Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Is it possible to be good without God? Having been raised by Christian parents who founded our morality on God, my natural answer to this question would be no. But I found out I was wrong. While in High School I met my friend Mary's parents, who were quite devout Atheists. So I just naturally assumed they had absolutely no morality. I was at a moral low in my own life, so one night as we were hanging out I decided I would crack some dirty jokes, and to my surprise, they were not impressed! As I got to know them a little bit better, I found out they did have a defined set of morals based on their own value system. It centered around people, and relationships. So were my parents wrong after all? People must be able to be good without God, they were, weren't they?
The release of a recent best-seller, Greg Epstein's "Good Without God", coincided with a huge marketing scheme in some of Americas major cities with billboards that read "Are You Good Without God, Millions Are". This is not exactly the same form of Atheism as Dawkin's New Atheism, well it's basically not as tough guy. Dawkin's took part in another add campaign in Britain that ran: "There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life". In his book Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, tries to bridge the gap from Humanism to religion, in order to get people from both sides to see what they have in common. But from the title of the book you can tell who he favors.
So with millions of people claiming they can be "good without God", and working overtime to prove it, how can millions of Christians sit by and say that those Atheist's aren't good?
First off, Christan's aren't saying that only atheist's are bad. The book of Romans, in the Bible, spends the first chapter explaining how people without God naturally are depraved and fall further and further away from God. But in chapter 2 the religious people who had contact with God and His book are condemned for being just as wicked for their smug religiosity.
Second, the question "can I be good" needs a reference point. Good by who's standards? Good by my own standards? Yeah, I can do that! But good by God's standards? I don't think so. In case you think you can meet Gods standards, just watch this video.
Are You A Good Person?
Third, can there be good without God? In his paper Naturalism Defeated Alvin Plantinga makes the point that if all we have to go on to make our decisions is blind chance and natural selection, why should we assume our thoughts and decisions even correspond to reality? If the only reason we have for existing is to perpetuate our own existence, than there is no "good" at all. As Richard Dawkin's said, in God's Utility
Function "...maximization of DNA survival is not a recipe for happiness. So long as DNA is passed on, it does not matter who or what gets hurt in the process. Genes don't care about suffering, because they don't care about anything... DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music." So when Atheist's use the terms good and evil, their stealing words from religious vocabulary. They're trying to have their cake and eat it too. If Atheist's are consistent, they'll have to admit that, according to Atheism, there is no such thing as good and evil, and that they're living their lives guided by their own conscience, which ironically was given to them by GOD!