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There was something both interesting and baffling that I noticed in the most recent issue of Christianity Today (June 2014). It was a report on the results of the Pew Research Center’s survey of people around the world. The question they asked was: “Is belief in God necessary to be moral?”Continue reading . . .

There was something both interesting and baffling that I noticed in the most recent issue of Christianity Today (June 2014). It was a report on the results of the Pew Research Center’s survey of people around the world. The question they asked was: “Is belief in God necessary to be moral?” Of the forty nations polled, China ranked lowest. Only 14% said Yes to the inquiry. Indonesia ranked highest as 99% of the people polled said Yes. The United States came in at 53%. Only 20% of those in Britain said Yes and 15% of those in France.

Now, why did I find this both interesting and baffling? Simply put, I’m struggling to define the word “moral” if God doesn’t exist. What does it mean? Typically people will define moral as good, right, just, pure, or with some such term. Whatever is “moral” is what we “ought” to do. Conversely, we “ought not” to do what is immoral.

But to say an act or idea or thought is “good” and “ought” to be done, one must have a standard by which such an assessment might be made. That something is good and should be done implies that its opposite is bad and must be avoided. Right implies wrong. Justice implies injustice, and pure implies impure.

So on what basis are such judgments made? By what criteria, other than those that you happen to prefer at the moment, does anyone conclude that any particular act or idea is good? If God doesn’t exist, there is no eternal and ultimate standard or rule, namely God’s will, by which any act or idea might be measured. In the absence of eternal, unchanging right and eternal, unchanging justice, anything goes (and ultimately, everything will).

A person might attempt to argue: “I don’t believe in God but I know that enslaving people because of their ethnicity or exploiting their weakness for personal gain is wrong.” Really? Says who? You? What prevents others from concluding that it is permissible, perhaps even prudent? The fact is, many have (Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot are but a handful among the countless others in history). In the absence of God, morality is reduced to personal preference or the collective choice of those currently in power. If God doesn’t exist, morality is simply majority opinion. If there is no eternal Being who is himself the embodiment, definition, and revelation of good and just and pure then so-called “morality” is little more than what those in control can legislate. And as soon as they are displaced, those who then rise to power can redefine morality on their own terms.

Furthermore, think of what it means if there is no God. It means, among other things, that human beings are nothing more than the current, fleeting configuration in an evolutionary process that is guided by nothing other than chance and time. There is no design or purpose or goal that accounts for who they are or what they think. The thoughts and beliefs that our minds produce are meaningless explosions of electrical impulses and chemical reactions. Therefore, no one person’s beliefs about what he/she likes or prefers has any ethical priority over those of another. After all, “ethics” is now itself nothing more than what one person either likes or dislikes.

To pass judgment on the thoughts and resultant behavior of one individual (or group of individuals) is little more than one random chemical process prevailing over another. If there is no God, there is no transcendent or eternal moral standard by which such may be evaluated. Whatever may “seem” right or wrong, whatever may “feel” or appear to be the correct, fair, and just thing to do, is but a temporary and transient choice that is grounded in no supreme law or rule of the universe.

After all, there is no God. Remember? And if there is no God, there is no such thing as morality (public opinion polls notwithstanding).


I have never browsed you blog before Sam; but I came here because I Googled for a response to a similar question. I was having a back-and-forth on Facebook about morality; the other participants (each is, as I am, in their late fifties and early sixties) denied there was any connection to God with morality. Thirty years ago when I had a similar argument, I merely sent the person to the dictionary - we were eating in a restaurant that sold books. Now, the word moral has been completely divorced from its divine relationship and is but a synonym for ethics which is something else entirely: online dictionaries no longer present the divine connection in the word's meaning.

It has come down to this: the understanding that the righteous nature of God is the measure of man's thoughts words and deeds is gone; the modern American has become vain in his thinking - he is a reprobate. I have no choice but to call them fools those who deny the connection of morals to God's nature; for they have declared in their hearts that there is no God. Their thinking has become vain.

"If God doesn’t exist, morality is simply majority opinion." The community process then is simply just about power politics, any search for ultimate truth -- including morals -- is meaningless. Just look at Washington or many of the "General Assemblies" in our largest denominations: no confidence in absolutes, just the politics of spin and who can get the upper hand in convincing others that they represent the "norm."

Well said Pastor Sam. The atheistic worldview is that morality is subjective, not absolute. If there is no God, anything is fair game. There is no baseline for right and wrong or good and bad.

If there is no God, murder and rape aren't necessarily bad. Human beings would be no more culpable for murder than a lion is.

I believe we only know what evil is because we know what good is. We only know what suffering is because we know what pleasure is.

But I believe we know those things, we have law, because we have a lawgiver. A person can deny the existence of God and reject the truthfulness of the Bible, but they can't reject their conscious. A person can choose not to believe the words in Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10, where we are told that God has "put His laws in our mind and written them in our heart," but they would be in violation of what their conscious tells them. The truth is, although there are exceptions, that even those who don't believe there is a god, live as if there is.

If God doesn't exist, there would be no moral laws built in to our conscious. And what a terrifying, purposeless, self-serving, and sad place earth would be if that were the case. Like a lion, we would have no conscious to violate. A lion doesn't feel remorse for murder, it's just fulfilling the role God gave it.

But Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God. Lions are not. Thank God there is a God. Thank God He created us in His image. Thank God that we have an opportunity to live eternally with Him if only we submit to Him by dying to ourselves. Thank God for His Law.

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