Being A Christian Does Not Make You Moral

As I have said in a previous post, we get a lot of comments about how we can’t be moral because we are atheists. So let’s discuss what makes a person moral.

To be clear, neither Withteeth or I would say that we are moral because we are atheists. We are moral for other reasons. To be moral requires more than a set of beliefs: it requires actions as well. Withteeth and I have thought deeply about our moral convictions, and we have gone out of our way to act on those convictions. Anyone who wishes to argue that we are not moral is either willfully ignoring what we have done that makes us moral, or they are under the impression that to be moral you merely have to hold a particular set of beliefs. I believe that most of those who comment on our blog are of the second set. For that reason, I’m going to talk about why being a Christian (since those comments have so far come exclusively from Christians) doesn’t make you moral.

Do you go to church every week, or several times a week? Are you in a Bible study? Do you pray to God? Do you evangelize the word or God? Do you go to all of your churches events? Do you volunteer at your church? Basically, are you the quintessential “good Christian”? That’s wonderful if that’s what you enjoy, but that doesn’t make you a good person. Why? Because being a Christian doesn’t mean being moral. To be a Christian all you have to do is accept certain beliefs. There may be some required actions (ie. baptism) to go along with those beliefs, but the requirements are very basic and do not require morality in order to accept them. You do not need to help the poor in order to accept Jesus Christ as your saviour. You do not need to be kind to others to accept the Bible as true (literally or metaphorically). And you do not need to donate to charity to go through all of the programs and ceremonies offered by your church. There are Christians who are moral, but there are also some who aren’t. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be moral if you’re a Christian, but it does mean that you can be a Christian and be immoral.

Likewise, you do not have to be a Christian to be moral. Many of the comments we get are along the lines of “you don’t think morality is objective, so…” or “you need to believe in God to…” when they say we aren’t moral. It is commonly accepted by these commenters that morality is objective. So lets pretend that it is. If morality is objective, does my belief that it is subjective make any difference at all? It shouldn’t. If morality is objective, then it should be built into the foundation of our existence. It would be expected that we would all share the same moral belief systems. There wouldn’t be different moral systems across different cultures. It would also be expected that living creatures in general would treat each better overall. It wouldn’t matter what I believed about morality, because how I treated people would not change. I’d have this objective morality too deeply ingrained into me to act differently. And freewill wouldn’t change anything because this morality would be a part of my very foundation. I wouldn’t have any freedom to do otherwise. The fact that you believe God gave us the freedom to choose wouldn’t change anything either. If we can choose to be immoral, then morality cannot be ingrained into us, so it cannot be objective. If you believe that I can choose to be moral, then you do not believe that morality is objective.

However, if morality is subjective, then you’d see different cultures with different moral systems. You’d see people within a particular culture disagreeing with certain parts of their cultures moral system. And you’d see people acting immorally. If morality is subjective, then you can have a god who lets us decide whether or not to be moral. And you can have followers of that god disagreeing with one another about what it means to be moral. But this also means that, regardless of whether or not this god exists, you can have people who do not agree with this god behaving morally. This is because we can think about what is moral. We can debate the moral implications of a given action. And we can adjust our moral codes to better fit our reality.

Either way, atheists can be moral and it is not your Christianity that makes you moral.

For further reading on what objective and subjective morality are and what they mean, here are some links:

5 Logical Fallacies, 6 videos.

I’m a fan of PBS Idea Channel and get a kick out of the serious for cover a wide range of topics. I highly recommend them for those who like to think a little be harder about video games, pop culture, media in many of it’s forms, amongst other related topics. Though I really like this latest video as it gives a handy resource for linking people to a number of common fallacies.  I suspect I have no shortage of opportunities to link to this video in the future.

Straw man Fallacy:

Ad Hominem Fallacy:

Black and White Fallacy:

Authority Fallacy:

No True Scotsman Fallacy:

Watch the playlist:

2500 followers wow!


Here is a big thank you to all our 2500 followers!

I’m really quite stunned we’ve gotten here so quickly!


Atheists Can’t Be Moral

We get a lot of comments on this blog along the lines of “atheists/you can’t be moral” so I thought I’d link to a well written post about why you shouldn’t say that. Seriously, there’s no way to not be rude when you’re telling someone you think they’re a bad person because of what they are.

Please, if you are one of those people who use this tired line and think it’s okay, read this post:

SoJo Cal

Once again, a reminder that SoJo Cal is in the process of being organized. This is a conference dedicated to discussing the intersection between freethought and social justice, namely LGBT rights and feminism. If you’re a feminist, a freethinker, or LGBT (or an ally to any of those groups), please share our Go Fund Me page. Of course, we’d appreciate it if anybody shared our page, but those are the three groups most represented by our conference.

If you’re in Calgary, please check out our Go Fund Me page as it has all the information about what will be happening.

We’re still sitting at $100 of the $5000 that we want to raise. Please share, and please donate if you can.

Mere Christianity Part 20

Chapter 9 in Mere Christianity is called “Charity.” I don’t have a whole lot to say on this chapter as it was quite short.

C.S. Lewis begins by saying “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did.” Actually, psychology suggests that we form our opinions of people before we’re even conscious of doing so. It also shows that negative impressions are more powerful than positive ones, so it’s hard to make yourself like someone after you decide that you dislike them. You cant simply make yourself like someone by acting as though you do.

He then says “If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.” I don’t think emotions work this way either. Where is the evidence to suggest that this is true?

And his final argument is “They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacturer feelings. Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.” That’s manufacturing feelings. It also sounds a bit like Pascal’s Wager to me. It makes no sense to try and “fake it till you make it” in this case.

Mere Christianity Part 19

Chapter 8 in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is “The Great Sin.” This chapter discusses the sin of pride.

Lewis begins by stating “The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit.” Pride and self-conceit are not the same things. Pride is “a feeling of elation or satisfaction at achievements or qualities or possessions etc. that do one credit.” Conceit is “a far-fetched comparison, esp. as a stylistic affectation.” You can have pride without being conceited.

He then claims that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil.” No, the devil became the devil because he disobeyed God. It can be said that pride led him to disobey God, but I’d say it was more likely love. “Pride leads to every other vice.” Prove it. Seriously, this is an extraordinary claim. Lewis would have to go through every vice, prove that it was in fact a vice, and then prove that it was caused by pride to make this claim correct. I could make it incorrect simply by pointing to one vice not caused by pride. For example: addiction is not caused by pride. Since addiction is seen as something to avoid, it is a vice. It’s caused by having a particular personality type that makes one more sensitive to becoming addicted. Nobody is proud of their addiction, at least not that I’m aware of.

Lewis goes on to argue “In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?'” Where is the evidence that this test works? How is it prideful to dislike being patronized or snubbed?  Those are very rude behaviours in themselves. I’d find it odd if even the most humble person was okay with them. That doesn’t signal pride, it signals that a person has been effectively taught societal moral beliefs. The dislike of being overlooked may be more accurate, but I’d still say your dislike of being overlooked says something else about you, namely that you are extroverted as opposed to introverted. As an introvert, I often try very hard to be overlooked. I doubt an extrovert would say the same.

He then states “Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive-is competitive by its very nature-while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.” Again, evidence?

According to Lewis, “It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.” I’m proud to be able t say that I am organizing a conference. But I know very well that I’m not going to be the best at it. There are others with far more experience than I have. I’ve already made mistakes, and I’m sure to make quite a few more. But I’m learning a skill that I’m hoping will be useful in the future. I’m doing something that I never thought I’d do, but it turns out to be something that I’d like to do more of. How, exactly, is that competitive?

He then argues “But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you.” I’m pretty sure he’s describing a narcissist, actually. That is a very special level of pride. And, just a side note, you can’t actually have what you don’t own taken from you. “Take” implies ownership. You do not own your partner. If they leave you, that’s their choice (unless they were kidnapped).

He claims that “10,000 pounds will give all the luxuries that any man can really enjoy.” Man I wish this were still true. Of course, without regaining a lot of the labour issues from the time.

Lewis says of pride “What makes a pretty girl spread misery wherever she goes by collecting admirers? Certainly not her sexual instinct: that kind of girl is often quite sexually frigid.” Wow. How sexist. First off, nobody can make you sexually or physically attracted to them. One can try by wearing certain clothes and applying certain products, but it’s your own brain that causes you to become attracted to the person. As such, an individual person has very little control over whether or not they collect admirers. The ones who can collect admirers usually don’t have to put much effort into it. Second, men really are not the only ones who have sex drives. Women like sex too. And third, we live in a society that tells women to suppress their sexual desires lest they be sluts, but if they do suppress them they are prudes. To say that a woman must be sexually frigid because she is pretty is perpetuating a very problematic belief.

He then argues “If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy.” Again, this sounds more like a narcissist than simply someone who is prideful.

And he states that “As long as you are proud you cannot know God.” If you can’t know God if you are proud, but all people suffer from the sin of pride, then how come Lewis keeps making assertions about knowing what God wants us to do?

Lewis says of those who are prideful “I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men.” How does Lewis know what other people are thinking, or the accuracy of their beliefs? Is he a mind-reader? Does he have some sort of special access to God’s knowledge that these other people don’t?

He claims “Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good-above all, that we are better than someone else-I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil.” So…whenever you feel good about yourself, it’s because of the devil? But God is the good guy? In that case, why worship God? He makes you feel bad and worthless, but the devil makes you feel good.

Then he goes on to say “The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself all together or see yourself as a small dirty object.” But God isn’t an abusive boyfriend at all. No, he loves you. He makes you hate yourself, but he loves you so it’s okay.

Lewis finished by stating that “The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature.” This right here is evidence that C.S. Lewis accepted evolution.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,557 other followers

%d bloggers like this: