HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Why Faith in God opposes morality

It is said that God either gives us morality or it is independent of God.  An act is not morally right just because you agree to it. But what if you are God incarnate?  What if you molest a child?  Then agreeing to it makes it right if God creates morality or there is no right and wrong if there is no God.  By definition then God can make murder a virtue simply by telling us to do it.  Morality then is about rules. But if somebody is suffering that is not a consideration at all.  No secular account of morality would go that far.  You need to take the God theory seriously to even consider it.

 

Those who fuse God and morality have an assumption in the background.  The assumption is that, "We must only serve a good and just and loving God."  Take justice.  Serving an unjust God can be just. How?  You cannot beat him so you can do what he says except when you think he is unfair.  If he takes revenge on you that makes you more just not less.  Justice and God then are not intrinsically on the same page.

 

The idea of a moral God is popular but Christian teaching correctly understood agrees with the philosophers that a God cannot be a moral agent. God is being in the sense that he is pro-existence. Evil involves an attempt to destroy which is why it is incompatible with God. God's goodness is functional goodness but not moral goodness. God is over-personified by most people as a moral agent which as Barth says is only idolatry.

 

Altruism is linked with God which is interesting for it is destroying the good for yourself by giving it away.

 

If you argue that there is no objective morality if there is no God, then you are saying you know what objective morality is and what it entails. Even if there is a God, you still make it about you. You make your God out of your moral ideas and beliefs. Even if they overlap with real morality, you care about them because you have made them your own and not because they are moral.

Objective morality is fundamentally about principles. It is a fact that one should be fair. You need to know it not believe it.

God can only be believed in. God is that which by definition alone matters and is all-sufficient for us. But if morality is fact and God cannot be treated as a fact but as somebody you believe in then God and objective morality are in conflict.

Attempts to make out that God and morality are inseparable are fraudulent.

What if you say that morality may depend in theory on the existence of God? But it may not. Morality needs firm grounding. It does not need that.

For people, morality depends on faith in God and that is not the same thing! The attempts to ground objective morality in God could be man seeking to ground it in his ideas about God.

Is helping a sick baby good regardless of whether there is a God or not or what God thinks? If the answer is yes then goodness is independent of God and thus God cannot help you become good - only you can do that. Your journey to goodness is solely your own business not even God's. Instinct shouts yes at us so any attempt to say no will only make us stop finding joy in the good we do. Even if the answer is no, the no is not natural for us. And instinct is part of being good and to suppress it only makes a morality that does not agree with itself.

The Theories of Moral Value
 
Let us see how God fits all the moral theories. Nobody says that any of them is perfect and all insist that one of them has to be the best. Best is not perfect. That means they all have casualties. To say God and morality go together is to say that God must take responsibility for the bad results of being moral. The risk that ignorant or self-serving people may choose a moral approach that is not the best and ascribe it to God and say it is his will is insuperable. They are at risk of never changing their minds for they think God has decided and God knows best.
 
Consequentialism - this says that the right thing to do is what has the best chance of doing the most good. It is not about the action being intrinsically good but about it trying to bring about intrinsic good. It shies away from fixed rules.
 
If God should be obeyed as our boss then morality is not about maximising happiness. That rejects Utilitarianism which says the consequences should be about trying to make the most people the happiest for the longest time.
 
But what if God decrees the greatest happiness of the greatest number? The problem is that obeying him is what comes first not the happiness. The doctrine robs you of happiness for you don't know if God is going to take happiness from you for in some way it changes the scales so that somebody else gets the happiness and has more of it than you ever had. And if God commands happiness he can easily un-command it when all that matters is his commanding.
 
This rejection of the importance of happiness is encapsulated in the very idea of God for religion says that suffering and even the extreme suffering that is despair is part of God’s plan.
 
If all you care about is God's rules or if that is all God cares about is rules then think about this. You end up saying that rules matter and not goodness because anybody can make up a rule and say it is a good rule once you divorce morality from increasing pleasure. Pleasure and happiness alone can tell us what good is and they are the simplest ways to work it out. It is impossible to see how we could like God even if he is good.
 
Another form of Consequentialism is that whatever has the most love in it is the right action. This is Situation Ethics or situationism.
 
There can be no doubt that when God commanded that Israel kill the Canaanites though it was not a matter of self-defence that the Bible agrees with consequentialism at least sometimes. God plainly says in the Bible that sometimes it is best to have people and nations killed. For example, adulterers had to be stoned to death. If God is a situationist then he shows the dangers of situationism. Anything can happen in the name of love or perceived love or imagined love. Love itself is bad enough but its impure versions make the problem worse.
 
People looking at the evidence and the situation and deciding that something terrible such as war is needed is one thing.
 
People thinking that God has done all the research and judged war necessary is another. Can you see how dangerous that is?
 
Virtue ethics - this is the view that you should exercise the relevant virtues in whatever you do. A teacher has to be kind and fair. A teacher cannot be avaricious and care about earnings and not the students.
 
God is supposed to represent the virtues. Somehow he is the virtues.
 
Not all virtues can be served at the one time. If a man wants a knife to murder, you cannot be kind and give him one.
 
If God is the virtues then to serve God is the only virtue that matters. Thus you would avoid the vice of avarice and practice the virtue of temperance because it is serving God. You are not practicing temperance for the sake of temperance but for the sake of God.
 
Thus virtue ethics is a sin when practiced by an atheist. It excludes people who are not very religious or who are not religious at all and thus will do more harm than good.
 
Deontologism - the view that certain things are wrong no matter what the consequences will be. If you have to tell a lie to stop a nuclear war you are to tell the truth.
 
If God endorses such a morality it shows how scary God can be. It could be he wants people put to death for inventing religions of their own instead of being part of his religion.
 
That will happen with man too but at least we are not saying there is a God for that makes it worse. And if it is God not man making the terrible rules that takes away all hope for no matter how bad man is you can hope he will come to his senses. And what about men who make the rules and convince you they are from God when they are not?
 
God is Ethically Irrelevant
 
God creates problems for all the theories. If they are flawed, then it is not helping to say any of the theories is the one God supports and commands. Then not helping is harming.
 
God is ethically irrelevant.
 
Even if he were not, imagine you had to make a choice. Would it be God or goodness? Surely it would be goodness!
 
We do good for it is good and not because some standard or God says it is good. This is the atheist answer to those who say we cannot really believe in being loving and just unless we believe in God. Those who say that are the ones who cannot believe in true goodness.
 
So we see then that whatever the right moral standard is, bringing God into it is like putting arsenic into a cake.
 
When we do not need God to justify morality and he has nothing to do with it anyway, it is immoral to bring him into it. Why? For the same reason that it would be wrong to bring something into a murder trial that has nothing to do with it. For example, you don't ruin a trial by arguing that the killer was from X and therefore is probably guilty.
 
Atheism alone should be able to be truly humanitarian not religion.
 
Atheism in principle is true humanitarianism not religion. Christians only do good as far as they are Atheists be it in thought or deed or both.
 
Spontaneous means without God
 
We are told we do good either because we are commanded to do it by God or some moral code. You cannot be commanded to do it because it is good. To command somebody to do something because it is good is dishonest for you mean you want the person to do it not just because it is good but because it is commanded! Why not do it all because it is good and forget about the commanded bit?
 
Good is superior to morality.
 
The person who does good spontaneously does not care about being commanded.
 
If we do good just because it is commanded then we are not doing it because it is good even if it is called good or is good.
 
If we do good largely because it is commanded then we are not doing it mainly because it is good even if it is called good or is good.
 
If we do good largely because it is good but partly because it is commanded then partly we are refusing to do it because it is good. We are partly doing it because it is commanded.
 
Believers say that and don't seem to care that there might be a mixture of both in us.
 
Imagine you are forced to make a choice between a and b. It has to be one or the other. A baby is sick and needs help. Do you give it the medicine because it will help? Or because God wants you to? Choose the first. Thus you see what matters. God is not God for God cannot matter.
 
Good and evil depend on themselves not God
 
Something has to be good or evil. If something is neither then that is the same as saying it is both equally so you can't get away from good and evil. It is not a matter of developing belief in God in order to believe in good and evil. We cannot avoid accepting good and evil as true. That is a good thing and religion tries to distort it by saying we must link it to God and bring God into it. Religion despite its charm then is evil.
 
To hurt people over cruel risks is cruel
 
To help others just to please God means you just do it for God and not them. You cannot help God for he is all-powerful and all-god and therefore all-happy. So whatever you do for God is not really good for it is not intended to be. Loving God is hating humanity.
 
To make such an extreme claim for God, that the concept is needed before you can condemn the torturing of a baby, demands that we need absolute proof that God exists and that he has spoken. Even fundamentalist religion admits it hasn't got that! The God concept requires you to say that you have got it and that anybody that says otherwise is threatening morality and must be destroyed or imprisoned.
 
Moral believers hold that you should suffer and pay if you break the rules. A morality with no price is not a morality. Moral believers agree with you being hurt in order to stop you hurting God. It is a short step then to moral terrorism. If the terrorism does not happen, then that is down to other variables. It is not down to your faith.

Morality has risks in an atheist worldview.

Those risks are inflated unnecessarily and excessively in a godly worldview.
 
Finally

A morality based on God then is not really a morality. It is a lie. To not be for the real morality is to be against it.

 

Is it law or decree or God’s knowledge that something is wrong that makes it wrong? Whoever knows it is wrong and whoever makes the law, even God, has nothing to do with its being wrong at all. To give them anything to do with it is to deny that what makes something wrong is that it just wrong.  It is morally wrong to give.

 

As there is no God the atheist is to do what a God should be doing: helping others.  What about the should? Hypothetically if there is no God then there should be a should. The should is strengthened by the fact that it is all up to you to act and there is no God to be involved.  God then weakens the should so any devotion to God is inherently immoral.