Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
According to a recent Pew Research Center, most U.S. adults now say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (56%), up from about half (49%) who expressed this view in 2011. This increase reflects the continued growth in the share of the population that has no religious affiliation, but it also is the result of changing attitudes among those who doidentify with a religion, including white evangelical Protestants.
Surveys have long shown that religious “nones” – those who describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – are more likely than those who identify with a religion to say that belief in God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality. So the public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious “nones.”
Indeed, the growth in the share of Americans who say belief in God is unnecessary for morality tracks closely with the growth in the share of the population that is religiously unaffiliated. In the 2011 Pew Research Center survey that included the question about God and morality, religious “nones” constituted 18% of the sample. By 2017, the share of “nones” stood at 25%.
But the continued growth of the “nones” is only part of the story. Attitudes about the necessity of belief in God for morality have also changed among those who do identify with a religion. Among all religiously affiliated adults, the share who say belief in God is unnecessary for morality ticked up modestly, from 42% in 2011 to 45% in 2017.
Among white evangelical Protestants, 32% now say belief in God is not necessary to have good values and be a moral person, up from 26% who said this in 2011. To be sure, most white evangelicals still say belief in God is necessary for morality. But the share who say belief in God is a necessary underpinning of being moral has declined from 72% to 65% in just six years.
Here is a video by National Geographic, the Story of God, by the legendary Morgan Freeman that presents a counter view. This video has a clip which shows research, how the idea of an invisible Princess Alice, makes the children more honest, starting around minute 28 mark in the video below:
If you can see the effect of an invisible Princess Alice on human psyche then it is foolhardy to think that a reasoned and firm belief in All Knowing and All Powerful Transcendent God, who is beyond time, space and matter, does not positively influence our altruism and suppress our tendencies towards sin and evil.
Nevertheless, the God of Islam is not unfair to the atheists at all. The Quran says:
Whosoever desires the harvest of the Hereafter, We shall increase for him his harvest. And whosoever desires the harvest of this world, We shall give him some thereof, but he will have no share in the Hereafter. (Al Quran 42:20/21)
It is not difficult to understand that something you don’t believe or work towards, you do not deserve. Very simple!
Pascal’s Wager is an argument in philosophy presented by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–62). It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.
Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).