Needless to say, students aren’t the only people who think this way. The attitude is deeply ingrained in almost all of our society’s opinion-forming institutions—universities, the media, courts, and the professions. In his fascinating new book, What We Can’t Not Know, J. Budziszewski explains why we cannot be good without God—why godless morality always fails.
One reason is that the first thing a person sees in the moral law is how far short he falls. We can’t escape the awareness of a debt we owe that exceeds anything we can pay. Now Christians know that on the cross, the debt has been paid. But in a secular worldview, there is no divine payment of the debt. What’s the result? People try not to think about their debt. And to avoid thinking about it, they refuse to look at the moral law; instead they make up their own, less demanding standards. It is called self-rationalization, something I know all about from my life before my conversion.
Godless morality is futile for another reason: Have you ever heard the saying, "Do the right thing, and let God take care of the consequences"? Christians can say this because we know that God is sovereign. But without faith in God, the saying makes no sense. Without God, we try to make up for adverse consequences ourselves, and we will end up, more often than not, "doing evil, so that good will result." This is the root from which the utilitarianism of Peter Singer and others springs.