I just read a news story stating that 60% of the people of the United States (based on a PEW survey) believe that people can be good without religion. Of course, this survey is done in a time when participation in religion is decreasing. So, is religion really needed for people to be good?
Well, let’s look at our current social environment. Religious participation is decreasing and there is a steady increase in the number of people who consider themselves to be atheists. At the same time, suicides among youth are at the highest levels since records have been kept. More than half of marriages end in divorce. Violent crime is increasing. Drug use is a continuing disaster across our nation. Sexual offenses are rising in all areas of society. Movies are a constant stream of violence. Television has become a mindless stream of inane trivia spiced up with sex and violence.
The list of these negative changes could go on but people have become accustomed to them and accept them with a shrug and say, “that’s life”.
I would propose that today, the idea of people being good without religion is based on lowering the standard of good. It seems that the measure of “good” is how much fun I get from something and “bad” is anything that I don’t like. Suicide is good, it releases people from bad situations – as long as it is not me or anyone I care for. Divorce is good, why force people to live in an uncomfortable situation – as long is it’s not in my family. You might even find someone who says murder is good as long as I am the murderer rather than the murdered.
I pray that people can think beyond their own desires long enough to understand the importance of religion in human society.