Can We Be Good Without God?

Is there Objective Morality? Is there Objective right and wrong? Can We Be Good Without God? Is Moral value a product of Evolution? How does Atheism answer these question?Answering this question help in find the correct worldview. Here is top Christian Apologist and Philosopher William Lane Craig unfolding these questions?

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15 thoughts on “Can We Be Good Without God?

  1. Strangely enough, I agree with most of what Craig is saying here. He’s right that there is no objective morality without God, but like most Christian apologists he’s wrong about what actual happens or would happen without objective morality.

      • Without an objective morality, people will do what they choose to do, usually (but not always) while considering the consequences. Different people will have different considerations for themselves vs. others, for the individual vs. society, for long-term vs. short-term consequences, etc. Viewpoints on right vs. wrong will vary across time and across cultures. Those who hold the majority opinion in whatever subset of the population they consider (global, national, regional, local, etc.) will usually consider themselves to be right. To me that sounds a lot like the world today.

      • Brap, Is there in any sane country, or culture that torturing or sexually abusing children is considered right, and good thing to do?

        I know, there could be difference cultures, but difference does not point to relativism because there are core principle that all cultures hold. Example Bravery in war is considered noble, while cowardliness is not.

        Is there any culture that cowardliness in war is considered noble?

        Is there a minority or majority in any culture that for example affirms cowardliness in war to be noble?

        Is there a minority or majority when robed through a part to celebrate?

        “Its All About Language” You may Say!

        A common respond is that its a matter of language, but in this I think Piper makes a good observation namely;

        But when objective truth vanishes in the fog of relativism, the role of language changes dramatically. It’s no longer a humble servant for carrying precious truth. Now it throws off the yoke of servanthood and takes on a power of its own. It doesn’t submit to objective, external reality; it creates its own reality. It no longer serves to display truth. Now it seeks to obtain the preferences of the user.

        Love affair with Moral Relativism:

        Also here, Piper made a good argument which I think I agree completely:

        People don’t embrace relativism because it is philosophically satisfying. They embrace it because it is physically and emotionally gratifying. It provides the cover that they need to do what they want.


        1. Moral relativism provides a cover for ones need to do what one wants

        Example Child-molestation by the Catholic priest can not be condemned, moral relativism gives a perfect cover. How is to say what is right and wrong about the priest act?

        2. Moral relativism is physically and emotionally gratifying.

        Guilt, bad conscience when one acted in a way one knows he/she ought not, example married couple cheating, stealing, lying, etc, moral relativism quench this physically and emotionally.

      • Prayson asked: “Brap, Is there in any sane country, or culture that torturing or sexually abusing children is considered right, and good thing to do?”

        Not that I am aware of. That’s one of those universally held opinions at one end of the good-bad spectrum. But as I have repeatedly said, 100% agreement does not make an opinion objective.

        “Is there any culture that cowardliness in war is considered noble? Is there a minority or majority in any culture that for example affirms cowardliness in war to be noble?”

        See previous answer.

        “Is there a minority or majority when robed through a part to celebrate?”

        Assuming you meant to ask “Is there a minority or majority when robbed threw a party to celebrate?”, see previous answer.

        Prayson: “’Its All About Language’” You may Say!”

        Actually I say it “is” language and only language, which is why it isn’t objective. Without language, there would still be objective facts such as object A has more mass than object B, star X is 237.8 light years away from star Y, etc. Objects have mass with or without language. Stars have a distance between them with or without language. Language just provides the units of measurement and a way for humans to communicate to each other about those objective facts.

        Without language there are objective facts about what actions cause pain or physical harm to humans, and the extent of that physical harm (short-term, long-term, debilitating, etc.) However, language is required to give those actions the labels of “right” or “wrong.”

        If a human observed two ant colonies fighting each other over a patch of land, causing numerous unnecessary brutal deaths on both sides, followed by the winning colony totally wiping out and devouring the losing colony, I think that human would have a hard time labeling the actions of any individual on either side as good or bad. For all we know, this periodic battle with a rival colony may be best for the long-term survival of the species.

        Likewise, if an advanced alien creature observed planet earth and simply considered homo sapiens to be just another lower life form like chimps, dolphins and grasshoppers, this alien creature would have no objective way of determining which human actions are “good” and which ones are “bad.” He would simply be able to observe actions and the consequences of those actions.

        Our alien creature would, however, be able to objectively measuare the mass of two objects and compare them, or measure the distance between two points on planet earth. In his language he may not call mass “mass,” and he may not call distance “distance.” His unit of mass may not be called “grams,” and his unit of distance may not be called a “meter,” but that does not mean object A has more mass than object B for us, but less mass than object B for the alien. The ratio of their masses is an objective fact, independent of the units of measure and independent of language.

        Piper quote: “People don’t embrace relativism because it is philosophically satisfying. They embrace it because it is physically and emotionally gratifying. It provides the cover that they need to do what they want.”

        That looks like a Straw Man argument that probably isn’t based on any surveys or studies of moral relativists.

        “1. Moral relativism provides a cover for ones need to do what one wants
        Example Child-molestation by the Catholic priest can not be condemned, moral relativism gives a perfect cover. How is to say what is right and wrong about the priest act?”

        Why can’t a moral relativist condemn child molestation and say it is wrong in his opinion?

        “2. Moral relativism is physically and emotionally gratifying.
        Guilt, bad conscience when one acted in a way one knows he/she ought not, example married couple cheating, stealing, lying, etc, moral relativism quench this physically and emotionally.”

        Once again I need to ask how moral relativism, or lack of belief in objective morality, leads to an inability to have opinions (or guilt, or bad conscience). People who do not believe in objective morality do believe in “oughts” regarding their own actions and the actions of others, but they don’t claim they are based on any “is” other than their own opinions which have been shaped by their own experiences.

      • This definition of “condemn” doesn’t seem to require anything objective: to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure.

        What definition of “condemn” are you using that requires an objective ground?

      • Brap, how can a moral relativist express an unfavorable of a position to which he/she beliefs, that both favorable and unfavorable of position are both acceptable.(When one say something is unfavorable, this person makes this claim on objective ground, if not then what this person is claiming is simply useless, it is just his/her personal unfavorable which he/she is not in position to say if its is unfavorable or not to others since in relativist worldview both are correct)

        Moral relativist can not adverse judgment on something or indicate strong disapproval of it since having a strong disapproval one makes a objective ground to approve or disapprove.

      • Jonathan wrote: “Brap, how can a moral relativist express an unfavorable of a position to which he/she beliefs, that both favorable and unfavorable of position are both acceptable.”

        It’s a stated opinion, much like saying, “I like chocolate ice cream.” Are moral relativists not entitled to opinions?

        “When one say something is unfavorable, this person makes this claim on objective ground . . .”

        On what objective basis do you find certain types of music unfavorable?

        “if not then what this person is claiming is simply useless”

        Just as useless as your opinions on abortion, homosexuality, or Billy Graham.

        “it is just his/her personal unfavorable which he/she is not in position to say if its is unfavorable or not to others since in relativist worldview both are correct.”

        Why is _anyone_ not in a position to state their opinion? Since it can be correct to prefer chocolate ice cream or to prefer vanilla ice cream, does that mean nobody is in a position to state their opinion about ice cream flavors?

        “Moral relativist can not adverse judgment on something or indicate strong disapproval of it since having a strong disapproval one makes a objective ground to approve or disapprove.”

        Again, why can’t moral relativists express their opinions? The definitions of “disapproval” and “condemnation” don’t say anything about objectivity.

        Perhaps the issue is not over opinions such as ice cream flavors, but rather it is about the acts of others, and how an atheist can possibly state what others should and should not do. Perhaps your question to me is really this: What is your objective basis for telling others what they should and should not do? Well, I have no objective basis, it is just my opinion. My opinions are based primarily on my opinions of the potential consequences of the actions, and those opinions are certainly shaped by my experiences so far in life (family upbringing, culture, education, etc.). In real simple terms, I don’t need much beyond the Golden Rule in order to form an opinion. (If you want to give Jesus credit for the Golden Rule, that’s fine. No divinity was required for coming up with that, IMHO.)

      • There is a big difference in preference claim and moral claim Brap.

        A preference claim example “I like ice cream” does not say anything about good and bad, or right and wrong about it.

        “I like to torture innocent children” This claim does not state whether it is right or wrong, good or bad to perform such an act.

        Moral claim is different from preferential claim. Example “torturing innocent children is wrong” this claim does not care if I like torturing innocent children or not, it does not care what my preference is.

        You ran to Golden Rule, but in moral relativistic ground, Golden rule is nothing but other people’s opinion(Jesus’ or who ever) to which has not objective ground for a moral relativist to hold.

        Holding Golden rule is borrowing moral objectivity(do to other what you want other to do to you) from another worldview.

        On your argument:

        My opinions are based primarily on my opinions of the potential consequences of the actions, and those opinions are certainly shaped by my experiences so far in life”

        This is a circular argument, A is based on A.

        You asked:

        Again, why can’t moral relativists express their opinions? The definitions of “disapproval” and “condemnation” don’t say anything about objectivity.

        Just by asking this question you assume more than one moral objective ground,

        1. A moral relativist has a right to express his opinions
        2. A moral relativist has a certain value to express his opinions

        Question to ponder, to what ground does a moral relativist has to disapprove or condemn an action? If subjective, why should a second person hold that ground too?

      • Prayson wrote: “in moral relativistic ground, Golden rule is nothing but other people’s opinion (Jesus’ or who ever) to which has not objective ground for a moral relativist to hold.”

        Agreed, I just choose to follow the Golden Rule. Everybody gets to choose whether or not to follow it, in every situation.

        “Holding Golden rule is borrowing moral objectivity (do to other what you want other to do to you) from another worldview.”

        I don’t think there’s anything objective about it. The Golden Rule is simply a suggested method of deciding how to behave.

        Brap (previously): “My opinions are based primarily on my opinions of the potential consequences of the actions, and those opinions are certainly shaped by my experiences so far in life”

        Prayson: “This is a circular argument, A is based on A.”

        I don’t consider it circular, I’m just freely admitting that my opinions have no objective basis whatsoever, leading to an infinite regression of personal, subjective opinions.

        Brap (previously): “Again, why can’t moral relativists express their opinions? The definitions of “disapproval” and “condemnation” don’t say anything about objectivity.”

        Prayson: “Just by asking this question you assume more than one moral objective ground,

        1. A moral relativist has a right to express his opinions
        2. A moral relativist has a certain value to express his opinions”

        I don’t think either one of those points is an objective ground. They both look like opinions to me.

        “Question to ponder, to what ground does a moral relativist has to disapprove or condemn an action?”

        Strictly opinion, nothing more, nothing less. If you want to put some objectivity on it, you have to first assume some worthy goal. Let’s call that goal X. (If you want to, we can borrow from Sam Harris and let X be improving the general well-being of sentient creatures.) If one accepts X as a worthy goal, then there can be some objective basis in saying, “You should not do action Y because it detracts from goal X.” Getting everyone to agree on the same goal can be a challenge, though. Even the seemingly non-debatable goal of improving the well-being of sentient creatures gets messy when you start asking what group’s well-being outranks another group’s well-being, what time frame should be looked at, etc.

        “If subjective, why should a second person hold that ground too?”

        It’s totally the second person’s choice whether or not to hold the same ground. If my opinions about right and wrong are based on the long-term well-being of all humans, but you consider the short-term well-being of people in your country to be more important, there could be a scenario where we have a difference of opinion.

      • “Are your opinions above worthy of me(and other people) thinking and reflecting on them? If yes, how?”

        I think they are, but that’s just my opinion. 🙂

        I appear to be able to answer all of your questions and concerns, yet nobody has been able to support the commonly stated Christian position that moral relativists can’t have opinions regarding moral issues. When I am debating online and realize I can’t support my position, it does cause me to reflect and think. That’s exactly why I no longer try to convince people there is objective morality without God. It can’t be supported.

      • “How is your opinions worthy? Under what bases?”

        My opinions would be worthy for the exact same reasons anybody else’s opinion about anything is worthy of consideration. It’s up to the listener to decide. The individual stating the opinion obviously cannot objectively evaluate the worthiness of his own opinion due to cognitive bias. (Almost every new parent thinks their baby is the cutest baby in the world.)

        For me anyway, if it’s a subject I’m interested in, and the person holding the opinion I disagree with is willing to talk about it, explain their reasoning, and listen to my reasoning without resorting to ridicule or ad hominem attacks, then I would consider that person’s opinion worthy of considering. But that doesn’t change the fact that if they don’t offer any reasons to support their position that I consider valid, I’ll still think they’re wrong.

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