Read Along: Ch 15—Can People Be Good Without God?

Today we continue with Chapter Fifteen in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Fifteen, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!  Index page here.

[Audio Intro] – Sean McDowell introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 15 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Fifteen: Can People Be Good Without God?
(pages 197-209]

Chapter fifteen is an exploration of the moral truths we observe in the world—what best explains our moral experiences? Can goodness exist in the world if God does not exist? This chapter looks for the ontological grounding for objective morality; something which atheism/naturalism does not offer. The authors present a case against an evolutionary account of morality, then move on to show that objective morality makes a good case for God’s existence.

Mark D. Linville’s essay at the end of the chapter is a short yet profound look at the moral argument.

Notable quotes:

The crucial question in this chapter is not “Can we be good without belief in God?” but “Can we be good without God?” The latter is the more fundamental question. (p. 197)

To say that a moral judgment is objectively good or evil is to say that it is good or evil independent of what people think, believe, or agree on. (A subjective claim would depend on what people think, believe, or agree on.) (p. 198)

In this chapter, it is important to mention that what we are after is an ontological grounding of objective morality, not an epistemological explanation of how we know what is right and wrong. (p. 198)


  1. How do the authors define the words objective and subjective?
  2. What does it mean to say something is objectively wrong?
  3. How does Christianity offer a better explanation of objective moral truths?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 16—Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians?
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

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