I pay my taxes, I am friendly to people around me, and I am charitable to those less fortunate. Doesn’t that make me a good person?

Considering the fact that so much murder has been committed, today and throughout history, in the name of religion, why bother with G‑d?

Let’s just be good. Does it matter whether or not I believe in G‑d?


True goodness isn’t possible without faith in something bigger than you.

If I’m good just because I decide it’s the right thing to do, or just because I feel like being good, what happens when I change my mind? If I’m “in charge” of deciding what’s right and wrong, what happens when I decide it’s good to be bad, or if I come to the conclusion that certain people deserve to be treated with respect while others don’t deserve to live?

This is not just a hypothetical question.

Pre-Nazi Germany was not some Third World country. It was at the cutting edge, not only of technology and the sciences, but also of philosophy, human rights and animal rights. Mistreating your dog was outlawed. Yet the most advanced scientists and professors of ethics came to the horrible conclusion that Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals did not deserve to live. At the infamous meeting that determined the “Final Solution” of extermination of these people, the majority of those present held postgraduate degrees.

When I read about the Eichmann trials, what horrified me most were the “thoughtful” and calculated arguments. These monsters sincerely believed they were doing a service for the betterment of humanity by exterminating millions of innocent men, women and children.

All this helps us to understand the wording of the preamble of the American Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Why did the Founding Fathers find it necessary to include the words “created” and “Creator” in their declaration? Why not simply state that all men are equally considered as such by the people?

It is because they understood that rights endowed by society can also be taken away by society. The only path to a truly just society is one based on faith in the Creator of every life, and as such, where each life has absolute and equal value.

Is Religion Evil?

Now you may have a very valid question at this point: In our own time, we are privy to a new belief that suicide missions in the name of “Allah,” as a martyr for Jihad, means great reward on the “other side.” To be sure, violence in religion is not a new phenomenon. Religious persecution has been around as long as religion has. So if I must embrace faith to be truly good, how can I be sure my faith is not of the dangerous variety? How can I ensure my relationship with G‑d makes me a better person rather than the opposite?

The answer lies in a teaching of our sages: “Do not be as servants who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as servants who serve their master not for the sake of reward.”1

The Bible is filled with verses describing rewards for fulfilling G‑d’s commandments. However, Judaism says that the ultimate service of G‑d cannot be performed for the sake of reward, in this world or the next. Rather, it must be done for its own sake, without expecting anything in return.

If I’m being good because I believe it will get me something in return, I’m not truly being good at all. It’s just another form of selfishness, coupled with religious absolutism—a lethal combination. For when I want to do something for the sake of my own reward or redemption, there’s no way you’re getting in my way, even if it means that it’s the last thing either one of us does in this physical world.

However, if I choose to be good for no reward or payback, but simply because the Creator told me that this is what it means to be good, that’s real goodness. Once we remove our egos from the equation and we recognize goodness for what it is, much violence will be removed from our midst.

If you believe in a Creator, then you believe that this Creator cares for the world He/She/It created, including every creature that lives within it.

The terrorist doesn’t think about a Creator. He doesn’t believe in anything higher than getting reward.

Please see Judaism Without Reward?! from The Judaism