Can we be Good without believing in God?

Can human beings be good without leaning on a god or dogma? Can we be moral without being religious? The answer to these questions is an unequivocal “Yes”. Human beings indeed do not need to believe in a deity or to belong to any religion in order to be good or to do good. The whole idea of the good-of doing good-preceded the idea of a god and religion. In fact the entity called god is alien to the equation of human goodness and morality.

We, humans, do not need to belong to any religion in order to have a sense of moral right or wrong. Moral rectitude is natural, and not predicated on supernatural faith. Morality is a product of social, not spiritual interaction. Unfortunately, the mistaken idea that humans cannot be good without professing a belief in the ‘supreme being’ or without belonging to a religion is one that is dominant in most societies across the world. This mistaken idea is largely responsible for lack of progress in those  areas of human life where religions exercise moral authority.

Now how did we, humans, come about this erroneous notion that we cannot be good without believing in god? Human beings have the natural capacity to do good and evil. We are born with these inherent tendencies. They were not thrust on us from above or instilled in us as a result of whatever must have transpired in the mythical garden of Eden. We do not know about good and evil because Adam and Eve disobeyed god by eating the ‘Forbidden Fruit’.

The whole idea of doing good preceded the idea of a god. Before religions started, human beings were doing good. Human beings performed good deeds not to please god or to go to paradise as we are made to understand today. They did good for reasons unconnected with these religious injunctions. So I am deeply persuaded that humans came about the idea of god in their efforts to understand the good, explain what is good, what ought to be done and encourage what is good and doing good. Also humans came about the idea of the devil in their primitive attempts to understand what is evil, explain the problem of evil and why evil deeds exist and are committed and to discourage doing evil or harm to oneself or to others.

Generally human beings are awed and elated, they feel happy and joyous when they are at the receiving end of any act of goodness, kindness and love. And they always want to encourage such acts. Also human beings feel pain. They feel hurt and traumatized when they are at the receiving end of any act of evil, hatred or cruelty. And they always want to discourage all evil deeds. This is because what is good is good not because what is good is directed or revealed by god. And what is evil is evil not because what is evil is sanctioned by the devil.

So, in their primitive attempts to encourage what is good, humans divinized goodness. They created god and made god the epitome of the good, that is, goodness personified. They created heaven – a place for the good – where god – the epitome of goodness – resides waiting to reward all good-doers and punish eternally all evil-doers.

Also in their efforts to understand evil and explain what is evil, and discourage doing evil, humans created the devil, demonized evil and made satan the epitome of evil – evil personified. Humans created hell where they believe the devil presides along with all evil-doers burning eternally. They made heaven to look attractive and hell so scary. They instituted morality driven by fear- the fear of going to Hell. They instituted the idea of doing good for heaven’s sake.

Hence many people do good because they don’t want to burn eternally in Hell, because they want to inherit paradise when they are dead.Not really because they want to do good.  Religions created myths and false stories to encourage doing good and to discourage doing evil. They created doctrines and dogmas based on these mythical origins, understanding and explanations of good and evil. Religions compiled these mythical stories into books and called them the word of god – the revealed word of god which everyone is expected to believe without doubt. That’s how religions hijacked morality. That’s how religions sacrificed humanity on the altar of divinity. That’s how the religious idea of god corrupted the human sense of the good.

Religions habitually indoctrinate and brainwash people from childhood with their primitive, parochial and mistaken sense of good and morality. Hence in most societies across the world people erroneously believe that professing a religion is necessary for one to be moral, when in actual fact this is not the case. We don’t need to believe in god to be happy and to make others happy. We don’t need to believe in god to perform any act of kindness. We do not need to be religious to care for our children, parents, family and community members, friends and the aged. People have been caring for each other since before religions started. It is not a deity that tells us to care for the needy, give to the poor or provide assistance to victims of any mishap or disaster. It is not being religious that makes us humanitarian. Doing good is natural to us humans, not supernaturally induced as many would make us understand. So people can be good without believing in god. Human beings can achieve moral excellence without belonging to any religion. Faith in god is not a moral imperative.

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