9/27/2013 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S. ~
A few days ago, I phoned my atheist friend and asked, “Has atheism anything to do with morality?” His answer was, “Of course not.” But I already knew that. It was the next question that I had thought about: Does Christianity have anything to do with morality? Since we didn’t have much time to spare, our discussion was limited, but a brief citing of examples of immorality being committed in the past and present was a good beginning for further discussions.
Atheism is not a moral issue. Atheism is merely a declaration that one doesn’t believe in gods. My friend tells me that believers have made this a moral issue: clergy preach that without belief in a god, or God watching and judging over one's actions, one will not be moral. But this is pure propaganda. There is no evidence I know of personally, or probably the reader either, and no evidence in studies that shows the Christian to be any better or worse than the godless. The godless just don't have any backing of religion to do immoral acts.
What is morality but rules regarding the relationships between people? As it was so well put, if there is only one person on an island, there is no need for moral rules. Immediately, morality comes to mind when discussing mature individuals commonly consenting to their relationships. (Some will argue that there is a need for morality in the relationship between human and animals on the island. That, we won’t get into.)
What describes Christianity, what distinguishes it as “Christian” from other religions? We can say with certainty that this religion‘s dogmas do: Belief in a creator god who becomes a human being, dies a sacrificial death, comes back from the death state, and that because of these actions mankind is redeemed from the consequences of opposing the god.
Furthermore, that this god is and will be all-forgiving, so that no matter what evil actions believers may do, they will receive forgiveness merely by repenting .There is no requirement to make material or psychological restitution to those harmed by the penitent. (When I was raised in the Catholic faith, restitution, according to clergy, could be made by contributing the amount stolen from another, “to the church.”) Furthermore, such forgiveness entails belief in these dogmas in order to receive an eternal life of bliss after death. What have any of these beliefs to do with morality?
If you want to dispute this deﬁnition of what Christianity is about, consider that the Catholic church never excommunicated Hitler, and that churches conduct funeral services for maﬁa leaders, murderers, gangsters, drug lords, etc. The emphasis is on the faith of the deceased, not the immorality.
If an atheist wants to get into a debate about morality with a Christian , notice that the Christian will start with something like, “Oh you don't believe in anything,” as if that had anything to do with the subject. (Note that any faith will do, even belief in a monkey god, or a sperm-ﬁlled God of Mormonism watching your actions.) From that point, the process of denigrating the atheist begins, leading to a dismissal of any possibility of discussing the issue. Even if the Christian senses the atheist is right, the believer dismisses the evidence. Nothing is said about belief in itself as being no guarantee at all of moral behavior, nor that beliefs can and do justify immoral behavior. Nothing is discussed about religious beliefs in regard to reality, of how individuals will stand and make passionate declarations of faith, and be hypocrites. Faith is no guarantee of morality. But it is taught to be.
I remember blurting out to my wife one day, “I’m not interested in theology, but morality.” In the mind of the believer, they are one and the same. There are big differences. Morality involves human relationships through actions; but if you look at the God of Christianity, its frequent demands are for humans to harm and kill each other and to deny human rights. Beliefs only too often override morality, and are justified by faith. I do not know of any believer who is appalled by the genocides in the bible, for example.
Faith is placed on a pedestal in societies, as the glue that holds them together, guaranteeing order. As long as the populace continues to believe what the dominant religion preaches, all will be well, and Christians will vehemently demand their right to the tyranny of the majority. This may be their faith, but the faith is unfair and degrading of those who disagree with them.
But, if you want to discuss immoral actions, talk to those who have been the victims: homosexuals, nonbelievers, Afro-Americans, children abused by clerical authority ﬁgures (covered up by clerical authorities over them), women who are having their rights stripped away from them because of religious righteousness, etc. Do not talk of morality to theologians who are well-set financially and socially and will rationalize injustice in the name of God's mercy and wisdom. Talk to those who have been the “beneficiaries” of the actions of good people doing bad things to them with good intentions, such as those “beneficiaries” of “reparative therapy.” And what of the good Christians with good intentions who vote for candidates who will enforce the cutting back of welfare benefits to those who are struggling to survive, because some among them exploit the system. Surely, denying help to the most needy is immoral.
Why is Christian knee-jerk outrage raised whenever prayers or sectarian displays on public property are denied because they violate the separation of state and church, and not when the objectors are persecuted and threatened with physical harm because they pointed this out?
Why should atheists be put in a position of defending themselves against the charge that they are not moral when Christianity’s dogmas ,like atheism, are not moral positions? Should not Christianity be defending its claims to being moral, then?
This may be their faith, but the faith is unfair and degrading of those who disagree with them.
If, as my friend and I agree, the propaganda that a God or gods watching one’s actions is an indication the individual will act morally were true, then the evidence would prove this; but, because actions speak louder than words, we know this is not so. We have too many examples , not the least of which is the enslavement of minorities, and beatings of slaves, the infidelities of spouses (even of those who preach from the pulpits), and the lying and cheating and malicious gossip amongst the believers. And what of the raping of children, even in church buildings? Tell me that the perpetrators actually believe an all-seeing deity is watching them. Every one of them works to protect and promote the institution, above everything else.
Perhaps this rant has led you to the conclusion that the writer is too emotional for an atheist who believes not in deities nor any supernatural claims. Why care, since, after all, most people object to immorality? Well, this is a problem because those in Christianity do not want to hear from others outside the box, because the emotions and opinions they share with others of the same mind and feelings are the only ones that count. They are getting them from God, so to speak. It is one hell of a thick castle wall they have surrounded themselves with, and it not only keeps me out, but them in. And even good people with good intentions are sometimes doing irreparable damage to others, directly or through their representatives of all stripes.
As an atheist, I am not perfect. But I don’t want to be “not perfect but forgiven,” in the sense that whatever I do will be forgiven, over and over again. Such forgiveness would make me a spoiled brat who never learns because he knows he can get away with it. All he has to do is suck up to his transparent deity. This encourages immorality.
So, yes, we all have strong feelings, and I admit my rants can bring them out of others. But, like atheism, feelings are neither moral nor immoral. I think that Christianity is all about feelings milked to the most extreme exploitation by Christianity’s promoters. All those exalted feelings, together in worship, include the worship of opinions and feelings themselves. I am reminded, every time I switch to an evangelical TV channel, of the Nuremburg rallies, of mobs, and planes flying into skyscrapers; feelings conquering rationality and morality.
Is Christianity a moral position entitled to bully those who disagree with it? Sorry, there’s no forgiveness for the actions resulting from that attitude.