Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Is God necessary to live a moral life?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is God necessary to live a moral life?

    What is the most important thing in living a Christian life – is it to follow the precepts of Christian morality or is it to accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour? If it is the latter, what was the import of all of Jesus’ moral teachings? They would appear to be peripheral then. One may say that they cannot be distinguished and disentangled. However, it is clear they can, since many documented immoral acts have been committed by individuals who otherwise declare themselves to be Christians and to have accepted Christ as their saviour. Thus, the one does not necessarily imply either the presence or the practice of the other.

    My view is that the gospels contain such a wide circumference of Jesus’ teachings because it is Jesus’ moral teachings which are most significant, while the acceptance of Jesus as one’s personal saviour is peripheral. If it is peripheral, it can be relegated to the background or completely ignored. After all, as many fundamentalist Christians are wont to say, it is after death, during the Last Judgement, that all souls will be granted a final opportunity to accept Jesus as one’s personal saviour. If that is so, there is no significant need to accept it now. However, we are on this earth at present in this life, and it is in this life specifically that we have been granted the opportunity to practice Christian morality. Thus, it would seem that now, at present, is when moral practice should be pursued, and questions of an eschatological and theological nature can be ignored.

    My path from my Catholic upbringing to the position of agnosticism has followed a moral-logical course – the nature of the argument is that in this life, the belief in God and Jesus is inconsequential, the moral argument is supreme. Thus, one should adopt an agnostic position and try to pursue a simply moral course. Furthermore, not only is this morally possible, it is also a morally necessary, since to be moral and to act moral implies to do the good for good’s sake, and not for extraneous reasons which disclose self-interest. For instance, a person who does not commit murder out of fear of punishment, has decided against murder not on moral grounds, but out of self-interest. By the same token, one who returns a wallet in expectation of a reward, has also not acted morally, since it is clear they have also acted in self-interest. Similarly, one who pursues a moral life in expectation of living in heaven, is not acting morally anymore than one who lives a moral life in fear of hell. In both cases, the person is acting out of self-interest. Thus, questions of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, do not facilitate morality, but the exact opposite – they promote amorality, or simple legality. And there is a profound difference between these two.

    I would also presume that God, if He exists, would be omnipotent, and thus would be able to distinguish between those who live a moral life because the moral life is good in itself, and those who do so because they wish to be saved. In fact, I will go further and argue that the belief in Jesus Christ as one’s personal saviour is detrimental to living a moral life, for there is the presumption that one has already done the most important thing required of a moral agent, and because this most important moral thing has been accomplished – the acceptance of Jesus – all moral failings shall be forgiven. Not only is this morally questionable, it also implies a certain moral hubris – my moral shortcomings shall be absolved for I have accepted Jesus, the moral shortcomings of others shall not, for they have not accepted Jesus. But, wasn’t it precisely this type of argument that Jesus argued against when criticizing Judaic orthodoxy? – That the mere formal observance of the laws was sufficient? After all, isn't the acceptance of Jesus or God simply an internal formalism on par with the external formalism of observing religious laws and precepts?

    Thus, the belief and acceptance of God, Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, the Hindu pantheon - is any of this necessary, important or even beneficial in being a good person? Is a person wishing to be a moral agent better off choosing not to believe in the existence of any deities or saviours?

    Last edited by Skoblin; 09 May 13, 03:30.


  • #2
    Which of the 330,000,000 known gods are you referring to, please?
    Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
    Hyperwar, Whats New
    World War II Resources
    The best place in the world to "work".

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
      Which of the 330,000,000 known gods are you referring to, please?
      Any and all.

      Comment


      • #4
        It's a good question, and maybe a partial answer can be gained through looking at personal and historical examples of the effects and legacies of actual people who, have/have not, led a moral/not moral life while having belief/non belief in God at the center of their belief system.

        Examples would be..............


        Philip
        "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by PhilipLaos View Post
          It's a good question, and maybe a partial answer can be gained through looking at personal and historical examples of the effects and legacies of actual people who, have/have not, led a moral/not moral life while having belief/non belief in God at the center of their belief system.

          Examples would be..............
          The Stoic school of philosophy managed to assert a moral doctrine of brotherhood without at the same time asserting the existence of God other than that of being an existential principle. Kant, in addition, believed that morality could be based upon simple rational principles and that the existence of God was inconsequential. IIRC both Kant and Epictetus still managed to pursue a moral existence despite not believing in a personal saviour.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
            The Stoic school of philosophy managed to assert a moral doctrine of brotherhood without at the same time asserting the existence of God other than that of being an existential principle. Kant, in addition, believed that morality could be based upon simple rational principles and that the existence of God was inconsequential. IIRC both Kant and Epictetus still managed to pursue a moral existence despite not believing in a personal saviour.
            But the question, in purely practical terms, is - while having that philosophy - were they thoroughly decent chaps who were kind to children, old ladies and animals in their day-to-day lives and left a decent legacy of their Earthly actions behind them?

            Or not?


            Philip
            "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

            Comment


            • #7
              Good question but Im about to go to bed. Ill just leave this bookmark post to remind me to respond tomorrow.....err...today.....later....
              A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PhilipLaos View Post
                But the question, in purely practical terms, is - while having that philosophy - were they thoroughly decent chaps who were kind to children, old ladies and animals in their day-to-day lives and left a decent legacy of their Earthly actions behind them?

                Or not?
                Near as I know, neither Kant nor Epictetus ever bit children, accosted old ladies or were engaged in dog fighting.

                Still, if the argument can be made that they were no worse than those who believe in the existence of a personal God or saviour, the question still stands: is the belief in God or a personal savior necessary to be moral or live a moral life?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
                  Near as I know, neither Kant nor Epictetus ever bit children, accosted old ladies or were engaged in dog fighting.

                  Still, if the argument can be made that they were no worse than those who believe in the existence of a personal God or saviour, the question still stands: is the belief in God or a personal savior necessary to be moral or live a moral life?
                  As the notion of a personal god/Saviour only exists in Abrahamic religions, one has to assume that if the statement is true, all people who were not converted, led immoral lives. This sounds quite absurd, unless you narrow down the definition of morality to something strictly defined by the rules of life set by these religions.
                  www.histours.ru

                  Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's a philosophical question - so therefore there is no definitive answer.

                    But we can look at empirical examples in our own lives (the people we have known) and through documented historical examples.

                    Just anecdotally, and briefly from my own experience, I would say that those who have a belief in God (at least in the modern world) have lived a more moral life than others due to their adherence to a strict 'moral code'.

                    I will speak about (inevitably) Hitler, later.


                    Philip
                    Last edited by PhilipLaos; 09 May 13, 04:15.
                    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                      As the notion of a personal god/Saviour only exists in Abrahamic religions, one has to assume that if the statement is true, all people who were not converted, led immoral lives. This sounds quite absurd, unless you narrow down the definition of morality to something strictly defined by the rules of life set by these religions.
                      I remember having a conversation once with a friend of mine - a member of the Dutch reformed church - regarding this very matter. I posed to him the hypothetical situation of a person living in the Third World who had never heard of God or Christ or the Bible, yet lived a life entirely in consonance with Christ's teachings. Would this person go to heaven. The answer: No. Why? Because one must accept Jesus as saviour. Yet, one could live a completely immoral or amoral life, but as long as they were to accept Jesus as their saviour - even if this were to take place at the "Last Judgement" - they would still make it into heaven. Thus, what is the importance of leading a moral life on earth as far as Christian theology is concerned?
                      Last edited by Skoblin; 09 May 13, 04:23.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PhilipLaos View Post
                        Just anecdotally, and briefly from my own experience, I would say that those who have a belief in God have lived a more moral life than others due to their adherence to a strict 'moral code'.

                        I will speak about (inevitably) Hitler, later.
                        Well, historically speaking, this is clearly not the case.
                        Do not Islamic terrorists believe in God? Have not all those who have participated in religious wars of various types believed in God? Not even speaking of Hitler, how many rank and file Germans who participated in the Holocaust in its various dimensions believed in God? Belief in God simpliciter has never vouchsafed the pursuit of a moral life.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I know if I post something too extensive I'll be stuck posting on this thread for days...so I'll keep it brief.

                          Is it necessary? I'd say yes, but it's not really something I can defend. However, I can say for sure that it helps.

                          One also needs to realize, belief in God is not a "malicious" thing in and of itself. You don't automatically get the mentality of a jihadist and the like. However (and the Old Testament is replete with examples of this), belief is VERY easily corrupted by very "non-divine" things: greed, passion, and yes, religion too.

                          One final thought: Is there anything to complain about someone who strictly follows the Sermon on the Mount or the Ten Commandments? They may not, in your opinion, cover everything, but if someone were to adhere to them it's a pretty good start. It's a solid (consistent) foundation, say compared to someone who were to change their morality on a case by case basis.
                          "I am the Lorax, and I'll yell and I'll shout for the fine things on earth that are on their way out!"

                          ~Dr. Seuss, The Lorax


                          "The trouble with Scotland...is that it's full of Scots!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My father is a committed atheist, and one of the most moral individuals I've ever met.

                            A strong faith certainly helps to develop a moral framework, but parents who know the difference between Right and Wrong, and instruct their kids properly, most certainly have a role to play.
                            Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wellington95 View Post
                              One also needs to realize, belief in God is not a "malicious" thing in and of itself. You don't automatically get the mentality of a jihadist and the like. However (and the Old Testament is replete with examples of this), belief is VERY easily corrupted by very "non-divine" things: greed, passion, and yes, religion too.
                              All true, and I never asserted the premise that a belief in God leads to maliciousness, simple whether it is necessary in any way for the practice of morality.
                              Originally posted by Wellington95 View Post
                              One final thought: Is there anything to complain about someone who strictly follows the Sermon on the Mount or the Ten Commandments? They may not, in your opinion, cover everything, but if someone were to adhere to them it's a pretty good start. It's a solid (consistent) foundation, say compared to someone who were to change their morality on a case by case basis.
                              Again true. However, much that is common with the sermon of the mount can be found elsewhere as well - for instance, among the Stoics. And, of course, is it necessary to believe in God to see the value of the Sermon of the Mount as well as other moral teachings - whether they have a religious or simply philosophical basis?

                              Comment

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X