“Many religious people cling tenaciously to the belief that God provides an indispensable foundation for morality. However, when one probes this belief, it’s not always clear what the precise content of this belief is. There are at least a couple of distinct ways in which there can be a relationship between God and morality. (Later, I’ll analyze four different ways God may relate to morality, but to introduce the problem, I’ll just stick with two for now.) One way is a logical connection between God and Morality that is, God – and only God – can determine what’s right and what’s wrong. If this connection exists, it exists for both the believer and nonbeliever. In other words, morality is based on God’s commandments, whether or not atheists recognize this.
Another alleged relationship between God and morality is really a relationship between belief in God and moral behavior. Many maintain that belief in God motivates people to behave morally, or at least more morally than they would otherwise. Put simply, people need to believe in God to be good. Often, this alleged connection between belief in God and moral behavior is based on the presumption that people will not do the right thing unless they think there is an omniscient God who stands ready to punish them for misconduct and reward them or good behavior. This presumption – actually a prejudice – has been around for a long time. As we saw in chapter 2, Locke did not extend toleration to atheists because, in his view, they could not be trusted to keep promises. This prejudice is still prevalent in much of the world, including the United States. A 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center determined that a startling 57 percent of Americans think it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral. It could be worse. In countries such as Egypt, the percentage of individuals who believe moral conduct requires a belief in God exceeds 90 percent.”
–Ron Lindsay, The Necessity of Secularism The Necessity of Secularism pgs 74-75