There is a widely held conviction that being good is linked to religious belief. All religions claim to know the truth because in a variety of ways it was revealed to them by god. This motivates them to claim to have moral authority not just over their own followers but also over the rest of us. So is it possible to be good without God? Surprisingly we humans are hard wired to be good. The evidence is all around us in every family. The key to being good are altruism and empathy. We humans have to devote a huge amount of energy to nurturing our offspring or none of us would have survived infancy. Understanding another’s needs and putting them ahead of our own is the bedrock of moral behaviour.
The human family is the crucible where altruistic behaviour is forged, not out of a desire to please a distant god but out of biological necessity. And the human family is the base unit of human society; its structure is echoed in almost all human organisations, whether social, legal, political, sporting or religious. Within the family is the archetype of all human relationships.
The notion of good (and therefore of bad) has become a cultural meme, it has evolved and spread into all human activity. It has resulted in the concept of fairness and justness and a system of law based on the concept of natural justice, natural because we know it to be true.
So do you need God to be good?
Religion, in most of its theistic invocations, usurps for itself a product of human development that has occurred without any need of divine intervention, it is the ultimate confidence trick, selling us what we already own. Yes we would have been good without god!