The Myth of Christian Morality

Christians like to make the claim that atheists can’t be good moral people because they do not believe in a god or some kind of afterlife reward or punishment. This claim is utterly false. A belief in god is not needed in order to respect the social contract. The social contract is a set of unwritten rules(some of the rules are written in the ten commandments) that members in our society generally follow because it is what’s best for everyone. Things like not stealing, raping (a heinous crime that is suspiciously missing from the ten commandments), or killing people are all part of the social contract. The golden rule of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” sums up the social contract nicely. Religion is not needed to enforce this, in fact religion does little to enforce it.

The threat of eternal damnation or the promise of an eternity in paradise is not an effective way to control human behavior. The reason for this is that it isn’t immediate. When I believed in god I wasn’t worried about it because dealing with god’s anger was something I wouldn’t have to worry about for fifty or sixty years, plus as long as I said “Sorry god, I screwed up”, before I died everything would be okay. If I wanted to I could have gone out and raped and killed thirty-seven eight year old girls and as long as I told Jesus sorry, I would get the eternal reward and no punishment. But here on Earth, I can receive immediate punishment, from my fellow citizens, right now.

If I walk into a building with a gun and open fire, when the police catch me, I will go to jail immediately, not to mention I have to live with the knowledge that I ended other people’s lives. That is more of a deterrent than maybe, possibly, feeling the wrath of god when I die, if I don’t ask for forgiveness beforehand. The human desire for forgiveness is likely why christianity has spread over so much of the world. Feeling like god has forgiven us, allows us to clear our consciences. We are no longer responsible to ourselves or our fellow man, only to an absent authority figure who will forgive us of even the most horrible things. Members of the mafia are famously catholic, these criminals do horrible, horrible things and then go to church and confess and they are forgiven by their god and someday they will get their ultimate prize. They don’t learn their lesson. They aren’t told not to do it again, they walk out of the church and go back to committing the same crimes and repeat the process all over again.

Perhaps, if we were all more concerned with our responsibility to our species and it’s propagation, like every other animal on the planet, we would think twice before doing something that would hurt someone else. Perhaps we would be less likely to send our young people to war, if we didn’t think they would get to go to heaven if they die. Maybe if we all knew that this was our only life, there aren’t any do-overs, and we are only responsible to ourselves and our communities, we would be more inclined to love than to hate, to heal than to hurt, to help than to shun. Maybe, just maybe, we could make the world a better place.


3 responses to “The Myth of Christian Morality

  1. Unfortunately too many people make two incorrect assumptions about Christians:

    1)Being a Christian makes you a good person
    2)Being a Christian gives you an excuse to do bad things and not pay for them.

    For the first one, there are those that claim to be Christians because they were raised that way. Then there are those that claim to be Christians because they go to church every Sunday, or even the occasional Sunday. Finally, there are those that say they are Christians because they asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins, past present and future, and to lead them in their new spiritual lives. Only the last example are true Christians. Even then, during times of trouble, peer pressure, or just being mad about something, a born-again Christian can fall away and do any of the things that a lost person can. The fact is, placing your trust in Jesus and letting Him lead you in life is what causes a person to do good, but just because there are Christians that do evil things isn’t a reason to deny Christ. I was a sinner before I was saved, and I’ll be a sinner until the second that I die. What makes me different is that I know that Jesus took the penalty of each and every one of my sins, and knowing that makes me want to sin less and to do more good things. Imagine if you committed a crime, but rather than letting you be thrown in jail, your dad loved you so much that he took the blame and did the time. You probably wouldn’t want to commit any more crimes, because although you don’t have to pay the penalty anymore, a person you love more than anything has to pay for it. That’s how it is with born-again Christians.

    As for the second note, Being a Christian gives you an excuse to do bad things and not pay for them, I think that I touched on that enough on the section above.

  2. But you believe that Jesus has already suffered for you, not just you but for all christians, how does that make you not want to sin? He won’t have to suffer again. That’s different than my dad going to jail for me, as my dad will actually suffer for me now rather than 2000 years ago. I’m not making assumptions about christians here, I was one for a long time, and most of my family currently are. Christianity is an easy out for people who have done wrong. What punishment does a christian receive from god if he does something bad but asks for forgiveness?

  3. “Christians like to make the claim that atheists can’t be good moral people because they do not believe in a god or some kind of afterlife reward or punishment. This claim is utterly false.”

    RAmen. Utterly false. We atheists aren’t motivated to do good by promises of reward or threats of punishment, yet we have been found doing good anyway.

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