Richard Dawkins once said that we can be good without God. Does he have a point? Mmm… Of course Dawkins has a point. An atheist can be good just as a Christian can be bad. This is quite a no brainer. Let's stretch it a bit. Can an atheist live a more upright life than a theist? How do you measure? How do you count? Does it really matter?
Is Dawkins more ethical than say former televangelist Ted Haggard? How do you weigh a pound of remorse with a dash of deceit? At what point in their life is Dawkins more ethical than Haggard? Can we prognosticate that in the end, by collection of good deeds, testimonials and commendations, Dawkins' life will be more morally superior/illuminating than Haggard's?
How do you factor in pride? Does it push one's ethical standing down by a notch? You see the point? Its an exercise in futility because sin is always other people. And this quote says it all, "Christians define sin as the sum total of acts that they themselves do not commit." So, good luck with the judging and ranking process!
The truth is, by gut feel, I can say that some atheists can and will even be good for most of their lifetime. But that's not the issue. The issue cuts deeper. It is more an issue of our origin than an issue of whether we can be good without God. Let me express the conundrum in a form of a question: "Imagine a child telling his parents that he doesn't need them to be born." Absurd? To me, that's the issue.
However much Dawkins rile against this as he's an atheist, he will have to admit that making such a statement without understanding our beginning is in the end tantamount to denying the essence of what it means to be good.
Martin Luther (the civil rights leader) once said that the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice. In our context, I would say that the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards our creator.
This world is not divided into who's good or who's bad, who's naughty or who's nice, who eats sugar or who eats spice. It is divided into those who have found their creator and those who are still searching. Of couse, both groups are trying to be good as best as this "goodness" can be defined by them. But the difference is that one has found the source of what it means to be good and the other is still depending on what he thinks is good.
So, let me end by saying that man's definition of good and bad is hardly reliable. Even Hitler himself once endorsed the Christian faith and I believe he believed in it for a moment, for a time. I also believe that man’s struggle to be good is made even more paradoxical (if not more ironical) by this quote: "No man can enter Heaven until he first convinced himself he deserves hell." And no man can claim to be good when he neither appreciates how bad nor how unworthy he is to make such claim. Cheers.