You do not need religion to be moral

July 4, 2007 at 7:33 pm 106 comments

Can I be a good person without religion? Many religious people do not seem to think so. I once connected my morality with religion too, believing that apart from religion there was no way to define morality. However, the longer I live the more I realize there are bad people who claim to be religious and there good people who do not believe in the existence of a god.
Ethics
To go one step further, some of the meanest and most depraved of mind that I have known in my life were religious. Moreover, I know a man who is one of the most honorable humans I have ever met – and he is an agnostic atheist. This fact alone breaks down the argument that humans need religion to be moral.

In fact, although we very seldom have this choice, I would rather choose leaders without any religious affiliation. Just look at what George Bush has done to the world with his brand of Christianity. Look at what Osama bin Laden has done with his version of Islam.

There are some who believe religion could help rid the world of its moral ills. However, I cannot help but wonder if religion is not what helped to usher in these moral ills in the first place.

I grew up in a very conservative Christian home in Middle America. The church I attended was so strict that women were not allowed to wear pants, makeup or jewelery. Those in my church were not allowed to go to the movies, drink any type of alcohol or dance to music. As I said, it was a very strict church.

The fear of hell was preached from the pulpit should I stray from living “right.” Of course, anyone who rejected this very narrow way of thinking would never make it to paradise. This is quite a guilt trip to put on a young woman growing up in a big city.

As the years passed, I moved further and further away from that conservative stance and that framework of morality, which was near to impossible for any human to maintain. I do not know that I ever truly believed this staunch dogma in the first place, but it was imposed on me from infancy so it was all I knew for decades.

Even as I came to the end of my religious journey because my mind rejected the logic of the existence of a god, I feared whether my moral compass would fail because I was always taught that my religion defined my morality. My fears were seriously misplaced. After stepping outside of religion, I took on far more responsibility for my actions.

Outside of the context of religion, I could not lie, cheat or steal and think that some god would forgive the deed and thus make my sin not really count. I could no longer wait for some unseen hand to supernaturally feed the poor or to help the weak.

Moreover, I could not sit idle when I see others do evil because I no longer believed they would get their due in the next life or burn in hell. If anything, my religious upbringing held me back from being a truly moral person.

I am a far more moral human today than at any point in my life when I practiced religion. As such, I do not see a decline in religious practice as the cause of a moral decline in society.

On the contrary, as I have said before, even religious people do immoral things. I have spent so much time around very religious people that I have seen them use their theology as a way to justify their evil deeds – much like how George Bush justifies his war on Iraq.

If not justification, then humans can use their religion to dismiss their immoral actions by simply asking for forgiveness or paying penance. Moreover, even apathy concerning universal issues like global warming, AIDS in Africa and genocide in Darfur can be excused by a religious person if she/he believes that an all-powerful god will one day intervene.

Although fear of hell or desire of paradise might turn an immoral person around for a short period of time, fear and desire are fleeting emotions and not proven to be a long-term remedy for morality. Therefore, I do not believe the religious state of the world has anything whatsoever to do with the mankind’s dilemmas.

Our dilemmas are human problems that can and should be handled through human intervention. I believe with everything inside me that if humans were not so distracted by things such as religion, racism, sexism, petty rivalries and power struggles that we would be capable of accomplishing miracles.

We could feed every mouth, cure every disease and rid the world of war. I believe we could end racism. I believe we could end sexism. I believe every child could receive an adequate education. I also believe we are capable of instituting a moral system outside of the framework of religion.

I believe that if humans were capable of ridding themselves of its many distractions, they could do more good than any religion humans have ever created.

StumbleUpon Thumbs Up- Stellar1

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106 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The de-Convert  |  July 4, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Outside of the context of religion, I could not lie, cheat or steal and think that some god would forgive the deed and thus make my sin not really count. I could no longer wait for some unseen hand to supernaturally feed the poor or to help the weak.

    Moreover, I could not sit idle when I see others do evil because I no longer believed they would get their due in the next life or burn in hell. If anything, my religious upbringing held me back from being a truly moral person.

    WOW! Powerful statements!

    Paul

  • 2. bry0000000  |  July 4, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Hi,

    Ethics are merely a religious construct. Check this out:

    http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/Nietzsche/genealogy1.htm

    At the end, after reading this, we should ask ourselves: “Is it problematic to abandon ethic?” This is the question I think we should be asking.

  • 3. Brendan  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Religious and “moral” thinking, because it excuses some actions by allowing individuals to rationalize their decisions by reference to imagined moral authorities, often helps facilitate human cruelty, genocide and avarice.

  • 4. societyvs  |  July 4, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    “Even as I came to the end of my religious journey because my mind rejected the logic of the existence of a god, I feared whether my moral compass would fail because I was always taught that my religion defined my morality.” (Stellar)

    I always find these kind of blogs very interesting – my question is one based on hypothesis alone – what do you believe your ethics would of been had you never read any of the teachings at all within the bible or the churh? This has always made me curious when I read an autobiography like this. Again this is only hypothetical.

    I know that religious people can cause as much harm in society as anyone else – after all we are all human and equals at that. I don’t think religion is as bad as you make it out to be – again this is my opinion. I see the focus on the ‘evils of religion’ but are there ‘no goods within it?’. I think there is more balance than that in faith.

  • 5. bry0000000  |  July 4, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    “…What do you believe your ethics would of been had you never read any of the teachings at all within the bible or the churh?”

    I know this wasn’t directed at me, but I would see them as aligning almost perfectly with what religious morality is. I think this is a result of the dominance of reiligious thought in our society as well as the structuralist nature of humanity.

  • 6. DANIEL  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:07 am

    An agnostic-atheist? One excludes the other surely!

    Religion is a human construct which enslaves the gullible. It defies all logic and scientific evidence. It addles brains, motivates people to do unreasonable things.

    It is infinitely divisive!

  • 7. bry0000000  |  July 5, 2007 at 1:34 am

    But what of atheism (or agnosticism) and morality, Daniel? I’m curious.

  • 8. h3nry  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:20 am

    This issue is quite clear to me. Let’s consider, for example, the Japanese society has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and obviously it is a secular society. The Chinese throughout history has often been one of the most successful civilization in the world and again, it has always been a non-religious society.

    In fact, throughou last few thousands of years they only practice Buddhism and Confucianism – both considered more of a philosophy and way of life than religion.

    Morality needs no religion. I think the two examples are powerful facts to support this.

  • 9. Epiphanist  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Of course you can be good without religion. Good post.

  • 10. maresdelsur  |  July 5, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Well according to the Catholic Church you can be good…but you just lie in the middle… I guess that believing in God (add your personal defnition here) or not, does not have anything to do with being a “good” or “bad” person. Probably the experience of God, is much more simple than we all think. Organised religion, makes this very complicate.
    Overall, I liked the post. And to certain degree, I concord with you

  • 11. stellar1  |  July 5, 2007 at 10:14 am

    societyvs said, “what do you believe your ethics would of been had you never read any of the teachings at all within the bible or the churh?”

    Within the confines of the conservative christianity that I practiced for decades, I was always taught that I would not have any clear moral foundation if not for religion. Like I said in the post, I do not know that I truly ever believed this completely, but it was one of those teachings that must be accepted if one wanted to please god.
    bry,

    I now believe that ultimately the morals taught by religion are nothing more than human imposition of an innate moral structure and packaged in a way to enforce these morals across society. In other words, these morals are not divine in origin, but merely human creations under the pretext of supernatural inspiration.

    This is why humans can be moral outside of religion, because morals are a human invention to start with – as is religion.

  • 12. pj  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:04 am

    I was raised, and spent most of my life, as a fairly conservative Christian. One of the things that helped me clear my head was becoming friends with people who are atheists. I was taught that atheists were angry, immoral people, hopelessly floundering in their search for God. Instead, I found my friends to be happy,well adjusted, successful people who were raising good families. Good article, I enjoyed it.

  • 13. Scott  |  July 5, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    As has been said by far more erudite writers than myself, anyone who thinks their moral beliefs come from their religion has never read their own holy scriptures. If a person based his or her morality on the bible, that person would readily commit human or animal sacrifice for personal gain, murder people for trivial infractions, support genocide, and commit any number of other abhorrent acts.

    For me, the most effective de-conversion act I ever committed was sitting down and reading the entire bible. Christians: It does not say what you think it says.

  • 14. harmonie22  |  July 5, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    What a brilliant post.

    “we are capable of instituting a moral system outside of the framework of religion.”- absolutely. Religion is definitely the crack of the masses, your post made a lot of sense.

    Religion does not separate man; man uses religion to separate himself and when man is divided his mind is also divided and thus errs against himself.

    The problem with religion is that everyone tries to get you to be on their side of the fence. I personally believe that there is an active higher intelligence out there that I can’t explain but only witness in-between the little things in my daily existence. You can call it God if you want to or not.

    I also think if one actively tries to make choices that stem from the highest good they automatically fulfill the core of what all religions mandate, regardless of which faith one practices- or not.

    I truly like the way you think, so refreshing.

  • 15. jon zebedee  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    great blog entry. I posted it on my blog

    http://jesusisnowhere.com

  • 16. whatthecrap?  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    True – but you require some logical grounds on which to base your morals. Otherwise – you cannot use the words, Should, Ought, or Should Not, and Ought Not.

  • 17. Thinking Ape  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    whatthecrap, how about the Kantian categorial imperative? Or how about the evolutionary desire to survive?

  • 18. Top Posts « WordPress.com  |  July 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    […] You do not need religion to be moral Can I be a good person without religion? Many religious people do not seem to think so. I once connected my morality […] […]

  • 19. superhappyjen  |  July 5, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    I got my morals from watching Star Trek: the Next Generation. :)

  • 20. lostgirlfound  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    I’m with you … some of the most “moral” people I’ve met have no religion, and some of the most selfish, plotting, underhanded people I’ve known have been not only Christians, but clergy! It’s sad, but true. If we who believe in God really, truly believed, what we do should say more about us than what we protest against. Great post!

  • 21. abarclay12  |  July 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Good blog. I once read a quote that said, “Religion is for people who fear hell; spirituality is for people who’ve been to hell.” What do you think of that?

  • 22. Noogatiger  |  July 6, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    If as Christians claim that morals are absolute, then they existed even before God. They would be moral laws that even God had to abide by, and we would be able to discover them without God’s instructions at all.

    If they are just rules made up by God, base purely on what he liked and what he disliked, then that explains why he is said to be so vengeful, spiteful, and changes his mind so often, and why they are arbitrary and seem to change from old testament to new.

    No, the truth is we have been making our own moral laws since the dawn of our existence. Some people just labeled it as Gods law so they could make others abide by them.

  • 23. BDearmore  |  July 6, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Very true, Noogatiger. And it’s good to see you here.

  • 24. hiddentreasures  |  July 7, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Where did you come from? Matter?
    Where did matter come from?
    Why are you here?
    Where are you going after death?
    What intelligence keeps this universe running by laws so perfectly that astronauts can determine their speed, trajectory and everything else they need to know to get where they want to go?
    What did Jesus do for you that would cause you to ignore and perhaps hate Him and His Holy Word?
    He died to pay for the sins of the world.
    He rose again the third day.
    He offers eternal life to those who trust HIm.
    Why is this message so hated by people?

    Yes, I agree with you that religion does not produce morality and that many non religious people are good. I’ve met both.
    But issue is not whether you are moral or good.
    The issue is have you come broken hearted before our holy God and humbly received His gift of eternal life through Christ?
    What is so cruel and evil about offering God’s gift of eternal life to a sinner?

  • 25. Thinking Ape  |  July 7, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    hiddentreasures,

    My mom. Yes.
    Who knows – maybe god – but where did god come from.
    To live.
    Possibly hell, but I’ll be in good company.
    None.
    Nothing.
    Child Sacrifice?
    Not going to take your word for it.
    Seems to offer eternal life for those who don’t.
    This wasn’t his message, it was Paul’s.

    Good for you. Me too.
    Really?
    I did once.
    It isn’t true and it creates ignorant, selfish, genocidal, murderous, judgmental, hateful people.

    may the gods bless you too.

  • 26. Mal Bicker  |  July 7, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Thinking Ape?
    First, you are not an ape, nor were your forbearers. You are an intelligent man with deep feelings, created in the image of God. You know God is a God of love. Look at that beautiful chld He gave you!

    As a child, you committed your life to Jesus and you attended a Conservative Bible college.

    You grew up knowing the Truth in your head. You, no doubt, were sincere in your childish faith. Jesus said, “Him that comes to me I will under no circumstance cast out. Jesus does the saving and the keeping. Read Romans 8:28-39.
    Not even the devil can take you away from Christ.

    I too trusted Christ as a kid at the age of nine. It was real then as it is real today 65 years later.

    You know all men are sinners. You know that Jesus is God in human flesh who died to pay and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins. Somewhere along the way, you got your eyes off Christ and on to fallible men and became disallusioned with Christ and His Church. Churches are not perfect. Only Jesus is perfect. We go to church to hear His Word and allow Him to work on us to become more like Him.

    I too have been mistreated by Christians. As a pastor for the past 50 years I have experienced some bad times with Christians. If I had taken my eyes off Chrisr, I probably would have dropped out of the ministry.

    You say you are a thinker. You didn’t sound like one in your reply to me. You sounded like a brash young man who was tryiing to tell himself that he was not afraid to die or go to hell..
    You talked of the good company in hell. You know better.
    There will be no company or parties in hell.
    Total isolation.
    Total blackness.
    Intense suffering
    Unquenchable thirst.
    Forever!
    And your memory of your rejection of Christ.

    That’s Jesus’ description of hell. If Jesus was lying about hell, He is not God. He is not even a good teacher. He is a despeciable beast. Christianity is a horrible relgion to avoid as all costs.

    Jesus’ message of salvaton was His. Paul got it from Jesus.

    Yes, I will agree with you that religion creates ignorant, selfish, genocidal, murderours, judgmental, hateful people.

    When we are born again through faith in Christ, we become more and more Christlike.

    In your third answer to my questin, your reply was that you are here to LIVE> It’s only when you trust Christ and live for Him that you begin to LIVE. without Him life is mere existence.

    I invite you to to to my web site
    http://www.alamedabiblechurch.com and to HIDDEN TREASURE
    for lots more on what it means to live.

    Satan scored a victory when you turned your back on Christ and the ministry. I’d love to see you turn back to Christ and become a firebrand for Him.

    At 74, I’ll soon be leaving the scene. Will you tkae up the baton?

    God’s peace to you.
    Mal Bicker

  • 27. Thinking Ape  |  July 7, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    “You say you are a thinker. You didn’t sound like one in your reply to me.”

    Sir, my response was all your original polemic deserved. You will not find many sympathizers here for your empty rhetoric.

    I said this on another thread and I will paste it here again:

    I would re-convert right now if someone could give me a reasonable answer to why they believe their presuppositions concerning the supernatural explanations in the Bible are true.

    If one cannot find one REASON, than it must be by FAITH. If it is by FAITH and FAITH alone, than every pseudo-apologist Christian here should give up this attempt to disprove anything on this blog and own up to the ideal of FAITH… without expecting everyone, or anyone, else to do so.

  • 28. Mal Bicker  |  July 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    My major reason for my faith in Christ is my own existence and my observation of God’s creation.

    Of course, I did not understand that when I came to Christ as a child.

    The universe was created either by God or else it all just happend by chance. It takes more faith than I have to believe it all happened by chance. I believe God created it.

    I am very much aware that I cannot convince you. That has to be a supernatural work of God.

    Good night.
    Mal Bicker

  • 29. Thinking Ape  |  July 7, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    I’ll bite. Other than your oversimplification and SMA of the arugment (“by chance”), lets say God did design the universe. This says nothing about the Bible or the Christian religion. It just says that you don’t understand how the universe operates (which most of us do not), and you want to attribute that to a god.

    This has nothing to do with the supernatural claims made in the Bible nor gives me a reason to believe it to be divinely inspired.

    Sir, why did you chose Christianity rather than Islam? Why Christianity rather than Buddhism? Why Christianity rather than the hellenistic pantheon? Why is Christianity true and Judaism false?

    You call it the supernatural work of God, I call it emotionalism.

  • 30. Mal Bicker  |  July 7, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    The Bible is where we learn about God and HIs creation and
    Redemptive history. Of course, I do not understand how the universe works. I leave that to God and to the scientists who study God’s Law of science. If God is not the source of our universe, I sure am not going to waste my time trying to figure out how it all came into existence.

    There is no contradiction between the Bible and true science.
    The only contradiction is with unproven theories.

    Yes, the Bible makes many supernatural claims. God works in the super natural. HIs Son, Jesus, was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. Christ’s miracles were supernatural. Christ’s bodily resurrection after three days was supernatural.

    God’s plan for us comes through the Abrahamic Covenent. I have no quarrel with theJews. We received our Bible from Jewish writers over a period of several centuries. The Old Testament that centered on the Jews, is the background for our Christianity. Read about it in Romans 9-11. Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah prophesied in the Old Testment.
    In fact, Jesus, is God the Creator according to John 1. One day they will receive Him as their Messiah.
    I have no quarrel with the Jews.

    As for the prophets and philosophers you mention, Jesus is in another league from any prophet. He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. The Gospel of John is filled with direct claims to the deity of Jesus.

    Please don’t confuse emotonalism with Christianity. There is a lost of crazy emotionalism out there under the name of Christianity. Going out of your head and babbling and falling to the floor has nothing to do with biblical Christianity.

    Well, I’m not sure that I have answered your questions. I’ve tried.

    You may find a lot of answers to your questions on my web site. At the same time other questions may be raised in your mind. I’m glad to talk with any honest seeker of truth.

    We may be mles apart, but I hope we are understanding each other better as friends.

    Mal Bicker

  • 31. Thinking Ape  |  July 7, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    What I was saying about the supernatural claims was that I have no reason to admit them. You trust that the supernatural claims of the Bible are true.

    I was not saying you had any quarrel with anyone (other than believing they are probably going to hell), what I was saying is that you believe the supernatural claims of Christianity rather than the supernatural claims of Buddhism, Islam, Hindusim, African tribal religions, etc. etc….

    I know the Bible sir, you do not need to give me evidence from the Bible to prove things in the Bible. On what basis to you reject the Holy Teachings of the Vimalakirti and accept John’s apocolypse?

    I was not speaking of extreme charismatics, I was talking about you. I was talking about the old conservative german lady in the middle of the mennonite brethren church. I was talking about the baptist theology student. I was talking about anyone who says that “reason” (or maybe a more compassionate religiousity) is not good enough to deny a believe in eternal suffering because we didn’t believe in your version of the universe, and that the only way to know that your version is true is by the “supernatural work of God”… which basically means, a tugging in your mind or with your emotions.

  • 32. HeIsSailing  |  July 7, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Mal, I have been to your church!! Small world, eh?

  • 33. Mal Bicker  |  July 8, 2007 at 1:40 am

    Interesting. HelsSailing, When were you here? Under what name were you. You can email me at mgbpjb@msn.com if you wish.

    Mal

  • 34. Mal Bicker  |  July 8, 2007 at 1:43 am

    Thinking Ape, It’s late. Big day tomorrow.
    Talk to you later.
    Mal

  • 35. Mal Bicker  |  July 9, 2007 at 1:50 am

    Thinking Ape, I’ve read and reread your post # 31 half a dozen times and I can’t for the life of me figure out what you are trying to say, especially in your last paragraph. I’m convinced now that you guys are not looking for answers. You, as the Athenians in Acts 17:21, evidently get your kicks out of impressing each other with your intellectual prowess and with your open-mindedness to anything but what the Bible says.

    If any of you are seeking Truth and are willing to cnsider the Bible as a possible source of Truth, I would be glad to continue conversing with you.

    Ecclesiastes 11:9
    Mal Bicker

  • 36. bry0000000  |  July 9, 2007 at 3:36 am

    Haha, Mal. Also, ethic comes from religion, which comes from a desire to explain existence. The problem with defining good is that you have to come up with some basis for good. There is no basis for that that does not stem from religion or legal ethic (which stems from religion). Would love to see proof otherwise.

    Regards
    Bry0000000

  • 37. Mal Bicker  |  July 9, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Bry, Look all around you. The universe, as well as your existence is proof that God exists. He is the only source of Good.
    Satan is the only source of evil. The Bible tells us and illustrates for us what is good and what is evil. The Bible exposes Satan and his evil.

    For man to ignore and refuse the Bible results in man coming up with his own definitions and standards of good and evil. Those definitions and standards are in direct opposition to God’s standards. And you guessed it, they are inspired in our minds by Satan.

    Our minds are either controlled by God or by Satan. We are either bond slaves of God or we are forced slaves of Satan. A bond slave of God is one who is so appreciative to God for what He has done for him, that he gladly and willingly serves Him forever.

    The slave of Satan is one who thinks he is a free thinker and does what he pleases, but is actually thinking and doing exactly what Satan wants him to think and do.

    You and I are either slaves of God or Satan.
    Mal

  • 38. Heather  |  July 9, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Mal,

    **The universe, as well as your existence is proof that God exists. **

    If this were the case, why are a large percentage of scientists who study the universe in-depth agnostic or atheists?

    **You and I are either slaves of God or Satan.** Then almost all who frequent this board are slaves of God: they don’t kill. They try very hard not to covet. They try not to worship false idols. They treat others as they would like to be treated. They pursue justice. They are peacemakers. If we were servents of Satan, then we’d all be out pillaging, raping, and murdering.

  • 39. Mal Bicker  |  July 9, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Heather, in your first sentence you are implying that God does not exist because of all the learned scientists who deny His existence.

    In your next sentence you are saying that God does exist and that most of the people who frequent this board are God’s slaves or servants.

    Does He exist or does He not exist?

    Mal

    As for the large percentage of scientists being atheists, that only proves that what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 that the large majority of people are on the broad way to hell.

  • 40. Heather  |  July 9, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Mal,

    I’m not implying anything about God’s existence or lack thereof. I’m pointing out why I don’t see your arguments as convincing. The refutions I offered were not designed to deal with the argument of God’s existence, as it has nothing to do with the two points you’ve raised.

    Again: if the universe itself is evidence of the existence of God, then shouldn’t those most familiar with the workings of the universe have the most devout faith? It would logically follow, especially if you are arguing that the universe is great proof. Instead, it usually turns out that the more one learns about the universe, the less faith one has in a particular deity.

    And for the second statement, I’m merely pointing out that if we are in fact all servants of Satan, it would logically follow that we’d have some very horrible behavior and all be in jail.

  • 41. bry0000000  |  July 9, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Mel, the only way to hold a firm belief in God is to assume his existence without having any proof in the beginning . Christianity is well aware of that which is why it so fervently employs faith.

    In your first sentence, you told me to look around and see the proof of God’s existence. I can only guess that you are speaking of the complexity of our universe and Science’s inability to explain some phenomena within our universe. But, Mel, it is foolish to assume that any science lies in a state of perfection. The medical field, for example, is far from perfect, but now it can explain medical phenomena that only 300 years ago we would have called a miracle. Science cannot currently explain all phenomena, but a progressive science will.

    In your second paragraph, you told me that any opposition to God was an acceptance of satanic thought. My only reply is that if logical thought is a satanic construct and God does exist, we have a very cruel creator. Logic dictates that he cannot exist. You yourself failed to provide any argument as to why he existed.

    Regards,
    Bry0000000

  • 42. Mal Bicker  |  July 10, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Heather, in your response #40 you say you are not implying anything about God’s existence, but in your response #38 you respond to my statement “The universe, as well as your existence is proof God exists” with your response “If this were the case, why are a large percentage of scientists who study the universe in depth agnostic or atheists?” In fact, that seems to be the purpose of this entire web site, that God and the Bible are irrelevant or non-existent.

    I agree with you that scientists who most understand the workings of the universe should have the strongest faith in God. Many do, including some of our astronauts who have storng testimonies of their faith in Jesus Christ, who is the creator of the universe according to John 1:,
    Colossians 1:13-19, Hebrews 1:1-3 and Revelation 1:4-8

    If Jesus is not God, the Creator, who left His glory to come down to earth as a human being to die and shed His blood for our sins, then I am a deceived fool to put my trust in Him as a Christian and I have wasted over 50 years of my life preaching the Gospel. If He is who the Bible claims He is, then one is a fool to reject Him according to Psalm 14:1.

    The world is filled with people who all have different idesas of who God is. I solemnly affirm that the God you are all writing about and denying as God is Jesus Christ. This is the same message the Apostle Paul delivered to the Athenians in Acts 17. The Jesus that you deny will one day return to judge all who have rejected Him as God and Saviour from sin. I rest my case.

    Bry, I’ve been awfully busy. When I have time, I will try to respond to you.

    Mal

  • 43. Heather  |  July 10, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Mal,

    **The universe, as well as your existence is proof God exists” with your response “If this were the case, why are a large percentage of scientists who study the universe in depth agnostic or atheists?” ** I am addressing two claims you make about God. I am not saying that scientists being agnostic/atheists disprove the existence of God. I am saying that scientists being agnostic/atheists affects the claim that the universe is proof that God exists.

    I was trying to show that I don’t see proof to *your* claim that the universe is a testament to the existence of God. If you say that, my response will be where could we find good proof to that claim? I would think a good sample of proof would be in the beliefs of scientists, as they are the most familiar among us in terms of the workings of the universe. If in fact the universe is proof to God’s existence, then scientists should be the most faithful of the bunch. They’re not.

    According to: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-harris24dec24,0,3994298.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

    “Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.”

    **do, including some of our astronauts who have storng testimonies of their faith in Jesus Christ,** I don’t believe that astronauts and scientists are necessarily interchangable. Astronauts seem to be primarily about training and preparing for flying a space vehicle. But they aren’t necessarily scientists.

  • 44. Thinking Ape  |  July 10, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Mal says, “Thinking Ape, I’ve read and reread your post # 31 half a dozen times and I can’t for the life of me figure out what you are trying to say, especially in your last paragraph”

    Let me put this in small words. You believe the Bible is true because you want to. You probably became a Christian as a small child due to the fact that either your parents were Christian or someone you respected was a Christian, whilst living in a Christian nation. By the time you were able to think for yourself you were so indoctrinated with “the Truth” that it was inescapably incontrovertible – to you.

    “You, as the Athenians in Acts 17:21, evidently get your kicks out of impressing each other with your intellectual prowess and with your open-mindedness to anything but what the Bible says.”

    What gain do you think we would have from “turning our back on our faith”? What gain do we have from being regarded as outcasts by the people we love and who love us? What gain do we have to stop believing in the comfortable “Truth”? What gain, sir, do we have to lose all this only to impress each other with a game of mental masturbation?

    “I’m convinced now that you guys are not looking for answers”

    Sir, on what standards can you dare say this? Are you so omnipotent to know our hearts? It is this blatantly transparent smugness that probably made most of us question our faith in the first place. You mention pastoring a flock of sheep. People put their trust in you. You fail them with your spiritual superiority. You are the priest that shows the child “the truth” and then abuses it. So go on, continue preaching sir, give me all the Bible verses you want.

    None of that will even begin to convince me that you are searching for the truth yourself. It tells me that you can read. That is all. It tells me that because you were born to certain people at a certain time in a certain place that you can read something called the Bible. Had you been born in Saudi Arabia it would have been the Quran; had you been born in Tibet you would have been a Buddhist; had you been born in India you have believed in the dharmic religion.

    But I commend you for disregarding anything anybody says here. It takes guts. You come here saying we aren’t looking for the truth – yet where is your mirror? You can’t answer simple questions so you accuse people of being narrow minded and turning to Satan. The only “person” that has the right to do so is your god. You mock your own belief with your disdain for the brain that your god created.

  • 45. Mal Bicker  |  July 10, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Bry, Yes, Christianity requires faith in God and in HIs Word, the Bible. I rest my life and eternity on the God who gave us His Word
    As for science and medicine, I agree that we are continuing to learn and build on the knowledge of the past. We don’t know it all.

    As for theolgy, it is given to us in perfection in the Bible. None of us has a perfect understanding of it; hence the denominations. In the meantime, we do well to spend time searching God’s Word for a better understanding of Truth. I have spent my life searching and learning. But the source of truth is Christ. He claims He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man comes to the Father but by Him. I have found the source of Truth in Christ. I need not search any further. When you find something, you quit searching for it. As for my understanding of the Bible it is limited and will be until I am in Christ’s presence.

    As for my humanity with all my flaws, I am still stuck with it.
    When I offend others by my spirit and atitude, I am sorry. However, I never apologize for speaking the Truth of God’s Word.

    As for the existence and power of Satan, that does not prove a cruel God. It only proves that God is so kind as to give us a choice of listening to Him or listening to Satan.
    God does not want robots in Heaven wo are forced to love Him. He shows His love to us in Christ and then gives us the choice to receive that love or reject it. That’s the message of John 3.

    Thinking Ape, I’ll try to get to your letter next time I have a bit of free time.

    Mal

  • 46. Mal Bicker  |  July 11, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Thinking Ape,
    Yes, I was saved at the age of nine because of the godly influence of my mother and the church I attended with her. It’s normal for parents, to attempt to indoctirnate their children, regardless of religion. Of course, at that age I didn’t have much understanding of the Bible.

    When I became a preacher at the age of 22, it was not long before I was convinced that the Word of God alone can dynamite hearts, not my opinions or psycholgical approach. Romans 1:16

    If you are searching for answers, it does not appear to me that you are searching for them in the Bible. Your writings evidence a strong antithesis for the Bible and for Christianity and a bias for atheism. It seems as though you have ended your search for Truth in that you have found it in atheism. Am I wrong about that?

    Sorry you feel compelled to judge me as narrow minded, smug and with spiritual superiority. If you knew me better, I doubt you would think that. I am a dying preacher preaching to dying men. When I go to Heaven, I want to take as many as I can with me.

    I do not preach my opinions, or take polls to see what is popular, nor do I care in the least what is politically correct.
    I just preach the Word every chance I get. That’s why I am constantly writing new messages on my church web site.
    http://www.alamedabiblechurch.com

    I don’t know how I stumbled on to this web site, but I’m glad I did. If we really knew each other, I’ll bet we would be friends. You remind me of my hero, The Apostle Paul before he was converted to Christ. Read his story ini Acts 9.

    Have a good evening.
    Mal

  • 47. bry0000000  |  July 11, 2007 at 2:25 am

    “If you are searching for answers, it does not appear to me that you are searching for them in the Bible. ”

    The problem is that so many of us have searched for answers in the Bible and have been left more than wanting, which should hardly be surprising given the lack of divinity the bible claims to contain.

    “It seems as though you have ended your search for Truth in that you have found it in atheism. ”

    Earlier, I think, you were ranting about not being close minded, yet you stereotypically assume that atheism is the final stage in the search for truth. Wrong. It is only the beginning. However, it provides the ability for one to see truth instead of a sense of narrow mindedness being forced upon people via religion. You will disagree with me, of course, but you have contradicted yourself enough almost immediately thereafter to prove my point.

    Regards

  • 48. Thinking Ape  |  July 11, 2007 at 3:10 am

    “If you are searching for answers, it does not appear to me that you are searching for them in the Bible. Your writings evidence a strong antithesis for the Bible and for Christianity and a bias for atheism. It seems as though you have ended your search for Truth in that you have found it in atheism. Am I wrong about that?”

    You are correct in concluding that I do not search for truth in the Bible – as an inspired book, I find it spiritually and scientifically wanting. The antithesis of the Bible, however, is not atheism – it is simply a disregard for the unwavering faith in the Bible. A bias for atheism? Slightly, but on only as a contributor at de-conversion.com. A proponent for critical thinking and skepticism, definitely. Truth in atheism? Well, as you can see from Bry’s post, this would hardly be an end, but there is little truth to be found in a “anti-truth”. Its kind of like the example of a fairy – it doesn’t mean much to be a an a-fairyist.

    The only person here that seems to be at end of his search is you. Haven’t you found it? It appears you stopped when you were 22. That’s about the same time I found contentment with whatever label someone wanted to put on me. Atheist? Maybe Nontheist? Agnostic? Agnostic Christian? Agnostic Theist? Agnostic Buddhist Christian Nontheist?

    And seriously. I have nothing against the Bible. I have something against the way Christians use the Bible. I’ve read Acts 9. I’ve read Acts. I’ve read Matthew through to Revelation. Several times. I’ve read Genesis to Malachi, the OT Apocrypha, the Shepherd of Hermas, Apocalypse of Peter, Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Peter, Mary. I’ve read the Gospel of Truth, the Infancy Gospel, and pretty much every pieve of early Christian literature I can get my hands on. I’ve memorized the thirteen stages of the Old Testament and the seven stages of humankind through the eyes of a premillenarianist. I come from the pacifist, hardworking heritage of the mennonites (MB brand).

    I write this not to brag, for there is nothing here to brag about. I love to read and I love early Christian literature. I also love to read Buddhist literature. I have a hard time with Islam and Hindu, but I could see myself appreciating some of that, especially Sufism. I understand these belief systems more than I understand science (which isn’t hard – I was homeschooled, went to one private Dutch Reform school, and have parents who run a Christian outreach camp who have a 2-year bible institute diploma – needless to say, science wasn’t emphasized).

    I write all of this for one reason: stop re-directing me to passages. Am I close-minded? I can be. Maybe not as much as you, but I cannot any longer use the Bible as some magic book that escapes all reason. Men wrote it. Men wrote what they thought God wanted (well, some of the books). Men wrote it as letters to churches and the Christian church, especially the Protestant church, has idolized it to the point of the fourth person of their “trinity”. God. Jesus. Holy Spirit. Take the Bible away from these Christians, and their faith evaporates. Like magic.

  • 49. julie-girl  |  July 17, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    i was so delighted to find this beautiful blog. i am writing a paper right now in my logic class on whether or not morality can exist apart from god and my google search brought me here.

    stellar1, this was so well-worded. you said “our dilemmas are human problems that can and should be handled through human intervention.” that is so true.

    i finally de-converted a year ago and have since been reading voraciously anything i could find on agnosticism and atheism. i am coming to believe that where christians see humanity as a type of failure, i know see humanity as an amazing triumph. humanity is not perfect, it is not unflawed; however, i cannot look at civilizations past to the present with all the amazing contributions to the arts, to engineering, to science, to medicine, etc, without a feeling of pride and immense joy to be part of something with so much potential.

    as a christian, i always felt that i wasn’t good enough, that i was flawed due to adam and eve. humanity could never revel in itself. everything pointed to the after-life, but how was one to muster the hope to live the everyday till it came? i always felt the humanity of christ was never celebrated. it wasn’t that he was a man; no he was god. but he became man, i would be thinking. that’s fabulous. now i see that christianity is unable to care about humanity the way non-believers can.

    i feel i have found a safe place to discuss and share with people who deal in respect. some of the other blogs i have come across turn into childish insults at the first disagreement. but really, nothing is ever resolved that way. i will return often!

  • 50. Don Robertson, The American Philosopher  |  July 19, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Yes. You are on the right track.

    This could help.

    A Brief Schematic of Morality, Prioritizing Moral Reason Published in 2006.

    http://www.geocities.com/donaldwrobertson/amoralschematic.html

    You will find morality is not at all like what it is commonly given to be.

    Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

  • 51. Religion and Morality « Jed’s Sandbox  |  July 20, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    […] Filed under: skepticism, atheism, religion, personal — jedrm @ 10:10 am Found a nice entry which led me to a nice […]

  • 52. stellar1  |  July 21, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Julie girl,

    You are welcome to come here as much as you want. Most of us are finding our way out of Christianity (or have already found it) and have a lot to say now that the light has come on – so to speak. :-)

    Good luck with your paper!

  • 53. Chattanoogan  |  July 21, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    “Good person” is a pretty vague term. I think everyone (religious or not) probably does good deeds at times — though some more often than others. But none of us (religious or not) is perfect. We all screw up at times. So what defines a “moral” person? Where do you draw the line between moral and immoral people?

    I think Christians often make the mistake of lashing out at non-Christians for being immoral, when really Christians are no better or no more moral than anyone else. I’m a Christian myself — I know. I screw up just as much as (or more than) anyone else.

  • 54. G  |  July 21, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    If I remember correctly, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, What is truth?

    I’ll ask: what are morals? In the context of our culture, we have commonalities and differences and America being the “melting pot” it is, I can see why debates rage on over what is deemed right and what is wrong.

    I am a christian and my morals are defined as thus: in knowing that I have limited control over situations, I must act within reason to do what is right. I understand that my reasons might be very different from those who do not follow God or some sort of belief in something greater than we.

    And my peace comes from knowing that my mistakes are covered under grace. That said, it seems like a lot of people who’ve grown up under strict households and “de-converted” talk about their upbringing in that religion as something that stifled them. Yet, “religion that is pure and undefiled”, as it says in James, is to visit orphans and widows and keep yourself pure.

    It seems to me, people tend to think of christianity as a sort of cult headed by George Bush. I say, bring the discussion to the source material — the Bible — and base your criticisms on true christians there. Don’t judge a religion based on the characters of a select few. It makes me think, maybe the ones who are doing it right are the ones that don’t get as noticed.

    /shrug

    Yes, there are christians who also need to do the same and open up the book they’ve been supposed to be reading. That said, I remember the example of Paul who wished he could be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers. That’s not just tolerance — that’s love for a group of people who call out for your death.

    Sorry, if that was long.

  • 55. KS  |  July 21, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    The reasoning that backs this entry is seriously flawed. You know why? Because you use the people who profess to belong to a certain faith to judge the morality of people who observe that faith. So in your example Bush is the paragon of Christianity and Bin Laden is the paragon of Islam and because these two men are of questionable morality therefore all Christians and Muslims are of quetionable morality.

    What about the thousands if not millions of Muslims and Christians out there who oppose the doctrines of these two men? Are they flukes in the system of what?

  • 56. Thinking Ape  |  July 21, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    G & KS,
    Stellar1 was not referring to George Bush as some sort of figurehead of Christianity or the basis of Christianities moral foundation. Stellar1 was explicitly stating that political leaders, such as George Bush, should keep their religion out of their politics for obvious reasons – you can justify anything with religion. This doesn’t make it right or wrong. Don’t take words and examples out of context. G, you obviously think that we need to take a look at the Bible for moral foundation, not the people that believe it. There are many other articles on this site in which we do that.

    Is the NT an improvement on OT morality?

  • 57. David Russell  |  July 21, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Morality is simply a set of values – what we think about abortion (for or against), the death penalty (for or against), torture of terrorist suspects (for or against). These values can come from religion, but they can come from plenty of other influences in a person’s life.

  • 58. fantasy77  |  July 21, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    I’m actually not really sure what the word “religion” means because I hear it around me so much, in fact I honestly don’t think that “religion” has anyting to do with anything, for example the question of religion and morality. Yes I too have known first hand good and bad people who “claim” to be a christian or “claim” to have religion in their lives, I believe it has to do more with “Who” you believe in, instead of trying to grasp the “supposed” rules and guidelines of any one church or denomination, or religious group.
    I’m a Seveth-Day Adventist, which in one simple sentance “only” means that I strongly believe that God created everything in six days and that He rested on the seventh, hence setting the example for the entire human race, that Saturday is a day of rest from the rushed rythem of our “daily” lives. But does the human race follow that set example? no of course not, and that is perfectly fine in my book, because I truly believe that God gives us a choice.
    To either believe that there is a God or to not believe in a God. The title “Seventh-Day Advetist” to me, is merely a title that helps others around us to know the path in which “we” believe that God has set for us, and you see that’s the problem, most people don’t even stop to discover what I or others like me have to say about ourselves as individuals and what we believe in! All they do is clump us in as another “crazy” religious group that wants to “try” and convert people to “their” beliefs. Which (at least for myself) is not the case, I don’t have any desire to force how I believe on others or to sit there and lecture people on the things they should or shoudn’t do, according to how I choose to live my life in Christ. The only thing that is my true desire is to share my love for Him and the things that He has done in my life, that’s all, so that others around me will see only the true nature of Christ, and that is to love the beings that He created and to one day take them home with Him. Skip all the religious rules and all the little or big guidelines that “humans” try to place on you as an individual because “they think” that’s the only way to be saved or to secure your salvation. All that I believe you need to know and understand is that God only wants to love and protect you, and He wishes only that you love,respect, have faith and trust only in Him, to follow “all” the simple guidelines that He “Himself” gave us, which I believe are the Ten Commandments. Sorry if I sound a little preachy but I felt that I had to comment on your blog because it is a very good testimony about yourself and how you have chosen to believe. Thanks for your blog it has given me a lot to think about! – Fantasy77

  • 59. Anonymous  |  July 21, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    I have often thought along these same lines. As an atheist raised in a Catholic/Protestant household, and having friends of all religions, I don’t see morality as a function of religion so much as a necessity for people to live together in a society. I invite you to read my blog on nearly the same topic: http://tinyurl.com/2us4su

  • 60. fantasy77  |  July 21, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    I went to your site, and it was great, and as I was looking at your catagories list and I was wondering if you could tell me how to get the catagory listings or topics out on say for instence my blog for public viewing. Because I’ve made a few catagories but can’t get them under the heading that says catagories for some reason, and I can’t find how to do it. If you would be so kind as to maybe give me directions on how to do that, I know this has nothing at all to do with religion, this would be more of a technical issue. Feel free to visit my blog to see what I’m discribing.
    http://www.fantasy77.wordpress.com

  • 61. Tia  |  July 21, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for this post. I do agree that we don’t need religion in order to be moral, but I’d like to go even further and underscore what you also seem to suggest, although not exactly in these words, that religion can actually prevent us from being moral. I’m not talking here about the hypocrisy of people who profess one thing and do another (corrupt preachers and leaders, for example). I’m talking about responsibility. People can do good things without owning them fully (“It wasn’t me, it was the Holy Spirit working through me…”, i.e. I’m responsible for everything I do wrong, and God is responsible for everything I do right, so, effectively, I add up to trash, even after he’s “saved” me!).

    To be truly moral, we need to take full responsibility for both our bad and our good actions, to be fully adult in responding to our own consciences (and also, in examining how our consciences were fashioned, to challenge and refine them). If we act rightly only because an authority (person, church, scripture, community, culture) demands it of us, we do so from a relatively infantile position. I was musing on this recently when I came across this lecture on Erich Fromm by Hugh Gillilan. The writer quotes a passage from Man For Himself:

    There is only one solution to [the human condition]: for one to face the truth, to acknowledge his fundamental aloneness and solitude in a universe indifferent to his fate, to recognize that there is no power transcending him which can solve his problem for him. Man must accept the responsibility for himself and the fact that only by using his powers can he give meaning to his life. If he faces the truth without panic he will recognize that: there is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers, by living productively; and that only constant vigilance, activity, and effort can keep us from failing in the one task that matters-the full development of our powers within the limitations set by the laws of our existence. Only if he recognizes the human situation, the dichotomies inherent in his existence and his capacity to unfold his powers, will he be able to succeed in his task: to be himself and for himself and to achieve happiness by the full realization of those faculties which are peculiarly his-of reason, love, and productive work.

    However, I’m aware that in a sense the above is an idealised stance, like religion! We simply aren’t fully adult. We’re in varying stages of growth (or stasis) in relation to this ideal. I seem to remember that one of M. Scott Peck’s ideas (sorry, I can’t remember which book as I read them many years ago) was that religion, and particularly religion in community, may in fact be a useful transitional tool for some people. It can provide structure, discipline, boundaries, security and positive feedback as we move from chaotic selfish, non-accountable toddlerhood towards maturity. On the other end of the maturity scale, many mystics and enlightened people who are venerated as close to God seem to have moved beyond the shoulds and oughts of religion.

    I think, though, that this works less well for people who are born into it or convert very young, because they have fewer alternative experiences with which to compare it and thus less capacity to understand it as a developmental stage. It is simply their total reality and they cannot conceive of growth beyond it. And they are the ones who really throw their toys out of the cot when anyone suggests that their construction of reality may not adequately describe what’s actually out there. It’s an understandable reaction to fear of the unknown. And one of the scariest unknowns is the extent of one’s own capacity to take responsibility for one’s life.

  • 62. Haqqaton  |  July 21, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    “Outside of the context of religion, I could not lie, cheat or steal and think that some god would forgive the deed and thus make my sin not really count. I could no longer wait for some unseen hand to supernaturally feed the poor or to help the weak.”

    This proof that you really don’t know about Christianity…

    Unfortunately I can’t explain my point because I don’t know English too much… :-(

  • 63. TiaTalk  |  July 21, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    […] the other comments. This one is on religion’s role in creating or facilitating morality. See http://de-conversion.com/2007/07/04/humans-do-not-need-religion-to-be-moral/#comment-5651. In brief, I agree with the writer’s assertion that religion isn’t necessary for […]

  • 64. barelysage  |  July 21, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    You’ve done good to inspire so much thought on this subject by so many.
    The Navajo version of the Golden Rule is “Do what you know is right.” Of course, sometimes there’s conflict in determining what’s right between one’s own interests and those of others, and it happens that what is right can be different in two identical circumstances. The Navajo principle is that we do know what is the right, and it’s a matter of character to recognize whether to defend one’s own interests or sacrifice to another’s.
    Religion can be a tool to guide and develop that character, as can be family, and people who influence us. Any of these are also corruptible.
    The Navajo principle expresses the Christian idea that Deity exists within each of us in some way, and we have only to train ourselves to know it. They use a different language, of course.
    I discuss this connection in my WordPress blog, under the category of philosophy in the post, “Gender,” should you have an interest.

  • 65. Alison Lee  |  July 21, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Hi

    Interesting discussion here about religion and morals.

    The bottom line is that the responsibility is yours and yours alone. You cannot blame anyone else!

    Love,
    Alison
    Attracting Wealth, Health And Love

  • 66. John  |  July 22, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Nothing good comes from liars.

    The most important lie that George W. Bush ever told the world was that he is a born-again Christian. Yet everything he does is patently evil, with the support of other evil people and idiots. You don’t need to put your trust in the reports that he was a Skull-and-Crossbones cultist. Just by keeping track of his actions, you’ll probably come to the same conclusion I did – that if the ultimate embodiment of evil (Satan) exists in GWB’s mind, he is worshipping it every morning and every night. Nothing else can explain his need to cause or allow infinite casualties to be perpetrated around the world.

    Much the same for Bin Laden and Al Qaida.

  • 67. axinia  |  July 22, 2007 at 1:53 am

    I belive that there must be some universal values, common for every human being. Some universal values going beyong culture or religion.

    I was more than happy to run into a highly intersting book of Harvard Professor Marc D. Hauser “Moral minds” describing one of these values – morality – as a universal human quality, kind of an instinct. That was very suportive!

    Let me quotate a bit just to give you an idea:

    “Our expressed languages differ, but we generate each one on the basis of a universal set of principles.

    Our artistic expressions vary wildly, but the biology that underpins our aesthetics, generates universal preferences for symmetry in the visual arts and consonance in music.

    The idea I have developed in this book is that we should think morality in the same way.

    Underlying the extensive cross-cultural variation we observe in our expressed social norms is a universal moral grammar that enables each child to grow a narrow range of moral expressions.

    When we judge an action as morally right oder wrong, we do so instinctively, tapping a system of unconsciously operative and inaccessible moral knowledge.

    Though equating mortality with religion is commonplace, it is wrong in at least two ways: It falsely assumes that people without religious faith lack an understanding of moral rights and wrongs, and that people of religious faith are more virtuous than atheists and agnostics.

    Based on studies of moral judgements in a wide range of cultures, atheists and agnostics are perfectly capable of distinguishing between morally permissible and forbidden actions.

    More important, across a suite of moral dilemmas and testing situations, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs, Muslims, atheists and agnostics deliver the same judgements – and with the same level of incoherence orders insufficiency when it comes to their justification. … These observations suggest that the system that unconsciously generates morale judgements is immune to religious doctrine.”

    It seems very logical and true to me. However the modern people have drifted away from the innocence of a child and therefore can hardly feel the universal moral.

    Based on my long-term spiritual expereinces I noticed the following: as soon as spiritual powers are awakened, one goes beyond culture or religion. At that state the morality comes up naturally, without any commandments or scriptures.

    More and more the scientists will be discovering the universal nature of human beings with the universal value centres at the core of it. They will.

    And one day people will understand: we are all one and the same. Then why do we fight?

  • 68. M  |  July 22, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    I can remember when I first questioned my religious beliefs. It was over forty years ago, I was about ten or twelve, in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class. The lesson that day must have been something about how you must accept Jesus as your savior to get into heaven. My question was, “What about someone that lived a good life but was living somewhere that had never heard of Jesus. What happen to them when they died?” I was told they would go to hell and growing up Southern Baptist, I knew hell wasn’t a fun place to go. Well that didn’t sound fair to me. So for the next year or two I must have driven my Sunday school teachers mad with questions like; “If an innocent Jewish girl, like Anne Frank, is killed in a concentration camp but doesn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah, then she goes to hell. But if the Nazis that killed her, truly in their hearts, accept Jesus before they die then they go to heaven. Is that what your telling me?” “How about all the people that lived and died before Christ was born, did they have to go to hell by default? ” I don’t remember the answers they gave me to these question, after all these years but they must not have satisfied me because I left the Baptist and searched for a religion I could believe in. I checked out the Catholics, Mormons, Methodist, Wicca and native American religions. I read the Quran, danced and chanted with the Hare Krishnas but none of them seemed to have what I was looking for. In fact it seemed that a common thread in most religions is, if you don’t believe in what we believe it’s going to be very bad when you die. It wasn’t until I was reading the teachings of Buddha that I found something I could accept and that was this.

    Kalama Sutra

    “Do not believe in anything(simply) because you have heard it;”

    “Do not believe in traditions, because they have been handed down for many generations;”

    “Do not believe in anything, because it is spoken and rumoured by many;”

    “Do not believe in anything, simply because it is written in your religious books;”

    “Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders;”

    “But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

    BINGO! Reading that for the first time was the closest I’ll come to enlightentment. I’m not a Buddhist, there are too many beliefs I don’t share with them and haven’t believed in a god, supreme being or any other holy whatchamacallits in a very long time but the above does give me a moral anchor even though I don’t prescribe to a religion. I’ve found over the years that many people have high moral values without the threat of an eternity in flames or the promise of everlasting paradise. I think that most of us, that believe there is no after life after death think we better get it right in the short time we have. Not because some deity say so but because it’s the right thing to do.

  • 69. KS  |  July 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Well, a lot has been said already. I would just like to say your arguement is flawed. For instance in the example above you made it out as though Bush and OSama are the paragons of Christianity and Islam. You use the actions of a few to judge the whole, forgetting the thousands if not millions of muslims and christians out there who detest the morality of those two men. What about Mother Theresa and many other religious people who brought good to this world?

    Just like athiesm and agnosticism everyone looks for proof and evidence of why they believe what they believe in, believing anyone who subscribes to the contrary as ‘not knowing what they’re doing’. Just because YOU are an athiest with a distaste for religion does not make religion unnecessary for a upright morality.

  • 70. Thinking Ape  |  July 22, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    KS, did you want to edit your #55 post, since they seem fairly identical? See my brief response on #56.

    “What about Mother Theresa and many other religious people who brought good to this world?”

    This really has nothing to do with the original argument, since I don’t know if you are seeing the author’s point or not, but how much do you know about Mother Teresa?

  • 71. ivan  |  July 23, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Every question…. every doubt… every truth hidden under the sun. The bible has the answer…

    http://esoriano.wordpress.com

  • 72. Sunwalk Ed  |  July 24, 2007 at 1:28 am

    If we concentrate on the mis-users of religion we will never see clearly whether there is such a thing as true and healthy religion.

    One of the most important things I came across was that ‘spirituality is the source of the will to act morally’.

    Of course religion is not necessary to experience spirituality because being spiritual is part of being human. However all of the great world religions are great repositories of knowledge about the essence of religion which I take to be how we relate to the Whole – that which is beyond the known and knowable. If we cut through, or simple ignore, all of the ‘man-made crap’ they are still treasure troves for gaining that spirituality that will give us the will to act morally.

    God? For me God is that unknown and unknowable Whole that is behind every manifestation of life. All those ‘old guy with long white hair images’ come from mistaking that we should make God in our image.

    Good luck

    Ed – http://sunwalked.wordpress.com/

  • 73. You do not need religion to be moral « Darker Me  |  July 24, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    […] July 24th, 2007 · No Comments Can I be a good person without religion? Many religious people do not seem to think so. You do not need religion to be moral « de-conversion […]

  • 74. A 10 Year Old’s Wisdom « A Veritable Plethora  |  July 24, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    […] as has been brought up in other blogs lately, including but not limited to here and here, why do many still attribute morals (or a lack thereof), to religion?  And while I found […]

  • 75. salgantry  |  July 25, 2007 at 11:18 am

    mal….you are a fool

  • 76. Evangelines  |  November 11, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Great post!!

    Our dilemmas are human problems that can and should be handled through human intervention. I believe with everything inside me that if humans were not so distracted by things such as religion, racism, sexism, petty rivalries and power struggles that we would be capable of accomplishing miracles.

    We could feed every mouth, cure every disease and rid the world of war. I believe we could end racism. I believe we could end sexism. I believe every child could receive an adequate education. I also believe we are capable of instituting a moral system outside of the framework of religion.

    Very wise words:)

  • […] to bring a human solution to a the perceived problem of humanity’s inability to have morals and ethics without a divine code and our need for some sort of redemption from our mistakes. The reality is, this is where we need […]

  • 78. Martin  |  March 4, 2008 at 7:39 am

    I just made a search at Google and came up with this. Awesome!

    I will link this page to increase it’s page rank. The word must be spread!

  • 79. kathy  |  March 5, 2008 at 3:49 am

    martin…we need some game that promotes violence to be moral?…interesting…gamers…a moral bunch if i ever saw one—if you can get them out from in front of the TV…personally i find discussions of religion—all religion and to the atheist his atheism is his religion, to be deadly dull and boring and filled with lame arguments by those on both sides who can’t see the truth of anything they are so wrapped up in their own hatred…you all ought to be sent off to share an island together and leave those of us who are sane to take care of the world…

  • 80. Shaun  |  March 11, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Well about God and Christian views about the bible. If the Adam and Eve thing were true then he would of created a sin, incestry, so he would of broken his own, therefore he commited a sin, rule by making only 2 people to populate this world. Also if he was God and can do anything then why did he tell Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree that they did eat from. Surely he wouldn’t of made the tree in the first place knowing that Adam and Eve wouldn’t listen to him.

  • 81. PirateFaafy  |  March 15, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I have a question for this Mal Bicker person… why does he believe in the bible? And before I get some answers, let me put one thing out there.

    I do not want something like “There’s evidence everywhere of God’s creation. Therefore the bible is true.” We all know that’s just your excuse for having doubts yourself.

    I do not want something like “There maybe was a guy whose name sounded something like ‘Jesus Christ’ who existed at one point in time, therefore the entire bible is true.” Why do you insist on such empty statements?

    You argue with people who state the falseness of the bible with biblical evidence. Okay, that’s great. Come up with something else. The bible CAN NOT be a self evident proof, and there is NO reason to believe that it was not written by some insane guy and preached as the truth OUTSIDE of the bible itself… doesn’t that kinda make you think?

  • […] Challenging Religious Myths 1: No Morality without Religion, and Stellar1’s You do not need religion to be moral. Of course this is not an exhaustive list as this issue is a part of several other excellent blog […]

  • 83. The Case For Christianity « de-conversion  |  July 31, 2008 at 7:20 am

    […] subject of morality without God bores me a little, so any reader who wants to comment on this, please feel free to do so. Lewis […]

  • 84. John Morales  |  July 31, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Ah, morality and religion.

    Why do people need to conflate the two concepts?

  • 85. Cooper  |  October 9, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I grew up in a very conservative Christian home in Middle America. The church I attended was so strict that women were not allowed to wear pants, makeup or jewelery. Those in my church were not allowed to go to the movies, drink any type of alcohol or dance to music. As I said, it was a very strict church.

    The fear of hell was preached from the pulpit should I stray from living “right.” Of course, anyone who rejected this very narrow way of thinking would never make it to paradise. This is quite a guilt trip to put on a young woman growing up in a big city.

    Stellar 1—

    It’s funny—on another thread here we were kinding of discussing the same subject in a different way. I too was involved with a church the same as you describe above. What resulted was a type of “pharisaical obedience” to God all based on outward holiness. What you didn’t do was far more important than your motivation from within. This can cause religious people to become quite wicked actually.

    I left the church after spending about 6-7 years there. Through the whole time I continually remembered my conversion, and remembered from the heart how God was just not like the God they were teaching. I knew inside that what they were teaching was warped, but at the same time fear kept a hold on me. But soon, “outward” devotion was just not enough, and I left, and did not go to church for several years.

    I share this because it is very important to realize that many “religious” people are just that—“religious”. They are serving God through fear, laying all of their own morality on you (don’t wear jeans, don’t watch TV, don’t wear jewelry, etc. etc) and using the Bible as the “rule” for imposing these things. Yet the Bible does not say “don’t watch TV, or “don’t wear jeans”, etc. etc.—these are men’s moral rules—where the Bible leaves a lot to our own judgment as Christians. What may offend one person may be alright with another. A glass of wine may be fine for one Christian, where another thinks of all alcohol as “sinful”.

    But one other thing I would like to share is this. Many say that “Christians” are actually more immoral than regular people in many cases—-and sometimes this is true. But one also needs to remember that once one says “I am a Christian” they come immediately under a moral microscope. If they cuss when they are angry they immediately hear “And you call yourself a Christian???” They may have only cussed that one time, and feel bad about it, but now they are known as “that cusser who calls himself a Christian” :)

    The microscope effect causes many to then judge Christians on a much higher scale, and therefore come to the conclusion that the Christian actually sins more than the unbeliever—when much of the time in reality it is just because they are being watched and judged far more severely than the person who does not call themselves a Christian. :)

  • 86. afrianto  |  October 12, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    morality is not the main reason to believe in religion. But I choose to believe a religion because I believe GOD EXIST.

  • 87. Steven  |  December 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Have a look at societies living in the deep dark jungle. While they are influenced by paganism, the local ‘witch doctor’, as a society within themselves, they appear to get along with each other just fine.
    And again, the only influence that appears to ‘screw things up’ for them is the pagan-witch doctor aspect.
    It would be enteresting to know why (apparently) mankind feels a basic need or desire to believe in a ‘god’ of one form or another.

  • 88. Josh  |  December 17, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    “It would be enteresting to know why (apparently) mankind feels a basic need or desire to believe in a ‘god’ of one form or another.”

    Its really cool if one can ascribe human motives to natural events :) Just think how awesome it is to see your dire enemy have a tree fall on him in the jungle – what luck!

  • 89. Josh  |  December 17, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    “The church I attended was so strict that women were not allowed to wear pants”

    Wow. Where’s this?
    :-D

  • 90. Josh  |  December 17, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    “But one also needs to remember that once one says ‘I am a Christian’ they come immediately under a moral microscope”

    Sounds exactly like de-converts. Man, I still can’t find my hidden sins.

  • 91. TitforTat  |  December 18, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Man, I still can’t find my hidden sins.(Josh)

    Isnt that called Denial lol ;)

  • 92. Josh  |  December 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    “Isnt that called Denial lol ;)”

    No, it just means they aren’t hidden.
    :)

  • 93. TitforTat  |  December 18, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    lol

  • 94. Josh  |  December 18, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    See, that’s whats so cool about de-converting: I don’t have to hide a damn thing anymore. Ever. And no Christians can judge me because the apostle Paul says that Christians are not supposed to judge those outside the faith, only those inside the faith. So I’m excluded from Christian judgment, I can sin all I want, and I can tell everyone about it. No more hidden sins!

    Except, ironically, I don’t like breaking laws because that gets me in trouble, I don’t like cheating on my gf because that means she will get upset, I don’t like lying because it makes me lose friends, and I don’t like being mean because I don’t like people being mean to me. I don’t like drugs because their stupid, and I don’t like getting drunk (same). And to top it off, well, sin isn’t as fun when its allowed.

    Damn, I’m moral.

  • 95. Ana  |  October 9, 2009 at 7:47 am

    “We are all atheists about most of the gods humanity ever believed in. Some of us just go one God further.” Dawkins

  • 96. Roy  |  October 9, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Yes. His “The God Delusion” is an *excellent* book that I would enthusiastically recommend to the open-minded Christian reader. With all due respect to George, in all honesty I doubt that close-minded Christians would get much more out of it than a chance to further rail against atheists. But I could be wrong.

  • 97. shaminta  |  March 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    i really liked ur article :) very inspiring :)

  • 98. cag  |  March 30, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Noogatiger #22

    No, the truth is we have been making our own moral laws since the dawn of our existence. Some people just labeled it as Gods law so they could make others abide by them.

    There is an error in this sentence:
    No, the truth is we have been making our own moral laws since the dawn of our existence. Some people just labeled it as Gods law so they could make others abide bypay for them.

  • 99. antiCatholic  |  April 25, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Jesus was tortured, murdered and forsaken by God. Now it’s pretty easy to see who is right and who is wrong.

  • 100. Elijah  |  April 27, 2010 at 4:10 am

    First I would like to address you all in gratitude for the intellectual maturity it takes to share these views without dissension; secondly, I would like to say I have only seen seventeen years here on Earth, and have done my fair share of Lying, stealing, and emotionally injuring other Human beings, I have faced much err.
    I would like to validate Christianity in the regards that the spirit of Jesus the Christ, whether psychosomatic or not is real. On that note, I also add that as in Nature, Diversity is perhaps one of “gods” greatest gifts. You have legs to stand on…
    I as a young child had not learned religion, science, philosophies or culture, but had a Full-fledged morality; upon joining public schooling at age four in northern California in the United States of America, I began losing my intuitive mode of correct conduct and after years of growth found myself rebelling full swing in my early teens. I ran away from home at fifteen, two years ago, traveled thousands of miles encountering Monks, Cults, spirituals, and religious folk.
    I say this only to exhibit I have some experience to draw from; Now what I intended to share here on this blog was not my history but rather:
    Thoughts and feelings are generated by our Conscious and sub-Conscious mind’s reaction to external stimuli(fact), When we discontinue (if only for a moment) our logical, linear thought streams throughout the layers of our psyche;(from my own experience) our beliefs, perceptions, and individual realities cease to exist, in that moment,singularly it is our senses that remain; i.e. thought depends upon our will to be sustained; it is an insubstantial creating of functionality.
    This experience was not taught, or memorized, it was a genuine experience I discovered while in the friendship with a Buddhist, it is called meditation. All this struggling for validity through whatever means, in which we have all taken, is only competition of minds and our INDIVIDUAL perception of the Earthly reality, most of us unwilling to detach from our experience generated perspectives, which are only existent because we will them too.
    Elijah Z

  • 101. jeff  |  May 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

    If we have respect we don’t need religion! It’s time to grow up and own our actions.

  • 102. Karl  |  February 25, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    No we do not need doctrines to be moral. An alternative:

    http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4760

  • 103. blesin  |  November 23, 2011 at 1:17 am

    yes man be moral without religion distractin him

  • 104. kei  |  May 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Topic should change to if society needs religion. One person does not need religion to be moral but society does need religion to have something to look up to and follow, and help judge for himself ethical decisions.

  • 105. Alban  |  June 19, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Perhaps it is time to value life once again in a direct way we long ago forgot about…making it in our imagination, unattainable. Morals it should be pointed out are not a goal, rather they are a result in an evolution that is beginning to show itself in a 180 degree turn around.

    Can’t say enough about tasting the sweetness of recognizing that value in a practical way that leaves conjecture and or hypothesis in the dust. Seeing the dilemma of lost morals is profound upon understanding the value of life…embarrassing without the guilt if that makes sense.

  • 106. Sin City j’ai tué pour elle Télécharger  |  July 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for finally writing about >You do not
    need religion to be moral | de-conversion <Loved it!

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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