Can You Be Good Without God?
Can you be good without God? Of the various questions raised in the theist/atheist debate, this question has, I believe, occasioned more witless commentary than any other. That witlessness is again on display in an essay for the Daily Beast, “Can you be good without God?” by Brandon Withrow of the University of Findlay. Withrow interviews a bunch of ticked-off atheists, who get the answer wrong.
He discusses a study titled, “Global evidence of extreme intuitive moral prejudice against atheists”:
“If God did not exist, then we would have to invent him,” said the French philosopher Voltaire. His point: that without a divine being to check right and wrong, any number of atrocities are possible and could go unpunished.
A recent study (of more than 3,000 people in 13 countries) published in the journal Nature Human Behavior echoes Voltaire’s maxim. Looking at intuitive thinking — presumptions drawn by individuals through unconscious biases — researchers led by Will M. Gervais, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, discovered that most individuals intuitively conclude that a serial killer is more likely to be an atheist (approximately 60 percent) than religious (approximately 30 percent).
From the study’s Abstract:
Preliminary work in the United States suggests that anti-atheist prejudice stems, in part, from deeply rooted intuitions about religion’s putatively necessary role in morality. However, the cross-cultural prevalence and magnitude — as well as intracultural demographic stability — of such intuitions, as manifested in intuitive associations of immorality with atheists, remain unclear. Here, we quantify moral distrust of atheists by applying well-tested measures in a large global sample (N = 3,256; 13 diverse countries). Consistent with cultural evolutionary theories of religion and morality, people in most — but not all — of these countries viewed extreme moral violations as representative of atheists. Notably, anti-atheist prejudice was even evident among atheist participants around the world. [Emphasis added.]
The issue is simple, though. The answer to the question we started with hinges on what you mean by “without God.” Let’s take a look.
- If God does not exist, you cannot be good. You cannot be evil. You can’t conform or fail to conform to anytranscendental standard, because if there is no God, there are no transcendental standards. There is no Moral Law if there is no Moral Lawgiver. If there is no God, there are merely opinions and consequences of acting on opinions. We may label certain opinions “good,” but that’s just our opinion. What we really mean by calling something “good” is that we like it. Which is fine, as long as we understand that “good without God” is just a metaphor for “something I (or we) like.” If there is no God, all of our “moral” decisions are just opinions — perhaps opinions we like, or opinions we don’t like — but neither good nor bad.
- If God does exist, but you don’t believe in Him, then of course you can be “good without God”, in the sense that you can be good without believingin God. It is central to the moral theology of all the great faiths that non-believers may act in accordance with Moral Law without belief in God and even without knowing Moral Law in any formal sense. The Moral Law is written in our hearts, theists universally agree, and we feel the weight of morality whether we believe in God or not.
Now of course an additional question can be asked: Do theists actually behave better than atheists? I think this is the question that ticked off the atheists in the essay. If theists do, on the average, behave better than atheists, there are certainly many exceptions on both sides, and arguments can be made that particular groups of theists/atheists behave better/worse than other groups of atheists/theists. Mankind is a confusing mess.
Atheists, however, are on quicksand when they argue about “goodness” and “evil,” given that their metaphysics, if taken seriously, utterly rules out the existence of either. Also, it would seem to me that atheists could be a bit more contrite in light of the fact that whenever they have assumed state power — from the Reign of Terror to the gang currently launching missiles from North Korea — atheism has brought hell to earth.
The godless would garner more respect if they took their own metaphysics seriously, and if they showed at bit of contrition for what real atheists have done when in power. Author unknown.
The Two Humanities A New Perspective
From the beginning of time, there have been two humanities that worship. Those who worship the true God and those who worshiped false Gods; those that believe God and those that do not. This view of a divided humanity raises a number of questions. One of them is, when did this great divide take place and was it ever deepened by happenstance, or by God’s action?
For a long time biblical, scholars have believed that there were two creation stories in the book of Genesis. I personally looked upon Genesis chapter one, more less as a general account recording the creation of the physical universe which included man. Genesis’s chapter two offers a more detailed description of the creation of humanity.
However, recently I began to think that Genesis one and two may have clues that point to some interesting ideas. For instance, could it be saying that they were two creations? One humankind being for a general or broader humanity and one for a specific humanity. To employ scientific terminology, could there have been two species of humanity created? One that had a special place to live and special relationship to the creator? In other words, one was more human and more God-like than the former, maybe one that was endowed with God’s spirit?
If you recall the story, when Cain killed Abel he was ejected from the presence of the Lord and it says that he went out and he took a wife and built a city. This raises a number of questions. One being who did he marry, and another being where did the people come from, for him to build a city?
As we move along in the story, we are told in the sixth chapter of Genesis, “When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:1-4).
What are some of the things that might be inferred from this section of scripture? One, there was were two humanities one seemingly superior to the other. The two inter-married and produced a third race. We can also infer that the mixture of the races resulted in a shorter lifespan for all the descendants of both races. From the reaction of the deity, we could also assume that he was not pleased with this mixture of humanity.
Are there any benefits to viewing humanity this way? It would help explain the numbers of people that are reported existing in the world during the time of Cain and Abel. It also explains the large numbers of humanity present at the time of the flood of Noah. It would also offer an explanation for the decrease in the life expectancy of humanity.
It also would answer the problem of death being in the world before the fall of man. In this view, death was outside the garden and life was inside of it, or in relationship with God. When Adam sinned, he brought sin and death into his world and because of his lost relationship with God, he became like those outside the relationship ruled by the law of sin and death. Immediately after his sin, we see sin and death at work in the story of Cain and Abel. The god species lost its protective place with God. It is here in the story that we find another clue. Cain leaves the presence of the Lord, goes out and marries and builds a city. Who did he marry? Well, there are only two possibilities, he married his sister, or he married outside of the god species. You could say he interbred with another species. We used to think that mating between species was impossible or never happened. However, new evidence seems to be pointing to the fact that Homo sapiens did mate with other species of humanity. So some in the scientific community referred to this species as the ghost species.
 This whole article is based on speculation. The Bible is very vague about the history of the earth and the earth erases its history. Therefore, it is impossible to know exactly the history of mankind. Science as we know it today is as vague as the Bible. If you want to study a book on our depth of knowledge of the earth’s history read Henry Gee’s book “Deep Time”.
 This account might explain the source of the legends of Greek heroes being the sons of God.
 If you are interested in the studies which talk about humans having intercourse with sub-humans and if you want to know more about what scientists call the ghost species simply Google the subject.