Three points with regard to the current discussion on the need for God in order to have morality.
1. The Western scriptures state (Genesis 3:22) that people know good and evil just as God does. Accordingly the religionist must admit that our moral nature, i.e., our ability to discern right and wrong in thinking about our actions, is independent of our knowledge of God.
2. The great moral contribution of Jesus was (a) the recognition of the Golden Rule as the supreme standard for discerning good and evil in social interaction; and (b) the expansion of ones society to include all persons, even enemies.
3. Interestingly enough (as Immanuel Kant noted) even though a Golden Rule must be considered as inane by the scientific community, nevertheless all people, including scientists, are so affected by such a rule that they cannot be thoroughly happy with themselves when conscious of a violation. As a result the atheist, if he or she is thorough and consistent in thought, must insist upon the existence of a Supreme Moral Judge and of an immortal soul to justify such an otherwise inexplicable, moral compulsion.
Concerning Adolf Hitler as the icon of evil, it is counterproductive morally to consider evil quantitatively as though Hitler were millions of times more evil than a murderer of one, or even of someone merely desiring to murder but too frightened actually to do so. Evil has to do with a willingness to use other persons as pawns, and not with the actual deeds themselves. Hitler would have been just as evil if he had never come into a power commensurate with his desires; but the difference would be that only God and Hitler would have known of his hidden bent to evil. Thus many of us are just as evil as Hitler, but we dont know it because we have not had an opportunity to show it and thus to see it in ourselves.*
[* This final paragraph was not published in the newspaper.]