Skip to main content

The Problem with Morality

By Wertbag ~ 

Many apologists will quote several bible verses where it says that God wrote His moral code on our hearts. Verses such as Hebrews 8:10
"This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."
or Romans 2:14-16 
"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus"
seem to say this is the case, although there are Christians who read this as metaphor rather than fact.

The problem with this often-repeated idea that we have morals on our hearts, is that the apologist is unable to find a single sin for which there is universal condemnation. Morals change over time and by culture, adapting to societies changing sensibilities rather than being set in stone as these quotes would have you believe. You would think something obvious like killing would be a straightforward choice for a moral code, and yet even this is not universal. There are cannibalistic tribes who are raised to believe that eating people is okay, and it seems that as long as you are taught this from birth you will be willing to accept it and partake. There were ancient colosseums and gladiator games, horrific public executions by wild animal or warrior societies that deemed the weak unworthy of life. In ancient Japan a Samurai could cut down a peasant for any perceived slight to their honour, with no justification required. There were many cases of human sacrifice, especially using enemy soldiers captured in battle, and in some cases the consuming of the enemy's flesh to humiliate or take their strength.

None of these groups perceived their own actions as evil, they justified them in many ways and continued to carry out these actions for centuries which would be abhorrent to modern western morals.

Other crimes like rape and theft only apply if the person being harmed has any rights, and rights are never guaranteed. Women were often given in marriage against their will, no consent required for their new husband to do as he pleased. You also have cultures with a caste system, where one group within the population is deemed lesser or even sub-human and have little to no rights compared to the rest of society. Stealing from such a group, or raping someone who doesn't have human status, is viewed as not a problem. It is only our outside view looking at such things with a western upbringing, that the activities are horrific to us, but if we were brought up in such a culture, taught from birth that such a thing is normal, then it is likely we would view the world in a very different way.

A few centuries ago, reading the wrong bible, or following it in the wrong manner was enough to get you executed by other Christians. Did those Christians not have God's moral law written on their hearts? Or did He approve of such brutality? When Christians massacre Christians are we to think the killers were wrong and the victims had God's law right (but obviously not His protection) or were the killers right and successful because God makes everything happen as He wills? The inquisition is now looked on as a horrific organisation, but in its time was supported by large numbers of Christians. Did all those thousands of people have morals on their hearts that lead them to think the inquisition and burning people alive was moral or were the morals of those days wrong and our modern morals correct because they are ours and therefore correct?

Christians will say God's laws are unchanging and the ultimate good, that is how they can claim they are objective morals. And yet Christians will also say all of the OT laws have passed away and were only laws that were right for that time. So, God's unchanging laws, changed. A crime that was so horrific as to be worthy of the death penalty, like breaking the Sabbath, is now considered of no concern to the majority of Christians. A law that God Himself put in place and set the ultimate punishment for a breach, is now ignored because it conflicts with our modern morals. There was no problem in ancient days seeing the slavery in the bible as normal, as it was practiced in almost all cultures. It is only in modern times, as our morals have changed and we start seeing slavery as evil, that the apologists have to work hard to reinterpret and rework the bible to keep it matching our modern view. Did the hundreds of other cultures with slavery not have God's morals on their hearts? Did the Christians who ran Europe for a thousand years not have God's moral code?

If Christians will say the OT laws have passed away, then where do we find the new set of God's objective laws? There are over 600 laws mentioned in the OT, and no revision in the NT to clarify which are still to be followed. Jesus said, "For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.", which should say the objective, unchanging morals of the God are the morals as portrayed in the OT, but those are so abhorrent to our modern sensibilities that no Christian can accept what Jesus said.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net