What is good without God?

Can good hinge on human emotion?  some sort of rational definition? or on collective perspective of mankind?  Is it possible to have a definite moral definition of good without an example of the ultimate good – that which we know as God?

What is truth without Truth?

Some would say truth can be determined by scientific analysis of our environment – the collection of evidence, outcome of various tests, and the repeatability of those tests in order to verify theorems and hypotheses about the world around us, but how can we be certain that that evidence, those tests, the very observations made are not tainted by our very perspective?

What is real? How do you define real?  If you are talking about your senses, what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then all you’re talking about are electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

Morpheus, The Matrix

So if truth is merely chemical and electrical signals interpreted by our brains, then what is truth other than a commonly held perspective?

Without God, there can be no good, no evil, no truth.  Our own fragile lives and transient attitudes and mores are not adequate judges of goodness and truth even when collectively massed into a common consensus.

Is it good for a man to marry a girl only twelve or thirteen years old?  In America, it is not considered good, but in Pakistan or Afghanistan, it is common.  How can we condemn someone in America for something that is perfectly acceptable elsewhere without having some sort of definition of good?

Good can be defined as being positive or desirable in nature.  This viewpoint is prone to self-virtuosity and justification.  A writer that I personally know asked generally yesterday how our culture turns out vicious criminals that lack remorse.

The simple answer is that our culture has fallen away from the ultimate Good and Truth.  We celebrate libertine values with indefinite welfare, no fault divorce laws, homosexuality, idols so various and numerous that I could write twenty pages on just a small sample of them, glamorization of personally destructive lifestyles, and through the faux-good of “tolerance.”

Public opinion is a poor arbiter of good.  There is and can only be one Good and one Truth – unbendable, uncompromising, eternal, and perfect.   So next time someone starts preaching tolerance for same sex marriage, abortion on demand, welfare or anything else that is contrary to Truth (even equating Christianity with Wiccanism or some other religious viewpoint – they cannot both be true!), keep a wary eye – while it might ‘feel’ good to be tolerant for a time, the steps taken in the name of tolerance of evil and sin can only further degenerate society from one of laws and justice based on God-given truth and goodness, to one variable on the transient whims of man and his follies.

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  1. No-one is good, except God alone.

    However, how do you explain atheists behaving well? The scientific method shows commitment to truth, and they show empathy and help each other. Are these things not good?

    On the other hand, can you give any argument why gay people should not find partners like straight people do, fall in love and be fulfilled in a long term relationship, apart from certain disputed interpretations of a very few verses of the Bible?

    • Clare, you raise good questions and they are definitely ones that I would expect in response to my short diatribe. I like to write in order to generate those questions – sometimes I include them, sometimes I don’t based on my mood or the tenor of the text at that point. Before we can address your second question though, we have to address the first, as my answer to the second is dependent on the first.

      I can’t respond any better than the below quote – included in full.

      Can we be good without God? At first the answer to this question may seem so obvious that even to pose it arouses indignation. For while those of us who are Christian theists undoubtedly find in God a source of moral strength and resolve which enables us to live lives that are better than those we should live without Him, nevertheless it would seem arrogant and ignorant to claim that those who do not share a belief in God do not often live good moral lives–indeed, embarrassingly, lives that sometimes put our own to shame.

      But wait. It would, indeed, be arrogant and ignorant to claim that people cannot be good without belief in God. But that was not the question. The question was: can we be good without God? When we ask that question, we are posing in a provocative way the meta-ethical question of the objectivity of moral values. Are the values we hold dear and guide our lives by mere social conventions akin to driving on the left versus right side of the road or mere expressions of personal preference akin to having a taste for certain foods or not? Or are they valid independently of our apprehension of them, and if so, what is their foundation? Moreover, if morality is just a human convention, then why should we act morally, especially when it conflicts with self-interest? Or are we in some way held accountable for our moral decisions and actions?

      Today I want to argue that if God exists, then the objectivity of moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability is secured, but that in the absence of God, that is, if God does not exist, then morality is just a human convention, that is to say, morality is wholly subjective and non-binding. We might act in precisely the same ways that we do in fact act, but in the absence of God, such actions would no longer count as good (or evil), since if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Thus, we cannot truly be good without God. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.

      So in regard to your first question, yes it is possible to be good without a belief in God, but it is impossible to be “good” without God (i.e. one MUST exist or all of existence is relative and we should all be hedonists because that would bring us the most pleasure and fulfill our desires).

    • Now that I’ve addressed your first question, I’d like to pose a question in response to your second question.

      What is the purpose of marriage?

      The purpose of marriage is to provide a stable environment for procreation. “Marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and law,” according to David Blankenhorn. Here we have to come back to God. I know you wanted to avoid it, but without God, there can be no marriage – not in any logical sense anyway. The book of First John (1 John 4) attests that love comes from God. So operating on the premise of love being the purpose of marriage, and if God is love, and God expressly prohibits sexual immoral behavior(Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:18-32, and in other places throughout the old and new testaments), then love while partaking in the prohibited behavior is a perversion of the creation itself.

      I’d be more than happy to speak about social consequences and such, but you cannot eliminate God from marriage anymore than you can eliminate oxygen from water.

  2. Marriage has lots of purposes, including cementing relationships between dynasties. One big one is the support of a partner. Have you read the Aristophanes section of Plato’s Symposium? Men were getting uppity, so the Gods cut each in half, and so the new, two legged people have hunted for their other halves, and when they find them will not let them go.

    If marriage is for children, then what about infertile people, or people over the age of childbearing, or people who do not want children?

    There is a risk here that we simply hurl tired old arguments at each other. What I want to communicate to you is my distress that my way of loving should be seen as worth less than others’ way of loving, such that it is sinful and I should not do it, while others are encouraged to find a life-partner I am told to be celibate. You can tell me God commands it, and we can go back to rehashing arguments over the interpretation of
    those verses
    , but can you hear my distress?

    • Distress. What a fantastic word.

      For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)

      The above passage is the internal torment of the mind distressed by the two natures tearing man apart from the inside out. The first nature is man’s natural state as a fallen creature – the sin nature which is directly in conflict with the god-given attributes of being a created being of God, a reflection of His likeness. So the distress you mentioned is not unwelcome, it is a beautiful thing because it means that part of you still seeks Truth and refuses to concede to a fallen state. The problem is that we are weak and frail. Even when we want to do what is Right and True, we fall short because we are in complete bondage to sin.

      We are not capable of justifying ourselves (I recommend you read this for what I mean by that statement).

      We are locked in a battle every day of our lives between our sin-nature and our God-nature. So when I say it is good that you are distressed, I am not trying to point a finger or highlight your sin in particular, but to illuminate yours, mine, and the whole world’s inability to concur sin by it’s own action. I paraphrase someone else when I say that an unbeliever is incapable of feeling the burden of sin because they are already dead as a result. Evil corrupts and twists truth and goodness, by incrementally changing little aspects of us, and making us dependent on the lusts and passions not of our souls, but of our flesh because it is more readily apparent to us.

      Those who don’t have this tremendous inner struggle have either come through it by faith or they are dishonest people. They are not grieved by their sins, because they choose to overlook them. Some have become hardened by their sins, and they no longer feel any pangs of conscience. Others have designed for themselves a framework of elaborate excuses and justification for everything they do, absolving themselves of all weaknesses and faults. It is a common practice of those who discover they have a life-controlling problem to study history, psychology, sociology, and religion–to find justification for their behavior.

      David Wilkerson

      There is no equivocation. If there is God, then He is the ultimate arbiter – there can then be only One Truth and One Good. Anything outside of this box, anything contrary to the prescribed nature of His creation as outlined in scripture, true in whole or not at all.

      I will admit my own shortcomings here as I am not an evangelist or a theologian able to spout scripture and rhetorical arguments ad nauseum so I pray that the words above are faithful and true.


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