A World Without God

By now, you must have heard about the sentencing of Conrad Murray for the involuntary slaughter of Michael Jackson. Whether or not, you were a fan of Michael, you probably had some opinions about the culpability of the now infamous Dr. Murray.

I reviled the man from the moment that the details of Michael’s death became clear. Not because I am a fan of Michael, which I am, but because medical malpractice is a horrific crime in my eyes. Doctor’s are given a sacred trust. Sacred, because they hold the power of life and death in their hands. Whenever I think of this subject, my mind summons up images of Alec Baldwin’s in Malice. Ah the hubris, but I digress. From the moment that a Dr. takes on your treatment he is both an agent of science and God. To take such a responsibility lightly is beyond contempt.

Contempt is all I have for Conrad Murray. I agreed wholeheartedly with the judge who stated that Murray’s behavior was suspicious, highly questionable and a clear violation of the doctor/patient relationship and code of ethics. People will continue to debate Michael Jackson’s role in his own demise for many years to come. It is irrelevant to me whether or not he had a drug problem. At worst, Dr. Murray served as an enabler which is criminal conduct and did not exercise his moral obligation to help another human being when he couldn’t make the appropriate choices for himself. The fame of being MJ’s physician and the $150,000 a month salary that he received goes a long way to providing the incentive for a person of his ilk.

My outrage sparked thoughts about morality, an amazingly simple concept that people trod on everyday for their own gain. Disgusting, right? Indeed.

And because my mind works the way it does, it took me to the niggling question that has been bothering me for many weeks, “Do people need God and religion to ensure that they behave in a moral fashion?” 

I contemplate this question in response to what seems to be a rising tide of atheism and agnosticism and wonder about it’s ramifications. Many people have given me a resounding NO as their answer. Their logic being that we all know the difference between right and wrong. The belief in God and/or subsequent punishment is not required to make one adhere to a code of morality. Really? It sounds great but where is the proof? Everyone wants proof, right? That’s why agnostics hold their ground. It seems to me that their is sufficient proof that the further man moves away from God the more rife with immorality the world becomes.

I am open to arguments to the contrary. In fact, I welcome them because I would like to believe in the inherent goodness of man. I would like to believe that man is sufficiently intelligent not to require threats of hell and damnation to keep us in line. I would like to believe that we do not need the Bible, Torah, Koran etc. to tell us how to live. As much as I would like that, I remain unconvinced.

I am not religious although I believe in God. I had a wonderful time debating Saint Anselm’s Ontological argument in college. I have yet to commit to any religion although I was raised with Catholics and Baptists. I never found a religion with which I could agree with enough of the basic tenets to join. Not wanting to be hypocritical, I abstained. I suspect that Dr. Murray is one of the religious hypocrites I so despise.

One of the things that irritates me is the “programmed” responses of people to questions about their faith. In the words of one of my Catholic friends, “We are taught NOT to question God and to accept the teachings of the Bible.” Period, end of story. Good luck with that, is my response. This seems in direct contradiction to me with the reason God gave us brains. I question my mother too, but respect and love her no less. Such extreme behavior is ignorant in my book, or it’s simply a bastion of the needy, neither of which I cotton to. Yet, many religious folk tend to be completely irrational in their beliefs, entrenched and immovable. Even so, we can argue that religion serves as guideposts which humanity sorely needs. It’s clearly not enough because man’s bestial nature all too often gets the best of him anyway…

Based on my experience of human behavior, I would say Yes, we need them. I wouldn’t want to live in a world of atheists but that’s just me. Dante anyone?

Imagine if you would a world without religion, or God. Do you think humanity would still behave morally without them? If so, why.


4 thoughts on “A World Without God”

  1. I believe one of the key ingredients missing here is environment and I’m going to go out on a limb and add DNA to that. For me, it is very difficult to conceptualize a Godless world. If you want to generalize here, I will offer that it would be somewhat easy to go into pockets of a community and sense whether God is present — Well, let me not complete that thought. God is always present but are we cognizant in realizing and communicating with that presence? That presence, because we are made in the image of God, is within us; therefore, I do believe we have an innate sense of good and evil, though it is our responsibility to grow and develop in His wisdom and understanding.

    I didn’t follow Dr. Murray’s trial. I, like many others, am a huge Michael Jackson fan. The constant reminders that he’s gone still isn’t that believable to me and I agree with all points you singled out on morality, ethics, etc. The larger issue I see, as a parent, is Michael’s children is missing him and Dr. Murray played a key role in his demise. This man couldn’t have truly cared for Michael or respected the medical profession, as his personal greed overrode ethical practices and humanity.

    Overall, to address your question, because I think I became lost in thought, I believe socialization dictates our morality and we are very much in need of God to navigate and structure our manner of living among our fellow man. Because of socialization, that moral compass requires a type of refueling, if you will, that wills us spiritually.

    1. Hi Totsymae,

      If that’s how you get lost in thought then I applaud you :).

      I can’t honestly say that I have ever thought of it that way before, “That presence, because we are made in the image of God, is within us; therefore, I do believe we have an innate sense of good and evil, though it is our responsibility to grow and develop in His wisdom and understanding.” Beautifully articulated and true, in my opinion.

      I go completely blank at the thought of a world without God. It makes no sense to me. I don’t believe for instance, that the confluence of biological and ecological events required to create life could have occurred without a unifying source. That is why so many things remain outside the realm of our understanding. God is that source whatever you conceive him to be. And as said above, man remains woefully spiritually undeveloped as a whole. Left to home devices…doesn’t bear thinking about.

  2. I live without religion and am probably one of the more morally and ethically balanced people I know. I have seen people of god act disgracefully and people who believe in nothing other than them self do the same.

    I don’t think you need god in your life to understand or respond to morality or to know what is right from wrong. These are merely the expectations set by society; based on what the majority of people agree to be right or unacceptable.

    It just so happens that religion has played a huge part in laying the foundations of what many interpret as immoral.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks for commenting. I’m trying to figure out a tactful way to say this but screw it, I’m just going to put it out there.

      I think religion serves the function of keeping people in line and believe that it was created for that purpose. I’m not saying that I believe the books of faith are entirely manufactured but I do believe that parts of them are.

      While I agree with most of your statements, I don’t have faith that many people have the internal guideposts required to live in a moral fashion. I just don’t give the populace that much credit. It is entirely possible for some but not most. It is that premise which leads me to say we need it, flawed as it is.

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