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LostInParadise's avatar

Is a person truly moral if their primary motivation is to be rewarded by God for being good and to avoid punishment for being bad?

Asked by LostInParadise (31901points) 1 month ago

It seems to me that a person is more moral if they can be good without God. Link

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21 Answers

jca2's avatar

And is a person truly a good person if they do good deeds for the primary purpose of posting it on social media for likes and praises?

KNOWITALL's avatar

I don’t believe one is more or less moral with or without a religious background. Nor could a person raised with religious values say with certainty they are ONLY ‘good’ because their parents or childhood was in church.

Additionally my opinions and values are far different than some, so who defines good or bad?
Children avoid poor behavior often if they know they’ll be punished, so perhaps we grow into their morality based on our peers, and environment, which of course is subjective.
As Einstein was born into a Jewish family, I think he understood. He said ‘Buddihism is not a religion; it is rather the science of human mind.’

LostInParadise's avatar

Einstein on morality:
A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

seawulf575's avatar

The link provided doesn’t apply to just religious people. It applies to all people. Even Atheists who believe in Humanism fall under this. And it applies beyond religion. If we didn’t have laws or didn’t enforce them, would people act the same way? The answer is an obvious “No”. Look at San Francisco as a perfect example. NYC is getting that way too. Crime is out of control, morals are shot.

But the OP asks another portion applying strictly to religion and belief in God. The problem with this question is that there are many religions that teach different things about different views of God. But from a Christian perspective, I will say that it is a childish understanding that has you behave because you fear reprisal or want favor. God has done wonderful things for us and has given us a playbook for moral behavior. He doesn’t promise anything with that and, in fact, calls out those that do it for brownie points.

Interestingly, the link provided has this statement, an explanation of sorts from Einstein: “By embracing an ethical framework based on empathy, compassion, and a genuine concern for others, we can foster a more just and compassionate society.” Isn’t that what Jesus told us to do? Exactly? Live the way God intended not because of fear or favor, just because it’s the right way to live.

Zaku's avatar

Only if you think “true” morality is that misinterpretation of Christian morality, which I don’t, so I’d say no.

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku I suspect you know little of Christianity. But I was pointing out how it applied to the question that was asked. You seem to be a humanist…all humans are, by nature, moral creatures and will do the right thing because it’s the right thing…so how does the quote from Einstein apply to your beliefs? You’ve already shown, with your response, that all sorts of people have all sorts of views of what is moral.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In college I learned to ask a person if they’d ever steal a car and why or why not.
If they say “No because I’d go to jail” they are externally motivated.
On the other hand if they say “No because it’s wrong to do that to someone” they are internally motivated and more “moral.”

Smashley's avatar

No.

Morality requires free will.

Omniscient, omnipotent, deities and free will cannot coexist.

Morality and the Christian god as it is generally described, therefore cannot coexist.

LostInParadise's avatar

@seawulf575 , Salvation is the defining concept of Christianity. Either believe in Jesus and act morally so that you can be saved, or else suffer eternal damnation. There is no choice as to what you should do. Even if you believe in acting morally soley for the sake of acting morally, it become irrelevant compared to the choice between salvation and damnation.

seawulf575's avatar

@LostInParadise Salvation is, indeed, the defining concept of Christianity. Salvation is accepting Jesus as your lord and savior. But think about this for a moment. Nowhere does it say if you accept Jesus as your savior and then live however you want, you will be acceptable. The idea of salvation is a carrot, to be sure. But look at what you are being asked to do. You are being asked to act in a moral way, or at least what is considered moral by most people. The guidance is already there for you to see and to refer to. And the actual idea is that you live that way because that is what God intended of you from the start.

I’m a Christian. I sin. I know it, accept it, and am not proud of it. Sin is the deviations from what is expected. But I have a goal to keep striving to improve. Not because I believe it will somehow make all my past sins disappear, but because it really is a better way to live. Look at it this way: Let’s say you killed someone and got away with it for 20 years. Since that murder you lived a stellar life, putting all your erroneous and damaging behaviors behind you. Now, 20 years later you go before the judge. You are found to be guilty of killing someone. Does the judge then say “but you’ve lived a good life since then so we can just forget this.”? Would you consider that judge to be a good judge? Would society? No. Your good life might be the difference between the maximum sentence and some sentence of reduced impact, but you did kill someone. That is sort of how I view sin. I’ve sinned. Nothing I do now will change that. But I can strive to improve myself and my world more as an act of atonement than to avoid punishment.

LostInParadise's avatar

It is also a part of Christianity that Jesus will forgive you of your sins if you continue to believe in him and make a reasonable effort to avoid sinning. And furthermore we are all guillty of sinning, because we are all tainted by original sin, so we non-Christians are eternally condemned even if we live completely morally. You will have to forgive me for thinking this is complete nonsense.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah @LostInParadise. And what about the billions of people who never even heard of Jesus? Like the ones from before he ever existed.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It is certainly the fear that all mortal beings have, that binds them to religion.

Over time, humanity has remedied many of it’s woes.
We have walls, floors, and rooves. To protect us from the outside, or unknown/potential threat(s.)
Sun glasses, hats, clothes, and Sunscreen to protect us from the radiation from the Sun.
We have boats, to cross oceans, over the water. Fearing the water is usually tied also to the fear of the unknown.
Fire, sees us harnessing an element, to bring us out of the darkness (unknown.)
Obviously. I could go on, and on.

People are animals, after all.
If you believe otherwise, I promise you are equally fragile and equally prone to animalistic behavior.
Humans are unknowns.
Each of us capable of intentionally, or inadvertently, causing any number of problems, while simultaneously being capable of things beneficial to mankind.

This is Black History month.
So. I’ll bring up Martin Luther King Jr.
An unquestionably great man.
He also stepped out on his wife.

We can’t externally control everyone. Laws have to be sensible. Otherwise, when we ostracize people for abhorrent behavior, we’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

The best way to control people, is to brainwash them.
Midevil Christianity was VERY much carrot, or stick. If you can trick someone into acting like YOU want them to, even if they’re alone, you have limitless power.

But religion isn’t a one way relationship.
☆People are rewarded for their slavery, with a cure for humanity’s greatest unknown. Death.

Ans so, religion gets to control people, and people get to have piece of mind that death is not an unknown. That is the symbiotic relationship, in a nutshell.

As I have stated, to many people’s disagreement, I do not consider charity in the name of a God or God’s, to be altruistic.
They think their getting better accommodations in Heaven, by caring for AND converting the world’s lost souls (i.e. the vulnerable.)

Zaku's avatar

@seawulf575 “I suspect you know little of Christianity.”
– What do you suspect I’m missing?

-“But I was pointing out how it applied to the question that was asked.“_
– Ok, but I was replying to the original question. I wasn’t replying to you. I hadn’t even read your reply.

“You seem to be a humanist…all humans are, by nature, moral creatures and will do the right thing because it’s the right thing…”
– That seems like a very flawed wording. All humans? What morality? What’s “right”?

”...so how does the quote from Einstein apply to your beliefs? You’ve already shown, with your response, that all sorts of people have all sorts of views of what is moral.”
– Both quotes above from Einstein seem much more reasonable and more thoughtfully worded than how you paraphrased what you supposed my ideas were.

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku “What do you suspect I’m missing?” Pretty much what it’s about. Your response to me was ”@seawulf575 , Salvation is the defining concept of Christianity. Either believe in Jesus and act morally so that you can be saved, or else suffer eternal damnation. There is no choice as to what you should do. Even if you believe in acting morally soley for the sake of acting morally, it become irrelevant compared to the choice between salvation and damnation.”

You gave a 3rd graders understanding of Christianity. It is much deeper and much broader than you know. I tried explaining much of where you lacked on my previous response to you. That you are asking here means you don’t WANT to know but do want to argue. Game on.

_”– Ok, but I was replying to the original question. I wasn’t replying to you. I hadn’t even read your reply.” Huh. I just cut/pasted your answer. You started it by addressing it to me. So you are now a liar.

”– That seems like a very flawed wording. All humans? What morality? What’s “right”?” Exactly. If you read it, that is what Humanists (and many Athiests are Humanists) believe. All humans understand what is moral and right. And the major flaw is exactly that. Not all humans believe the same things, they do not share morals, and they can’t agree on what is right.

”– Both quotes above from Einstein seem much more reasonable and more thoughtfully worded than how you paraphrased what you supposed my ideas were.” Nice dodge. I asked you how they (the quotes) fit in with your beliefs and you turn around and rephrase my question. You obviously don’t like religion. So what do you base your morals on? Or are your morals just mercurial? They flow and change as you see fit?

What your response here tells me is that you have no understanding of Christianity and ignorantly hate it, probably because someone told you to hate it. You lie, you deflect, and you have no basis for morals anywhere.

cookieman's avatar

I’m generally more interested in actions over motive (so long as they’re not nefarious motives).

If you do good in the world, I’m willing to accept it at face value and don’t really care how moral you may or may not be.

Zaku's avatar

@seawulf575 Except not, because you’re confusing me with another Jelly. That was what @LostInParadise wrote, not I.

” If you read it, that is what Humanists (and many Athiests are Humanists) believe. All humans understand what is moral and right. And the major flaw is exactly that. Not all humans believe the same things, they do not share morals, and they can’t agree on what is right.”
– Um, again, you’re wrong that I think any such thing.
– I never said I was a Humanist. I suppose you also got that from something someone else wrote. Checking sources on Humanism, though, no. Humanism can refer to several different things, and your definition is not close to any of the ones I see, so even if you’re accurate about someone’s ideas, it’s not accurate to call that just Humanism, and it has pretty much nothing to do with me.
– That is, I do entirely agree that not all humans believe the same things, they don’t share identical morals, etc., even on a personal level between people who seem to mostly agree on most things.

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku DOH! You are right. I did attribute @LostInParadise‘s comment to you. I truly apologize.

Smashley's avatar

As a better answer to this chestnut, I will dispense with the concept of the existence of a god and deal with just the material.

Morality isn’t actually about what’s in your heart, or your motivation, it is about the actions that you take and whether they are in accordance with our agreements about principles for behavior. We toy with thought-crime concepts occasionally, by calling them predictors of behavior, but if you can suppress the evil, you can still be a moral person.

Zaku's avatar

@seawulf575 No worries. :-) I found it pretty amusing.

kritiper's avatar

No. They are truly delusional if they think that.

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