Can we be moral without God?

The argument that we cannot be moral without God usually consists of two parts:

  1. Human morality comes directly from God
  2. Without God, there is no objective morality

Let's assume God does indeed give us moral commands. Are these commands:

  1. Moral because God commanded them*? 


  1. Were they already moral before God commanded them?
*This is called the divine command theory

Obviously, those who insist that morality comes from God MUST say #1 is true.  But this also means that God subjectively decides which acts are moral.  He could command genocide (and has) and it would be a moral act, simply because he commanded it.  This also means that there is no objective morality--since God can decide what acts are moral, it is subjective.

To avoid this problem, one might say #2 is true. But if God is merely commanding acts that are already moral, then morality exists outside of God, and we don't need God for morality.

A good test to see which of #1 or #2 is true: If God commanded you to murder someone (who doesn't deserve it by today's laws), would you do it? If the answer is yes, then you're no better than a suicide bomber following Allah's decrees.  If the answer is no, then your morals are better than God's.  

God has commanded people in the past to murder people.  See these passages:

  • Abraham and Isaac (Gn 22:1-19)
  • Killing children for hitting or cursing their parents (Ex 21:15, 17)
  • Killing "witches" (Ex 22:18)
  • Killing all sorts of adulterers (Lv 20:10-12)
  • Killing fortune tellers (Lv 20:27)
  • Killing someone who blasphemes the Lord's name (Lv 24:13-14)
  • Killing someone who works on the day of rest (Nu 15:32-36)
  • Killing those who don't conform to the religion (Ex 22:20, Dt 17:12)
  • Killing your brother, son, daughter, wife, or best friend if they try to introduce you to a different religion (Dt 13:6-9)
  • Killing all the people in a town with a sword, including cattle, if there are any inhabitants of that town who follow a different religion (Dt 13:12-18).
  • Killing a woman who gets married but is not a virgin (Dt 22:13-20)
  • Killing all the men of an entire city if they don't agree to be your slaves (saving the women, children and livestock as plunder).  If the town is nearby, then leave nothing that breathes; only destruction (Dt 20:10-18)
  • Killing disobedient children for eating and drinking too much (Dt 21:18-21)
  • Anyone who does not seek the Lord of Israel (2 Ch 15:12-13)
So if every command of God's is moral and everything he does is moral, then he can literally do ANYTHING and it would be moral.  But we know there ARE things that are immoral.  Setting a cat on fire is immoral. But in this view, if God did it, then it's moral.  (God did drown a bunch of innocent babies in the flood, so killing a cat is definitely in God's wheelhouse).

But if God wouldn't burn a cat because it's immoral NO MATTER WHAT, then morality exists outside of him.

It exists within us.  We don't need a god.

But if there's no god, why be a good person?


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