[NOTE: Most of this article uses Christianity as the example, but the principles apply to all religions.]  

I have defended religion in that past, particularly Christianity’s belief in absolute principles and values. I’ve also criticised religion for promoting mysticism and religion, in general, as rationally impossible.

I’ve written before that I do not have any argument with religion or those who choose to embrace one, nor do I have any desire to change what others believe. There is one claim, however, that the religious make, that is not only wrong, but very dangerous, and in this age, very destructive. That is the claim that religion is the source and basis of moral principles and values.

How Christianity Makes Moral Principles Ineffective

A commandment or dictate is not a principle. Christians rightly teach that stealing, murder, and adultery are wrong, but provide no explanation for why they are wrong. They are wrong, according to Christians, because God says so.

Principles are not dictated, not declared by authority, and not determined by opinion, no matter how many agree with that opinion. Principles are determined by the nature of reality itself and are discovered. No one dictates the principles of chemistry, those principles are discovered by studying the nature of chemicals. The principles of physics (or any other science) are not determined by authority or consensus, they are discovered by studying the nature of physical existence.

The principles that determine what human beings must value and how they must live, if they are to live successfully and happily, are not dictated, they are discovered by studying the nature of the world in which human beings live and the requirements of their own natures as human beings.

Many of the moral and ethical teachings of religion, particularly Christianity, are similar to true moral principles, like the necessity of not stealing, not murdering, and not lying (cheating), but they are simply prohibitions with no explanation of why such things are wrong.

The article, “Principles,” explains what true moral principles are and beginning with the article, “Living Morally: The Practical Application Of Moral Principles: Must Choose,” those principles are explained. The article, “Religion and Absolute Moral Values: The Ten Commandments, For Example” explains why Christianity fails to provide any real moral principles.

Why Christian Ethics Fail

In the, “Religion and Absolute Moral Values,” article I explained why religious moral codes are not moral principles:

The moral systems of the religions all consist of, moral codes, which are nothing more than lists of prescriptions (things we must do) and proscriptions (things we must not do). While many of the things on these lists are things a moral individual would observe, no moral code can possibly be a true ethical system for at least three reasons:

  • Moral principles and a moral code are opposites and contradictory. Moral values are not commandments, they are principles which one uses to judge which actions are morally right in any given circumstance. Morality pertains only to choice. A commandment eliminates choice. Those who accept the authority of commandments (or the dictator who issues them) have removed themselves from the sphere of morality; they have exchanged choice for obedience, surrendering their ability to choose to the will of an authority.
  • A Code of any kind takes the place of judgment. Choices are made by applying principles to circumstances to judge the appropriateness of an action. Principles enable one to determine consequences and to base choices on the reality of which actions will produce which results. A moral code eliminates the very essence of moral choice, judgment, by dictating action in all circumstances without regard to consequences or reason.
  • A Code that does not cover every possible circumstance (no code can) provides no means of determining behavior in those cases not covered by the code. There will always be more situations in the life of any human being requiring choices with moral consequences than any code, however extensive, will ever cover. With only a moral code and no moral principles, the individual is left with no moral guidance whatsoever in most of the moral issues of life.

Christian Teaching Is Immoral

Christianity not only fails to provide any true moral principles, it propagates ideas that are immoral.

Perhaps the most evil verse in the Bible is I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (KJV)

Let me give you a good working definition of, “sin.” Sin is doing what you know is wrong. If you do what is morally wrong, but are not aware it is wrong, it is not “sin,” but since moral principles are based on reality, whether you know what you are doing is wrong or not, the consequences of doing wrong can never be evaded. You cannot do wrong and get away with it, whether you know it is wrong or not.

You may not believe it is wrong to spend your time on entertainment when that same time could be used to learn something you will need to know, but when you take the test or apply for the job you want and do not know what is required you will fail the test or not get the job. You may believe taking advantage of a girl for your own pleasure is not wrong but when she is pregnant or you contract an STD your ignorance will not change the fact.

You can defy the requirements of the nature of the world and your own nature, but you cannot escape the consequences of your choices, because reality never forgives any violation of the truth.

The belief that one can do wrong and be forgiven leads countless individuals to endless evil acts which they feel free to engage in, because they believe they will be, “forgiven.” This lie is so strongly held that in spite of evidence they see every day of the consequences of immorality, their irrational faith allows them to continue to practice their self-destructive ways without any sense of the peril they are in.

Christianity Discourages A Moral Life

Christianity teaches that living a completely moral life is impossible. Except for a rare few Christians who follow the teaching of Charles Finney, most Christians teach and believe it is impossible to live without “sin.”

Remember that the working definition of “sin” is, “doing what you know is wrong.” Now let me give you a working definition of the, “morally wrong.” Since moral or ethical principles are determined by the nature of reality and our own nature as human beings, the morally wrong is whatever is in defiance of reality, that is, whatever we choose that results in our failure as human beings to achieve success and happiness, which is self-harmful and self-destruction.

It is the Christian view that no one can live without sin that spawns such evil ideas as, “nobody is perfect,” as an excuse for human failure, or the equally evil idea that doing wrong is excusable because, “it’s only human.”

This odd view that moral perfection is impossible to achieve discourages one from even attempting to live by moral principles. It is based on the unrealistic Christian view of morality. True moral principles are determined by reality and are not only realistic, but absolutely necessary to individual human success and happiness. Every human thought and act must be consciously chosen. There is nothing preventing any human being, at every moment of their life from choosing and doing what they know is morally right, that is, from doing what they know will benefit their life and not destroy it.

Christians claim to be opposed to sin, their own version of sin, not true morality, but their beliefs make that opposition a hollow one. They not only believe it is impossible to not sin, they believe that ultimately it does not matter. Their doctrine of forgiveness and their belief that no matter how evil one is, they can be forgiven means even the consequences of immorality do not matter, because it will all be taken away in the next life, and everything will be fine, no matter what they do.

Christianity Inhibits Ambition

Why struggle to live without sin or try so hard in this life when you are bound to fail and it will all be forgiven anyway? Life is hard when everything has to earned by one’s own effort. Just do enough to make it through this life and try to be a good Christian and you will be rewarded with an eternal life where no one has to work and everything is provided. It is difficult to really embrace work as a virtue when one’s highest ideal is to live in perpetual indolence.

The Christian belief in miracles is a gross superstition and denial of reality, but it’s practical affect is to discourage the moral necessity to work to achieve what is good. Why work for something when you can pray for it? The belief that one’s success and happiness in life is a “gift from God,” and not the reward of moral achievement can only produce a life of failure and unhappiness.

Christianity Encourages Immorality

True moral principles are not social and only pertain to individual choice, but moral principles do determine how an individual relates to other individuals. In the “Living Morally,” article, “Right Relationships,” the moral relationship between individuals is described, which I’ll state here as simply, no human being has the moral prerogative to interfere in any other individuals life, ever.

Christianity not only denies this moral principle but demands that it be violated, that Christians do all they can to influence what others believe and do. It is all couched in sentimental terms of love and concern for others, but stripped of that sentimentality it is nothing but intrusive meddling in others lives.

The amount of evil Christian meddling in the lives of others has caused is impossible to measure from attempting to control what others believe and how they live their lives to their use of the power of government to force their own views on others.

Christianity Promotes War

There is one indictment of Christianity that can neither be justified or excused which is their insatiable love of war. The article, “American’s Lust for War,” (2010), describes how Christians promote war and support American military adventurism and encourage young people to be part of the wholesale slaughter of human beings and wanton vicious destruction of property.

War, the most evil of all human enterprises, is despised by all truly moral individuals, an identification to which no war supporting Christian is entitled.