We are back to our Richard Dawkins series with Part 4. In this series, we are going over Richard Dawkins’ book, Outgrowing God. Today, we will be discussing Chapter 5, “Do We Need God in Order to be Good?” We’ll be talking about the topic of morality and staying away from the concept of “innate goodness.” Do Christians think that atheists can’t be good without God? How do we know what is good?

Main Points Covered:

  • Dawkins Quote: “I’m sorry to say that a lot of people seem to think that you need to believe in some sort of god, any kind of ‘higher power,’ in order to have any chance of being moral—of being good. Or that, without belief in a higher power, you have no basis for knowing right from wrong, good from bad, moral from immoral.” Outgrowing God, Richard Dawkins (beginning of Chapter 5 – p. 96 Kindle, 68 nook)
  • “Why should anyone think that you need God in order to be good? I can only think of two reasons, both bad ones. . . without a book or rules, we wouldn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. . . The other possible reason is that people have such a low regard for humans that they think that we, politicians included, will only be good if somebody—God, if nobody else—is watching us: the theory of the Great Policeman in the Sky. Or to update it a bit, the Great Spy Camera in the Sky.” Outgrowing God, Richard Dawkins (p. 96 Kindle, 68 Nook)
    • Objective Moral Values: That a standard of moral behavior exists outside of the person’s or society’s preferences (individual and cultural relativism).
  • Can we get objective moral values without God?
    • Grounding problem
  • Moral facts: If you break it, you have consequences. If I disobey a certain aspect of moral law, there will be consequences. Takes it out of the subjective realm.
  • Moral realism:
    • Objective truth versus Subjective truth. There should only be truth and preference.
  • Metaphysics (Metaphysical attributes): what makes up reality.
  • Epistemology: the theory and study of knowledge. True belief versus opinion. Put simply, how do we know what we know?
  • Consequentialism: It’s good if the outcome is good. What are the consequences for this? The end justifies the means.
  • Pragmatism: It’s good if it works. What works best?
  • ROAR
    • Recognize the message
    • Offer Discernment
    • Argue for a Healthier Approach
    • Reinforce through Discussion, Discipleship, and Prayer
  • Recognize the Message: Christians believe that man either can’t be good without God or know good without God.
  • Offer Discernment
    • What can we agree with what Dawkins says?
      • Atheists can be moral.
      • Atheists can be philanthropic.
      • Using hell as a scare tactic is not a good idea.
        • The Church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9).
    • Disagree with:
      • Calling oneself a Christian makes someone a Christian. There is a definition of what a Christian should be.
        • No True Scotsman fallacy
        • But there are things that define you as a Christian. There are things true Christians believe. Not a fallacy.
      • “The Bible is meant to provide us with good ‘role models,’ admired characters like God or Jesus, whom we should imitate.” – Outgrowing God, Richard Dawkins (p. 103 Kindle)

Resources Mentioned:

Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins, Amazon

Atheist Debates – “Do we need God to be good?” with John E. Ferrer and Matt Dillahunty, YouTube (October 2018)

The Reason for God by Tim Keller, Amazon

Lunatic, Liar, or Lord trilemma (described in Mere Christianity) by C.S. Lewis, Amazon

Questions or ideas? Send us an email at askthemamabears@gmail.com.

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Quotable Quotes:

Objective moral values are true for everyone at all times and in all places (hence the objective). Click To Tweet Jesus is more than just a nice guy. Click To Tweet It’s not about if people can be good or who can know good but HOW do they know good? Click To Tweet


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