Comments about ‘Does the world think religion is necessary for morality?’

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Published: Wednesday, March 19 2014 12:50 p.m. MDT

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Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Jamescmeyer – “… morality is… an arbitrary human construct.”

This is false…

Here’s the only thing anyone needs to grant to establish objective morality without a transcendental justification (i.e., God) – if all conscious being were suffering for as long as possible, this would be bad. Any actions that move us away from this state is morally good, period.

If you think “bad” in this context is simply a human construct, I don’t know what you’re talking about. If bad means anything surely this qualifies. If it does not, then the word has no meaning.

@Coach Biff

I think you’ve created some red herrings of your own - atheism was incidental to the psychopathic dictators you mentioned.

If you want to see what atheism/agnosticism looks like (and the consequences of it) when it organically comes to be the prevailing view of a society, just look at the countries I cited earlier.

And by the way, in terms of duration of psychopathic behavior, the brutal thugs you mentioned don’t come close to the 500 years religious authorities in Europe were torturing & burning people at the stake for “theological crimes.”

Morgan Hill, CA

RE: Hank Pym
Yes .... from Jesus

Here are scriptures that show Jesus (The Messiah) was the LORD of The OLD TESTAMENT:

Isa 44:24; also 48:17
"Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that
maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens”

Isa 54:5
“The Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth”

St George, UT

"if all conscious being were suffering for as long as possible, this would be bad. Any actions that move us away from this state is morally good, period."

That's your opinion. What if I say, "if all conscious being were suffering for as long as possible, this would be good"? We both have just set up an arbitrary construct to support OUR version of morality. As far as the universe is concerned, neither one is right or wrong, they are arbitrary.

Without God or a higher power defining right and wrong, the universe doesn't care what happens to anything.

St George, UT

If you don't believe in God, the word, "Bad" means absolutely nothing. It is simply sound waves passing out of a collection of cells and atoms in our vocal cord, or it is a collection of pixels from light on a computer screen. Without God, there is no meaning to anything. The universe means nothing, just randomly organized matter and non-matter.

"And by the way, in terms of duration of psychopathic behavior, the brutal thugs you mentioned don’t come close to the 500 years religious authorities in Europe were torturing & burning people at the stake for “theological crimes."

And how many quadrillions of creatures were murdered throughout the universe in the billions of years before human beings or religion existed on Earth? How many microscopic and non-microscopic organisms are dying right now throughout the universe without the hand of religion? It is absolutely ludicrous to believe that non-religious creatures have done less "bad" than religious creatures.


Patriot says, so again where did all of these societal principles originate from??? One place - Jesus Christ.

If you will do just a modicum of research, you will find that the principles taught by Jesus were hardly new. They had been advocated for centuries by such teachers as Buddha, Confucius, Plato, even the Egyptian Pharoah Akeahton.

You do not build up your worldview by tearing down those of others.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@illuminated – “What if I say, "if all conscious being were suffering for as long as possible, this would be good"?

If you or anyone truly believed that, we would say you were brain damaged. There is no planet where acting on such a belief would be good. If you think otherwise, or think it’s an opinion as worthy of consideration as any other, I would submit you simply do not understand what the words “good” and “bad” mean.

And keep in mind, in no other area of our lives do we (claim to) require a transcendental justification for determining what is right and wrong (even in the scientific sense of correct and incorrect).

Is it a worthy opinion if I say “good health means having gangrene in all my limbs and vomiting constantly?” And is it an arbitrary construct to see this view of health as bad?

That is precisely what you’re implying with respect to objective morality (i.e., the well-being of conscious beings).

And I agree – the Universe doesn’t care. Stars and asteroids don’t care about well-being; only conscious beings do, and that’s enough.

St George, UT

"If you or anyone truly believed that, we would say you were brain damaged."

Who cares what you believe of me. If I don't believe in God, you're just a sack of water, bone and flesh with fingers that can move on a plastic computational device. If I don't believe in God, you and your opinion is no more important than a rock on the dark side of Pluto.

"There is no planet where acting on such a belief would be good."

So geocentrically naive. You've got it all figured out then, don't you. It's "bad" because you say so. Right. If I don't believe in God, I say, "suffering as long as possible is good", and your personal opinion is worth nothing. If I don't believe in God, then the universe doesn't care about any opinion or any definition of good or bad.

By your definition, how much "bad" has non-religion done over the eons of the multiverse? Has it led to the deaths of 1 billion, 100 trillion, 1000 quadrillion?

Tyler D
Meridian, ID


RE: Health - further, do we need God or a Bronze Age book to tell us what good health means (since you imply without God everything is meaningless) in order to be confident that we have a fairly good (objective) idea of what it means to be healthy?

And how is this different than the definition of objective morality I stated earlier?

The fact is, there is no body of knowledge that is self (or transcendentally) justifying in the way you dubiously claim to require. Even something as obvious as 1+1=2 requires conscious beings to agree on laws of logic and basic mathematical propositions for that to be counted as knowledge.

If you say that we can objectively prove 1+1=2, I would assert that we are equally solid epistemic grounds when we assert that all conscious being suffering for as long as possible is objectively bad.

And as I already said, there is no “good” and “bad” with respect to non-conscious beings (i.e., the Universe). This is a red herring and demonstrates nothing (though you seem pretty convinced it does).

Reached comment limit…

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

I'm curious...

What "Religion" do Chimpanzeses attend?
All Great Apes have exhibited "morals".


It seems to be previlant through out the Animal Kingdom among species living in "Scoial Orders".
so, it appears God made higher thinking species "socialist", by nature.

BTW -- Apes have also been observing making clothing in the wild [no human contact] --
aprons/skirts made from leaves...to cover their nakedness.

Olympia, WA

This is a typical case of taking a very complex concept and over simplifying it by making it into a loaded "yes or no" question. To elaborate: what is meant exactly by "morality"? Is there a difference between simply believing in God and then acting on those beliefs? What kinds of actions are associated with a given belief in God? How do these kinds of beliefs and how they translate into action vary from person to person? All these, among many other concepts, need to be taken into consideration. Also, it can be a matter of degree: it can be argued that some people (including myself), benefit from a belief in God that translates into a greater desire to be a virtuous person. In most cases it is likely not so clear cut but more a matter of degree rather than a "yes" and "no" answer. Also, why not survey those who believe in God and ask them if said belief helps them live more virtuous lives? I for one would answer with a resounding "yes".

the truth
Holladay, UT


All the examples you mentioned are example of people not living by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but by the living of ideologies and by the acts of men in violation of Gospel principles.

So again I ask: "What terrible ill was ever caused by those living the gospel of Jesus Christ?"

Cleveland , OH

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" is a golden rule found in virtually every society around the globe.

The god of the Bible destroyed entire cities, ordered his followers to murder every man, woman, child and cow in conquered cities and, according to the myths, drowned every single person living on earth except 8 people.

He proclaimed punishments for those who eat the wrong food, work on the wrong day, wear the wrong clothes or have the wrong kind of sex. The worst punishments, however, were reserved for those who don't give full and saccharine adoration to the very god who wrote the rules.

The god of the Bible comes across more like the psychopathic dictator of North Korea, and those who claim we are only "good" because of that God sound like North Korean party faithful.

Me? I prefer the Dali Lama's take: "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

Treat others how you want to be treated, not how the biblical God treats them.

Temple City, CA

There is a fallacy going on here, I think.

Religion does not necessarily equal God's influence. So, honestly, I would have to say that, yes, there can be morality without a formal religion, and that religion in and of itself does not necessarily lead to morality. (I further believe that non-believers and irreligious people have often used the masses' belief in a a particular religion to achieve otherwise immoral political and personal goals.)

Can there be morality with God? No.

Can immorality be justified in God's name? Yes. (See the above.)

Can individuals choose their own brand of morality, and can that individual brand of morality coincide with what God would consider moral? Yes.

Do individuals regularly do that? In a general sort of way (ie, "live the Golden Rule"), yes. In particular ways (defining sexual immorality, for example, or even murder), usually no.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

@Tyler D: "Religion is necessary for morality in the same way Zeus is necessary to explain lightning."
I can explain lightning based on charge, (assuming for a moment that we know what charge is -- and we don't but that is another issue). Ok, Explain that there is an absolute standard of behavior without referring to an omnipotent creator outside of space and time.

Morality is not a social construct required for societies to function. A lot of the ancient civilizations were based on slave labor. They had no morality and they did pretty good. Then the Hebrews seemed to have done OK for a few hundred years and they had in their law the statement that stealing a man was an abomination and whoever did it should die. Why did the immoral societies last so long?

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

If morality evolved when people started living in groups then why is it so complicated compared to logic? Logic would have evolved earlier so that people in the stone age could survive. It is not as complicated as morality.

I asked a Buddhist friend if it was good to care for the poor. He answered, "Tes." Then I asked, "What if I do it only to be seen of others?" He replied that it was not. In his morality motives are just as important as they are in Christian societies.

Logic does not care about motives. If you get the right answer you survice another day. Morality cares about the motives, because it is a reflection of the true person that you are which is the person that you will take with you when you enter into the eternities. Like I said, a lot of ancient civilizations were built on slave labors from slaves taken in slave raids. The Hebrews who had morality tangled up in their worship did not have the longevity of oppressive societies like the Romans or Egyptians. If morality builds cohesion in a society, why did oppressive, immoral societies last so long?

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