Belief in God and morality

A NEW global poll of people in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center concluded that many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. This view was more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

In 22 of the 40 countries, a clear majority of people surveyed said that it was necessary to believe in God to be a moral person and have good values. Survey results varied by country, but this belief is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East. At least three-quarters of people in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality. In the Middle East, roughly seven-in-ten or more agree in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia and Lebanon. Across the two regions, only in Israel does a majority think it is not necessary to believe in God to be an upright person.

The link between faith and morality is also strong in Asia and Latin America. For example, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and Malaysians almost unanimously think that belief in God is central to having good values. People in El Salvador, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela overwhelmingly agree. However, most Chinese take the opposite position — that it is not necessary to be a believer to be a moral person. And in Latin America, the Chileans and Argentines are divided.

In North America and Europe more people believe that non-religious people can also be moral. At least half of the people surveyed in North America and Europe take this view. In France, Spain, the Czech Republic and Britain, about eight-in-10 people believe non-believers and can upright people.

Only 23 per cent of those surveyed in Australia thought morality was linked to belief in God.

The survey was conducted among 40,080 people between 2012 and 2013.

The survey is, of course, questionable. Many people have strong moral commitments without any religious foundation. Morality belongs to all of us as human beings.

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41 thoughts on “Belief in God and morality

  1. Allow Christ to Live Through You
    by Rick Warren

    “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

    It is the Holy Spirit’s job to produce Christ-like character in you.

    You cannot reproduce the character of Jesus on your own strength. New Year’s resolutions, willpower, and best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives. The Bible says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).

    Mention “the power of the Holy Spirit,” and many people think of miraculous demonstrations and intense emotions. But, most of the time, the Holy Spirit’s power is released in your life in quiet, unassuming ways that you aren’t even aware of or feel.

    Christ-likeness is not produced by imitation but by inhabitation. We allow Christ to live through us.

    How does this happen? Through the choices we make. We choose to follow Jesus in all situations and then trust God’s Spirit to give us his power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it. Since God’s Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking.

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  2. In various cultures all over the world there are equivalents to the 10 commandments. These standards seem to be programmed into our human condition. Jesus of course realised that 10 weren’t enough, but that however many would be enough they could ALL be covered by the ‘Golden Rule’.

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    • Equivalents of the 10 commandments? So where is the so called equivalent to the Sabbath? (Fourth commandment). By your logic it should be kept by everyone except Christians (who changed it into Sunday). But there aren’t!

      Jesus realised that 10 weren’t enough?
      By your logic, fornication (breach of the seventh commandment) is permissible; after all you have free sex with others because you would want them to have free sex with you! There goes another commandment.

      In fact the golden rule is not an extra rule but a reason for keeping the ten commandments by asking one to put themselves in another one’s shoes. Namely:

      How would you feel if your children were to abuse you the way you abused your parents.

      How would you feel if your property was stolen the way you stole from someone else?

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  3. This Bryan :-
    The survey is, of course, questionable. Many people have strong moral commitments without any religious foundation. Morality belongs to all of us as human beings.

    “””Spot on Bryan”””

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    • “many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person”

      Yes, and they are all the religious ones. The most religious countries show the most support for that idea. Religious people like to think of themselves as righteous in comparison with others.

      Unfortunately, morals (or more correctly, a list of “thou shalt NOTs”, quite often petty and generally inadequate by the more educated standards of today) are often thought to be the province of religion, but the gamut of morals, from good to evil, displayed in the bible, even in the behaviour of God, ought to put paid to idea that the bible is some sort of perfect moral example.

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      • My faith has made me a much better person, able to discern more accurately between right and wrong. I thank God for His Commandments, for there have been many times when they have pricked my conscience persuading me to do what is right.

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      • Either that: “there have been many times when they have pricked my conscience persuading me to do what is right. “.

        Or to avoid further pricking?
        ‘Morality’ is notorious for interfering with a healthy sex-life.

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    • I’m more inclined to think that morality belongs to all of us as political subjects. Morality is decided by our rulers and dispensed via our social structures. (Given that there are always exceptions which prove the rule.)

      For example: some of today’s most vociferous defenders of a homosexual’s right to practice his/her belief raised not so much as a peep fifty years ago. And some took precisely the opposite ‘moral stand’.

      That applies to other suxual proclivities too.
      ‘Morality’ is a Swinger.

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  4. FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

    Horrific torture spurred young lawyer’s global campaign

    From a prominent Muslim family in Cairo, religious freedom activist Majed El Shafir strongly believed in freedom, human rights and justice as he followed in the footsteps of his law-practising father and brother, and of his uncle who was a supreme court judge.

    Yet, as he began his university law studies, Majed recalls feeling puzzled.

    “There were six to seven thousand Christian activists in prison just because they are Christians and not for any other reason. As a Muslim young man, I wondered why there was persecution happening to the Christians at this time. In my opinion, you don’t persecute somebody unless you are scared of the truth that they carry.” Majed explains.

    While studying law in Alexandria, Majed asked a Christian friend, “Why is persecution happening to your community?”

    Afraid to change their friendship, Majed’s friend gave him a book, the Bible, saying, “You’ll find answers on your own in this book.”

    Opening it to John chapter eight, the story of the woman caught in adultery, Majed recalls, “This was the first time I met Jesus and His forgiveness.”

    Studying the Bible in comparison to the Qur’an, Majed says he discovered that the Bible “not only contained judgments, laws and regulations, it was also about love and forgiveness and sacrifice.”

    Nine months later he says he became a Christian and accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour of his life.

    Two years after Majed co-founded an underground church, attendance grew from nine to 24,000 in two underground buildings, plus a Bible school and medical clinic.

    “I established a newspaper asking the Egyptian government to give us equal rights, Christians and Muslims alike.

    “I also wrote a book about the difference between Islam and Christianity”, Majed says.

    Early one morning in 1998, the Egyptian authorities arrested Majed. When he refused to dob in other members, they took him to Abu Saabal Jail near Cairo to be tortured in an underground section, which was a quarter of the prison.

    Over the next seven days, Majed says his head was held in scalding hot then freezing cold water, hung upside down and beaten with belts, burned by cigarettes, and had his toenails ripped out. Two teams of German shepherd dogs were set on him, but after praying to Jesus, Majed says the dogs refused to attack him. Finally, he was tied to a cross for two days.

    “They test you to see how far you can take it,” he explains. “There is a military doctor behind you whose mission is not to stop your pain, but to make sure that you are conscious.”

    Instead of making him willing to give up faith in Christ, he says, “The torture made my faith stronger. I tell you, Christians are like a bag of tea. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in the hot water. This is the reality.”

    After nearly dying in hospital, he was charged with starting a revolution against the government and changing the official religion of Egypt from Islam to Christianity.

    “Believe it or not,” Majed adds, “because I worship and I love Jesus I received the death penalty.”

    Waking up in a hospital bed from unconsciousness, Majed fled his impending execution through a back window, hid out for months, jet-skied across the Dead Sea between Egyptian and Israeli police, then crossed the Sinai Desert into Israel.

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    • -2-

      After turning himself in to the Israeli government, he remained in custody for 16 months while the United Nations and Amnesty International investigated his story.

      Ultimately, he was given political-refugee status and immigrated to Canada.

      In 2002, he founded One Free World International, an international human rights organisation.

      Eleven years later, the organisation has 28 branches and, according to Majed, has taken over 300 refugee cases and never lost one of them.

      “When I go to these countries and I face the extremists and I go to mosques I tell them about the Lord [Jesus], I am not scared of them. I believe that they are scared of me,” he shares.

      “When the day comes that a bullet will finish my life, this will mean that my mission is over. I am not scared of this. It will come. God gave me life and He will take it back in His time.”

      Majed believes that by speaking the truth in love, people will listen.

      “When they see you resisting, not giving up, and loving everybody, people will listen. And I do love everybody, not just the Christians. I will help anyone facing persecution; even if he is not Christian I will help him. I will not just help him in the name of human rights, I will help him in Jesus’ name, because Jesus told me to help everybody.”

      In 2012, Majed received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his efforts to uphold human rights.

      To all governments that persecute Christians, Majed offers this message: “The persecuted Christians are dying, but they’re still smiling. They’re in a deep mine, but they’re holding the light of the Lord. You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”

      Read more about Majed’s work at OneFreeWorldInternational.org.

      Challenge the good news paper—No. 367

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      • Please explain how a man can turn himself into the Israeli government.
        Even as an Act of God that’d be a good trick.
        Though, come to think of it, Moses managed it, didn’t he?

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      • Wow. If this story is true, it is quite incredible. I have sometimes wondered how I would act if ‘put in hot water’. No offence meant to anyone, but it does seem to me that when you enforce a religion through law or you do not permit people to leave a faith – you don’t actually believe in it enough for it to stand on it’s own merit. Alexandria is where mum was born. I would love to one day see where she lived till her teenage years.

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      • Fascinating Monica. I watched the video and one thing in particular stood out. He was talking about how some people think to themselves, what difference could I make, I’m just one person. He disagreed, he says that even just one letter could be the difference to change and the reason for that is that God is who will make that happen. It reminded me of Bryan’s story about that couple that prayed from a remote part of a country for that young man in Africa. We should never assume, our prayers, our efforts, even if they seem minute – when done in sincerity, could move mountains because God would listen and make it happen.

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      • Amen Kathleen.

        A word in due season for us; from Majed, and from you, dear one.

        I spat the dummy earlier. It was an overcast morning….and cold, and I had it out with God. Then immediately the sun suddenly came out, brightened up the sky above, my room, and gloomy disposition, and I was so, so grateful to our Beautiful God.

        Yes, with God’s help, one person can make a difference, whether we see it or not.

        God Bless

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    • ” I tell you, Christians are like a bag of tea. You don’t know how strong they are until you put them in the hot water. ”
      I see some Israeli entrepreneur has produced an even tougher teabag, called ‘Hebrew’.

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    • Must’ve had his brains rattled by the Egyptians, too.
      If he crossed the Dead Sea and then the Sinai he’d have arrived in Cairo.
      No?

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      • Well, I re-typed the newspaper report late at night in dim lighting and without my glasses on, but as I re-read the story of Majed El Shafir again in the light of day; yep, it definitely says Dead Sea. It’s obviously a typo on Challenge’s part, not mine.

        Pity though that you could only focus on the typo, make jokes about tea and not see how remarkable a man he is. I cried when I read his story and wondered if I could face such torture for my faith:

        “In a final insult, he said prison guards tied him to a cross and left him there for two days.

        “The only thing I could remember was the taste and smell of my own blood,” he said.

        El Shafie remembers losing consciousness and waking up in a hospital bed. A guard tipped him off that he was about to be executed, so he escaped out of a back window, he said.

        When the government learned of El Shafie’s escape, it issued a $100,000 fatwa on his head, he said.

        “My picture was on TV and in the newspapers, so I knew I couldn’t stay in Egypt,” he said, describing an escape reminiscent of a James Bond movie.

        He said he rode across the Red Sea on a jet ski, crossed the Sinai Desert and turned himself in to the Israeli government. He remained in Israeli custody for 16 months while the United Nations and Amnesty International investigated his story. He was finally granted political-refugee status and emigrated to Toronto.”

        Living Testimonies of People in Christ

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  5. A child sits down at the table for morning breakfast .
    The parent puts into a bowl some cereal .before adding the milk the parent adds “”SIX”” table spoons of sugar .
    This is done every morning !!
    Should the parent be charged for neglect ??
    Yes !!
    So how do those adults making cereal saturated with Sugar morally send such crap to others children ??
    Aaah ::- It is not against the law and they are getting payed !!

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    • Yep, charged and sentenced to attend a course on nutrition,( not fined or gaoled.)

      Look for curing causes, not for punishment of the ignorant.

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    • So how do those adults making cereal saturated with Sugar morally send such crap to others children ??
      By that I mean those within companies producing such harmful crap.
      Aaah :-The lack of empathy even for the youth.
      If you can not even care for them stop pretending you care about anything else.

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      • The greed of companies is obvious. Or is it greed? The company managers are trying to maintain their position,they don’t want to be out of work. Anything to keep the sales figures high enough to keep the shareholders happy. It won’t stop until there is legislation against it. That legislation won’t happen until politicians have the knowledge and the guts to go against corporations.

        When one man or one family built a big business, human nature usually decreed some sense of care for consumers, of a worthwhile legacy to hand on. The company was like a ship, steered by the captain, having a direction and destination. The huge multinationals are like floating icebergs manned by many staff looking forward only to a comforyable retirement, with no sense of where the company is headed or what damage it might do to anyone.

        If only the world were perfect! If only all the students in a school could graduate without further work.

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      • I omitted to add, steered by shareholders, who will jump ship whenever it suits them.

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  6. From the Saturday Evening Mercury 1981.

    Dear God,

    I know how busy you must be with a whole universe to worry about. That’s why it occurred to me that you probably don’t have time to read our papers and your TV reception might not be good. So I thought I’d drop you a note about how things are going here.

    Well, things couldn’t be going any better, at least as far as your image is concerned. You wouldn’t believe how well loved you are on this planet today and how much is being done in your name. There’s so much going on that I hardly know where to start. So I might as well begin in Northern Ireland where you’ve always been very big. Ah, what religious fervour can be found there!

    The Irish Protestants are so devoted to you that they do everything possible to make life miserable for the Irish Catholics because they don’t think the Irish Catholics have the right approach towards worshipping you. And, for essentially the same reasons, the Irish Catholics do what they can to make life miserable for the Irish Protestants. In their great love for you they shoot at one another, bomb one another, set one another afire, kill little children bystanders, cops, soldiers, old ladies and some are now committing suicide by starvation.

    Then each side buries its dead, goes to Church and gives fervent thanks to you for being on its side. It is very touching. And one thing about these people: their devotion to you is unshakeable. They’ve been doing this for about 400 years. So it’s a good thing that you have an entire universe at your disposal because I don’t know where else you could find room to accommodate the souls of all the people who have died there in your name.

    You’re also highly regarded in a country called Lebanon where just about everyone believes in you, although they don’t agree on what you should be called. In that country there are Moslems and Christians and they’ve created different sets of rules for worshipping. Naturally, they both say you have sent the rules down to them. I don’t know if that’s true or not but if I may make a suggestion: If it is true that you gave them the word, it would really simplify things if there was only one set of rules. It would cause less hard feelings.

    However, such details aside, they are expressing their devotion to you by killing each other by the hundreds. I guess they figure that if one side can wipe out the other side it will prove that their way of worshipping you is correct and you’ll be pleased with them. So every day they lob shells at one another and blow up the usual men, women, children, bystanders, old ladies and stray dogs. And every day they take a few moments out to thank you for your support and to promise that they’ll continue their efforts on your behalf.

    Now, not far from Lebanon, are countries called Iraq and Iran. The Moslems in these countries basically agree on what to call you but they disagree on some details concerning how best to worship you. So they’re also killing one another. It’s more than a little confusing, though, because in Iran there are people who call themselves Baha’i and they too have their own way of showing respect for you. Unfortunately for the Baha’i their way doesn’t include killing others who don’t share their point of view. So that makes them patsies and the Moslems in Iran, in their love for you, have been kicking the Baha’i around pretty good.

    Just a short missile ride away there’s much religious action going on between a country called Israel and almost everyone else in that neighbourhood. For worshipping you the people in Israel also have their own set of rules which they say you passed on to them. They claim that you look more favourably upon them than on anyone else. This has always caused hard feelings because many other groups figure that THEY’RE your favourites. (I can see it must be difficult being a father figure.) The claim of the Israelis that they are No 1 has also caused some people to wonder this – If the Jews, after all they’ve been through over the centuries are really your chosen people, what do you do to somebody you DON’T like?

    Anyway, the Jews and their Moslem neighbours – both of whom claim your complete support – have been going at each other for about 30 years. But I don’t think they’ll ever equal Ireland’s record because they’ll all eventually have nuclear bombs. Boy, when they start throwing those around, will you have a crowd showing up!

    Oh, and I can’t forget to mention this final item. Somebody shot the Pope. As you know, he’s the leader of one of your largest group of followers here. A very peaceful, non-violent man, by the way, although his followers have been known to shed a few million gallons of blood when their tempers were up. Anyway, the man who shot him apparently did it because of HIS devotion to you. It’s not completely clear but this fellow seems to think that the Pope was in some way responsible for somebody invading the sacred mosque of his religion in a place called Mecca. That, of course, was an insult to you, so on your behalf he got even by shooting the Pope.

    Well, I know you’re busy so that’s all for now.

    Yours sincerely,
    MIKE ROYKO

    PS – I never believed any of those stories going around a few years ago that GOD IS DEAD. How could you be? We don’t have any weapon which can shoot that far….

    (Doesn’t look like anything’s changed much in the past 33 years!)

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  7. The so-called God, who has apparently shown himself to be a serial mass slaughterer, who cannot even manage to hand out the same set of rules each time he does it, who clearly does not answer prayers any more than chance does, and has even claimed we should be limited to ancient Arabic, would be too stupid to create a human race with more intelligence and morality than he has demonstrated. I doubt even he would have the temerity to demand that we worship him for the catalogue of errors and misfortunes he has landed everyone with. We can list failed omniscience, failed omnipotence and failed benevolence as major achievements.

    If this god had ever managed to create the human race, on this pin-speck of a planet in a universe of the unimaginable size we now know it to be (but apparently he doesn’t), then it’s no wonder he can’t even find the place.

    A primary school child of average intelligence today has a more advanced and compassionate world view than this concocted entity from our primitive imaginings even aspired to.
    It’s quite clear that god couldn’t see past the regulation ignorance and superstition of whatever prevailing culture claims to speak for him..

    That’s how it is with gods.

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