Morals Without B.I.G. Possible? or WWYDWGW?


Belief in God. Do people really need a belief in a higher being to believe in doing the “right thing”? To know what is positive and what is negative? To practice love instead of hate? In many of my debates about religion in government, several times people have asked the question: “If we don’t have God, where will we get our moral compass!?” Well, how about this? How about we get our moral compass by looking at the results our actions have on others we touch? I don’t need a deity to know when I’m wronging someone. I don’t need a set of commandments to tell me I shouldn’t kill another human. I don’t need a “Living God” to prove to me that every life matters. I believe most people don’t need that. I think most people learn this on their own through experience. The “Gee. I didn’t like when that was done to me, so maybe I shouldn’t do it to someone else.” idea. I don’t think we need a God to learn that.

The Bible says that God is omnipotent. (No, that doesn’t mean He can’t have children.) That means, among other abilities, He knows and sees all. Everything! He is everywhere, all the time. That creates a dilemma for me. When I was a child, I was once told that good character meant doing the right thing when no one is looking. In the Christian faith, that opportunity is never available. They are always on God’s radar. They are never doing anything without someone seeing. More so, their actions are always being seen by the one and only individual that matters. The one and only true law enforcer. You want to talk about the ultimate “Big Brother” situation? It’s right there. He doesn’t need cameras. He doesn’t need bugging devices. He doesn’t need to send a mole in to spy on you. He’s always watching.  That doesn’t give anyone the ability to earn character. At that point, it simply becomes ‘following rules’.

When someone tells me that they are doing something good because ‘God told them to’, it sort of makes me sad. It makes it look like they don’t have a mind of their own. It makes it look like they are not personally sincere in their actions. It makes me wonder why they can’t simply see it’s the right thing to do. Or when someone uses the argument of ‘What if you are wrong, and there is a God and a Heaven and a Hell?’ That tells me they are only trying to be righteous to avoid punishment. That wont be true righteousness. That’s control by fear. They aren’t being good, they are acting good out of fear of eternal damnation. Where is the character in that?

Some will argue that it isn’t a situation of Big Brother is watching, because God is perfectly good. Now, they don’t mean that in the context of “You ruined a perfectly good day.” They mean that He is so inherently good, it is impossible for Him to do anything but. That doesn’t hold water for me. I think that even the most perfect leader should give those under him the chance to act without being watched. That’s a good way to learn about true character. I know, I know believers. He knows what is in your heart. He doesn’t need this ‘test’ to know your true character. But what about you? Do you actually know what you would or wouldn’t do if you knew your God wasn’t watching? Would you still do your best to follow His word if you knew He would never even know about it? So, my question isn’t WWJD?, it’s WWYDWGW? What would you do without God watching? And don’t forget, he is watching! So even if you aren’t honest to me (or more importantly, to yourself), ‘He knows your heart.’ What do you say? Any of you up for this?

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4 Comments

  1. The Bible is not the last word in morality. Philosopher Plato said believed that we are all born with the knowledge of what’s right or wrong, with the concepts of justice, beauty, love and other concepts that cannot be taught through the 5 senses (reading an ancient text, for example). We all have it already and by our nature, we don’t want to kill and maim and commit atrocious acts to others. Its when we get away from this innate knowledge and seek truth from other places is when we screw up our “moral compass’ as some may call it.
    In my Philosophy of Religion class, my professor posed a very interesting question: “Is something right because God says its right, or does God say its right because its RIGHT?” The difference is profound. The first one says implies there is no logic or innate ability to judge right or wrong and we are simply following someone’s orders. The second implies that there are universal truths that even God (if he exists, which is a totally other discussion) will be bound by these truths. They exist independently from a deity. I personally believe in this concept of universal truths.

    • Thank you for your input, Lora. Also, I enjoyed your take on it. It makes sense. I hope you will continue to speak up!

  2. That’s the first time I’ve heard that God may be bound to a preexistent moral law. Aside from the philisophical problems with that statement, there is a deeper issue. Why are Plato’s words taken as ‘gospel’ and fact with no question about accuracy and whether or not we’re reading his original words? Yet the number one objection about the bible’s accuracy and validity is because too many hands have been on it. Aren’t both these works of antiquity subject to the very same problem, as ‘you’ say, “not trustworthy because it’s original intent has been ‘lost in translation’”?
    As a matter of real fact, the number of documents/manuscripts supporting the works of Plato are minuscule compared the bible. And, the earliest manuscript we have of Plato is at least a thousand years old. The bible’s validity is confirmed in a slew of manuscripts, some portions dating back to within 60–100 years. There is also the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which verified that what we are reading, at least as far as the Old Testament is concerned and the book of Isaiah in particular.
    So, we’re faced to choose between what Plati says and what the bible says.

    • First of all, Rick, I never claimed that God was bound to a preexisting moral law. Why would I claim that a non-existing being is bound by anything. It’s, in my opinion, a fictional character. Fiction has no bounds. Hence the definition of fiction. That has been one of my points since the beginning of these discussions. That’s exactly one of the reasons I don’t believe. According to what we were taught, God has no bounds. He sees all. He knows all. Nothing is greater or more powerful than Him. That simply sounds like an early writer’s (or should I say ‘story teller’s’) version of what, in modern writing, would simply be a super hero. So, pre-existing moral law or not, the point is moot if the main character is just that, a fictional character.
      Second, I have never claimed to take Plato’s writings as ‘gospel’, so I’m wondering why you continue to bring up that idea in this debate. But, since you have: Plato, if he was who the modern world thinks he was, was a philosopher. No one ever claimed he was a god. No one ever claimed that he had supernatural powers. No one ever claimed he created or ruled over all that exists. He was simply a man who had ideas of the hows and whys in our world. If you have two individuals telling you things, one saying “I think this is why we are here, and this is what I think we should be doing.” and another saying “I know why you are here because I made you, I’m more powerful than you, and you must obey what I tell you to do.” Which individual are you going to look deeper into to make sure what he is saying is true? I’m guessing it would be the idividual who claims to be God. More is on the line there. In short, Plato was no more than a man. Many of the writings attributed to him scientifically still hold up today. It doesn’t matter who actually wrote it down, the ideas hold water. With concerns to God, it does matter who wrote it down. If it wasn’t God’s own hand, then there is room for error. When it comes to securing my eternal afterlife, I, personally, don’t want to leave it in the hands of a two thousand year old manuscript that was already tampered with by the time the Sead Sea Scrolls were written down.
      Concerning said Scrolls: Found in the Dead Sea Scrolls were also books and gospels that aren’t in our modern Bible. If you are going to use the Scrolls as a referrence of how acurately things were documented through the years, shouldn’t these manuscripts be added to the current version of the Bible, or has someone confirmed that God didn’t want them to be a part of it? I know I’m being a little facetious here, but you keep bringing them up without acknowledging the fact that the Scrolls have parts that our Bible doesn’t, and is missing parts that our Bible has. That is proof that our Bible has been edited by men. Period.
      In conclusion, we don’t have to choose between what Plato says and what the Bible says. I don’t know why I’m still surprised by the tunnel vision so many believers have. There are many more possibilities to look at, Rick. Open yourself to the possibility of being wrong. You are a man, just like me, so the odds are pretty good that you might be just as wrong as I might be. Plato, the writers of the Bible, you and I…….all of us men. All of us fallible. All of us apt to get it wrong.


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