Of course you can be good without God. The question is, however, without God, what is good?
A new study points to a link in people’s minds between evil and atheists. Predictably, atheists don’t like this.
“Their research does not show that many people, or many atheists, believe that ‘without God everything is permitted.’,” says Croft. “Rather, it shows that people have an intuitive bias against atheists, such that they intuitively associated immoral acts with disbelief in God. This says nothing about the participants’ own moral beliefs, nor about their beliefs regarding any relationship between religion and morality.”
When asked about Croft’s concerns, Gervais reiterates that the study is only descriptive of individual intuitions.
“It’s really important to note that our paper focuses on people’s perceptions of a religion-morality link,” he says. “Perhaps most people on Earth intuitively feel that morality requires belief in a god or gods. But at the end of the day, morality is a really complicated beast, built upon various prosocial intuitions and cultural processes, including—perhaps, in some cases—religions.”
Sooooo, would atheists call people linking, say, serial killers with atheism “evil?” That’s the question, isn’t it? What is evil? What is good? If you don’t get your morality from God, then you’re getting it from a man-made source, probably yourself.
In the words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.”