Good without God? More Americans say amen to that

(RNS) — For the first time, a majority of Americans — 56 percent — say it is possible to be a good person without a religious belief.

So says new Pew Research Center data drawn from two polls conducted among about 5,000 American adults in June and July.

“God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality,” Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director of research, said in a post about the findings. ” … [T]he public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious ‘nones.'”

Nones now account for about one-quarter — 23 percent —  of American adults, up from 16 percent in 2007. But their growth is not the whole story behind the numbers.

In the current poll, Protestants and Catholics were also polled, and 45 percent of them agree that God is not necessary for personal morality, up from 42 percent in 2011.

Even white evangelicals, who traditionally believe a relationship with God is crucial to morality, have budged. In 2011, one quarter of them (26 percent) said it was possible to be good without God, while now almost a third (32 percent) say so.

“To be sure, most white evangelicals still say belief in God is necessary for morality,” Smith writes. “But the share who say belief in God is a necessary underpinning of being moral has declined from 72 percent to 65 percent in just six years.”

The poll’s findings were published Monday (Oct. 16), four days before “Openly Secular Day” on Oct. 20, an event promoted by multiple organizations of atheists, humanists, agnostics and other secular individuals to highlight their lack of religious beliefs.

Hemant Mehta, who wrote about the poll on his Friendly Atheist blog, attributes the bump to the “coming out” of nonreligious people, including celebrities and friends and family members.

“It’s getting to the point where even devoutly religious people know somebody who’s an atheist,” he said in an email.

“Just as we saw with the LGBTQ movement, it becomes a lot harder for religious people to demonize us when they know us, and knowing us poses a direct challenge to the absurd idea that people can’t be good without God.”

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • Over the last 50 years, sectarian bigotry has faded, and people of all denominations now get on with each other far better than they did in the past. Prejudice against other religions has also moderated. Racism has declined and sexism has reduced. Prejudice against homosexuals has also declined These changes have made life a lot fairer for so many people. Therefore, if prejudice against non-believers has moderated, that is also a welcome change.

  • luke 18:19 – English Standard Version

    And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

  • The more you tell yourself you are good, the better you become, sounds good if it is from the LGBT but it is not acceptable if it comes from the Ten Commandments. In the end it is not “how good” you are, it’s whether or not you are a legal heir. The larger the group coming out, leaves fewer and fewer legal heirs. Sodom was not destroyed because of the bad people, it was destroyed when the last legal heir left town. You think you are cute, smart, funny and you have proved there is no God, when the end result is that you do prove there is a God, just like the inhabitants of Sodom proved there is a God. You call this demonizing, I call it a waste of time but God says you need to be properly notified of the termination of your lease.

  • The question before you is, “Can you be good without God?” So how is this the answer for you? – what Jesus said, “There is only One who is good; no one is good except God alone.” (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19.) No, seriously, I want to know from you, please.

  • I don’t know anyone who claims to have proved there is no god(s) – after all, that would be as irrational as saying we can prove that there is god(s), wouldn’t it?

    What many of us have realised is that there is neither evidence nor need for god(s). Just as there is neither evidence nor need for unicorns, martians or fairies at the bottom of my neighbour’s garden.

    Nearly all of us rationally decide that we won’t be deflected from living a good life by unicorns, martians and fairies and, increasingly, people are realising that god(s) can similarly be ignored. We can’t prove that they don’t exist, though one can use logic to debunk the more fundamentally irrational versions such as the Abrahamic God, but since any “god(s)” that might be hiding “out there” ignore us it’s perfectly reasonable that we ignore them.

    So get on and enjoy the only life you know you’re going to have. Do as you will but harm no-one is a good place to start isn’t it?

  • It seems to me that many Christians have taken this verse to heart and don’t really think about trying to be good, which is easy for them to rationalize, since in their minds, all you have to do to be forgiven for egregious behavior is to ask.

    And people think evolution is a dangerous idea.

  • Fundies and evangelicals, in particular, believe that a person who does not believe in god cannot be good. So then, how come believers are known to do “bad things”? Oh, that’s because “all men are sinners”, but merely believing means you’re automagically forgiven.

    Bah. Is it any wonder that people are skeptical of evangelicals and, more broadly, “strong believers” of all stripes?

  • Goodness is only able to be defined in the context of God, for ONLY He is good and able to bring goodness. Can those who believe they do good without God, really be doing good?

  • I don’t believe in any gods, demons, or spirits, yet I live with purpose and meaning. I live a life according to what I feel is moral and good. My 21st century morality is far better than biblical morality.

  • Generally the people most likely to claim that moral behavior comes from a belief in God are the ones who provide the worst examples of religious based morality.

  • So you are saying that you have no concept of morality yourself and rely entirely on religion to define it for you? That is a terrible way to consider morality. It puts you on the same level of moral thinking as ISIS or Torquemada.

    The main problem with your argument is the terrible implications it leaves for religious believers. It posits that people such as yourself are merely sociopaths who are only restrained from running amok because of fear of divine punishment. Without God keeping you on a leash you would have no regard for the lives of others.

    I don’t think you really want to say that about yourself or your belief.

  • What you fail to realize is that what you call “good” has come directly from God, from those who lived their lives for God, as God wants us to live our lives. There is no independent human goodness developed throughout history, it is from all those who have followed God’s goodness since the beginning that have defined the meaning of what is good.

  • So you have no concept of morality yourself. You rely on religion to justify rather repugnant behavior of reviling and slandering classes of people. All without any thought as to the idea that you are actively trying to harm others. You are demonstrating my prior point. Those who claim the most reliance on religion for their morality are the ones who demonstrate the least moral fiber.

    As for proof of God, using mythology and circular reasoning is not the basis of an argument worth taking seriously.

    “God says you need to be properly notified of the termination of your lease.”

    How lovely. Infantile threats to conclude your tirade.

  • The Taliban, ISIS and Inquisition all said the same thing. They were able to justify the most repugnant and immoral acts as being “God’s will”. There is plenty of evidence that human goodness has nothing to do with your religion or any religion. You clearly mistake a cause for an effect. Religion doesn’t create morality, it creates shorthands for it. A crib sheet for something innate in people.

    Here is a question for you, if you no longer believed in God, do you think your actions would no longer have consequences?

  • I don’t know of any secular ethical system that defines good as “the more you tell yourself you are good, the better you become.” If anything that sounds like a religious belief, one that various faiths have played around with.
    I don’t know what you’re saying about legal heirs, tenants, and Sodom, but you definitely aren’t getting it from the text.

  • My immediate thought is that this is one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses favorite verses… (not my original thought of course)

  • No, our morality has evolved over millions of years as social animals trying to survive. The primates closely related to homo-sapiens on the evolutionary tree, Chimps, Bonobos, Gorillas,…all show the same types of morality: compassion, empathy, grief, guilt, fairness, hesitancy to do harm. No divine edicts.

  • Morality, the religions, the commandments and even all of the gods, are manmade.

    Evidence: mankind created all words and no living process worchips except mankind

  • Of course it’s possible to be good without being religious, that’s been known for millennia. It’s more difficult, but it’s possible.

  • Goodness is defined by what a person does. No god ever wrote a word, so no religion, beliefs or laws ever came from a god, but be certain there is nothing good about a person willing to lie to defend a lie.

  • No that is your belief, not reality.

    An infant is born pure, but the morons that submit to religious authority, do not see that each child is born good and all bad, is learned. For example: you had no idea of what a god is, unless taught by someone willing to lie to you with the idea of impunity, which is basically what you are doing; false witness of truth as if having impunity.

  • Its actually easier without religion. Much of what is called “morality” from religion is merely social control or forging a sectarian identity.

    A perfect example is the ten commandments. Somehow avoiding murder, lying and theft ranks much lower than declarations of exclusive monotheism and methods of worship which take up the majority of the rules laid out. Also said rules add “thought crimes” as well, penalizing one’s feelings rather than actions.

    People argue about “combating sin” as an excuse to engage in malicious behavior towards others. Showing a disconnect between purely religious notions of “sin” and moral notions concerning causing purposeful harm.

    Even worse is the arguments claimed for religious morality do it a great disservice and come off as defense of sociopathic attitudes. The idea that people are merely kept in check out of notions of divine reward or punishment infantalizes them. That they have no concept of empathy or connection to fellow people which would somehow guide their actions at all.

  • It is understandable that the ‘religious’ claims of morality, these days look like the emperors new clothes and are hardly sustainable. Yet given the looming environmental crisis, not to mention risks of nuclear war, it is hard see our species as either fully moral or spiritual, just aspirational towards those ideals. And as the need, even the imperative, for a new moral vision and progress continually presents itself, while religion as we understand it from history and tradition self evidently have nothing new to offer the future, the God question remains unresolved and progress, even the survival of our species, may require an answer to that ultimate question. But I have to doubt it will come from within the existing religious milieu!

  • Whatever gets people to treat others with love and kindness seems good. Often, for many people, that involves a religious structure, or a belief in a God. For others, the notion of God is not necessary because they know what to do to treat others with love and kindness.

  • “Can those who believe they do good without God, really be doing good?” If the result is doing good (which can only be measured actually in human terms), then whether the actor believed in God or not seems irrelevant.

  • What you fail to realize is that your beliefs concerning God carry no weight beyond your own personal faith. Nobody ever has to accept the existence of God or what you claim he says since no evidence is presented to do so. Such beliefs are made in the absence of evidence, based on faith.

    Claims based on faith are entirely personal and subjective in nature. Nobody has to “realize” anything here.

  • Some of the nastier people around profess a strong religious identification and some of the nicest are totally indifferent about religion; they’re decent because they’re human. I’m inclined to view the scriptures (including the Koran, the Vedas, the Tao and the Buddhist writings) as ways of BEING good within a particular culture but being good in any meaningful sense is the result of being treated with goodness and kindness as one is growing up instead of being rotten to the core and only saved from hell fire by a human sacrifice 2,000 years ago. I know that halakha in Judaism is viewed as a path as are the Sermon omega the Mount and the Eight fold Path. But nobody needs a personal God to follow them.

  • Treating you the way I want you to treat me. You can wrap it in theology or deem it a commonsense rule for living in a human community. In either package, it’s what is needed.

  • Evolution is the actual fons et origo of goodness and morality. Species that treat their young well and treat others well tend to avoid extinction.

  • This change could be explained by Americans’ becoming more sophisticated about the effect of religion or by Americans’ becoming less sophisticated about it. Whatever the explanation, more Americans are right. It is possible to be a morally good person without holding a religious belief. Furthermore, a person who has no religious belief may be a morally better person than almost all others who have religious belief.
    Well, then, does religious belief have no effect on a person? To the contrary! As C.S. Lewis remarked, Christian believers are not all better than nonbelievers, but Christian belief makes one better than he would have been without belief.

  • Religion claims to have some sort of lock or special lease on morality. It’s just one more claim among the many that it makes that is manifestly not true, or at the least, is subject to so many counter examples and qualifications as to make the claim meaningless…

    Which it is.

  • Once I grew up, and understood the importance of empathy, treating others well, and behaving in ways that I would like to be returned to me– thanks Confucius, 500 years before JC– I found it was actually quite easy to be good.

    I’ve seen religion make good people better, and bad people worse. I’ve seen a lack of religion have exactly the same can just conclude that religions claims on morality are as specious as its claims to represent the one, the only, the true god, or gods, or pantheon.

  • The secular ethical system that you “don’t know about” is in this article you just read. Spuddie Head below named it “circular reasoning” and states that it is not the basis of an argument. The invalid argument is what I pointed out as circular reasoning. The LGBT holds a rally and then PEW takes a poll showing more people accept their view, which makes people accept an unlawful act, PEW repeats the poll and proves that the unlawful act is gaining acceptance, this is repeated over and over, Spuddie Head calls this circular reasoning. The polls create acceptance by emotion only, not any rational reasoning. This is “the more you tell yourself you are good, “the better you are” fallacy.

    The entire text, if you mean the Bible, is 80% examples of heirship and tenancy laws and judgements and these laws are on the books in one form or another in every civilized country around the world. Ignorance of the Law doesn’ keep you from being evicted.

  • Can those who believe they do good only WITH God, really be doing good?

    As I review the history of my ancestors, Jews who fled from Eastern Europe, the answer is no.

    As I review the justifications for slavery and Jim Crow, the answer is no.

    As I review the lies, hatred, malice, stupidity, fear, anger, offense, and obsession directed at me as a gay man, the answer is no.

  • Get over the idea that Christian moral belief is all about condemning homosexual conduct, and you will probably see that C.S. Lewis was probably right. (As you should know, I hold that Christians’ condemnation of homosexual conduct as immoral per se comes from their misunderstanding the Moral Law, and that Christians’ condemnation of homosexual conduct as immoral per se is itself immoral.)

  • Goshes, buddy, you get all of the from a story about some ancientpeople who may not have existed threatening rape to a pair of angels who may not have existed, being sent to a city that there is no evidence for, by an omnipotent god who had “heard” there was a problem and had to “send” someone to investigate.

    If this is what passes for reason and morality you, then you have completely missed the point of the discussion.

    I am a 100% always was, always will be, gay man. Just because I am gay does not mean that I don’t value family, children, family life, morality, parenthood, and the future generations. That you tell yourself this fairy tale– did you see what I did there– about gay people says nothing about gay people and absolutely everything about YOU– and none of it is nice.

    Were the world predominantly gay, we would not be facing our extinction because of rampant irresponsible heterosexual breeding. There would not be millions of starving children and adults in the world because every child would be a wanted child. Abortion, which you claim to abhor, would become necessary only in the case of saving the life of the mother.

    If the stories you tell yourself about us is what passes for reason and morality, then you have simply proved that you have neither, and that your religion has no interest in morality beyond telling other people what to do.

  • Your dog can have a bone but your argument warrants that you go hungry. You do have God’s permission to keep begging. In fact you might want to have your dog negotiate for you when your time comes. Smart dog but the owner has got a ways to go if he is going to catch up.

  • So KKKhriztian belief “makes one better”? As they begin by pretending to believe ancient mythology, ignorant primitive superstition and silly supernatural nonsense, that they know is not true which means they are dishonest, then proceed to use same mythology as a moral standard to bash others who are different than they, so in their dishonesty they can feel superior? That “makes one better”? I know KKKhriztian history and i’ve watched KKKhriztians who participate in the ideology, and believe you me, the facts prove that KKKhriztian belief does not in any way make that/a person better than one who does not hold that belief. It only gives them a license to pretend that they are being better persons because of their belief. Key words-Pretend, make believe, fantasy, dishonesty.

  • C.S. Lewis spent an entire career making philosophical arguments by stipulation and writing middling fantasy novels. Essentially assuming his position and framing arguments in a skewed fashion rather than actually exploring the issues he discussed at length. Someone who tried to appropriate the structure of rational discussion, but lacked the substance of it. David Hume had Lewis pegged about 2 centuries before he ever put pen to paper.

  • Wow, Spudster. That sho’ be some deeeeeep shyt you laid on him. Had to read it 2 or 3 times (I am slow) before i got it. You da man!:-)

  • Yet in your tirade in service of religious morality, you revile, slander, and bear false witness. As stated previously, those most arguing that religion is the source of morality are the ones who are the worst examples of it.

    “Spuddie Head calls this circular reasoning. ”

    Actually I call that purely off the wall incoherent nonsense with a touch of outright bigotry to boot. I am not sure what kind of point you were trying to make, but you made it in an unintelligible manner.

    “is 80% examples of heirship and tenancy laws and judgements and these laws are on the books in one form or another in every civilized country around the world.”

    So you never heard of William the Conqueror.

    Actually all such laws were derived from the Common Law created by the Normans after the conquest of England. Primarily devised as a way to prevent land from falling back into the hands of prior Saxon owners and descendants and promote productive land use.

    Prior to that most of the Western World relied on Roman civil law and its rules for inheritance. You will find far more references to Cicero’s writings on the subject than Biblical texts.

  • Whether you think acceptance of the non-religious, or gays and lesbians, is rational or not doesn’t really matter. The polls are not creating acceptance. While polls can skew one way or the other depending on how questioning is worded, the overall trend is impossible to ignore. More people, including those of religious faiths, have become accepting of a non-religious viewpoint.
    By the way, Pew is a family name, not an abbreviation. The Pew family were heirs to the Sun Oil Company, now known as Sunoco. Their fortunes created the Pew Charitable Trusts, of which the Pew Research Center is a subsidiary.
    Judgment is a much broader term than inheritance or real property law. If we’re talking about the former, then yes, the Torah talks about it a lot.

  • Naw man, punctuation be fine. Man you be talkin’ like dang ole Thomas Paine man in THE AGE OF REASON that i’m readin’ now. Makes me focus. I write some stuff to the newspaper every now and then and receive undeserved accolades from friends (out of pity mostly), but nothin’ like the stuff you lay down. My compliments. FFRF et. al.

  • Not just anti-gay. They want women in their place, schools to teach creationism, crosses in public places, and the military hostile to any one but Christians.

  • Ben the concept of what is good goes beyond the 20th century, it goes back to the very moment of creation. Goodness is not subjective (not including superficial personal preferences), but is based on what God has revealed to us. Everything people call goodness, can be traced to God/Jesus. Kindness, mercy, forgiveness, love, patients, compassion, truth, everything is sourced from God. Man has no need to be kindness, patients, compassion, forgiveness to get what he wants. That’s why those who act as such (and get what they want regardless of others) are not considered good people. People may not like it, but everything that is good is because of God. This does not mean every person, every faith, has done only good either.

  • For now the question is “Good without God?” In the years ahead, the question will change to…

    “Can you be good with God?”

    …and religious people will struggle to answer it.

  • No, no , and yes.

    I don’t think Christianity is all abut condemning gay people. Some people’s Christianity is. And some so called Christians accrue a lot of power and money, and some battle their own obvious demons, by pretending to battle what they imagine to be mine. I have christian friends, one of whom, a minister, performed our wedding. We were honored to have him do so.

    CS Lewis very nearly convinced me to become a Christian when I was a young man, but eventually, the holes in his arguments became apparent to me. John 3:16 finished it off for me, contrary to expectations. I haven’t looked back,

    We agree in your final points, I think.

  • Lots of people have no need for God or Jesus, or were raised with other gods, yet manage to be moral nevertheless.

    Man does have a need for kindness and empathy. We have to live together. Both evolutionary sociology and social biology pretty much support this, with evidence.

    As I have often said, I have no objection to religion per se. If it makes your life better, and you a better person, I’m all for it. We all need our metaphors. The problem arises when religion isn’t a carrot ,but a stick.

  • I definitely need to see a citation that says religion is needed to get people to ‘treat others with love and kindness”
    People that act nice, act nice regardless of religion. People that act bad, act bad regardless of religion.

  • Oh I agree – I just was suggesting that some people get something from religion and if it helps them, so be it. The snarky side of me would suggest they need religion because they are not good people at heart..but I don’t believe religion acts to correct behavior. So you are correct, you are good or you are bad. I just mean that if someone is kind and they credit their religion, I’m fine with that.

  • I don’t know. There was a time I was fine with it. Now, I think people need to give THEMSELVES credit for being good. Wouldn’t we be a stronger people if we looked INWARDS for strength, instead of upwards?

  • Student Rag Week magazine joke c.1968

    I am a fairy………………My name is Nuff…………………..Fairy Nuff.

  • I’d never realised how clever my dog is until now – must be genius level – after all, he doesn’t believe in god(s) either.

    And that, my friend, is much more rational than your logic-devoid, wannabe threatening ramblings.

  • I agree completely. That is why I am convinced that religion, as understood by history, has nothing to do with God! Their claims being empty codswhallop. But if there is a God, I rather expect that reality to have the last laugh on us all.

  • well your secular religions of the beasts, have been producing more and more bad fruit. even the las vegas massacre, tells me your secular religion is on a downhill slope. and all, the sexual immorality scandals on the increase. and you are telling me, that your secular religions have improved your morality, antifa, blm reveals otherwise.

  • Please quiz me on what I had just read, sister Kimberly Winston.

    TRUE OR FALSE: “God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality … God is not necessary … It [i]s possible to be good without God …[and an] absurd idea that people can’t be good without God.”

    FALSE. Here’s why:

    (1) Doing good can only come from “being … good”. Nobody except “the good man brings out of his good treasure what is good”.

    (2) Not “do[ing] good” starts from “say[ing] in the heart, ‘There is no God'”, or not “seek[ing] after God”.

    (3) People who end up being no good, stay that way by “do[ing] good to those who do good to [them]”. They can never do what only God can do, which is, being “kind to ungrateful and evil men”, because it’s impossible for them to “be merciful, just as [the] Father is merciful.”

    (4) And so, no matter what, “no one is good except God” (not even Jesus, as He once admitted, for He Himself had to be so tested by God as to become good and prove His goodness).

    (5) “The willing [to do good] is present in [people], but the doing of the good is not. For the good that [they] want, [they] do not do. Instead they [are] doing the very thing [they] do not want”. And they realize that they’re not “the one[s] doing it”. It’s the opposite of goodness “dwell[ing]” in them that’s doing it on its own term and according its own law. With no goodness whatsoever, this “law [is] in the members of [the] body, waging war against the law of the mind and making [people its] prisoner”. Well, then, “who will set [them] free … ? Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    (6) And once people are saved like that, what they’ll experience in life is that “being a good man”, and “being … full of the Holy Spirit”, and “being … full … of faith” will always go hand in hand.

    (7) And that’s how – why – “the fruit of the Spirit [of God] is … goodness”.

    [Sources: (1) Matthew 12:34-35. (2) Romans 3:11-12, Psalm 14:1-3, and 53:1-3. (3) Luke 6:32-36. (4) Matthew 19:27, Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19. (5) Romans 7:14-25. (6) Acts 11:20-24. (7) Galatians 5:22.]

  • No, seriously, this article and the survey findings are spinning the heads of me and my fellow born-again Christians. The question of goodness (as mindboggling as how to grasp righteousness) has never been resolved by us Bible Christians. So, you’re right, just throwing scriptures in the air like that, as if the answer’s in the wind, is pretentious at best. I don’t like it when my brothers and sisters just don’t dialogue with even amongst themselves. Anyway, this article forced me to come to terms with this matter of “goodness” – for the very 1st time ever. Like I said, RNS is becoming like a church to me, and even better. Why? These discussions. These articles that want to sharpen your iron, if we just wrap our heads and hearts around all the touch issues they bring out. Good on RNS once again! And on all of you guys & ma’ams!

  • Can you ever say to yourself and us all here that you’re a “good” person? Feels funny to do that, right? Sure you do good things to people, but can you introduce yourself to them, Hey, my name is Damien Priestly, and I’m a good person? You know why not? You know yourself. There’s a law working inside you and you go, Hey, what gives? How come I can’t always be a good person?

  • Tell yourself and the rest of us here, I dare you, “I NoMoreBadTown am a good person”. Then tell us all, “And you all, too.”

    Plucking an embedded nail from a 2 by 4 is much easier to do than that, I assure you.

  • Just as it’s a mythology that prinefan can tell the heart inside and our hearts out there, “I’m good, a good human being” – without ending that with, “all things considered”. No, I want you to tell us you’re 100% all goodness material.

  • Trust me, CS Lewis has many, many of such a place. Why or how he got so popular among Evangelicals beats me.

    My bad. I didn’t see your qualifier there, “just one more”. Well, there you go. It’s confirmed!

  • Name-dropping C.S. Lewis proves alienation from the gospels, epistles and revelation is way up there. I was still a young believer when I came across his stuff. I should’ve been swayed but it sickens the soul. For my Philosophy paper I exposed his Christianity & Mythology stuff, and my Anarchist professor gave me an A! Yep, that’s one Pagan for Christ was the gist of the comment I got. My prof should know. Not the bit about Christ, but about the former. And yet all my fellow born-again Christian brothers and sisters were consuming anything and everything Lewisissies as if it’s an Epistle to New Yorkers from St. Clive.

  • To the extent that Jehovah’s Witnesses have favorite verses, and you’re quite right that the evidence suggests they do, my antipathy to their interpretation of scripture, i.e. that Jesus is a created being, for example, will not prevent me from appreciating that scripture in its own right. Actually, their “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures” is rife with errors and improper word usages, all to the end of reinforcing their unique perspective. Still, I believe a genuine and sincere seeker could legitimately find their way to faith using it, though I would recommend to such a one the use of a better text.

  • Lewis’s remark was an irrelevance. It is just the kind of argument by stipulation I was talking about. Something declared to be the case without ever bothering to demonstrate why it should be so.

    He posits that Christian belief would make a person better than no belief at all. I have never seen where that is ever the case. I doubt Lewis ever did. In many instances people become atheists from a background of Christian belief. Sometimes very devout Christian belief. But something about it conflicts with their sense of moral being, with their experiences, with their interactions with others, or just fails to hold up to scrutiny when actually examined.

  • This is headlined a reply to me, but the headline is misleading. All this contains is an anecdote about your philosophy class and vague invective. I credited C.S. Lewis with a proposition that is confirmed abundantly by my experience and the testimonies of many others. That is very different from name-dropping C.S. Lewis. You say nothing even remotely relevant to Lewis’s proposition. Your Christian brothers and sisters may have been gullible or faddists, but their qualities imply nothing about the qualities of Lewis or the truth of his proposition. Shall I infer that you intended this as a reply to someone else or that you are incapable of reasonable discussion?

  • How many martyrs have philosophies produced, compared to religions? Philosophy may appeal to people’s intellect, I’ve certainly enjoyed studying and sometimes debating philosophy (moral, political, and economic) for decades. But when it comes to engaging most people’s passionate support and obedience, religion trumps philosophy. And likewise when it comes to charity — Religious Conservatives are the most charitable people in the US, followed closely by Religious Liberals, Secular Liberals are trailing, with Secular Conservatives at the bottom.

    And speaking of Confucius, I recently finished the Great Courses lecture series “Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius,” and was surprised at how similar his way of thinking is to the Mormon culture I grew up in.

  • Lewis’s remark was not an irrelevance, but it is, in your experience, false.
    On the other hand, your story about the many instances of people becoming atheists is an irrelevance. (Look again at the article and the thread. If you do not see your story as an irrelevance, you are not fully capable of reasonable discussion.)

  • Martyrs that philosophy produces are frequently call patriots,visionaries, leaders of men. The nature of philosophy, however, is I think, an inherent uncertainty. Religion on the other hand, requires certainty.

    I don’t think however, that a willingness to die for a belief is necessarily any reliable measure of the inherent goodness or value or usefulness of a belief. It just means that people are willing to die for it. Because, as you observe..

    “But when it comes to engaging most people’s passionate support and OBEDIENCE”… well, you said it, not me.

  • I think Lewis is popular among evangelicals because he wrote in a very popular vein. He appears to be both logical and scientific, this lending modern credibility tools to the Christian story. I don’t believe a lot of Christians when they tell me that everything depends on their faith. Like everyone else and everything else, they look to evidence for corroboration of their beliefs, so they can declare, “see? I’m not making this stuff up. There’s evidence! Science agrees!”

    Either faith is sufficient or it’s not. The law of excluded middle. There is logic for you!

    Lewis’s arguments depend upon assumptions which he doesn’t tell you, and which are hardly explicit. But he’s doing the same thing. For who Jesus was, Lewis says, there are only two explanations– madman or king. No, there are other explanations– legend. Misinterpretation, con man, businessman, amalgamation of several people (cf: Judas the Galilean, and who was bar Abbas?), solar myth, business plan, allegory, (cf: a book, Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls).

    I’m not arguing for against any particular one of them, though I have my thoughts on the subject. But there weren’t just two, only two, explanations– crazy or The Eternal Truth.

    Lewis did that sort of thing a lot. As much as I liked him and his work, and as much as it taught me, including nearly leading me into Christianity Nearly 50 years ago, I began to see through a lot of what he wrote. He wasn’t the reason I left Christianity behind me, but understanding his weaknesses removed a lot of the support structure for it. HIs fiction books were enjoyable, Screwtape very thought provoking, but I think his only first class work was The Allegory of Love, even though I was never really able to get through it,

  • I would have to disagree. But I’m not referring to the hypocrisy of it, though there certainly is THAT.

    My observation has been that how people read the Bible really depends on the kind of people they are, and not, as often supposed, the other way around. If you want to damn gay people, you’ll find those passages. If you don’t really care about divorce, you’ll be all very forgiving. And if you’re a real expert, a real piece of work, Jesus will forgive you for every sin you commit, except for the one unforgivable sin, not believing that he died for your sins.

  • “…. but being good in any meaningful sense is the result of being treated with goodness and kindness as one is growing up….”
    Morality is innate, but needs to be nurtured. Mother is the primary nurturer.

  • You tell me, brother Richard S. Bell, as to (1) what difference is it to CS Lewis between “A man who was MERELY a man and said the sort of things Jesus said … would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell”; and “A man who was a man and said the sort of things Jesus said … would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell”. How can a mere word “MERELY” make such a scandalously, controversially huge difference? Christ Jesus was the latter; and so what, He’s “a lunatic”, “a poached egg” or “the Devil”?! How dare brother CS Lewis talk this way! Good thing he didn’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit, but just the Son of God.

    As to (2) also tell me, please, where in the epistle to the brothers and sisters in Rome did apostle Paul do what false apostle Clive did, which was invoke “deep magic” like the Pagans did, or “Tao” like the Buddhists did, or for that matter “The Law of Human Nature”, or “Natural Law”, or “Moral Law” as being “THE foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in”?

  • I’ve seen fellow Christians who claimed the new birth after getting persuaded by Apologeticians. But not by the gospels, epistles and revelation. I tell you, this behavior of ours has become the death of our Bible Christianity. We’re supposed to be just Fools for God, you know. But no, we all want to impress on unbelievers, Hey, we’re as scientific, reasonable, too, you know. And so we end up boasting of CS Lewis the Smart Guy, instead of the World’s “Lunatic” (he even went on bluffing to say) by the name of Jesus.

    Sorry you had your misadventure with Lewis, my friend. May you forgive him for being a stumbling block. Because I won’t. Neither will You-Know-Who.

  • “The historical record increasingly makes Jefferson out to be a serial rapist, exploiting at least one and possibly more girls who were trapped on his property, who indeed were his property, and thus had little choice but to tolerate his sexual advances. … As unpleasant as it may be for Americans who prefer especially on July Fourth to ponder the pleasant image of Jefferson as the aristocratic republican with a taste for fine art and a fondness for free-thinking, it is well past time to look at the Declaration’s author as the person he really was, America’s founding sociopath.” (Robert Parry, “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath”, Consortium News, July 4, 2016.)

  • Freethought, the pursuit of knowledge and dialogue are toxic to Religion – and vital to self-actualization.

  • ” It really is that simple. ”
    I’m not dealing with your mind –
    but with your definition of ” God “.

  • It is because of such illogical thinking – that you have to believe in God to be good- that evangelicals and conservative Catholics are losing ground in countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, northern European countries and central and southern Europe. In all these countries religion of this genre has almost disappeared and a new kind of spiritualism is awakening. Of course, in the developing world, especially in the southern Asian and in African nations where there is so much illiteracy, lack of education, poverty, over-population,etc people are still searching for a higher power to redeem them. You can make a comparative and contrasting study of the role of religion and religious beliefs among nations like Japan where religion plays no role in the lives of people and developing nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan where people’s lives revolve around their Muslim faith or in India where the Hindus are fervent believers. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Don’t start me –

    Why are the soles of elephants feet yellow?


    So that you can’t see them when they are hanging upside down in your custard.

  • The real question is, can God be good without us?

    Then Abraham said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.”
    — Genesis 18:32

  • Oh, even though that wasn’t a trick question on my part so you’d fall for it, please don’t go just yet. You still gotta walk the talk – me, too. You do that and I’ll be convinced there’s no God and that goodness is possible without God – a “100%”, too!

    Here you go:

    (i) Go now to “ungrateful and evil men” and women in your life and “be merciful” and “kind” to them. Then tell us what happens from the beginning to the end.

    (ii) Share with us something really, really godlessly/atheistically good you’ve always wanted to do all your life, and how you’ve succeeded in actually doing it, without encountering any change of mind or heart on your part along the way. And without getting the sense that you’re not in control of the situation or circumstances along the way. But that there’s something else from within your entire being that, along the way, is working against your desire to do this very thing of such goodness. Then tell us what happens from the beginning to the end.

    For your reference, here’s the background info on (i) Luke 6:32-36 and (ii) Romans 7:14-25. Good luck. (Interesting phrase, that. As if not to – God forbid – conjure bad luck, you suppose?)

  • I’m sure you think you’re being rather clever, but you fail.

    I can honestly tell myself and the rest of you here, even without your dare, that I am a good person. Furthermore, I am good without any gods.

    Regarding the second part of your nonsensical dare, the part where you think you’re being clever… well, here’s why you fail: I don’t know you. I don’t know most of the people here. Therefore, I can’t possibly accurately assess whether “you all” are also good people.

    So, take your 2×4 with an embedded nail, and take a hike. Perhaps it will serve as a good walking stick. Clearly, you could use the fresh air.


  • Now you are just being childish. When faced with someone who is not willing to take an empty argument at face value and actually challenge it, you get all nasty.

    ” If you do not see your story as an irrelevance, you are not fully capable of reasonable discussion.”

    That is just your ego cashing checks your reason can’t cash there. Lewis was speaking from a point of view of a cheerleader for his faith, not as someone who has seriously contemplated those who do not share it or those who outright reject it. The statement you quoted was a declaration, not a well reasoned statement of fact.

  • I have seen some of their changes, although not knowing the intricacies of Greek, it’s hard for me to determine whether they or you are right.

  • There is a third option held by Quakers for centuries. Some other faith communities call it the “Cosmic Christ.” People don’t need the God of “religion” to be good, but as Quakers say, “there is that of God in everyone,” whether they be Christian, Muslim, any other religion or no religion at all.

  • Your sins, whether elephantine or not, are your own.But since you asked:

    How do you get four elephants and a bowl of jello into a Volkswagen?

    2 in the front seat, two in the back seat, and there’s always room for jello.

    Did I date myself? Are you sorry yet?

  • I’m glad you saw my point. Lewis educated me, as did so many when I was young. That’s what being young is for.

  • That’s what everyone does, Edward. Translate according to perspective and need.

    The word “homosexual” did not appear in the world until 150 years ago, and in a bible until 1948.

    But there it is.

  • morality is derived from common sense when people live together. It precedes religion. Religions obfuscate and complicate what is simple and direct: ‘love’ (respect) one another.
    Sin,salvation, the Christian fairy tales are taken literally and people literally get killed because these notions get hidebound.

  • That is Matthew Fox who polarized the idea of the Cosmic Christ and the mystical tradition of Catholicism, which the hierarchy disowns. Matthew Fox, a former priest, was silenced by the RCC for two years and then kicked out. He treated women as equals, you see, and embraced paganism. My kind of guy.

  • the notion of original sin is vile and depressing. We are all good. Look for the good in yourself and others and highlight that. You will find it in others and in yourself, in whatever order. Christian right-wingers would say that anyone who thinks they are good has too much hubris. I say, this is the basis for living in (what Buddhists call) Right Relations with others.

  • yours is a ridiculous attempt to Project all you bad and hostile feelings on other. It is devoid of any critical thinking. Do you perchance to to the Westboro Baptist church??? Those losers are losing members and former family members have written about how brainwashed they were as kids. I assume you were the same, except you’re still stuck in the brain warp of delusional Christianity.

  • Oooooohh

    However – there is a serious point to the custard saga – the next stage is to ask the victim (you) – have you ever seen an elephant upside down in your custard? – and when you say that you haven’t claim that that proves how clever the elephants are.

    It’s about the level of proof we get from those who offer biblical verses and threats of eternal damnation when logic is employed to shatter their assumptions, biases and prejudices.

    I am now formally reducing my status from fairy to elf and crying

    E. Nuff.

  • Exactly. As I see it –

    When humanity lived in nomadic family groups a psychopathic leader could control the group.

    Once several such groups banded together to start urban living (a consequence of learning to farm rather than to hunt/gather) the unregulated clash of the family chieftains would have lead rapidly to murder, mayhem and the failure of the larger group so they invented morality and backed it up with laws sanctioned by the worst thing they could think of – a psychopathic super-chief, one so terrifyingly upscale that it was invisible, omnipresent and unpredictably incompetent.

    Then we got priests and the world has yet to recover.

  • Isn’t it amazing how the popular conception of god isn’t all that different from that of a middle eastern potentate from 2000-2500 years ago?

  • and potentates like Trump, Weinstein, and Cosby think it cool to be serial abusers and grabbers of women’s genitals. Then there’s the Duggar patriarch who impregnated his wife 19 times!!! The biblical model endures.

  • inner directed, yes.
    The bible passage that says, “be ye perfect in my sight” is a mistranslation. It should read, “be ye whole”, that is integrated, not endlessly conflicted and torn between sin and goodness, shame at some supposed wrong doing, obsessing about every mistake as the cause of your ‘guilt’. Psychologically, Christianity is a train wreck.

  • So you equate the goodness done through empathy and altruism with that done out of fear of eternal wrath?

    I grant you that the outcome in the short-term may be indistinguishable but in the longer term as education reduces the incidence of gullibility ……………………………?
    Even more horrible god(s), even more draconian punishments, even more extreme lies, even more destruction of self-worth awareness ………………..?

  • Ergo: “Religion” – complete with “freethought, the pursuit of knowledge and dialogue … vital to self-actualization” – is no longer “Religion” by your definition.

    Time to pull up your notes from Religion 101, my friend. When you were still experimenting with “self-actualization”. Remember that? I was your teacher.

  • If indeed as you admitted, “I am a good person”, will be you be good enough, then:

    (i) To go now to “ungrateful and evil men” and women in your life and “be merciful” and “kind” to them. Then tell us what happens from the beginning to the end.

    (ii) To share with us something really, really godlessly/atheistically good you’ve always wanted to do all your life, and how you’ve succeeded in actually doing it, without encountering any change of mind or heart on your part along the way. And without getting the sense that you’re not in control of the situation or circumstances along the way. But that there’s something else from within your entire being that, along the way, is working against your desire to do this very thing of such goodness. Then tell us what happens from the beginning to the end.

    For background info, you can pick some 2×4 stud nailing pointers from: (i) Luke 6:32-36 and (ii) Romans 7:14-25.

    (My profession called me today to spend a whole day outside breathing in, breathing out “fresh air.” Same time when you told me to do the same. How about that.)

  • Morality is not “manmade.” It is the product of evolution. It is the product of millions of years of increasingly complicated socialization enabling individual animals to live together safely. The WORD morality, yes, is man made but it was not fixed 4,000 years ago, either. The meanings have changed somewhat.

    Feuerbach said that God is the projection of our highest aspiration. In attributing our potential goodness on God, the God we created, we are passing the buck.

  • As far as genuine psychopaths (those with a mal-functioning amygdala) go I doubt that religion informs their actions though they may use it as a tool that their victims are vulnerable to. They tend to seek power and/or social acceptance; religion, like politics, business, medicine, law-enforcement, education and entertainment is a cloak they may use to hide their total selfcenteredness.

    Figures are iffy but the general accepted numbers seem to be that 1% of the population are psychopaths, and 1 in 4 of those are female. Since most of us live in societies where men have traditionally held power they have had more opportunities to indulge their inadequacy – some believe that a more equal society might change the 1 in 4 to 1 in 2!

    They think differently to the 99%. For example – rape is always the victim’s fault – after all, they could have said yes. The idea that they are not entitled to whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want it is inconceivable – they want so they will have – it’s not their fault if the target chooses to be a victim.

  • I’m not being clever. Just trying to go “third-grade painting” a case against the thesis of this article and all your comments.

    Do you pay this much attention, though, to anyone out there where you are who is “actually dull and styleless” even though he’s just trying to debate with you?

  • That’s “the ones” – plural. Hmm, I’ll bite. So give it up – “the worst examples” from these “ones”.

    1st one is …?
    2nd one is …?
    3rd one is …?
    4th one is …?
    5th one is …?

    all the way to …

    666th one is …?

  • There were other terms used to describe same sex relationships in the world going back to classical antiquity. The term homosexual is merely a modern textual framing of such relationships. The terms used in the original languages of the bible communicate the same essential meaning. It is possible to find objective interpretations of the text, even when they conflict with the perspectives of those who find them objectionable.

  • I don’t think he was equating the two at all. They are however indistinguishable, as you note, in the short run.

  • Confessedly, I am not an expert on the original languages and usages, but the greater part of biblical scholars agree that JW’s do a great deal of damage to the texts. Competent biblical scholars may disagree on a number of theological schemes, but they tend to agree on this.

  • I have to disagree.

    Our understanding of the subject is vastly different from theirs different than even 50 years ago. Their words and ours y refer to the same subject but the MEAN something very different.

  • I think we’ve differed over this before, but I’m not prepared to have that difference be the defining issue in our ongoing dialogue. One to one, it is always my desire to regard you with personal respect and dignity even when we cannot agree on the issues.

  • So did Star Trek V. Which also answered the question why William Shatner never directed another movie.

  • That is not true. What I call “good” is what I call “good”. No God involved. And what does history have to do with it? Throughout history, more atrocities, wars, 911, have been done in the name of God than anything else.

  • You are not really doing much to show that morality comes from religion. But you have been demonstrating that religion provides tools for expressing arrogance and ignorance. Pretty much everyone here who has made he claim that religious people are the only moral ones out there have been the least moral people. 🙂

  • Yes, I said “obedience” — that is precisely why religion works better as a control of human behavior than philosophy. To paraphrase Al Gore, with philosophy there is no controlling legal authority. And that is a real problem, when it comes to acting as a control on social behavior. Washington knew what he was talking about, in his farewell address:

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

  • “Whatever gets people to treat others with love and kindness seems good”

    I was hoping that sentence was not intended to be read as it comes across to me. I have family friends/relatives whose lives are informed by their fear of hell. They are good and lovely people, they are also scared and, IMO, living poorer lives than they deserve to do.

  • (i) To go now to “ungrateful and evil men” and women in your life and “be merciful” and “kind” to them. Then tell us what happens from the beginning to the end.

    I already do that. So, no, I’m not going to recount my entire life here in this comment thread.

    (ii) To share with us something really, really godlessly/atheistically good …. blah blah blah …

    Again, no, I’m not going to recount my entire life here in this comment thread.

    …you can pick some 2×4 stud nailing pointers from…

    Thanks, but I’d rather get my nailing pointers from Matthew 27. 😉

  • Words are manmade and the concept of morality, and the created reasons are manmade. No god ever said a word nor told anyone anything. A person willing to lie about it, is immoral because to even make the claim.

  • Such a seemingly simple question. But as that potential, invisible reality has yet to ‘reveal’ His existence in any absolute and unequivocal manner to the visible world, the best working definition I can offer as a starting point is the classic working conception put forward by Christian/Judeo tradition, even as they have never been able to provide any direct evidence of such. In short, a omnipotent, omniscient, creative intelligence. And the first source of all perfect moral and spiritual insight. Which I wish He would share with the world ASAP!

  • I know what you mean. I remember a debate between two practitioners of magic in a book I read long ago. The “practical” sorcerer said that the divisions between black and white magic were unimportant as far as the magic was concerned, it was the intent that mattered. The other claimed, “produce a brace of parrots, one for good purposes and one for ill purposes, and let’s see if there is any difference.”

    As with all matters of magic, they were unable to resolve the issue.

    But I agree with you. Living your life in fear of hell seems a poor way to live it. You can live exactly the same “good and lovely life” without having hell in it.

  • No need to have it be the defining difference. But this is the problem with translation– the assumption that the same word means the same thing.

    We called a self powered motive device a car. The same word would apply to a chariot in Shakespeare’s time. Both words refer to a moving object with wheels. Only one of them would be understood for what it is by the people of the time who are employing the word.

  • Hey, that came straight out of The Johnny Carson Show. Have you heard this one? he’d start off by asking his audience. It’s about this unusual man reporting to a rather offbeat moral-police officer at the station, who greeted with him with the usual, What can I do you for? Thing is, the man said, “Generally the people most likely to claim that moral behavior comes from a belief in God are the ones who provide the worst examples of religious based morality.” No w*y, the apparently immoral moral-police officer acknowledged. Give me, then, “the worst examples” from these “ones”, why don’t you. The man pretended he was hard of hearing so he could let it all out even more. “You are not really doing much to show that morality comes from religion. But you have been demonstrating that religion provides tools for expressing arrogance and ignorance. Pretty much everyone here who has made he claim that religious people are the only moral ones out there have been the least moral people.” No w*y, the apparently immoral moral-police officer acknowledged again, but only in pursuit of verifiable facts, data and evidences that he could gather from the guy. “Names, please. And of representatives of each religion today. Otherwise, you know …” Oh but the man knew what the officer was getting at, and so just stormed out of there, per his usual character, and with these final words along the way to the puzzled yet understanding officer. “Have you looked in a mirror lately? You are demonstrating my point fairly well.” Johnny’s audience didn’t get the punchline when he finished his apparently not funny joke. It was one of his worst nights on TV ever.

  • The whole shebang. So like all the stories from the Middle East before there was even a Judaism let alone Christianity.

  • Sorry “pennyroyal”, but opinions are like…well, you know how the old saying goes. From my perspective, NO ONE has, or can in any meaningful way EVER prove that the historical record regarding Jesus the Christ can in ANY meaningful way be designated a”fairy tale”; that claim is ludicrous on its face, and I welcome your or ANYONE else’s attempts to offer valid proofs showing otherwise. ?

  • Hmm…I wonder if the victims of rapists, murderers, child abusers that those who perpetrated those heinous, vicious crimes against them were/are”good”, pennyroyal? What kind of fantasy dreamworld are YOU living in?? ?

  • Maybe it’s because frightening people, particularly kids, is less time-consuming than teaching them through reward?

    Our dog was a terrified rescue dog – ran, hid and shook when my petite partner picked up a magazine the second day we had him; he’s no problem, well-behaved, doesn’t steal food or pester etc. but three years later he still avoids anyone with a stick/umbrella. Someone took the “easy” way didn’t they.

  • “Fairy tale” – 1.2 – A fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.

    Yup – covers much of the Bible’s contents.

    Adam & Eve (therefore Original Sin) – fairy tale
    Noah & The Flood – fairy tale
    Exodus – fairy tale
    etc. etc.
    The birth in Bethlehem because of a census – story made up to try to sell a message to the Jews – fairy tale
    Loaves and fishes – fairy tale
    Water in to wine – fairy tale
    etc. etc.
    The Revelation of St John – more accurately allegory but with elements of fairy tale.

    That said – I recognise that no-one can prove that
    “the historical record regarding Jesus the Christ can in ANY meaningful way be designated a”fairy tale””
    – but that’s because there is no “historical record regarding Jesus the Christ “.

    Historians (proper ones not those with risible qualifications from non-accredited “universities” or David Barton) generally reckon that there probably was a rebellious peripatetic rabbi on whom the Jesus stories are based, probably rather more than one – think Apollonius).

    The claim – your claim – is that there is a history to disprove – the onus of proof is on you to demonstrate that such a history exists – not on someone else to prove that which is non-existent to be untrue.

  • Cambridge.Oxford. Yale.Rutgers. Princeton…All the historians/philosophers/theologians that I have studied/still study from the past 30 years or so ALL have Phds from these institutions’ Divinity schools(some more than one.)—Try again,”Givethedogabone”. And you’ve STILL just offered some supposed”scholar’s” opinion sans proof of their assertions. So…BIG FAIL! ?

  • I’m not sure what you are trying to convey but names and citations might help.

    And try to work out whether or not you are impressed with “scholars” opinions – you claim that they support your opinion and then decry the lack of proof when “scholars” disagree with you.

    Could you be more consistent please.

  • That’s no good at all there, NoMoreBadTown, just as neither are you, apparently, then. I didn’t come up with those 2 (of 7, per my main comment to this article) Tests of “Goodness Without God”. Israel’s Messiah Jesus and one of His 1st apostles by the name of Paul, did. Unlike you, they both self-applied those Tests of “Goodness Without God”. You know they graded themselves? Here you go:

    JESUS: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”

    PAUL: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

  • Agreed. I’m the least clever around here, if at all. Everybody else is cleverer than me. I can never be as clever as you. But you know all this already from my prior reply, which didn’t ask you to give me a thumbs-up for calling myself Stupid4Christ or Fool4God. There, you’re happy now. You’re most welcome.

    But now, boasting of God & Jesus? That I shall continue doing.

  • You speak from experience there, patrick? That your selfactualizing experimentation with “Goodness Without God” has led you into the 18th century French individual praxis of m*st*rb*tion inspired by the Onan of Genesis? Make sense, please.

  • And yet, and yet Jefferson admitted, “A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” (The Jefferson Bible, introduction by Cyrus Adler, Digireads, 2005.)

    And yet, and yet, situation hellishly helpless, however, this. Because, according to Robert Parry, “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath”, Consortium News, July 4, 2016:

    “The historical record increasingly makes Jefferson out to be a serial rapist, exploiting at least one and possibly more girls who were trapped on his property, who indeed were his property, and thus had little choice but to tolerate his sexual advances. … As unpleasant as it may be for Americans who prefer especially on July Fourth to ponder the pleasant image of Jefferson as the aristocratic republican with a taste for fine art and a fondness for free-thinking, it is well past time to look at the Declaration’s author as the person he really was, America’s founding sociopath.”

    Is that what you mean by “the intention of the founding fathers”, Common Manur… I mean Ground?

  • Let’s do it like this, Givethedogabone…I have about 400 books in my library, at least 98% of them regarding theological/ecclesiastical history, biblical hermeneutics, (I do like to read the occasional novel!)—I have 3 books in this collection of 6 to 800 pages each:”The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought”, “The Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible”,”Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview”. These 3 books combined have a total of perhaps 100 contributors who possess PhDs from all the prestigious schools I mentioned in my previous post. Since I’m not interested in playing ring-around-the-scholar with you,so to speak, feel free to hie yourself down to the nearest library to confirm, if you intend to pursue this line of enquiry. At any rate, it’s obvious that this particular dialogue is probably going nowhere fast,so…I’ll leave you with this: I’m sure that this impasse between atheists/theists will likely never be resolved, so at worse the insults, sniping,and disrepect will continue, or we can all simply agree to disagree. (I’ve read most of the so-called “New Atheists” works too, by the way…) As for our interaction, ask yourself this question: Most of the scholars, historians, and philosophers who have contributed to the volumes I recommended in this post have been involved in and attached to their perspective institutions for many,many years. Do you honestly believe that these prestigious schools have been paying these scholars their fairly substantial salaries in the pursuit of fairy tales? After all, J.K Rowling has them beat in financial remuneration 6 ways from Sunday,and she writes actual fairy tales. Mull and reflect, my friend. ? Peace in Christ.

  • So – you are unable to back up the claim that there is an “historical record regarding Jesus the Christ”

    Note the claim – it’s not that there was a man from Nazareth, probably called Joshua, Jeshua or Yeshua, who was an itinerant teacher; there may have been, there is no definitive evidence but such wandering rabbis were about at the the appropriate time – it is that he was “the Christ”.

    Unless you are using the term in an unusual way “the Christ” means someone anointed by God to redeem the Jews; subsequently amended, by some, to include non-Jews.

    If you are to demonstrate that this man was “the Christ” you must first demonstrate the existence of “God”. That has never been done.

    No God = no anointing = no “the Christ”.

    Much has been written, including much of the Bible, on the assumption that this unevidenced and unnecessary “God” does exist. Such writings are not historical records regarding Jesus the Christ and many are written and sold with the intention to persuade the readers to believe as true something which is so unlikely to be true as to be untrue.

    Writings produced with the intention of misleading are fabrications intended to deceive.

    “Fairy tale” – 1.2 – A fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive.

    Your scholars may well make a living out of the assumption that a “Jesus” existed and may believe (though many do not) that there was a divine element to his existence. Their belief, or its absence is irrelevant – you, and they, are unable to prove that “Jesus the Christ” was an historical being.

  • So be it, Givethedogabone…it’s obvious that your mind is made up; as I said, it’s obvious that this dialogue is going nowhere fast,so…I’m done.I would remind you that the atheists’ assertions have no more credibility than what you claim about the theists; to wit, your claim that God does not exist has not been demonstrably proven either, nor can it.So again, were both left, at the very least, to civilly agree to disagree. I have been/still am what is known in Biblical parlance as a “Blood-bought, Born-again, Spirit-filled child/servant of the True and Living God for over 40 years now, since October 4th, 1976 from the age of 22. (I’m currently 63.)—I have studied the Christian Faith for over 30 years now (Remember my library?), and NO ONE has,nor ever will,convince me nor any authentic Christian that our Faith is invalid or,as you and other atheists claim, “a fairy tale”. Given the long history of Christianity,good and bad, the claim is blatantly absurd on its face, and a two millennia long roster of historians, philosophers, archeological researchers, and brilliant theologians make that more than clear. When all is said and done, Givethedogabone, you and l are left with two very simple choices my friend: The evidence leads us to believe what we’ve discovered, or it doesn’t. Having met the Risen Christ,well…here I stand, NEVER to be moved as long as Jesus the Christ is Lord. At any rate, I am done with this issue—believe (or not) as you see fit,as will I and at least 2 billion of my ilk.— PEACE IN CHRIST,ALWAYS!! ???.

  • You seem to have some basic misunderstandings.

    1 – “atheists’ assertions have no more credibility than what you claim about the theists; to wit, your claim that God does not exist has not been demonstrably proven either, nor can it” –
    I agree that I cannot prove that God does not exist – that’s why I don’t claim to – it is would be as silly a claim as being able to prove that it does.

    Atheism is the absence of belief – not belief of absence. I cannot rule out the possibility of a (or many) deity/ies – but I can find no evidence to support the claim(s) and see no need for one/them. I do think that the claims made for the Christian God (and they are many and often incompatible one with another) are rationally impossible but that is just one of the thousands of Gods that humanity has worshipped over the millennia.

    2 – “NO ONE has,nor ever will,convince me nor any authentic Christian that our Faith is invalid or,as you and other atheists claim, “a fairy tale”. ” –
    a) I wouldn’t expect to do so.
    b) “authentic Christian” as in “a Christian like me”? – no true Scotsman argument.

    3 – “Given the long history of Christianity,good and bad, the claim is blatantly absurd on its face” –
    longevity is not evidence of correctness (I wish it were – I’m 6 years older than you); Zoroastrianism is considerably older than Christianity – does that make it a more valid religion?

    4 – “a two millennia long roster of historians, philosophers, archeological researchers, and brilliant theologians make that more than clear.” –
    a) no it doesn’t. For many more millennia human beings, clever and stupid alike, thought that the sun went round the earth – they were wrong.
    b) archaeology supports some of the physical claims in the Bible but disproves such as The Flood, The Exodus, The Walls of Jericho; it doesn’t support the existence of the supernatural any more than do history, philosophy or theology.

    5 – The size of your library is irrelevant – it’s the quality and what you learn from reading it that matters.

    6 – “for over 40 years now” – I rejected the evangelical CofE Christianity I was brought up within at around age 12 – I’m 70 next month – so what?

  • Let’s face it: nobody’s perfect. When it comes to righteousness, those both with and without religion fall short. Jesus himself was critical of the religious authorities who thought they were more righteous than the others.

  • Whatever happened two thousand years ago was lost in the sands of time. All that exists now from history and tradition is the theological counterfeit that pretends to His name. That is why a second coming is necessary!

  • Actually it’s you yourself who better face it that Israel’s Messiah Jesus did more than just that when it came to this “righteousness” stuff you’re bringing up. For He also, according to His apostle Matthew:

    (1) “Fulfill[ed] all righteousness”!

    (2) Commanded us all to “seek [God’s] His righteousness”!

    (3) “Did not come for the righteous, but sinners”!

    (4) “Shall cast the righteous to eternal life”!

    What’s that all about, then, Mglass? The atheism & religious none-sense & secularization of “Goodness Without God”? I don’t think so either.

  • deliberately misrepresent my point. People’s behaviors and actions can certainly be heinous but they were not born destined to kill or rape? What happened???

    It’s you who is deluded.

  • no, you are wrong yet again.
    It is up to believers to show that God is really there. And you can’t.
    Or at least no one ever has proven anything supernatural is going on.
    Go ahead, name some proof that god exists.

  • …”We are all good”…Really, pennyroyal? Based on whose criteria? And since you brought up Buddhism, I guess the Burmese Buddhists didn’t get that memo vis-a-vis the Rohingya Muslims, right? Come back down to earth, my friend…?.

  • And yet,pennyroyal, you have no coherent reason to explain why a child rapists and murderer will willingly and deliberately perpetrate these senseless acts; after all, you posited the ill-informed idea that…”we are all good”…What rational person believes that??—?

  • Actually, pennyroyal, it is NOT up to theists to prove that God exists. (At least not from a Biblical perspective.) It’s up to God to reveal Himself, and from the perspective of Biblical theists He has amply demonstrated that reality in the Person of Jesus the Christ. Thanks! ?

  • One cannot be good without God – reason – how do we define what is good. It is God that defines goodness. God is the standard with which goodness is measured. Now the problem is Abrahmic God’s goodness standards appear low in today’s time. So we need to invent another God whose standards measures up to today’s values.

    Once standard is created – we can measure our goodness with that standard. Without God anything is permitted.

  • Which god are you boasting of? The one in your bible that mandates genocide of non-believing ethnic groups and teased your religion’s foolish founder Abe into almost murdering his own son?

  • “spiritualism”? Believing that we can communicate with the dead? Perhaps you meant ‘spirituality’.

  • What? You are seriously trying the ‘argument from authority’ here? That’s especially specious when you’re praising scholars of divinity. I mean, really.

  • You could possess every theological tome ever written and they’d still be books about nonsense. Having letters after one’s name proves nothing. There are imams galore with qualifications from schools of muslim ‘thought’. It’s still dangerous absurdity.

  • Mr Ringo. Think a bit more, please. Would you be a believer in your deity if, for example, you’d been born in North America in 1000AD? Your personal faith is inculcated by your environment. You weren’t convinced of it by overwhelming evidence of its truth. So, given this, why continue believing in nothing?

  • If you’re going to be “boasting of God & Jesus” then you first need to prove they’re even real. Otherwise, you’re just a lunatic, rambling incoherent gibberish.

  • lol, one minor inconvenience, god isn’t real.
    You need to prove that before you can make such a ridiculous claim

  • HpO, I stated that everyone falls short, whether religious or not. Jesus himself condemned the religious authorities of his own day for thinking that they were more righteous than others. If that sentiment is problematical to you, please expunge Romans 3:23 and anything that Jesus said about scribes and pharisees from your Bible.

  • Sorry, “NoMoreBadTown”, but from a Biblical perspective theists don’t have to”prove” anything of the sort; no rational, thinking person has to prove the reality of Jesus Christ’s existence, even atheistic scholars have largely abandoned that quixotic quest. No other person in human history demonstrates the reality of God’s existence(from a Biblical perspective)than Jesus the Christ. ?.

  • You say, “Nobody’s perfect.” Yet Jesus said, Be you perfect as God’s perfect. You’ve got a disconnect going on there. If you’re interested in the perfection Jesus was talking about, you’ve got to go beyond your point about hypocrisy.

  • “The founding fathers … pagan”? If you mean more pagan than Christian, you might have a point there. The Christian Right’s Myth of the Christian Founding Fathers of America is just that, a myth. Also mythical is your notion of Jefferson, however, to stay on point again there.

  • I’m glad you’re toning down so we can talk. But it’s getting late. So here’s a comment from my atheistic hero, Jurgen Habermas, to speak on my behalf but for your sake in your future dialogue with idiots like me. I was into Critical Theory and stuff back in the day, see. Listen, please:

    “The Judeo-Hellenic-Christian West … must refrain from using any non-discursive means in the hermeneutical conversation between cultures, and must become just one voice among others”. (Jurgen Habermas, “A Conversation About God and the World”, in Time of Transitions, Polity, 2006, page 155.)

    “To exclude religious voices from the public square is highly illiberal” (Jurgen Habermas, quoted in Rodney Pearson, “Tis the Season to Reveal What Atheists Really Want”, American Thinker, 2014.)

  • The disconnect is between the real and the ideal. Of course it’s ideal to aim to be perfect, but as humans we all miss the mark.

    By the way, I made no point about hypocrisy. However, Jesus did. See Matthew 23:13.

  • Read the comment above carefully – I said we need to invent new God – thereby I am agreeing that God is not real but imaginary. But our whole civilization is based on imaginary beliefs – nations, laws, human rights, money, morals, ethics – are all imaginary – but serve our purpose of functioning society – and so is God. We need God for a healthy society.

  • In which case, why are you worshipping this sadistic maniac? You need to think carefully as to why anyone would want that thing – which you haven’t a shred of evidence is any more than a figment of the collective imagination – as the arbiter of their morality. It has more in common with Stalin, Mao and Hitler than with Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.

  • Of course. You’re more than welcome to air your strange beliefs any time you like, as is any other equally-convinced worshipper of deities. But you’ll need to do a lot better to convince people of the supposed truths you hold, given that Europe and the USA are turning away from faith at a rate of knots.

  • read the comment above carefully: how do we define what is good. It is God that defines goodness.
    Doesn’t sound like an imaginary being to you.
    I certainly don’t define goodness that way.

  • Oh,well…it’s evident that your mind is made up and apparently closed, srh 1965, so there’s no point in continuing this obviously fruitless dialogue. God bless you,and we’ll agree to disagree. JESUS IS LORD! ???.

  • Well, if you knew me, you wouldn’t think that I had a closed mind. I was brought up by two avidly evangelical parents and ‘gave my life to Jesus’ as a child, continuing this into adulthood. My friendship group was almost entirely Christian. However, I was always the questioning type, never content to take what other people told me at face value. Hence by my thirties I was seriously doubting the bible and the existence of any god – there just wasn’t anything real to support the faith. Eventually I had no option than to give it all up. It was easily the best decision I have ever made. Why not open your own mind a little?

  • Toward democracy and all that, Jurgen Habermas is offering Christians like me the total opposite, actually, of a room padded with foam rubber for the confinement of the violent mentally ill. I guess you can’t possibly appreciate an atheist your senior like him, given what you are. Had he known you interacting in public like this, he’d probably recommend that you tone down, too. Not for democracy’s sake, which is beyond your sensibilities anyway, but – pun intended – for goodness sake! as per this article’s subject matter. No offense, but you’re the living proof that goodness without God is impossible. Either that or that there are people around here that give atheism a bad name, a cliche even.

  • You should read RNS’ latest scoop in France debunking those “strange beliefs” of yours, srh1965, which, understandably, are spinning in your head “at a rate of knots” – given what you are. Give it a try – “‘Neo-Protestant’ challenge seen in France’s political upheaval”, Tom Heneghan, Religious News Service, September 12, 2017 – and pick up some pointers from an atheist your senior talking about this very matter in that article. What’s that? – you want me to summarize it for you?

  • So, srh1965, a mass-killing God being a “sadistic maniac” to you, “ha[ving] more in common with Stalin, Mao and Hitler” – mass killers all – “than with … Nelson Mandela”, can’t possibly be, or doesn’t deserve to be, “the arbiter of … morality”? But Mandela sure can and he sure did? Oh really? Tell that religious nones-sensical, atheistic concept of goodness to all his victims and their surviving friends and loved ones! Because:

    (1) According to William F. Jasper, “‘Saint’ Mandela? Not So Fast!”, The New American, July 3, 2013: “During the Rivonia Trial (October 1963 – June 1964) … more than 10 documents in Mandela’s handwriting were introduced into evidence, totaling hundreds of pages. One … declared that ‘traitors and informers should be ruthlessly eliminated,’ and he recommended ‘cutting off their noses’ … Mandela did not deny writing the damning material”.

    (2) And according to Andrew C. McCarthy, “Remembering Mandela, without Rose-Colored Glasses”, National Review, December 14, 2013: “The lyrics … ‘We the members of the Umkhonto have pledged ourselves to … kill the whites’ … are … from the anthem of … the MK … established by its commander, Nelson Mandela … [who] in September 1992 … was filmed singing the anthem … The MK … killed many, many more civilians than it did members of the regime’s security forces – copiously including women and children. Indeed … over 14,000 people, were killed between 1990 and 1994 … [by means that included] the savage method of ‘necklacing,’ in which a tire filled with gasoline was hung around the terrified victim’s neck and then set on fire.”

  • I don’t know if you’ll get this (I doubt it) in response to your 2nd sentence there about “miss[ing] the mark”, but I’ll show you something cool.

    Matthew 1:21 – “Jesus … will save His people from their sins [hamartion]”.

    “hamartia … Definition: … missing the mark; hence: (a) guilt, sin, (b) a fault, failure (in an ethical sense), sinful deed.”

    You see it, Mglass, or don’t you? If yes, please comment. If not, well, like I said, you probably don’t get any of that stuff anyway, but I just can’t help sharing this heavenly treasure.

    For yet and yet, Jesus commanded us all to be perfect because God is perfect. Still don’t get it?

  • Hello HpO,

    First of all I would like to thank you for the effort you have put into your reply. Yes, I am aware that the word in Greek means missing the mark. I believe it’s a term that came from archery.

    You refer to Matthew 1:21. There is an interesting article in Wikipedia about this text. See This suggests that Jesus would save people from their sins by forgiving them.

    The point I made is that all of us miss the mark. Yes, we are commanded to be perfect, and that’s the way to aim. However, being human, we still miss the mark.

    I don’t think that this contradicts Christian teaching in any way.

  • What is goodness – how do u define it?

    To me goodness is a relative term – not absolute. A good act for one maybe a bad act to another.

    Eg Bill Gates is spending billions in philanthropy – which seems to be a good act – but he could have spend the same amount in increasing his wealth – which could have given jobs to millions and billions of $ taxes to govt. – who could have then spent it among poor.

    So it good and bad are not black and white – depends on how you look at it.

    So who will define what is good or bad?

  • Quite the opposite, I am the living proof that goodness without god(s) is quite possible. You mistakenly assume that my mocking of your faith and intellectual deficiency is “not good”. I would argue that it is good. It may not feel good to you, but it is for the greater good.

    Had there been a Lunatic Asylum in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Jesus (assuming he ever existed) would infallibly have been shut up in it at the outset of his public career. That interview with Satan on a pinnacle of the Temple would alone have damned him, and everything that happened after could have confirmed the diagnosis. The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a Lunatic Asylum.

    Additionally, we would be at least 1,500 years ahead if it hadn’t been for the church dragging science back by its coattails and burning our best minds at the stake.

    The truth hurts, but as I said previously, I speak it for the greater good.

  • I lose. You win. And that, too, for the greater good. For the goodness-without-God goodness.

    I take it back about Jurgen Habermas, “an atheist and one of the leading public intellectuals in Europe [who said to fellow atheists]: ‘For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk.’ [Jurgen Habermas, “Time of Transitions” (Polity, 2014).] (Source: Glenn Sunshine, “The Reformation and Politics 4: Divisions and Religious Warfare”, Breakpoint, October 6, 2017.)

  • Do you really think a being that is intelligent enough to create the entire universe would be so arrogant and petty that he would have people suffer for eternity if they won’t be his cheerleader?

  • You don’t get it. I said, I lose, you win, and never mind brilliant atheist Jurgen Habermas’ compromise with Christians, so you & I can explore your fellow atheists’ self-criticism – next!

    Speaking of which, I didn’t know you’re a lost “cause”, NoMoreSadTown, who’s only famously good for “throw[ing] rocks at the ‘retards'” – not in God’s eyes, but according to your fellow atheist, Daniel Fincke (“Why I Criticize My Fellow Atheists”, Camels with Hammers, June 17, 2013) – and all this speaks volumes about your goodness-without-God morality & ethics –

    “Atheists … get … p*ssed off when [some of them] either criticize atheists or say anything positive at all about religions. … Sometimes … atheists … are wrong, have bad habits, fall into intellectual errors either peculiar to us or common to people generally. …[Nor] would [they] feel like a hypocrite if [they] didn’t take those fewer chances to criticize [their] ‘own’ side when they arose … acknowledg[ing] when and where [they]’re wrong too … [as] a nice antidote to self-righteousness. … [They’re] just looking for flaws in theism or religious people’s behavior out of some animus … prejudice or malice. … [They really think that] it’s … up to [their] enemies to assume the best of [themselves, rather than] up to [them] to demonstrate it. … And since my fellow atheists profess to share many of my core intellectual and moral values, I am all the more disappointed in them when they are in violation of those values. I don’t want them to be hypocrites with respect to those values since their failures make all atheists, including me, look bad and set back our cause. … [They] settle for sloppy thinking or become ethically lazy or self-righteously self-satisfied. … [To them] becoming an atheist only is a matter of becoming right about a few more things but then as likely to be wrong about anything else (and wrong on special new topics that represent special new blindspots unique to atheists) … Some atheists really do seem to think being rational means agreeing with them in all matters great and small. Some atheists really do seem to have gotten into this movement to indulge in their feelings of superiority to those they pitilessly disparage as ‘stupid’ or wicked. They give little impression they are interested in the kinds of ongoing introspection and self-suspicion that are invaluable to personal growth. They are just in this to throw rocks at the ‘retards’. I have no sympathies with such people and am ashamed that they’re associated with me.”

  • Actually, the standard you talk about inventing would be enough. It doesn’t need to be deified. Although the standard should clearly state the right for all people to be left alone.

  • It does – but who authenticates it. I recommend you read or watch Dr. Yuval Hariri’s ‘Sapiens’ to get a better idea of God and its utility.

  • I agree with you – on what should be but we are imperfect humans – and there is difference on what should be and what is there. We need God to hand hold us to overcome various uncertainties in life.

    God is not going anywhere – it is there to stay. Atheists r living in delusion in case they think that they can eliminate God – rather we should work on changing the attributes of God.

  • Who is we – is it you or me or sam or harry ? U might say ‘we’ means collectively – have 10 people come to same conclusion ever? Leave around 8 billion people coming to one norms for ethics or morals.

  • You’re offering a self-defeating argument. “God” has been changing since its first conception. At some point people may realize that the concept is no longer needed.

  • Yes it is very much possible that we may outgrow God. Have we tried it in past? Yes – communism was one such experiment – it resulted in killing of around 100 million people. No religion is responsible for such crimes.

    Have u ever wondered y every society in any part of the world, at every moment of time has had the concept of God. Y?

    Were all fools – as atheists would like to imagine and attribute all intelligence onto oneself.

    Have u ever wondered y theism is increasing – Y erstwhile atheists for 3-4 generations are reverting to religion?

    Start thinking and critically analyzing your assumptions. U will get the answer.

  • Communism isn’t based on rationality or freedom. The notion that the non-acceptance of religious nonsense leads to some dystopia is itself based on nothing, as Stalin and Hitler were lunatics held up as semi-deities themselves.

    We have work to create an ordered society based on individual liberty. It’s that simple, and it doesn’t require belief in a manmade god to execute.

  • Your premise is that all previous generations were fools since they could not create a society minus the God – but now we have gained enough knowledge and are smart enough to have an utopia on earth.

    Answer my questions ?

    1. Y was no society ever at any place minus the God?

    2. Y r atheists for 3 generations in erstwhile communist countries flocking back to religion?

    3. Y is religion still showing upward trend and not downwards?

  • “…all previous generations were fools since they could not create a society minus the God” — your words, not mine.

    We’re animals attempting to form a structured society. It’s complicated, and it takes years and years as an ongoing process that never ends.

    It’s on us therefore to make society better: not on any gods. And we’re smart enough to know that a “utopia” is anything but. We simply need to work toward a world in which we can live individually, without fear from governments or our fellow humans.

    1. The United States is the precedent for government without god. The Constitution demands that power belongs to the people, by their consent alone, through elected (and term-limited) representation. Power doesn’t belong to any version of crap religion, like all the tyrannical theocracies that ruin this planet.

    2. Atheism is the act of not accepting the bullshit of any religion. Opportunists like Putin use religion to submit the population. That’s not Atheism, that’s employing dogma for political gain. Equating communism with Atheism is lazy and abhorrent.

    3. Religion has been around for thousands of years. It’s entrenched and passed on throughout the generations: that is a massive advantage: unlike science and formalized critical-thinking, which have been around only for several centuries. And looking at those trends, non-belief actually is growing and growing. Up to 20% or so in the United States: almost a quarter of the country therefore is explicitly unaffiliated with any particular faith, and there are likely more who aren’t so explicit.

  • “all previous generations were fools since they could not create a society minus the God” – this comment is a question to u – were the all previous generations fools?

    Read it again.

    Important thing is not whether God is there or not and we humans are not made to search for truth – but to live and survive. What percentage of people would be striving to know the truth – my guess is not even 0.0001%. Rest want to live in the best possible way.

    So now religions is natural to us – leave kids alone – they will start believing in some supernatural being – but atheism is unnatural – ie it has to be forced onto kids. So how can one impose unnatural things on humans.

    Humans are not rational but irrational beings – we r constantly doing irrational things even though we are not aware of it and religion is one of the several such irrational concepts that humans have adopted.

    Try this experiment on yourself – live one day being rational – question each activity that u do – whether it is rational or not.

    Moreover – religion is growing and not decreasing – Yes people r coming out of Abrahmic cults – they wonder on supernatural.

  • U seem to have limited information on our journey to persent I recommend u read Dr. Yuval Hariri’s ‘Sapiens’ or watch it on youtube his 65 video lessons.

    It will tell u many facts that u dont seem to know

  • To help Spuddie answer HpO there is this from Wikipedia ; “A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Catholic Dr. Thomas Plante of the Catholic Santa Clara University and volunteer clinical associate professor at Stanford University states that “approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is consistent with male clergy from other religious traditions and is significantly lower than the general adult male population which may double these numbers”. In 2012, there were a total of 414,313 priests x 4% = 16,572.52 and that is just priests and it is just sex with a minor. Another interesting fact .1% of the US federal prison population are atheists. The other 99.9 are all God fearing murderers, rapists, thieves and all round good guys. The problem with getting your morality from God is that God is an immoral being. If you don’t believe me read the Bible and see how many times God has had people kill other people for him. Why did he not do it himself? Thou shalt not kill. Unless it suites my whim.

  • Speak for yourself. I do not know why you can’t always be a good person, but what makes you believe that everyone else has the same problem?

  • And what is your point that these beliefs must come from the God of the Bible because they lead to an outcome that in the opinion of an atheist is ” good ” ? I am dizzy from the circular reasoning. It does not matter if the morality that you believe is in the bible is good or real, because it’s adherents are incapable of practicing it. Were the acts of the Spanish inquisition good or moral. Those that carried them out were following scripture. You also should read Revelations and see how loving and forgiving Yeshua is going to be.

  • Actually almost all the of the old testament are stories that are much older that the tribes of Israel. Remember along with those that believe there have been those that looked at what is and saw that it was a result of what was. That is why we have archeology today, and we know that the Bible was written, edited, transcribed, translated, and voted on by men. A group of men not in or of the Bible decided what the word of God was, without even asking Him if it was OK. There IS no morality in the Bible that can be shown to come from the God of the Bible because it cannot be shown that any of the stories happened, or that God exists.

  • Hmm…Well, that’s it then, Mr. Lickley: With one post you’ve managed to wipe our Israel’s rich history, do away with the obviously non-existent God and His Christ, and render the Bedrock of our Moral Code (i.e.The Ten Commandments) superfluous. So, what’s the prize for your excellent work, sir? I await your reply…☺

  • Wow…I wish I had read this guy’s stuff before I logged onto one of their websites. He hit the nail squarely on the head inre some of his atheist cohorts. The things that they say about Christian theists in particular, and anyone who doesn’t agree with their worldview and mindset…I didn’t know human beings could be so hateful and vicious. Live and learn! ??

  • So…you are another one of those who are privy to the hearts and minds of EVERY SINGLE PERSON OF FAITH, EVER? Wow…and hear I was thinking that the Omniscient, Omnipresent God had that covered! (Oops, sorry; I forgot He actually doesn’t exist…wow, Jesus, you were just a big ‘ol liar, huh? Oops again: YOU didn’t/don’t exist either…I guess ieft listening to Mr. Lickley and his ilk…hmm. ?

  • Seriously, Mr. Lickley? NO ONE is ALWAYS a good person; what on earth are you talking about?? What sane person would make that claim, sir? YOU? Please…??

  • Japan, the country with the highest suicide rate in the “developed” world? Is that a joke? In what sense has the countries you named cornered the market on “Goodness”? Has rape, robbery, murder ceased in these nations? Since when? ?

  • No, I make no such claim. I am asking what makes him believe that people who are always good can’t exist. My comment may have been poorly worded.

  • I made no such claim, nor do I think that is possible I was pointing out that men that believe they are doing the work of God commit evil acts while doing so. The Inquisition was conducted by the Church, by men that learned their morality from the bible.

  • Well the Bible is not a historical account of Israel. As to the Ten Commandments you should realize that morality and laws existed before there is any text of the Bible. Look up the Code of Hammurabi.

  • The Bible is not a historical account of Israel?? Is this a joke site? Am I being played here? I imagine that the Nation of Israel would be VERY surprised to hear that, as would any credible historians of that region(The archeologists no doubt would be surprised, too !)—The issue isn’t whether any morality or laws existed prior to the advent of the Biblical texts, and I’m familiar with the Code of Hammurabi.But there is no credible dispute about the impact of Biblical mores upon the laws of Western civilization, regardless of the presence of other forms of legislation, including the Greek/Roman paradigms. That’s all I’m saying, Mr.Lickley. Peace. ?

  • Yes the Bible is not a historical account. Please give references to Archaeologists that claim they have found the garden of Eden. Please also provide links to articles in peer reviewed papers on when the great flood happened or any other item in the bible that you believe show that the bible is a historical document. Does the bible tell which pharaoh built the great pyramid? Are you aware of anything in the bible that is considered as historical fact by academics in history or archaeology? Please give references to their research. Just because you believe that Genesis is an account of things that actually occurred or because groups of people in Israel believe these things, does not mean that they are accepted as fact by academia.