GERONIMO NADAL

Haka-haka ng isang nababagabag na tambay

Is Faith Necessary for a Moral Life?

Posted by geronimonadal on September 16, 2007

I have been grappling with this question ever since. It became more relevant in the light of the publication of the diary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta wherein she expressed doubts about the existence of God: “In my own soul, I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist.” Despite these doubts, her “midnight of the soul”, Mother Teresa worked and committed herself to the poor. But what if Mother Teresa just accepted the fact that there is no God or that there is no sufficient proof that God exists? Would she have continued to serve the poor? Or was her service to the poor anchored on her belief in God? Would the quality of service to the poor be diminished by a lack of faith? Is it less noble? Is faith needed to love other people?

With more and more people coming out in the open and declaring that they do not believe in a “God” or in “intelligent design”, I think the question is proper. Those who believe in God argue that without faith, the world will be such a terrible place (of course, one can argue that, in fact, with all the beliefs that we have, the world is already a terrible place), that the only thing that keeps men and women from being selfish, or vicious or violent, to put it in another way, the only thing that makes persons virtuous or good, is their belief in a “God”. So the question is: would people be immoral or less virtuous if they do not believe in God? I think (not believe) that men and women can be moral, good and virtuous even without faith or even if they believe that there is no such being as “God”. Faith is not necessary for a moral life. In fact, it is faith or belief that has made this world a terrible place. Faith and religion (or rather the insistence that one’s faith or religion is the true faith or religion) has been the cause so much suffering in the world. As Albert Einstein once said: “A man’s ethical behavior 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.”

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