Today, we are back with Part 5 of our series on Richard Dawkins’s book, Outgrowing God. In this episode, we are tackling Dawkins’s question “Do Christians think Atheists can’t be good without God?” We think he is asking the wrong question. The question is not “Can atheists be good? Can they do moral things?” The real question is “How does someone know what good is without a moral lawgiver?”

Main Points Covered:

  • “I’m sorry to say that lots 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. Without belief in a higher power, you’d 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)
  • Argue for a healthier approach
    • Main problem: Laws imply a lawgiver. Good implies a standard and that standard cannot come within the system.
    • Pleasure and Pain
      • That which is good is that which causes the most pleasure, and that which is evil is that which causes the most pain. But is it, really?
      • Dawkins on well-being: “Morality is nothing but disguised self-interest.”
      • Well-being, flourishing. See debate between Ferrer and Dillahunty.
      • Common sense – where did that come from? You still get back to something in nature or outside of nature
        • Romans 2:14-15
  • Reinforce through discussion, discipleship, and prayer

Resources Mentioned:

Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins, Amazon

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

Dr. John Ferrer – “Nature is a Jerk: a Critique of Naturalist Ethics,” YouTube

“Nature is a Jerk. Don’t Expect Morality from It.” Article by John Ferrer

Love Thy Body, by Nancy Pearcey, Amazon

“The Pre-Persons” by Phillip K. Dick, read online


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Unfamiliar Vocab:

  • Imago Dei
  • Objective moral values
  • Moral facts
  • Grounding problem
    • Platonism
    • Subject/relativism
  • Metaphysical
  • Epistemology
  • Consequentialism
  • Pragmatism
  • Pascal’s Wager
  • No True Scotsman Fallacy


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