Does society need God to be moral?

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BenK64
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I don't believe in God, never have, and have always scoffed at the thought you need to believe in judgment in the afterlife to be moral. But I have come across an argument that has left me wondering. Essentially, it is one thing to believe something and another to act as if you believed it.

Take the Christian criminal. For example, South American drug cartels tend to be very Catholic. They have religious tattoos, jewelry, icons and partake in prayer. They obviously believe in Christ and his miracles, and they believe in an afterlife, and yet they murder and sin on a regular basis, with the knowledge that judgment will come from God and they will surely go to hell. They act as if there is no afterlife and no consequence to their actions.

Now an atheist, like myself, believes in no afterlife. After death there is nothingness. My body will decompose and all memory and even knowledge of my existence will be forgotten in a few hundred years. I may as well have not existed- it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. There is no grand scheme. Only birth, short life, then eternal death. And yet i make sacrifices all the time. To get to university required the sacrifice of short-term gratification and material pleasures, for a long-term future. But the only future there is for me is eternal death. So why bother. I'm acting as if there was some afterlife. As if there was a God judging me. I can say I believe that life has no meaning, but in sacrificing short-term pleasures and immoral vices I am acting as if there were a God and life did have meaning.

So basically while individuals can claim not to believe in God, a moral and just society must be built as if God existed. Otherwise we would have anarchy.
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Dulce_et _utile
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Nope
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Obolinda
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Agree. I question whether someone's a good person, if they are only nice due to a fear of hell?!?
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TheRadishPrince
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Without a God figure in society people would just look up to different figures as many do now in my opinion. Parents, politicians, friends, celebrities etc and we ape alot of the things they do or think as a result. You could say that we will always have that God figure in these kinds of people but it's the question of whether you are obeying a 'God' in these people or just as powerful people to look up to.
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OxFossil
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(Original post by BenK64)
I don't believe in God, never have, and have always scoffed at the thought you need to believe in judgment in the afterlife to be moral. But I have come across an argument that has left me wondering. Essentially, it is one thing to believe something and another to act as if you believed it.

Take the Christian criminal. For example, South American drug cartels tend to be very Catholic. They have religious tattoos, jewelry, icons and partake in prayer. They obviously believe in Christ and his miracles, and they believe in an afterlife, and yet they murder and sin on a regular basis, with the knowledge that judgment will come from God and they will surely go to hell. They act as if there is no afterlife and no consequence to their actions.

Now an atheist, like myself, believes in no afterlife. After death there is nothingness. My body will decompose and all memory and even knowledge of my existence will be forgotten in a few hundred years. I may as well have not existed- it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. There is no grand scheme. Only birth, short life, then eternal death. And yet i make sacrifices all the time. To get to university required the sacrifice of short-term gratification and material pleasures, for a long-term future. But the only future there is for me is eternal death. So why bother. I'm acting as if there was some afterlife. As if there was a God judging me. I can say I believe that life has no meaning, but in sacrificing short-term pleasures and immoral vices I am acting as if there were a God and life did have meaning.

So basically while individuals can claim not to believe in God, a moral and just society must be built as if God existed. Otherwise we would have anarchy.
Your conclusion is flawed, as it presupposes that it is in the nature of humans to be immoral and unjust. This is demonstrably untrue.

Evolution acts in all social animals so that pro-social traits such as empathy, cooperation and mutuality are selected for. Should an anti-social trait - such as a tendency to kill siblings, for instance - spread beyond a certain level within a poopulation, the carriers of that trait will soon find themselves bereft of siblings who would otherwsie be necessary to help that individual survive. The trait then declines and may disappera as those individuals with more cooperative traits do better than the sibling-killers.

No conscious belief system is necessary for this process to occur. It is an intrinsic property of species which need to cooperate in order to survive. We can see this is species that cannot plausibly be held to have god beliefs, such as social insects, as well as those where there is some evidence of mentalisation (like the other apes and cetaceans)

I'd suggest that god beliefs are a post-hoc rationalisation in a species (i.e. us) that wonders about how to live well, and how to organise itself. Since our species is adapted for sophisticated mentalisation, there is a developmental psychological process at work too. For us, the process of maturing into capable adults involves intense socialisation and the internalisation of family and social norms. These are expressed in some ritualised behaviors and through language as moral imperatives. God beliefs are concenient ways of embodying these rituals and expressing social imperatives through language. But there's no reason why these norms have to be embodied or expressed in god beliefs. Many philosophical systems can end up with the same result without a god - consider many of the traditions of Buddhism, Stoicism, paganism and so on.
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username3444162
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‘He was a wise man who invented God’

~Plato
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Leviathan1611
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yes, you do, otherwise you get a society like Sodom or a people like Judah when they were following the heathen nations.

people's morals are usually influenced by what our society's morals are, especially for the younger generation.
here's a thought I had, God's morals have never changed, they have been the same since the beginning,
society's morals however, change every generation or so, now we condone things that weren't condoned 20 years ago and the other way round too, and I can guarantee that in future generations, things that we now believe to be moral will become immoral and the other way round too. my thought is, which generation was right? is what we currently think is right and wrong now actually correct? or our we "ignorant", "small minded" like the future generations will probably call us?
Last edited by Leviathan1611; 1 year ago
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OxFossil
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(Original post by Leviathan1611)
yes, you do, otherwise you get a society like Sodom or a people like Judah when they were following the heathen nations.

people's morals are usually influenced by what our society's morals are, especially for the younger generation.
here's a thought I had, God's morals have never changed, they have been the same since the beginning,
society's morals however, change every generation or so, now we condone things that weren't condoned 20 years ago and the other way round too, and I can guarantee that in future generations, things that we now believe to be moral will become immoral and the other way round too. my thought is, which generation was right? is what we currently think is right and wrong now actually correct? or our we "ignorant", "small minded" like the future generations will probably call us?
Do you think the Jains are as immoral as the inhabitants of Sodom? Or Buddhists? Or Hindus? Or Taoists? Or Confucians? Or Stoics?
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Vinny C
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Well... I don't think we need God to be immoral. We get quite enough of that from organised religions. The doctrine of we are right and everyone else is wrong will cause conflict by necessity but they all do it.
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Leviathan1611
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(Original post by OxFossil)
Do you think the Jains are as immoral as the inhabitants of Sodom? Or Buddhists? Or Hindus? Or Taoists? Or Confucians? Or Stoics?
I have no idea who the Jain's are.
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Vinny C
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(Original post by OxFossil)
Do you think the Jains are as immoral as the inhabitants of Sodom? Or Buddhists? Or Hindus? Or Taoists? Or Confucians? Or Stoics?
Sodomall.
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OxFossil
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(Original post by Leviathan1611)
I have no idea who the Jain's are.
In that case, your assertion that "otherwise we get a society like Sodom" is based on ignorance.
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Vinny C
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(Original post by BenK64)
I don't believe in God, never have, and have always scoffed at the thought you need to believe in judgment in the afterlife to be moral. But I have come across an argument that has left me wondering. Essentially, it is one thing to believe something and another to act as if you believed it.

Take the Christian criminal. For example, South American drug cartels tend to be very Catholic. They have religious tattoos, jewelry, icons and partake in prayer. They obviously believe in Christ and his miracles, and they believe in an afterlife, and yet they murder and sin on a regular basis, with the knowledge that judgment will come from God and they will surely go to hell. They act as if there is no afterlife and no consequence to their actions.

Now an atheist, like myself, believes in no afterlife. After death there is nothingness. My body will decompose and all memory and even knowledge of my existence will be forgotten in a few hundred years. I may as well have not existed- it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. There is no grand scheme. Only birth, short life, then eternal death. And yet i make sacrifices all the time. To get to university required the sacrifice of short-term gratification and material pleasures, for a long-term future. But the only future there is for me is eternal death. So why bother. I'm acting as if there was some afterlife. As if there was a God judging me. I can say I believe that life has no meaning, but in sacrificing short-term pleasures and immoral vices I am acting as if there were a God and life did have meaning.

So basically while individuals can claim not to believe in God, a moral and just society must be built as if God existed. Otherwise we would have anarchy.
You know sod all about Christianity. It preaches that man is imperfect and will sin by definition, but it's all ok as long as you ask Jesus to forgive you. Catholicism especially... 007, licence to kill.
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Lucia12
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Is a god believing individual can commit sin but then ask Jesus for forgiveness and all is forgiven then what is holding back said individual from sinning?
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Vinny C
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(Original post by Lucia12)
Is a god believing individual can commit sin but then ask Jesus for forgiveness and all is forgiven then what is holding back said individual from sinning?
Nothing really... apart from a hard stare and a slapped wrist at confession. This is not God saying this... it is the orthodox interpretation of the scriptures. No wonder there was so much violence in Ireland.
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RogerOxon
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(Original post by BenK64)
I don't believe in God, never have, and have always scoffed at the thought you need to believe in judgment in the afterlife to be moral. But I have come across an argument that has left me wondering. Essentially, it is one thing to believe something and another to act as if you believed it.

Take the Christian criminal. For example, South American drug cartels tend to be very Catholic. They have religious tattoos, jewelry, icons and partake in prayer. They obviously believe in Christ and his miracles, and they believe in an afterlife, and yet they murder and sin on a regular basis, with the knowledge that judgment will come from God and they will surely go to hell. They act as if there is no afterlife and no consequence to their actions.

Now an atheist, like myself, believes in no afterlife. After death there is nothingness. My body will decompose and all memory and even knowledge of my existence will be forgotten in a few hundred years. I may as well have not existed- it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. There is no grand scheme. Only birth, short life, then eternal death. And yet i make sacrifices all the time. To get to university required the sacrifice of short-term gratification and material pleasures, for a long-term future. But the only future there is for me is eternal death. So why bother. I'm acting as if there was some afterlife. As if there was a God judging me. I can say I believe that life has no meaning, but in sacrificing short-term pleasures and immoral vices I am acting as if there were a God and life did have meaning.

So basically while individuals can claim not to believe in God, a moral and just society must be built as if God existed. Otherwise we would have anarchy.
I believe that we must rid ourselves of religion to be moral. Any religion that says that all your "sins" will be forgiven if you repent (and believe) condones evil behaviour. Religious morals are often of their time, or designed to protect the fairy tale, i.e. plain nasty.
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Leviathan1611
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(Original post by OxFossil)
In that case, your assertion that "otherwise we get a society like Sodom" is based on ignorance.
not so, western society is slowly getting there. but agree to disagree 👌
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mgi
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(Original post by Vinny C)
Sodomall.
What an astonishing question to ask? So Confucian and Buddhists are immoral. Who decides such nonsense Vinny? Can you see why many peoole have abandoned these so called' Religions'. it is the awful interpretation of them by too many of its practitioners! Some followers of Islam are immoral as well surely?
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BenK64
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God and religion are not the same. I am talking more about the idea of God as a form a judgment afterlife. Organized religion should certainly be separated from the state. I am saying whether the idea of 'God', that is a judgement after life, is needed in a moral society.

To the point you raise about Christianity simply being a license to kill, you should read 'The Grand Inquisitor' (or better yet the whole karamazov brothers). Basically the burden Jesus places on man is too much for us to bear. Every single human being on this earth is flawed, every single one immoral in some way. It is impossible to imitate Christ, the perfect man, and we will surely live a life of many sins. It is therefore necessary for there to be forgiveness in religion, otherwise we are all hopeless of reaching heaven. You say some people abuse this, and this is true, but these are the kind of people who sin regardless of whether they thought they could get away with it. And ultimately God is the only judge.
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OxFossil
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(Original post by BenK64)
God and religion are not the same. I am talking more about the idea of God as a form a judgment afterlife. Organized religion should certainly be separated from the state. I am saying whether the idea of 'God', that is a judgement after life, is needed in a moral society.

To the point you raise about Christianity simply being a license to kill, you should read 'The Grand Inquisitor' (or better yet the whole karamazov brothers). Basically the burden Jesus places on man is too much for us to bear. Every single human being on this earth is flawed, every single one immoral in some way. It is impossible to imitate Christ, the perfect man, and we will surely live a life of many sins. It is therefore necessary for there to be forgiveness in religion, otherwise we are all hopeless of reaching heaven. You say some people abuse this, and this is true, but these are the kind of people who sin regardless of whether they thought they could get away with it. And ultimately God is the only judge.
So this is where Jordan Peterson spends his spare time, when he is not squatting over a toilet trying to rid himself of the effects of his latest fad diet.
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