I was looking today at a Pew Research poll from one year ago. It indicated that as America becomes less and less moral, “Most U.S. adults now say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (56%), up from about half (49%) who expressed this view in 2011.” How ironic!
According to the article on the Pew website, “This increase reflects the continued growth in the share of the population that has no religious affiliation, but it also is the result of changing attitudes among those who do identify with a religion, including white evangelical Protestants.”
In short, “those who describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’” – known today as the “nones” – “are more likely than those who identify with a religion to say that belief in God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality. So the public’s increased rejection of the idea that belief in God is necessary for morality is due, in large part, to the spike in the share of Americans who are religious ‘nones.’”
Along with this, “Among all religiously affiliated adults, the share who say belief in God is unnecessary for morality ticked up modestly, from 42% in 2011 to 45% in 2017.”
So, not only do a large percentage (85 percent!) of religious “nones” feel that belief in God is not necessary for morality. But many who are religiously affiliated now share that same sentiment.
We know, of course, that there are kindly atheists and nasty Christians.
We know that good deeds can be found in every sector of society, both religious and non-religious.
And we know that downright evil can be found in the Church (and within every religion).
But in the end, if there is no God, there is no absolute morality.
There is no absolute right and no absolute wrong.
There is no judgment in the world to come to balance the scales.
There is no future punishment, there is no future reward, and there is no Judgment Day.
As expressed by Douglas Wilson, “If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true , but rather because of a series of chemical reactions... Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.”
More concisely, Peter Huff said, “The atheist can appeal to nothing absolute, nothing objectively true for all people, it is just mere opinion enforced by might. The Christian appeals to a standard outside himself/herself in which truth and qualitative values can be made sense of.”
More concisely still, in the words of my wife Nancy (herself a former atheist), “What is moral? Who makes up the rules?”
Again, this is not to deny that there are many caring and compassionate atheists. After all, they too are created in the image of the God they deny. And they too have a moral law written on their hearts by their Creator.
But once you take away an unchangeable, absolute, immovable standard, then you end up with everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.
The Book of Proverbs warns us about this, stating that, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.” And, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart” (Prov 14:12; 21:2).
Consequently, as the number of Americans who say we can be moral without God increases, our moral standard decreases.
That’s why it’s no surprise that a recent Gallup poll indicated that, “Forty-nine percent of Americans say the state of moral values in the U.S. is ‘poor’ -- the highest percentage in Gallup's trend on this measure since its inception in 2002. Meanwhile, 37% of U.S. adults say moral values are ‘only fair,’ and 14% say they are ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’”
That’s why it’s no surprise that a May, 2017 article in the Christian Post claimed that, “81 Percent of Americans Concerned About Declining Moral Behavior in US.” (This was based on a poll conducted by Lifeway Research.)
And that’s why it’s no surprise that why an article from June of this year in the Washington Times stated that, “Americans say the country as it stands today is worse off morally than in past years — and worse off, morally speaking, to a tune that’s never before seen.”
As noted in the article by Cheryl K. Chumley, “Since the 1960s, for example, statistics guiding out-of-wedlock birthrates have soared from around 24 percent for blacks and 3 percent for whites to 64 percent in 1990 for blacks and 18 percent for whites. Why?
“Well, in part, because the stigma of unmarried sex has been removed.”
She continues, “Transgender? So’s that guy. Pregnant at 16? So’s my friend — here’s her abortionist’s number. Morals? The notion of standard moral behavior? Going, going, gone.”
But of course. Take away the divine Standard and you take away societal standards.
That’s why only a spiritual awakening can save our nation from even more severe moral decline. The God we neglect and reject is the God we so desperately need.