According to a recent Pew survey 85% of percent of those living in France do not believe that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and good. While I certainly believe in common grace and common wisdom (that God’s goodness and insight about life are not reserved to people who believe in Him), the question of “morality” is shifting sand if there is no fixed standard. If morality is relative, then who’s to say that one person or cultures moral frame work is better or more valid than someone else’s? Someone might say, “it’s up to the majority of a society to determine”. If you agree with this logic, by what basis do you condemn a culture that the majority has a set of standards that stand in opposition to your own? Or on what basis would you have the foundation to judge historical periods that have a different set of values than those that you presently hold. Likewise by what right would future generations of evolving morality have the foundation to judge ours?
Standards that exist outside of ourselves is how we come to an agreement to make judgements that say the works of: Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Hitler and social injustices like slavery are immoral. Now you may not attribute moral standards to God, but surely they must exist outside of yourself. If you believe that you or popular culture determine moral standards then they become your “God”, only by another name.
I’m not picking on France. What was more shocking than France was Israel! 59% of Israel’s said that you don’t need God to be good either! Not surprising was the division between Northern Hemisphere Countries and those in the Southern Hemisphere and the divide between Western Cultures and others.
Here is the Pew Survey.
Love to hear your thoughts!
4 thoughts on “God, France & Being Good.”
Some non-believers can live a Good life with relative morality, but no doubt they have struggles when presented with gray areas. Gray areas can be avoided if they stay solely in the micro realm. If their lives are focused on nothing but relationships, work, and family, the Golden Rule may be all they need, even if they see the Golden Rule through secular lenses. Where this begins to break down is if they vote on political matters, are public officials, or are suicidal.
Voters and public officials have influence on society and communities of people. When you shift from “how can I be Good in my personal life,” to “what is best for society,” a secular version of the Golden Rule has its limitations. For people contemplating suicide, I would never suggest that they treat others how they would want to be treated themselves. Given that they might actually be okay with someone murdering them.
Judging the results of cultures definitely needs an objective moral standard.
Whenever presented with this issue, I usually surface a debate hosted by Hugh Hewitt with Mark D. Roberts verses Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens rarely finds a response that he doesn’t have a humorous, and profound, rebuttal for. However, during this debate he presented a question to Mr. Roberts, “You do not need religion to be a moral person. Give me one moral act that a religious person can do, that a secular person cannot.” It didn’t seem that Mr. Roberts had prepared for this question, but after thinking for a quick minute, he responded: “they can pray for others.” Hitchens had nothing in his bag of tricks for this.
“Judging the results of cultures definitely needs an objective moral standard” (from Eric’s comments)
Most throughout European history agreed with you Eric. Interesting to note that even a SECULAR observer of morality saw that morality, in Europe had be defined by the character of Jesus (whom they believed was God).
Notice William Lecky (1838 – 1903) a sceptic AT BEST, in his book, “History of European Morals” wrote, “[The character of Jesus] has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said, that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and than all the exhortations of moralists”.
Noah, great job articulating the problems with moral relativism. However, I fear that even the few who will bother with consulting logic will still end up writing the logic off to preserve their views.
But, these are exactly the kinds of people the church needs to figure out how to reach. A tall task!
Ahhh…. I suppose your are correct Bryan. The easy part is pointing out the incoherence of moral relativism. The challenge of helping those who abide by it to consider the changing their view is a delicate matter, like pulling an elephant with a string. Slowly carefully.