If there is no God, why be good?
As Einstein said, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” Michael Shermer, in The Science of Good and Evil, calls it a debate stopper. If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would commit robbery, rape, and murder, you reveal yourself as an immoral person, ‘and we should be well advised to steer a wide course around you.’ If, on the other hand, you admit that you would continue to be a good person even when not under divine surveillance, you have fatallyl undermined your claim that God is necessary for us to be good. I suspect that quite a lot of religious people do think religion is what motivates them to be good, especially if they belong to one of those faiths that systematically exploits personal guilt.
It seems to me to require a low self-regard to think that, should belief in God suddenly vanish from the world, we would all become callous and selfish hedonists, with no kindness, no charity, no generosity, nothing that would deserve the name of goodness.”
The God Delusion