with the character of God, and that God expects his creatures to follow the Golden Rule.
The atheist has to admit that the universe is cold and hard when it comes to morality, and that the universe does not care whether or not we torture puppies and rape little children. Please note that I am not saying that atheists believe that these abhorrent actions are morally acceptable. But if you believe that these behaviors are inherently evil (not just pragmatically evil), then you are borrowing your belief from outside of your atheism.
I know that atheists are usually as moral as theists; sometimes more moral. I also know that atheists propose foundations for their morality, such as pragmatism and social contracts in which we treat each other nicely because that usually works out best for all of us. But in the end, if there is no God, there is no accountability for evil, there is no ultimate justice, and it won’t matter when we are dead how we lived our lives.
The moral argument might not take one all the way to Christianity, though it should get one to some sort of theism. But the moral argument is not the entire argument for the truthfulness of Christianity, or for theism in general.
I believe that there are more reasons to believe that there is a God than that there is no God. One is the moral argument presented in this video. There are other philosophical arguments for the existence of God that are logically valid and intellectually compelling to many, such as the cosmological argument and teleological argument.
Your second point was that we Christians only accept the Bible as the Word of God by faith. I would like to address the issue of faith. Some people have blind faith. The 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult who committed suicide in 1997 so they could be sent to the UFO that was hidden behind a comet had what I would consider to be blind faith; they had no firm, objective reason for believing this UFO existed.
My Christian faith is not blind faith. We don’t see everything, but we are not left in the dark either.
On the other hand, many atheists and skeptics are guilty of what can be called blind unbelief. They don’t believe in God, and think the are pretty sophisticated because of this, but they have not seriously thought through the issues.
For example, consider the existence of the universe. Why does the universe exist at all? Either it has existed forever, it created itself, or it was created by something outside of itself. If the universe has existed forever, there is the logical problem of how we could have gotten through an infinite past to arrive at the present. It seems logically absurd to say that the universe created itself. We are left with something outside of the universe creating the universe. If this something is just a larger universe/multiverse, we haven’t really solved any problems. Where did that multiverse come from? Where did the laws come from that allow that multiverse to create baby universes? A better solution is that there is something very different from the universe that caused the universe to exist, and this is what we call God. The “God” conclusion is not based on ignorance, but on knowledge.
Ultimately, you and I both have to put our faith in something when it comes to the existence of reality. Either the universe exists with no explanation, or something caused it to exist. Atheists, when backed into this corner, will resort to “What caused God?” My answer is that the only alternative is “What caused the universe?” Something has to exist as a brute fact, either God or the universe. We live in a universe that does not seem to be infinitely old or inherently self-existing, so it is more reasonable to assert that it is something unlike the universe (God) that is the brute fact at the foundation of everything.
In conclusion, belief in an eternal, creative God is less of a blind faith than belief in an eternal, creative universe.
One more thing. You say that you see no evidence for the existence of God. Have you looked?
I encourage you to read at least one book that presents evidence for the truthfulness of Christianity. I suggest The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, which I think is the best general book out there on the topic.