The Question

“Could people be moral without a god?”

To answer this question, some issues are needed to be clarified.

The worldview of morality may vary from one culture to another. But there is a fixed standard that transcends time and place – the Bible. The Word of God is the final authority on morals and human behavior.

The Answers

If the answer is Yes…

Can people choose to be morally sound even when they are unaware of the existence of deity?

It’s quite hard to gather evidence that points to an ‘unawareness’ of supernatural beings, because history points to the exact opposite: People living in the mountains have more observance of religion and worship than those living in the cities. These people in remote areas who had never heard of “our” Higher Power still have a form of governance wherein they penalize the wrongdoer and honor the do-gooder.

But to continue our line of thought, granting that this scenario exists, that there is a person or group of people who are totally unaware of (a) god, then the follow-up question would be: How long can anyone act in goodness without a point of reference to divinity?

If the answer is No…

No, because people do not hold on to morality if they no longer hold on to their beliefs of a Higher Power, most especially with the concepts of rewards and punishment, which is a deep-seated sense of accountability. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)


The Reality

In truth, a quick Yes or No is nothing but arguments. Scholars may philosophize all they want, but if GOD is not involved, it is meaningless.

It is a very fatal mistake to leave God out of the equation. God is always involved; He has always been, and always will be. So now, this brings the reader to make the necessary grammar change to the challenge:

"Could people be moral without God?"

The sad truth is people believe what they’re taught. What’s even much sicker is that there are teachers and influencers out there who train people, young and old alike, to look away from the reality of God – the God who is benevolent and kind.(Jeremiah 23:11)

A philosophical Yes…

Yes, people could be moral without God because people choose to live a morally sound life even when they deny the existence of God, who is the author and embodiment of goodness. And again, this leads to the follow-up question: But for how long?

If the question of duration is not part of the consideration, then yes, people can - for some days, weeks, or so. Or even intermittently - some periods, moral; other days, immoral. Based on our limited perspective, we may just readily think that such a person is moral.

But for the quality of morality – the kind that matters from start to finish, from consciousness up to the last breath – then no. A gentle but firm NO.

Excuse me, but no; people can’t be moral without God.

The Absolute North

(source: cgtrader)

Morality brings with it the concepts of principles, rules, rightness, and behavior. These lead to questions of origin: Who has set the rules? How were the principles established? Which ones are right and wrong?

People may think that they’re moral, but their own thoughts betray them. Moreover, this kind of thinking, a sense of self-righteousness, is actually what makes it all wrong in the first place.

For all of us have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glorious standard. (Roman 3:23) All of our highly esteemed moral actions are nothing but filthy rags before the righteous and holy God.

The Bible documents that God has set everything in order. The Lord has ultimately decided which ones are moral or not. The Creator has set eternity in our hearts; we long for God, and to be in right-standing with Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Even the people in the mountains and those living in isolation from the rest of civilization are judged by God according to their conscience and simple acts of right and wrong. (Romans 2:14-15)

The Real Question

Moreover, the next question begs to be asked, “Why do people want to be moral WITHOUT God?”

Could it be because these people don’t like God, and they are out to prove to the world that they don’t need Him? That His graciousness and care is not needed? That they can go along just fine doing good works without the Righteous One who started it all?

This is exactly what was penned in the Holy Scriptures: That in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves…ungrateful…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God –having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3)

Another translation puts it this way: They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. (See NLT)

The verdict is this: Light has come, but men chose to live in darkness. (John 3:19) People can never sustain living a moral life without God.

The Final Answer

No, people cannot be righteous without God.

Without faith in God, it is impossible to please Him, for anyone that comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He is the rewarder of anyone who diligently seek Him. (Heb 11:6)

The Bible, the final authority on morality and relationships, has already laid out these things:
(1) People are born in sin (John 8:44)
(2) And in sinning, no good works could ever amend (Romans 3:23)
(3) That the only way to continue being moral is to be with God, the One who gives power not to sin. (John 3:16)

The Real Standard

In light of eternity, it doesn't matter now how one started out in life, even as to how a false concept is embraced. What really matters is that people make a firm decision to continue with God, because with men, morality is impossible. (Luke 18:27) But with God, all things are possible – most especially in living a holy life.

Morality is not the end, God is. Life starts and ends with God. Morality is a step towards holiness and a reverent fear of God. The journey of morality is to walk with God. Ultimately, humanity wants to be where He is. (Matthew 5:8)

Morality is a man-made idea. The eternal concept is holiness. There is a sure reward for choosing to be holy before God - in His terms, and with His ways.