If there is no God, Why be Good? — An Atheist’s Defense of Morality

Jakub Ferencik
11 min readJun 2, 2024

Recently, an article I wrote about my journey from Christian fundamentalist belief to agnosticism/atheism did fairly well, so I thought I would once again depart from my usual commentary on contemporary politics and traverse back to the intersection between theology and philosophy.

Many Christians believe that their belief in God is instrumental to living a good life — an inherently moral life, perhaps the most moral life, that prevents society itself from crumbling.

There might be some truth to that to some. The political philosopher Jeremy Bentham originally promoted a similar argument that surveillance would make prisoners behave better. In a similar way, it could be true that Christians make themselves behave better by appealing to divine authority.

In my view, however, this argument for the need for a benevolent surveiller oversimplifies a complex reality. Atheists behave morally for many reasons — chief among them are evolutionary impulses and society’s constraints. Christians behave morally for the same reasons, of course, however, they appeal to different motivations.

Let me explain.

Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

For Christians, many of their moral positions derive from the moral compass God has given to them (our intuitions). These are given to them…

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Jakub Ferencik

Journalist in Prague | Author of “Up in the Air,” “Beyond Reason,” & "Surprised by Uncertainty" on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | 750+ articles with 1+ mil. views