VIEWPOINTS: Is belief in God essential to morality?

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person (see chart below).

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, majorities said it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. However, that view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

In North America and Europe, more people say it is possible to be nonreligious and still be a moral, upright person. That’s the opinion of nearly eight in 10 people polled in Franc, Spain, Britain and the Czech Republic. But in the United States, 53% said belief in God is necessary to be moral.

What do you think about the interaction of belief in God with morality? Is it necessary to believe in a higher power to be a moral citizen, citizen, or can atheists and agnostics have good morals and values?

Is belief in God essential to morality?

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13 Responses to “VIEWPOINTS: Is belief in God essential to morality?”

  1. Michele Joseph

    http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~ncoverst/Kohlberg's%20Stages%20of%20Moral%20Development.htm

    No, it is not necessary to believe in God to be a moral person.
    It’s true that many need a punishing God to stay in line.
    Above is a brief outline of Kohlberg’s levels of moral development.
    You can see that in levels five & six, fear of punishment is not the motivation.Decisions are made relection upon what action is just-what promotes the dignity of all life- what serves the common good. The
    individual is interested in equality and the worth of all living beings.
    There is the recognition of “the butterfly effect “. It comes to a place
    where it feels selfish to be selfless, because what you do for others
    will come back to you or your children, there is a keen awareness of
    the oneness.

  2. Patrick O'Gara

    Wow.
    It’s an index of civilisation.
    The smaller the green bit, the more civilised the country.
    America is almost half-civilised.
    Refreshing and reassuring to see, I suggest.
    Also interesting to see that Israel is more civilised than Russia.

  3. Michele Joseph

    Nope, doesn’t work.
    By that measure China would be the most civilized country in the world.
    And, the graph left out a lot of countries.
    Like Switzerland & Iceland.
    All of Scandinavia.
    That measure would have China as more civilized than Japan,
    and that’s impossible.
    Japan has toilets that will spray perfume on your butt when you’re done.
    That’s pretty darn civilized, if you ask me.

  4. Patrick

    If we look at the chart with both eyes actually open, we will see that China, although remarkably and surprisingly civilised, is significantly less so than – in reverse order, (like Miss World Finalists) – Australia, Britain, Czech Rep, Spain and the winner – and World’s Most Civilised Country – France! Home of Sartre, Camus, Descartes, Ravel, Montaigne and Edith Piaf, to name but a handful of Gallic luminaries.

    As to:
    “Japan has toilets that will spray perfume on your butt when you’re done. “
    China has people who will do that.

  5. Michele Joseph

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilets_in_Japan
    Now you are changing the rules in the very middle of the conversation !
    You said,”Thr smaller the green bit, the more civilized the country”
    China has the very smallest green bit .
    AND, you are obviously unfamiliar with the full range of the capabilties of
    a Japanese toilet.
    I have included a link to a Wiki-pedia article regarding for your information.
    Please note the high-end wireless control panel with 38 buttons and a liquid crystal display.

  6. Patrick

    I see about the green bit, now. You are right. I should have stuck with the biggest brown bits, and do so now – although there is something amiss with the Chinese numbers – they only add up to 89, not 100, which might explain the apparent anomaly.
    Most of the other numbers add up to about 98/99 or so.
    Fiendishly cunning, these Chinese.
    I blame the artist.
    All graphics are wrong. (Old Blade wisdom.)

  7. Michele Joseph

    And you still can’t get around that the Japanese have the most civilized toilets in the world
    They have motion-activated music to disguise un-wanted……..noises.
    1,250 USD

  8. Patrick

    …And it’s a relief* to know you don’t have to believe in God to use one, and receive perfumed absolution.

    *pun.

  9. Michele Joseph

    So true.
    Although the Americans I know of who have one are both religious.
    Madonna- a Kabbalist- her’s is 5000 USD. I don’t know what it does.
    Leonardo Di Caprio- Roman Catholic.

  10. Christy Besozzi

    How did we get from ‘being moral’ to ‘being civilized’?

    I think you can be a moral person and not believe in God. In the USA we have a lot of people saying they believe in God, but they are highly immoral – not all, obviously, but enough to stink up the place (back to the aroma from previous comments).

    The USA may be civilized, but we are no longer moral – as a whole – even though we repeatedly get counted as one of the more ‘religious’ societies in the world.

    Very recently a 32-year old mother of 3 living in Florida died of a heart condition that she could not get healthcare for because her income of just $11,000 / yr. was too much over the $5K max that would qualify her for Florida’s Medicaid, but too much to qualify for the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Florida politicians created this qualification gap on purpose to show how opposed they were to the ACA. So this young mother had to die so that these politicians could score some political points. And her 3 children are now motherless.

    These politicians were, for the most part, persons who claimed they believed in God.

    I’d prefer atheists to that bunch!

  11. Michele Joseph

    I’ll tell you how we got from “moral” to “civilized”.
    Patrick did it back at 2:03 p.m..
    He’s sneaky like that sometimes.
    You gotta watch him.
    I was going to mention it, but then I got so caught up in showing off my
    vast store-house of knowledge about Japanese toilets, I forgot.
    Good thing you caught that again.
    I definitely agree, you don’t have to believe in God to be moral.
    And you aren’t automatically moral if you believe.

  12. Patrick

    I wasn’t being sneaky, I promise.
    And I do agree with Michele’s last three lines and Chrisy’s general premise, although I’d suggest that while America is no longer “moral,” (where is? Saudi Arabia? Sweden? Neither figured on the graph) it is about half civilised.
    The top half, more or less. The nearest bit to Canada. Viz: graphic.

  13. Michele Joseph

    You may be right.
    I have heard that people are especially nice & friendly in Minnesota
    and Wisconsin.
    Although I have never been there.
    In my experience, civility is gone in this country.
    Patrick, I know you are over-seas.
    Have you had the opportunity to witness “twerking”
    Google it, if you haven’t. Also, “Miley Cyrus”
    Miley Cyrus twerking.
    When you see this, I think you will agree.
    Western Civilization has fallen.

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