Atheists like to tell us that they can be “good without God.”
What they rarely do is define what they mean by “good”. If they mean they can have good manners, do volunteer work, give to worthy causes to make the world a better place, then of course they can be “good without God.” If they mean they can be sophisticated people of good taste with fine connections in the world and a place at high table, of course they can be “good without God.” If they mean they can be noble souls who endure suffering in a dignified silence, weep at moments of tragic romance, gasp with delight at the finest art and the beauties of nature, of course they can be “good without God.” If they mean they can love family and friends and country and be loyal and kind and gentle and feel the sweep of fine feelings within their heart, of course they can be “good without God.” Can they feel themselves to be good and have high self esteem and deem themselves upright and worthy individuals? Then they can indeed by “good without God.” Geesh, not only can they be good but at least one atheist feels able to write his own Bible. Go here.
All of these things are possible without God. In fact there is more to it than that. Catholics have always believed that man, according to natural reason alone can understand what is good and evil, and that he can also know by general revelation that there is a God. In other words, not only can man be “good without God” in this sense, but he can also know the difference between good and evil and make good choices over evil choices.
Humans might be able to live pursue a noble and tasteful and even an altruistic life without God, but why should they? What’s the point? Without God the only point of human goodness must be utilitarian. There must be some purpose to it. So the atheist who wishes to be good must point to the consequences: “I will be good because I will thereby enjoy higher self esteem and be more contented and happy in this life.” or “I will be good because if we were all good the world would be a happier, safer and more peaceful place to live.” or “I will be good because my being good will be the best way for my family and friends and I want them to be happier and more peaceful too because I love them.” All this is fine as far as it goes, but unfortunately it doesn’t go far enough. Read more.