Let's Go Back to the Bible

Do We Need God to Be Moral?

In 2019, the Pew Research Center (PRC) questioned 38,426 people in 34 countries. One of the goals was to find the connection between God and morality. The basic question is this: Can a person be morally good and not believe in God? Globally, the response was that 51% don’t believe the relationship with God is necessary to have good morals.  However, from country to country it varied greatly. For example, in Sweden, 90% don’t think that belief in God is connected with morality. Yet, in Kenya, 95% believe good morals are connected to belief in God. In the U.S., 54% believe you can be good without God. The study shows that those in developing nations have a higher esteem of God and the importance of religion. Countries with greater wealth are less likely to put an emphasis on either. No surprise there.  What do you think, reader? Is belief in God necessary in order to be moral and have good values?

To answer this, we need to define terms. In this study by PRC, “moral” and “good” were not given a standard or definition. Those are very vague terms without a context. Some believe that good might be determined by Natural Law. “Natural law holds, essentially, that there is a fundamental moral law or moral source of law above man, the basic precepts of which are reasonably knowable” (Murray, “Natural Law and Legal Positivism in the Nuremberg Trials”). A good and virtuous German of the Nazi party in the 1940s was very different from the majority of the world. During the Nuremburg Trials, it was stated that what the Nazi party did was against Natural Law. Others might believe that law establishes morality. However, there are things you can legally do in the United States today that were socially and legally prohibited in the 1950s and 60s. Law is not an objective moral code. “Law tries to create a basic, enforceable standard of behavior necessary in order for a community to succeed and in which all people are treated equally” (Ethics.org.au, “Ethics, Morality, and Law—What’s the Difference?”). Others might believe that a moral code is set up by socially accepted practices in a group, much like tribal laws found in isolated indigenous groups. Incidentally, our society was founded on Biblical principles, but that has been changing for a while.

Here is the crux of the matter. If we are trying to be good by our own standard of good, then we don’t need God. The result of that line of thought is that there is no objective moral code. Every man will do what is right in his own eyes (Judg. 17:6). But, if you believe in God and that He created all things, then you must recognize that He is the origin of all order, which includes morality. “It is not in man who walks, to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). God is the origin of all that is right and good. Society or accepted practice is not.