What is “being good” and why should I be so?



“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death”

Thus Spake Albert Einstein…

This quote by one of the world’s most renowned physicists doesn’t solicit a rebuttal (defensive or otherwise) and isn’t open to any either. On the other hand we also don’t have to dignify this with an answer- Simply because of the fact that it isn’t from an authority on ethics or morality. We thank him immensely for giving us the theory of relativity. But no thanks for the frequent gibes he made at religions and believers in most of his works. Since his name will not feature in the list of the world’s top 10,000 philanthropists of his time, and since there are no striking examples of acts of virtue or tirades against vice in his life, we can afford to skip this quote and move on to be impressed and enthralled by his formula E= M(C*C). Moreover, he was a very vociferous racist who loudly, clearly and frequently supported the political agenda of the Zionists (what an irony it is – he doesn’t believe in the god of the Jews, but he wants to create a separate homeland for them by displacing millions of sons and daughters of the soil). So let us agree that we will admire beauty queens for their beauty and will imbibe more profound things only from people who are worthy of it….

But are we people who will simply walk away from an opportunity to spar with one of the most brilliant people ever to walk on this planet?- Neigh!!!!! So here we go…..

We fully agree that there are millions of people who live ethical lives without any religious basis. Proven research in Psycho technology teaches us that Man is programmed to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. So if someone chooses to live an ethical life, it’s simply because he has consciously or subconsciously linked intense pain to unethical acts and immense pleasure to ethical ones. This enables him to subordinate his animal instincts to higher causes. Yes. Mr. Einstein, This linkage can come from sympathy, education and social ties. Belief in the existence of a just and fair god combined with fear of punishment and hope of reward is another sure fire way to create this link.


When the US govt. decided to prohibit liquor in the early 20th century, their efforts failed miserably though the entire government machinery was used to enforce this. When the rule was finally revoked after people started dying by consuming spurious liquor, people including law enforcers got drunk and danced and slept on the roads for days.

When prophet Muhammad (SAW) announced the verses revealing the prohibition of liquor, people who were drinking threw their glasses out. People who had stocked it destroyed the barrels till all the gutters of Medina overflowed with liquor. People who had consumed liquor put their fingers in their throats and vomited it out. Real change was implemented without any force.

How was this possible?

For almost 13 years Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was preparing his community by repeatedly describing Heaven and Hell to them. All major Rules and regulations regarding Halal and Haraam were revealed only much after that. Through his discourses, he succeeded in creating in the hearts of his follower’s an intense longing for heaven and a repulsive abhorrence against hell. Once this was done, facilitating change was easy. When rules were enforced, people adopted them instantly.

Belief in accountability and payback is thus a very strong motivator. Delayed Gratification is the term giving to the act of sacrificing something at present for the prospect of receiving something better later. (Two chocolates in the evening instead of one right now. A trip to the park if you do the homework instead of watching TV). Psychologists deem this ability to delay gratification as a very healthy and mature trait.

Now why on earth should we consider someone who does this solely for the sake of god to be in a “Poor state”? As long as it motivates him to forsake evil and do well, why should he be considered inferior for expecting gratification, delayed nevertheless?

Why should we value judge his motive at all…..?. Sorry Mr. Einstein, we disagree….

Let’s take the debate a little backwards. How did the concepts of good and bad originate? It is proven that we can convince ourselves completely to justify any act that we do. So considering the relativeness of the two concepts, who defines what is absolute good or bad?

Study of savage tribes in Africa has proven that left to themselves, people define good and bad in terms of their convenience and favorable circumstances to survive. So in certain tribes stealing is taboo. But if the boys of that tribe have to be treated as men, they have to kill someone from any neighboring tribe. So they go and sneak around villages and chop of the heads of small children playing unattended. So much for sympathy and social ties.

When I used to travel outside the UAE with my colleagues for official reasons, I have seen many of my friends who are epitomes of morality succumb to the charms of the place. They come back and tell us “What happens away stays away”.

So we cannot teach ourselves absolute morality. That would be like a child guarding a packet of cookies. The society can’t either. Can education do it? Correct me if I am wrong… I didn’t find any references to morality in my physics, chemistry or history text books. If you have, please let me know.

I feel that absolute Morality that forces man to delay his gratification at the cost of his wants and desires and pleasures cannot come from man himself. It has to come from an outer source. Thus sheer logic tells us that the concepts of good and bad originated from a super natural course and that we came to know about them through his prophets….. I dont want to sound authoritarian here. Your comments are very much welcomed.

So we respect all agnostics and atheists who live ethical lives. And regardless of whether they acknowledge it or not, the true just god will reward them for that. We know the story about the prostitute who was promised heaven for taking pains to feed a thirsty dog. (Subuhanallah).

We are also convinced that some atheists do amazing acts of virtue. And they do so because they are conditioned by sources (Parents/ Reading etc) that may be non religious in their present context. But if we trace each of these sources back….. They will all surely lead back to him- The almighty god.

In other words all these atheists are true believers. The only thing is that they do not know it yet….

And for those who are convinced about the existence of god and divine retribution and still chooses to live unethical lives….. God Damn You!!!!!

2 Comments

Filed under A new sunrise

2 responses to “What is “being good” and why should I be so?

  1. Kiran Gavir

    A classic discussion on the same topic can be found on youtube , Debate: Can We Live Better Lives Without Religion? Hamza Tzortzis & Best-Selling Author Peter Cave
    here is the link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJOZXZ480dA&feature=channel

  2. Mila

    To any perceptive person the existence and intricacy of creation is conclusive proof of the Existence, Knowledge and Wisdom of the One who creates, organises and sustains it.
    Einstein also had a belief that man should have an ethical behaviour or ethics.How do we attain ethical knowledge.From our home,our parents,society,education!Well all these together comprises our life.What is the role of religion in our life or should I say many of our lives.Religion is a way of life,it is an instruction manual for our life.It provides guidance on how to live in an ethical way.Does education alone will mould our behaviour,I don’t think so.If that’s the case the educated people should be the epitome of character.Many a times we could find better attributes from a less educated person than one with a very high qualification.
    Islam in true sense advocates for sympathy towards the fellow beings;especially the less fortunate(Zakath,Sadakah)It stresses the needs for education.The Prophet himself has urged people to get knowledge.
    Social ties-Islam always give importance on relationships and kinship.Although almost all religions advocate maintenance of family ties, Islam has taken it to unprecedented heights. A Muslim is commanded to be kind even to his non-Muslim relatives.The Prophet (p) said, “The most perfect believer [in his faith] is he whose conduct is best, and the best among you is he who behaves best towards his wife.”
    If the religion could guide a man and his behaviour;why think man as poor to take help from it!

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