Can you be moral without believing in God? Half of Israelis say yes

PEW conducted an international survey to see if people believe that you can be moral without believing in God.

MICHELANGELO’S ‘Creation of Adam’ – God as pure thought or reason? (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
MICHELANGELO’S ‘Creation of Adam’ – God as pure thought or reason?
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Half of Israelis think that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral, according to a global survey conducted by PEW Research Center that was published on Thursday.

On the other hand, an almost equal 47% disagree and say that belief in God is essential for morality.

The split among Israel's religions is, however, less evenly split on the matter. While 80% of Israeli Muslims believe that morality and God are tied together, a majority of Israeli Jews disagree.

Within the Jewish sector, 86% of orthodox, modern orthodox and ultra-orthodox people agree with the premise, but only 7% of traditional and secular Israeli Jews agree.

What do people worldwide think of the premise?

Worldwide, the survey showed that in the majority of the countries surveyed, more people believe that it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral. The only country where more people believe that a belief in God is vital for morality was Malaysia, with 78% saying it was necessary and 22% saying it wasn't.

 God calling Moses (credit: FLICKR) God calling Moses (credit: FLICKR)

The survey found that across all countries, people who were religiously affiliated were more likely than those who weren't to agree that morality and belief in God were reliant on each other, but in most countries, a large percentage of religiously-affiliated people said that belief in God is not necessary.

Aside from religion, age and political alignment were also key factors in people's opinions. The survey found that people who considered themselves to be right-wing were more likely to agree with the premise than people who were left-wing, while people over 50 were more likely to agree than people who were younger.

People with degrees were also less likely to think that belief in God was vital to be a moral person.

The countries included in the survey were the US, Israel, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, Canada, Italy, France, Belgium and Sweden, all of which are considered advanced economies.

A similar survey conducted in 2019 that included countries with less developed economies found that people from these countries were more likely to rely on belief in God to determine a person's morality.

The questions of morality and God have been the focus of many philosophical debates for millennia. Religious and secular scholars alike have long argued about the existence of a higher power and how it influences human values, many of which can be traced back to religious texts such as the Ten Commandments and the Quran.