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Can I be moral without religion? ["Can morality exist without religion?" June 3]
Can I be a "good" person and find my intrinsic value or a reason for living without a religious belief system or hereafter?
Yes. I can do these things, as do many others I know. The common denominator is enlightened self-interest, the ability to make decisions based on experience of what produces good results--that is, what works or is most satisfying or most enjoyable in the long run.
Being nice to people generally means I have nice friends and activities. Being honest and reliable means I can be trusted and given greater latitude. Being generous (within reason!) feels good.
Finding my personal passion in life--be it raising my kids, collecting campaign buttons, or helping clean up our rivers--gives me energy and fulfillment in life.
I get a huge head start on learning how to make these decisions well by growing up in a family and community that generally practice them.
It also helps to notice those of my choices that may have a short-term reward but for which I may pay a long-term price. I don't want a guilty conscience for something I'm not proud of. I don't want to have to hide anything I've done.
I have weak moments, slip-ups, impulsive bad moves. But I can learn, make amends, forgive myself, and resolve to try harder next time.
I'm quite moral, as are my family, friends, and the members of my spiritual community. I don't assume that self-labeled religious people are moral. It depends.