Can we be good without God
, Morality without God
or Morality without Religion
addresses the central question of whether religion is necessary for moral behavior. Even though societal norms of morality and virtue are universal elements of all religions what is acceptable moral behaviour or what is considered virtuous differ from religion to religion. Moral order and law and order, though there may be overlap, are not the same and all societies (whether they be religious or secular) have had to rely on some kind of law enforcement and judicial systems to maintain the latter.
The subject of morality without religion is dealt with by several prominent scholars. These include Richard Dawkins in the God Delusion and Michael Shermer in the The Science of Good and Evil.
The Catholic Encyclopedia presents the standard Catholic response to these arguments, saying: