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Do you agree with Dostoevsky that, "If there is no God, everything is permissible"?

Asked by: ladiesman
  • 100 % Agree

    It is a completely logical conclusion. Mussolini put it into practice:

    “If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and those who claim to be the bearers of objective immortal truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than Fascist attitudes and activity. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, we Fascists conclude that we have the right to create our own ideology and to enforce it with all the energy of which we are capable.”

  • Why Goodness Depends on God?

    This "basic goods" theory also grounds the keen Catholic sense that there are certain acts which are intrinsically evil—that is, wrong no matter the circumstances of the act or the motivations of the agent. Slavery, the sexual abuse of children, adultery, racism, murder, etc. are intrinsically evil precisely because they involve direct attacks on basic goods. The moment we unmoor a moral system from these objective values, no act can be designated as intrinsically evil and from that state of affairs moral chaos follows.

    ​So far we have determined the objectivity of the ethical enterprise, but how does God figure into the system? Couldn't an honest secularist hold to objective moral goods but not hold to God's existence? Let's return to our analysis of the will in action. As we saw, the will is motivated, even in its simplest moves, by some sense, perhaps inchoate, of a moral value: truth, life, beauty, justice, etc. But having achieved some worldly good -- say of writing this column, or slaking a thirst, or educating a child -- the will is only incompletely satisfied. In point of fact, the achievement of some finite good tends to spur the will to want more of that good.

    Every scientist or philosopher knows that the answering of one question tends to open a hundred new ones; every social activist knows that righting one wrong awakens a desire to right a hundred more. Indeed, no achievement of truth, justice, life, or beauty in this world can satisfy the will, for the will is ordered to each of those goods in its properly unconditioned form. As Bernard Lonergan said, "the mind wants to know everything about everything." And as St. Augustine said, "Lord, you have made us for yourself; therefore our heart is restless until it rests in thee." You've noticed that I've slipped God somewhat slyly into the discussion! But I haven't done so illegitimately, for in the Catholic philosophical tradition, "God" is the name that we give to absolute or unconditioned goodness, justice, truth, and life.

    ​Now we can see the relationship between God and the basic goods that ground the moral life: the latter are reflections of and participations in the former. As C.S. Lewis points out in Mere Christianity, the moral absolutes are, therefore, signposts of God. And this is precisely why the negation of God leads by a short route to the negation of moral absolutes and finally to a crass subjectivism.

    Removing God is tantamount to removing the ground for the basic goods, and once the basic goods have been eliminated, all that is left is the self-legislating and self-creating will. Thus, we should be wary indeed when atheists and agnostics blithely suggest that morality can endure apart from God. Much truer is Dostoyevsky's observation that once God is removed, anything is permissible.

  • Morality requires religious tenets.

    According to Greg Epstein, "the idea that we can't be 'good without God' " has been with us for nearly 2,000 years. This idea is seen in various holy books, for example in Psalms 14 of the Christian Bible: "The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God.' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good not even one." And this idea is still present today. "Many today argue that religious beliefs are necessary to provide moral guidance and standards of virtuous conduct in an otherwise corrupt, materialistic, and degenerate world." For example, Christian writer and medievalist C. S. Lewis made the argument in his popular book Mere Christianity that if a supernatural, objective standard of right and wrong does not exist outside of the natural world, then right and wrong becomes mired in the is-ought problem. Thus, he wrote, preferences for one moral standard over another become as inherently indefensible and arbitrary as preferring a certain flavor of food over another or choosing to drive on a certain side of a road. In the same vein, Christian theologian Ron Rhodes has remarked that "it is impossible to distinguish evil from good unless one has an infinite reference point which is absolutely good." Peter Singer states that, "Traditionally, the more important link between religion and ethics was that religion was thought to provide a reason for doing what is right, the reason being that those who are virtuous will be rewarded by an eternity of bliss while the rest roast in hell."

    Proponents of theism argue that without a God or gods it is impossible to justify moral behavior on metaphysical grounds and thus to make a coherent case for abiding by moral standards. C. S. Lewis makes such an argument in Mere Christianity. Peter Robinson, a political author and commentator with Stanford's Hoover Institution, has commented that, if an inner moral conscience is just another adaptive or evolved feeling in the human mind like simple emotional urges, then no inherent reason exists to consider morality as over and above other urges. According to Thomas Dixon, "Religions certainly do provide a framework within which people can learn the difference between right and wrong."

  • How does the moral argument support the existence of God?

    How do you know if something is morally right or wrong? How can you ground a belief that says acts such as torturing an innocent child, rape, murder, racism, and other such things are objectively immoral? By "objectively," we mean that such acts are immoral in a way that goes beyond personal opinion or feelings; they are immoral whether anyone thinks they are or not.

    Those who do not believe in God object to such an assertion and say that a person does not need to acknowledge any kind of deity to understand moral right and wrong. And, they are right. Human beings do not need to believe in God to discern moral duties or understand that objective moral values exist. But, that has never been the argument of those who believe in God. Instead, the Christian argument is that in order to ground an objective moral law, you need to have a transcendent source of those values.

    This truth is acknowledged by leading atheists. For example, the famous nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: "You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist."


    At issue are the requirements for being able to have objective moral laws. Three things are needed: (1) an absolute and unchanging authority; (2) an absolute and unchanging standard; (3) absolute truth. Atheism and naturalism admit to nothing being absolute, that everything is random, and that everything is changing. In such an environment, no one can ever be sure anything is truly and objectively right or wrong.

    Without an unchanging, absolute authority that uses an unchanging, absolute standard, which is based on the right and unchanging truth, ethics simply becomes emotive and opinion. Rape doesn't become wrong, but rather the strongest statement that can be made about it is, "I don't like rape." C. S. Lewis put is simply when he said: "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." For those without God, that unchanging straight line does not exist.

    However, the rub comes from the fact that every human being recognizes moral absolutes. They may not practice them, but they understand and acknowledge them. There is a difference in what a culture and its people are doing and what they ought to do; a difference between something that is descriptive and that which is prescriptive. And one thing that history has shown is that humanity recognizes universal right and wrong.

    Where does this universal understanding of moral right and wrong come from – an understanding that transcends human opinion? Why does a small child immediately know when they've been treated unfairly or know that it is wrong to have something stolen from them? They know because there is a universal moral law that has been intrinsically woven into them by their Creator.

  • What did Voltaire mean when he said that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"?

    This statement was made as part of his larger argument that the existence of God and/or belief in God are beneficial and necessary for civilized society to function. The larger context of the debate in which he was engaged at the time indicates that he did not intend this statement to be an ironic quip essentially claiming that God is fictional, as it is commonly used today. In fact, the statement was made as part of a piece that he wrote condemning and refuting an atheistic essay called "The Three Imposters".

    Voltaire is also known for many memorable aphorisms, such as: ("If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him"), contained in a verse epistle from 1768, addressed to the anonymous author of a controversial work, "The Three Impostors." But far from being the cynical remark it is often taken for, it was meant as a retort to the atheistic clique of d'Holbach, Grimm, and others.

    The first verse seems to be attempting to refute the argument that evil and suffering in the world should be considered evidence against the existence of God:

    Insipid writer, you pretend to draw for your readers
    The portraits of your 3 impostors;
    How is it that, witlessly, you have become the fourth?
    Why, poor enemy of the supreme essence,
    Do you confuse Mohammed and the Creator,
    And the deeds of man with God, his author?...
    Criticize the servant, but respect the master.
    God should not suffer for the stupidity of the priest:
    Let us recognize this God, although he is poorly served.

    The second verse ties this into his thesis that belief in God is necessary for society:

    My lodging is filled with lizards and rats;
    But the architect exists, and anyone who denies it
    Is touched with madness under the guise of wisdom.
    Consult Zoroaster, and Minos, and Solon,
    And the martyr Socrates, and the great Cicero:
    They all adored a master, a judge, a father.
    This sublime system is necessary to man.
    It is the sacred tie that binds society,
    The first foundation of holy equity,
    The bridle to the wicked, the hope of the just.

    The third verse is the one that contains the oft-quoted line. In this larger context, it seems clear that he intended the statement to be an argument in favor of belief in God. He does not seem to say here whether he thinks God actually exists, but rather he argues merely that belief in God is a good thing and atheism is bad for society.

    If the heavens, stripped of his noble imprint,
    Could ever cease to attest to his being,
    If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
    Let the wise man announce him and kings fear him.
    Kings, if you oppress me, if your eminencies disdain
    The tears of the innocent that you cause to flow,
    My avenger is in the heavens: learn to tremble.
    Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed.

  • God is not needed to be Good.

    Greg Epstein, at Harvard University, dismisses the question of whether God is needed to be good "because that question does not need to be answered—it needs to be rejected outright," adding, "To suggest that one can't be good without belief in God is not just an opinion. It is a prejudice. It may even be discrimination." This is in line with the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics which states that religion and morality "are to be defined differently and have no definitional connections with each other. Conceptually and in principle, morality and a religious value system are two distinct kinds of value systems or action guides."

    Others share this view. Singer states that morality "is not something intelligible only in the context of religion". Atheistic philosopher Julian Baggini stated that "there is nothing to stop atheists believing in morality, a meaning for life, or human goodness. Atheism is only intrinsically negative when it comes to belief about God. It is as capable of a positive view of other aspects of life as any other belief." He also states that "Morality is more than possible without God, it is entirely independent of him. That means atheists are not only more than capable of leading moral lives, they may even be able to lead more moral lives than religious believers who confuse divine law and punishment with right and wrong.

    Popular atheist author and Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens remarked:

    "I think our knowledge of right and wrong is innate in us. Religion gets its morality from humans. We know that we can't get along if we permit perjury, theft, murder, rape, all societies at all times, well before the advent of monarchies and certainly, have forbidden it. Socrates called his daemon, it was an inner voice that stopped him when he was trying to take advantage of someone. Why don't we just assume that we do have some internal compass?"

    Daniel Dennett says it is a "pernicious" myth that religion or God are needed for people to fulfill their desires to be good. However, he offers that secular and humanist groups are still learning how to organize effectively. He says that secular organizations need to learn more 'marketing lessons from religion. This is because Dennett says that the idea that people need God to be morally good is an extremely harmful, yet popular myth. He believes it is a falsehood that persists because churches are currently much better at organizing people to do morally good work. In Dennett's words: "What is particularly pernicious about it is that it exploits a wonderful human trait; people want to be good. They want to lead good lives. So then along come religions that say 'Well you can't be good without God' to convince people that they have to do this. That may be the main motivation for people to take religions seriously to try to take religions seriously, to try and establish an allegiance to the church because they want to lead good lives."

  • It is possible to be Good without invoking the idea of God.

    God concept is not a static one but quite evolutionary in nature. Our understanding of God has undergone many transformations depending on our understanding of nature. We are constantly endeavoring to find our positions in the bigger picture of nature. And this has given rise to our transformed understanding of God. Now we know that morality is innate in the nature scheme of things. We have a moral compass embedded within our self. This moral compass is sufficient to provide guidance to us in times of need and we need not invoke God for this purpose.

  • Good without God

    What this question implies is that religion is the reason and ground for one's ethics. However, is religion the only real reason or ground for ethics? Dostoevsky thought so, he would say; "Yes, religion is the only ground for ethics. If there is no God, everything is ethically permissible". Dostoevsky, like Sartre makes ethics dependent on religion. He asserts that if God does not exist then there is no real reason to behave morally. I try to make ethics not dependent on religion, I agree more with what Socrates would say if asked this question; religion is not the only ground for ethics and that ethics can be grounded in a rational philosophy. In the end, we are left with four possibilities; 1) Dostoevsky is right, but there is no God 2) Dostoevsky is right and there is a God 3) Dostoevsky is wrong because there may or may not be a God but there is a morality anyway or 4) Dostoevsky is wrong because God exists, but everything is permissible, that God makes no difference to morality.

  • I'm atheist, so I don't need a God to be a good person.

    I disagree.
    I'm atheist, so I don't need a God to be a good person.
    Just to make things clear: I respect all kind of beliefs.
    In life, we need to respect each other, there's limits. You can't kill, rape, hurt someone, just because you want. If we live a life without rules, it's going to be an anarchy! Lol

    So, this is a catholicism idea.
    It's like: "You can't do this, 'causa God is watching you"
    In my point of view, "The Bible" was created by the man to control our society. The 10 Commandments it's a prove of that.
    Moreover, some people needs rules to have a decent life, they need these kind of control.

  • Dostoevsky's Position is Self-Contradictory

    The presupposition behind Dostoevksy's argument is that
    a) He knows the logical implication of God not existing and b) that you OUGHT to believe him since he is wise.

    If being correct is virtuous then truth is virtuous. If the truth is virtuous that means that which directly or indirectly strays us away from the truth must be evil. Therefore, it is not true that everything would be permissible if there is no God.

  • Nope, not true.

    The very questions you are asking is wrong. When you do not believe in a higher entity, there is no need to ask for or seek " permission " from anybody, therefore there is no notion of any deed being " permissible ". You can either choose to do something, or choose to avoid doing it, not because you need " permission ", but because you want to.
    However to answer your question, the meaning of things we believe to be moral or immoral, right or wrong, good or evil, etc, are not " programmed " into our genes and DNA, we are not " meant " to behave in a certain manner, those things are learnt as we grow and mature from an infant into a child and then an adult. We learn from our surroundings, our community, our parents, our friends, etc. and we rationalize the things we have seen and learnt from other parties according to our own understanding. It was perfectly fine to treat minorities, women, people of color, and many other parties like we treat high risk terror suspects in secret prisons today just a few hundred years ago, while the majority of people back then didn't believe those things to be immoral or wrong. They didn't feel that they had done anything " evil " or " bad ".
    In a few hundred years we have evolved from the " savages " that we were by today's standards into more civilized creatures. That alone should answer your question.

  • Nope, not true.

    The very questions you are asking is wrong. When you do not believe in a higher entity, there is no need to ask for or seek " permission " from anybody, therefore there is no notion of any deed being " permissible ". You can either choose to do something, or choose to avoid doing it, not because you need " permission ", but because you want to.
    However to answer your question, the meaning of things we believe to be moral or immoral, right or wrong, good or evil, etc, are not " programmed " into our genes and DNA, we are not " meant " to behave in a certain manner, those things are learnt as we grow and mature from an infant into a child and then an adult. We learn from our surroundings, our community, our parents, our friends, etc. and we rationalize the things we have seen and learnt from other parties according to our own understanding. It was perfectly fine to treat minorities, women, people of color, and many other parties like we treat high risk terror suspects in secret prisons today just a few hundred years ago, while the majority of people back then didn't believe those things to be immoral or wrong. They didn't feel that they had done anything " evil " or " bad ".
    In a few hundred years we have evolved from the " savages " that we were by today's standards into more civilized creatures. That alone should answer your question.

  • No, and you do more good without

    God is a bad person. The Old Testament God killed people randomly, and the Christian New Testament God allowed his followers to kill his other followers in the Holocaust. If this is the "straight line" we're following, then it's a straight line to Hell. That's why I don't believe in God, and also why I have committed no crimes.

  • Good or bad has nothing to do with religion

    The world is full of two kinds of people those who are boosted up by others they have boosted up in the past and those who are boosted up by stepping on someone else this division has nothing to do with religion casing point satanists v.S. Christians both believe in god but are on opposite sides of this battle

  • Over a billion atheists prove you can be moral without god

    Almost every theistic, religious system of morality is founded upon the premise that a god has created morality and has issued moral commands to humanity. Thus the nature of this moral system is ultimately obedience to this god, regardless of what the commands are. Neither disobedience nor questioning are permitted. Real morality, however, cannot be mere obedience: for a person to be morally responsible, they must be able to reason out their choices and decide for themselves. A truly moral choice, however, cannot be made on the basis of seeking rewards and certainly cannot be made in hopes of attaining an eternally blissful afterlife. If a person does things merely for a reward, their choice is based upon selfishness, not moral values
    Theistic and religious moral systems typically include prominent threats of punishment for disobedience, and even sometimes eternal punishment for the worst disobedience or disbelief.
    A truly moral choice, however, cannot be dependent upon a desire to avoid punishment. Moreover, eternal punishment for temporal crimes, however awful, is itself immoral because it is so disproportionate.
    We cannot make responsible, moral choices without having reasoned through our choices and the consequences of what we do. This means that a truly moral system must emphasize the importance of the intellect and reason as much as love and compassion. Few theistic, religious moral systems do this, however. The absence of intellectual values that would encourage reasoning about our choices is consistent with the countervailing emphasis on obedience to authority.


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