Can you be good without God? Let’s find out. Absolutely astounding! There you have it; undeniable proof that you can be good without believing in God. But wait; the question isn’t can you be good without believing in God. The question is, can you be good without God?
See, here’s the problem. If there is no God, what basis remains for objective good or bad, right or wrong? If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist, and here’s why. Without some objective reference point, we have no way of saying that something is really up or down. God’s nature provides an objective reference point for moral values. It’s the standard against which all actions and decisions are measured. But if there’s no God, there’s no objective reference point. All we are left with is one person’s viewpoint, which is no more valid than anyone else’s viewpoint. This kind of morality is subjective, not objective. It’s like a preference for strawberry ice cream; the preference is in the subject, not the object, so it doesn’t apply to other people. In the same way, subjective morality applies only to the subject. It’s not valid or binding for anyone else. So in a world without God, there can be no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
God has expressed his moral nature to us as commands. These provide the basis for moral duties. For example, God’s essential attribute of love is expressed in his command to love your neighbor as yourself. This command provides a foundation upon which we can affirm the objective goodness of generosity, self-sacrifice, and equality, and we can condemn as objectively evil greed, abuse, and discrimination. This raises a problem. Is something good just because God wills it, or does God will something because it is good? The answer is: neither one. Rather, God wills something because he is good.
God is the standard of moral values, just as a live musical performance is the standard for a high-fidelity recording. The more a recording sounds like the original, the better it is. Likewise, the more closely a moral action conforms to God’s nature, the better it is. But if atheism is true there is no ultimate standard, so there can be no moral obligations or duties. Who or what lays such duties upon us? No one. Remember, for the atheist, humans are just accidents of nature, highly evolved animals. But animals have no moral obligations to one another. When a cat kills a mouse, it hasn’t done anything morally wrong; the cat’s just being a cat.
If God doesn’t exist, we should view human behavior in the same way. No action should be considered morally right or wrong. But the problem is good and bad, right and wrong, do exist. Just as our sense experience convinces us that the physical world is objectively real, our moral experience convinces us that moral values are objectively real. Every time you say hey that’s not fair! That’s wrong; that’s an injustice! You affirm your belief in the existence of objective morals. We’re well aware that child-abuse, racial discrimination, and terrorism are wrong, for everybody, always. Is this just a personal preference or opinion? No. The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says two plus two equals five. What all this amounts to then is a moral argument for the existence of God. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. But objective moral values and duties do exist. Therefore, God exists. Atheism fails to provide a foundation for the moral reality every one of us experiences every day. In fact, the existence of objective morality points us directly to the existence of God.