Some Think They Don’t Need God to Be Moral

Nena Arias | July 20, 2020

In 2019, Pew Research did a global survey asking if people could be moral without God. It is interesting that the answers vary according to the economic development, education and age of the individuals being surveyed.

Is there a relation between belief in God and moral behavior? Many people think they can make it through life without God just by endeavoring to be good. How accurate is that premise? Is it even possible? God says no, in John 15:5 he says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Do you agree with God?

The survey revealed that people with more education who live in wealthy countries are less likely by far to say that belief in God is necessary to have good morals. The survey was done on 38,000 people in 34 countries. The survey revealed a significant divide between rich and poor countries.

The Bible speaks clearly about money being a stumbling block to those who are not careful to not let money take control of their hearts above the control of God. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Does that mean that God is against financial prosperity, absolutely not! He is the one who gives us the power to create wealth in honest ways. There is such a thing as creating wealth the wrong way but that is far from being a blessing from God. Gaining wealth through crooked business deals, gambling, drug trafficking, and stealing, among other things, is not a blessing from God. It is ill-gotten wealth and it has severe consequences from man’s law and certainly from God’s law. It will damn your soul to hell.

Matthew 19:23, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” It takes great effort to stay focused on the beneficial side of having wealth and not transfer your trust to money instead of trusting God at all times.

The Pew Research survey revealed a contrast from the poorest country like Kenya, 95% of its people believed that belief in God is necessary for a person to be moral. On the other extreme of the pendulum, Sweden, the richest country revealed that just 9% of the people surveyed thought that God is necessary to have good morals.

We do not have to work hard to arrive at an accurate conclusion on this subject that God’s word is very clear on. The following is an example of this when Jesus met a rich young man who asked what he needed do to have eternal life.

Read, Matthew 19:16-22. In verses 21- 22, we are told of the effect that Jesus’s response had on this rich young man who was very attached to his wealth. Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”  This portion of Scripture is often misinterpreted to mean that you can’t be rich and serve God but it’s not at all what Jesus is saying here. He is merely saying don’t make riches your highest priority that you forget what is most important.

In the Pew survey, the poor were much more likely to say belief in God is necessary to be good. Their mind is less encumbered with false dependencies. Pew's study lends weight to the idea that nations become less dependent on God as their people get richer and more educated. 

People in the United States did not adhere to this theory and we could see many rich people who practiced a very strong faith in God at the same time. This is still the case, however, there is a shift and people are leaving God aside and preferring riches. Is it any wonder then that we have become a more godless nation than we were?

Studies show that in 2002, 58% of Americans said belief in God is necessary to be good. In 2019, that number slipped to 44%. 

By nature, and virtue of being created in the image of God, humans are naturally inclined to practice faith and reverence of God through our God-given conscience that guides us in the path of life and teaches us what is right and what is wrong according to God’s standards. This is a powerful force within each human being no matter what part of the world you live in. The largest percentage of Americans still believe this way.

So, to answer the question whether people can be moral without belief in God, the answer is no because we have no other criteria to judge right from wrong. Even those who say they are atheists are still guided by their God-given conscience even though they want to deny his existence. They can never get away from the God-factor within all of us.