Sep 24, 2007

Do I need God in order to be good?

I was faced by this question. This is the final requirement for our Philosophy 106 Class (Philosophy of Religion).

Do I need God in order to be good?

Do we really need Him for us to be good? Is His absence in our life makes us bad? If a person does not share his beliefs in God, does it mean he did not live a good moral life?

Please help me uncover the answers to this philosophical question. Thanks a lot.

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ivan said...

no, of course not! but once you are with GOD you are guided to righteosness. it maybe your conscience is compelling you to do good or your values, or something else: something that tells you what is good. now, what is "good"?

Ordered Chaos said...

To be good, one needs good judgment, prudence, and a bit of common sense. Being good is a matter of morals. Your actions, words, and thoughts are based on your morals. A person brought up not knowing God does not mean that the person is evil. A person who knows God as much as he/she knows about the complexity of quantum physics still has the same good-evil tendencies as the person who knows every word of the Bible. God mainly affects the "goodness" of a person because of the statutes He gives us on how to be good. He teaches us the ways of how we to talk, act and think to be good. In other words, He gives us morals or, to the very least, a guide of what the "good" morals are. Just because one is not aware, does not believe or refuses to believe in God doesn't mean he has to be evil. All in all, if we want to become an ultimately good person, we need God and His guidance to be good. If, however, we only seek to be good or at least "good enough", then it is not necessary to know who God is, or even to believe in Him. But as the first commenter said, "What is 'good'?"

joy said...

It's not really so much as God but the concept of a higher being, or a highly evolved being, that we need. If you use St Thomas Aquinas's philosophy, it may help prove or disprove your theory. Or Immanuel Kant. However, in the absence of a belief in a higher being, one needs a reference point as to where the goodness originates. Or shall we be totally like Jean-Paul Sartre and be existentialist in thinking. When people didn't have a concept of good, they had a concept of what was acceptable, or 'good', which was totally subjective. So yes, I think it is possible. But the thin is, you can't really separate yourself from this force because your logic will still support the claim that there is something or someone out there who is omnipotent and oversees everything.

Your Love Coach

Anonymous said...

You seem to have some science training so, while this article does not directly answer your question, it presents some of the current thinking in the morality problem which may appeal to you.

Jehzeel Laurente said...

How will you know that what you did is good? Where is your point of reference that your acts are righteous?

Is killing good? What if a certain supreme being said that killing is good, then what you did is good, in the sight of that

certain supreme being. If it's bad, then it's bad.

You can only differentiate what is good, and what is bad, based on what you've learned from what you believe. You really

need someone where you can put your basis into, that it's good, or not good.

If you believe in God, and HE tells you that it is good, then what you are doing is good.

If you believe in no one, if you have no master, if you are a free thinker, and you think that you're doing righteous acts,

then what you are doing is good.

But where did you base that your acts are moral? Is it from yourself? Is it from an empty bottle in an empty space? Is it

from no where? I think it's from God, or from what you believe, or from your master that you think he/she is good.

It's from someone that you believe. It's not from you, it's from a supreme being where you based your righteous morals.

There are 2 different answers based on your question. One is YES, and the other one is in the contrary.

If you believe in the Bible, that no one is righteous, not one. Then you need someone where you can put your basis in order

to be good.

If you don't believe in the Bible, then do what you want, and tell yourself that it is good. Then? It's good, because you

said so.

So what really is "good"? Is it what God shows you? Or is it that something that is deep inside you and echoes from within

that it is good.?

If you believe in God, then you need God in order to be good. If you don't believe in God, then you don't need God in order

to be good. That's it ^_~

It's in the matter of what you believe... ;)

yatot said...

human alone is good in nature... but then again... if humans were made through God's persona... God is also good!

okay, ill stick to my first statement... human alone is good in nature...

what makes human bad are the things that surrounds him/her... influence that is!

Jim said...

I find the arguments put forth by theists here as somewhat ironic. Most are claiming that you need god to be moral or god leads you to righteousness or that god affects the 'goodness of the person'.

Quite obviously, these people have never read their 'holy book.' I am assuming that most people here who responded are referring to the deity found in the christian bible.

If you believe that the bible is indeed a historical document, it recounts several instances of which this god has condoned murder, even ordering his followers to commit it. Not only that, the bible also is full of instances of rape and slavery.

If the holy book was indeed inspired by god, doesn't that show how twisted this god is?

Christianity as a religion promotes the oppression of women as well as having instigated several heinous acts throughout history

I am an atheist but I am not here to promote atheist. Rather, I am here to point out that religion or a belief in a god do not necessarily equate to morality. My sources to argue this point will most likely be from the standpoint of an atheist or agnostic. Again, I am not here to promote atheism but a counter-argument against claims made by some.

In Atheism, Theism and Rape, the author dispels the common argument used by theists that morality cannot be objective. The author points out the the bible or the god mentioned therein cannot be used as a model of morality:

"First of all, in some passages God seems to tacitly sanction rape. In the Old Testament Moses encourages his men to use captured virgins for their own sexual pleasure, i.e. to rape them. After urging his men to kill the male captives and female captive who are not virgins he says: "But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves (Num. 31: 18)." God then explicitly rewards Moses by urging him to distribute the spoils. He does not rebuke Moses or his men (Num. 31: 25-27)."

So much for the idea that god guides you to righteousness when for a fact seems to be not so righteous.

So if morality or the idea of right or wrong cannot be found in a deity or some holy book, where can we get our sense of morality then?

I would again point to resources in such as:Without God, What Grounds Right and Wrong? and Without God, How Do We Determine What's Right and Wrong?

For those who still argue that their god is indeed the source of morality, let's put you in a hypothetical situation. What if tomorrow you found out that there is no god, are you going to go out killing people?

the philosphical bastard said...

YES. Because I said so.

Jehzeel Laurente said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jehzeel Laurente said...

What if tomorrow you found out that there is no god, are you going to go out killing people?

If you believe that killing people is good, why not kill people? But, if you think that it is bad and it will hurt humans, then don't kill. But how did you know that is it bad? Is it from your common sense that you've realized and concluded that it is evil? Is it from nowhere, and then, you said that it is not good.

What really do the "good" word mean? What if there is no God from the very start, then all things that you want to do is good, because you said so that it is good, and it is obvious that it is good. What if there is no law to abide with, will you produce all craps that will deliver mankind to havoc? Will anybody tell you that it is bad? Where will they base that it is bad? From their own knowledge? Where did their knowledge came from? From within? From the environment? Where did all things started? From the bing bang theory then it human beings with great minds?

So, if there is no God, and if you say that I am good, then I am good, because there is nothing to base your goodness into. I'll spank my friend, it's so good! Why? because from my own judgment, I know it's good. Who said that it's bad at all?

Saved by Grace said...

I believe that yes, I need God in my life to be good. I know that when I wasn't saved, I was not a good person. I mean it's not like I went out and broke laws and threw out all of my morals. I didn't have peace, compassion, patience, obedience, respect, etc. like I do now though. I also believe that in order to have a good life, I need God in it.

P.S. to all of you who generalize Christians. Please know this, just because your a Christian do this mean you are good? Does this mean you are saved? Please quit putting all of us in one category.

Thank you

Mechanic said...

The simple answer is YES. The fact of the matter is you need God to be anything. You need God to exist. Without God, what standard is used to gauge your "goodness?" Probably one set by yourself or someone you admire. This means a STANDARD FROM A HUMAN SOURCE, and these are always RELATIVE. To be good by the standard set by God though is unchanging. His standard is never subject to personal judgments or social fads. His standard is absolute. Its a tough thing, yes. Not easy. I fail daily it seems.

Good question.

Andrew said...

No. It is important to note that many past and ongoing wars are caused by religion. Many priests in the clergy molest little boys. Osama Bin Laden terrorizes in the name of Allah. Sometimes I think religion is just as dirty as politics. I hope that answers your question.

Lalon said...

The simplest answer would be NO.. humans have its natural tendencies to be morally good. We don't need a god or any religion to do good or to act as the basis of our morality. Altruistic genes through natural selection provides us our natural empathy.

I have a related post with this question. Try to read it and hopefully it could somehow contribute to your thinking.

Here's the link.

You can also try to go this site. You'll find loads of well-written articles there. Just keep an open mind.

Good day ahead. ^_^

Anonymous said...

oh my.. the topic is about God, not about religion. You can have a personal relationship with God, without getting involved in any religion here on earth. Religion cannot save you, only God, through Jesus Christ.

How can you tell that it is good if you don't have any basis that it is good? That's the main topic here. What is good to you? If that's what you believe that it is good, then it's good.

Osama Bin Laden terrorizes in the name of Allah. Because Osama did the right thing, it's good because he obeyed Allah, it's bad to the eyes of many, but it's good to his own belief.

It's in what you believe. If you're saved by grace, through faith, then you'll realize what really is good, and what is not.

For something to be "good", it has to be the right action at the right time and place. Kind of like if I hired someone to repair my computer. When he shows up, he climbs to the top of my house and processes to reshingle the entire roof.

He could do the greatest job in the world of reshingleing my roof (and it could even use it). But when it is all done, my computer would still not be fixed.

People can do all kinds of "good" things. But if it not the things that God intended for them to do, when they are done, the problem is still not fixed.

A person can live a "moral" life without a believe in God. But they can not live a "godly" life - the one that God intends for them to live - without his guidance.

Ardibeltz said...

You do not understand what it means to be "good" or "moral".

To understand these things, let me ask you just a few questions.

Have you ever told a lie?
Do you like others telling lies to you?

Have you ever taken anything that wasn't rightfully yours to take?
Do you like others stealing from you?

Have you ever been so angry at someone that you only had bad feelings towards them? Jesus said that since God looks at the heart, He sees murder.

Have you ever looked at another person with sexual desires? Again, Jesus said that since God looks at the heart attitude, He sees adultery.

Just these 4 commandments alone shows that we are lying, thieving, murderous adulterers.

This doesn't even take into account blasphemy (using God's name in a manner unworthy of His holy nature and character), or putting other things before God, etc.

But can you see how we are NOT moral?

If you have ever told a lie, but you don't like others to lie to you, that means you have a double-standard, which is what hypocracy is all about.

The same is true with stealing. If you have ever taken anything that wasn't rightfully yours to take, that makes you a thief, and yet if you don't want others to steal from you, that further compounds the problem by making you a hypocrite with a double-standard.

The Bible tells us that "There is NONE good, no not one." and "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have each one turned to his own way. " and finally, "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Do we need God in order to be good? Absolutely.

You see, when God came to earth as Jesus, the Son of God, He was sinless. He NEVER broke ANY of God's commandments, and ALWAYS did everything the Father told him to do.

Being without sin, He was not subject to death ("The wages of sin is death."), so when he suffered under the hands of Pontius Pilate, and was crucified, died, and was buried, it was not for his own sins, since he didn't have any, but rather, it was in payment for OUR sins (crimes against God). The Bible goes so far as to say that while He was without sin, yet he actually became sin FOR us, so that we COULD become righteous before God. You see, God loved us so much, that He commends His Love towards us in that while we were still sinners (while we were still considered His enemies), He sent His Son to die for us. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that ANY body who puts their trust in Him will NOT perish but have everlasting life."

So, even though we are NOT good, moral people, God loved us anyway, and traded places with us so we COULD become good, moral people.

All God is asking us to do in order to receive this unmerited free gift, is to acknowledge that we truly ARE guilty and turn from our sins (repent), believe what He said (that Jesus die in our place), and allow Him to be the Lord (boss) of our lives.

The pardon is real. The offer is real. But the offer will only last while you still breath. It expires when you do.

Rachel said...

What is your definition of “good”?

If you define “good” without God, you are defining good as you and possibly a select group of others see it. Hitler, Stalin, etc., defined “good” according to their perceptions; their “good” was not the “good” defined by the Lord Almighty, but by flawed (and, in these cases, evil) human perceptions. As the diversity of ideas, the utterly opposing trends, throughout the history of man illustrate, mortals are not capable of establishing an everlasting “truth” or “good”. The “good” of one generation (that ignores the good of God) is terror of the next.

Do not define “good”, but accept the definition as handed down by God, and you hit upon the immortal truth -- a truth that does not change according to societal trends and movements, but remains ever constant. God’s truth is the truth that mortals can forever look to, in darkest hour of need or brightest hour of joy; God’s definition of “good” is but one portion of the Truth.

Jeffy said...

First of all only God is good as Jesus has said. Second God is our creator not man so ultimately we are accountable to Him. Thirdly because of our disobedience we are separated from that good God. Now, with each other we can attain a level of perceived goodness, that is relative to each other. (Man's standard) It does not however meet the standard established by God.( God's is you must do the right thing all the time and never do one wrong thing) If we are living by Man's standard we can attain to a level of goodness that is relative to man, but can Never attain to God's standard on our own. So we do need God to be ultimately good(Jesus) and without Him we are worse than bad. If a person doesn't share my beliefs in God he can definitely still live a moral life, but again it is relative to Man's standard. The truth is though, it was God who created him so he will have to answer to Him and be graded by His scale. (ouch!!)

jemme said...

the answer is NO! (based on human standards)

the answer is YES! (based on God's standards)

Next topic please? :P

Andrew said...

Religion and God go hand in hand. No religion can exist without a God, right? Unless you're worshipping trees or aliens. And try to leave your batcaves and look at the bigger picture. There ain't only one "God" you know, that is, your Christian "God". There are many, many religions you've never heard of that worship different Gods. So basing what's "good" solely on your Lord God Jesus Christ is already wrong.

So let's get to the meat of my earlier statement, the one about the priests. Priests are men of God. They are ordained under the eyes of your God to lead his followers to salvation. Instead, their idea of salvation is to molest kids for sexual pleasure. Is that good? Well, it's good for the priests but certainly not good for the children. Child molestation is beyond immoral, it's just NOT good at all. It doesn't take God to know that it's wrong.

Secondly, Osama Bin Laden. So, you say Allah told him to kill all those people, and it was good because he thought so. Tell me, anonymous, what if your kids were among those he killed? Would you have thought differently of his actions? A few of my friends almost got killed because of him. Who should I thank? Allah or your God?

My point is, if people can do such horrible things with God on their side, how difficult would it be to do good without God? It's so easy to be good, you know. You'd have to be a pretty messed up person to need a God to do good.

rhyannefranz said...

Following God's path is a way to be good. Consequently, when things go well for us, we're inclined to think that God is good, and when they don't, we question His goodness or even His existence. following your conscience is another way to be good. It depends on what you believe in.
But be good for goodness sake.

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