Is It Better to Be a Good Person Who Doesn’t Believe in God, Or a Bad Person Who Does?

There is a popular party game called “Would You Rather” that poses a dilemma in the form of a question. Usually both of the options offered are bad (would you rather be alone for the rest of your life or always surrounded by annoying people?) and one is forced to choose between the two.

Often the options offered are silly or unrealistic, but a listener called in to The Patrick Madrid Show with a “Would You Rather” that you may have actually wondered yourself. She explained that a friend asked her if it was better to be a good person who didn’t believe in God or a bad person who did believe in God.

Patrick responded, “Personally, I’ll take the latter. And here’s why. Because if you’re a good person who does not believe in God, that’s great. I mean, that’s nice. And you’re probably going to have a lot of friends and people who admire you, but you’re not going to go to heaven.”

“Jesus says, ‘He who believes and is baptized will go to heaven,'” Patrick pointed out. “So belief is a key component. Being nice is nice. But that won’t get you to heaven. But if you chose the latter, to be a sinner and yet you believe in God, at least you’ve got a chance then.”

Patrick explained that if you believe in God, then the chances of you accepting his free gift of grace and being saved in the end is higher. Your chances of going to heaven are high. But that might seem counter-intuitive. Why would a mean person who does mean things but is a believer have a higher chance of going to heaven than a nice person who does nice things without belief in God?

“The answer is that it has nothing to do with being nice,” Patrick said. “It has to do with, number one believing, and then following through on that belief, with God’s grace. To become a disciple of Jesus.”

“So do you see the logic in why I would choose the second option, not the first one?” he asked the listener. “If I could offer a third option I would like to be a good person who doesn’t believe in God, but then does believe in God. In other words, to have a conversion experience.”

“I presume that when you gave me the two choices, the built-in proviso was that you’ll be a good person but you’ll never believe in God. So then if that were the case, then I’ll take my chances with being a bad person, but believing in God for the reasons I mentioned. But if there’s the possibility of being a good person, and then believing in God, I’ll take that option if that’s available to me.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.