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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do the Right Thing?

Can we be good without God? Apologetics speaker and trainer Mikel Del Rosario takes a look at this question in the following guest post.

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Do the Right Thing?
Guest post by Mikel Del Rosario


Driving from Sacramento to the Bay Area, I saw a billboard that read, "Are you good without God? Millions Are." Apparently, a theistic tagger added the words, "Also Lost?" at the end of the message. Now, I think the original question probably meant, "Do you feel comfortable without a belief in God? Millions feel the same way." Kind of like if you offer someone a drink, and they go, "No, thanks. I'm good."



But that got me thinking, "Can't people be good without God?" I mean, could an atheist do a bunch of good deeds without God? If we mean "doing the right thing while not believing in God," then sure. An atheist could do the right thing in any given circumstance. She could honestly report her income to the government, be faithful her husband and all of that. Why not? But maybe the better question to ask is, "Why?" Why should she be moral?

If God's not real, there's no moral law giver and no such things as moral commands. You could just say, "I'll do the right thing when it makes me feel good or gives me an advantage, and I'll do the wrong thing when it makes me feel good or gives me an advantage" or "I hereby declare from this day forward that it is always right to steal." Why even care about being moral? If there's no God and no objective moral standard, there's actually no moral difference between killing someone or taking care of them. But no one can really live like this. We all know by intuition that it's better to give a little girl a loving hug than to hurt her for no reason.

Imagine a 6-year-old asked you who wrote this blog post. It'd be silly to say "No one. And if you think I'm wrong, don't forget I can read better than you!" The existence of this post implies an author. And it really doesn't matter if you can read this post better than a kid. Similarly, moral commands imply a moral lawgiver and it doesn't matter if an atheist gave more than a theist to charity last year.

So maybe people really can't be good without God after all. I mean, if there is no God, there's no standard of goodness. And when we compare ourselves to God's standard, it turns out no one is good after all. Keep in mind that niceness isn't goodness---no one's lived up to the standard. So I guess the real answer to the question, "Are you good without God?" is "No. None of us are." That's why we need Jesus. Millions and millions do.

But how many of us in the church are ready and willing to dialogue with them? To fulfill the command in 1 Peter 3:15 to be prepared to respectfully give a reason to anyone who asks us about the hope that we have in Jesus? This is just one example of the kinds of things people might bring up in your family, at your work, at the soccer game or the coffee shop. If you'd like to help your brothers and sisters effectively talk to unbelievers about God, the Bible and Christianity, I'd like to give you a free apologetics lesson you can easily teach in your church or small group.

Download the free, 22-page lesson (PDF) here: http://apologeticsguy.com/lessons

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To see my review of Mikel's Accessible Apologetics Curriculum, click here.

12 comments:

  1. Great post! Very interesting and so true. Thanks for sharing!
    Mike

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  2. Glad you enjoyed my guest post. I appreciate the comment. Thanks, Mike!

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  3. Mikel, Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. Good post. I once saw a debate led by Lee Strobel (Crossfire, I think it was called) where he-- of all people-- said that while atheists were wrong about God, they could adequately serve in such positions as jurors because they still have a sense of right and wrong. That is so wrong... if there is no standard by which they adhere, how the heck could they judge between right and wrong in a court case? I'm not saying atheists are dumb or cannot understand laws, but they do not feel compelled to obey the laws or enforce the laws except by their own "feelings." It's scary to put someone like that in a position of decision-making! No to mention that our form of government presupposes a Creator!! It's like the Social Security crisis in this country, brought on by what? By baby boomers killing off their children (and future working class) through abortion. The wicked overrun the innocent, and the innocent are supposed to think that it's OK that the wicked oversee the fruits of the labor? :(

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  5. Wow! That is an awesome point of view on this subject! I think any atheist who reads this is going to walk away convinced that this is correct. No God means no morals. Great job, Mikel!

    @Miss S: You should have Mikel do more of these, please? :D

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  6. Such a true article! Without God, there is no real reason to be moral. But when we acknowledge that God exists, there is every reason to be moral. Thank you, Mikel, for the timely reminder that we should always be ready and looking for ways to show unbelievers the way to Jesus.

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  7. You're welcome, Renee. We're all in this thing together. Let's get out there and give 'em heaven.

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  8. Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing, and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well: www.nocondemnation81.blogspot.c...

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,
    Dakota

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  9. At least no objective moral values. Everything gets reduced to preference. "I don't like terrorism" or "slavery" or whatever, is about as far as you can go if naturalism is true. Thanks for the comment, Jay.

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  10. Agreed! It's not that atheists have no morals; it's that they have subjective morals, or so they claim. In reality, they do believe that there are objective morals (enough prying will yield this; i.e murder is wrong); they do have a sense of right and wrong, as you said. However, they use their subjective morality as an excuse to cover this up; because if there is a God, then they are accountable to Him and they don't want that! I think that's where the lawmaking analogy comes into play: if you aren't accountable to God, then you can make up your own rules (humanism) which are subject to change at your every whim.

    If someone wants to make the claim that there is no objective morality, we should ask, "What standard are you using?" After all, if they want to say that there is no standard for morality (objective), they are admitting that they are sticking to their own standards (subjective).

    Thanks for commenting!

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  11. Great point, Christiana. In this case, you could just as well sing "How Great Thou Art" to the mirror, because you become the standard or right and wrong "for you." The book of Judges shows us where this kind of thinking can lead. Scary.

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