Can a person be good without God?

A common theme among Christian writers is that God is the ultimate source of morality, often called “the moral argument”. Probably the pithiest expression of this idea is from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, in which one of the characters argues that “if God does not exist, … everything is permitted.” Many readers quickly see where this is going and consider the reverse; if morality is not just a matter of personal taste, then God must exist. Of course this is only a superficial treatment; a more thorough presentation of the moral argument, along with responses to some common objections, is found in the first chapters of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. It’s available in a YouTube version here which I recommend highly.

However one puts it, claiming that morality comes from God is a good way to pick a fight. There is a widespread belief Continue reading “Can a person be good without God?”

Is religion always losing ground to science?

Religion and science are often presented as being in conflict, causing many people to feel that they have to choose one or the other.  The conflict is often described in terms of a historical narrative, which I will paraphrase briefly here in my own words (not following any specific author, but drawing from the observations of various people I’ve spoken with over the years who think this way):

First, there was ancient man, who was ignorant and believed in all sorts of local gods living on places like Mount Olympus, or inhabiting stone or wooden idols.  He couldn’t explain anything, and saw miracles and supernatural events everywhere. The Norse, for example, attributed thunder and lightning to the actions of Thor. Over time, the wiser among men, through reason and observation of a common-sense but not scientific sort, concluded that there were no gods actually living on Olympus and the stone and wooden idols in fact were powerless and lifeless.  Yet the still couldn’t explain most of what they saw, so they attributed Continue reading “Is religion always losing ground to science?”

Is evolution in conflict with Christianity?

According to my own definitions of each term, no, evolution and Christianity are not in conflict. However, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is rejected by approximately half of self-described Christians in the U.S. (according to surveys).  The most conservative churches take explicit stands against the theory.  The Catholic Church and most mainline Protestant denominations, however, find evolution and Christianity to be compatible (for example, a vast number of Christian clergymen and women have signed here).  In general, those individuals and churches who Continue reading “Is evolution in conflict with Christianity?”

If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?

This is among the most difficult questions to answer, and I don’t have any particularly innovative solution to offer that hasn’t already been proposed before.  A short listing of the most notable answers can be found here.  They provide some food for thought, and may help explain why a world with some suffering in it could be preferable to a world with none at all. For a vivid illustration of this, I’d recommend the Twilight Zone episode A Nice Place to Visit.

Nonetheless, I would agree that if God is good, the quantity and intensity of suffering we observe in this world Continue reading “If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?”