“Why be good if there is no God?” A young man who is familiar with my religious views asked me yesterday.
“What has goodness got to do with god?” I asked. “Aren’t you diminishing yourself when you are being good merely for god’s sake?”
I explained that goodness is our duty to ourselves as well as the humanity. “When we are good, we create a better world. Creating that better world is our duty.”
“Duty given by whom?” The young man persisted.
“By our intelligence. Intelligence tells us that good is better than bad for all. For all creatures and the planet and the cosmos.”
“Who decides what is good and what is evil?”
“We decide. You and I. Goodness promotes the welfare of other creatures. The problem with our gods is that they tend to promote the welfare of particular communities.”
“Perhaps certain people misuse the gods for such purposes. Gods themselves cannot be so parochial.”
“I didn’t understand,” the young man said.
“The meaning of that smile.”
“Our gods are all created in our own images.”
He smiled. Unhappily.