Belief Does Not Make You Good

There is no correlation between morality, or ethics, and religion or belief in god.  The one doesn’t require, or guarantee, the other.

China is officially atheistic but they have strong traditions and morals.  Women are taught to be modest.  They might even be considered prudish compared to western women, including Christians.  They believe a man wants to marry a virgin, so – no sex before marriage.  I’m not saying this modesty makes them better, but a religious zealot would aspire to a society of such ‘virtue’.

Things are changing, now that the country that used to talk of western decadence has adopted the mantra, “It’s glorious to be rich”.  So, it seems that economics and the pursuit of material wealth have more to do with influencing ethics and morals than belief or non-belief in a god.  You could be a highly ethical atheist or a sleazy believer.

I was once in the presence of someone who I think may have actually killed someone, and he told me he believed in god.  I found myself in the London flat of someone who knew someone I knew.  Someone else was there, too, sitting across the coffee table from me.  The conversation revealed that he was twenty-six and he’d just got out of prison after serving eight years.  So, he was sentenced at eighteen.

Maybe the situation is different in Britain these days, but at the time the papers were screaming about wishy washy liberal judges who were soft on criminals and more concerned with their rights than the victims’.  They also complained about parole being automatic.  So, if he served eight years, he was probably sentenced to at least twelve to fifteen.

I wondered what an eighteen year old kid had to do to get a twelve to fifteen year sentence from a wishy washy judge who thinks he deserves another chance and that, given the position of disadvantage he started from, it was inevitable that he would make some bad decisions.  The only two things I could think of were murder or a particularly brutal rape.

But, he believes in god, so, according to his fellow believers, he’s a better, more ethical person than me.

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7 Responses to “Belief Does Not Make You Good”

  1. Cliff Burns Says:

    I’ve sat in on discussions where people were using the Bible as a justification for becoming rich, assuring me that the “rich man & the eye of the needle” stuff was just a metaphor (while, suspiciously, insisting on the literal interpretation of most of the rest of the Good Book). God “rewards” good Christians with nice cars, big houses and fat lines of credit. I watched “Blood in the Face”, the documentary on American neo-Nazis from 1980, and guess what book these folks like to quote to back up their racist, genocidal beliefs? You got it…

  2. Russ Says:

    Jesus did not come to save moral people, but immoral people.

    He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matt 9:12-13)

    Often, it is the worst of our society that see that they need for a Savior while moral people may never see that they are sinners as well.

  3. leafless Says:

    China may be officially atheistic, but its people are definitely not. Most Chinese are Buddhists, many of which are God-fearing. 🙂

  4. paulmct Says:

    Cliff: It apparently justifies slavery and the selling of daughters, too. Good to see you back. I read ‘Solace’. Nobody said it would be easy… But nobody said it would be this hard. You must have known when you decided you wanted to be a writer, that you had chosen the road less taken…

    Russ: I always heard that Jesus came to save us all, but your point is taken. Those who sink low enough may realize they have to change or may become desperate enough to turn to god. See my post ‘Charity With Strings’ to see how they can come under the church’s spell.

    I agree that those who claim to be moral may never see the evil of their ways. See my post ‘God’s Free Gift’ and some other recent ones for examples.

    Thanks for reading.

    leafless: Yes, Buddhism has been around in China for a long time, but many Chinese, Koreans, and others in the region have no religion. I know quite a few myself. God is simply not a factor for them.

    Thanks, again, for reading and commenting.

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