40 Questions for Christians: Morality
I have returned to blogging!
I’ve decided to answer the questions on this hub, written by Thomas Swan. Dr. Swan has a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion. And his questions betray a very shallow understanding of Christianity. Let’s get to today’s batch.
When an atheist is kind and charitable out of the kindness of his heart, is his behavior more or less commendable than a religious man who does it because God instructed him to?
Neither. In the words of the apostle Paul:
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. (Rom 2:14-16)
When that atheist gives out of the kindness of his heart, he is doing what God would have wanted anyway because God is the one who wrote the commands on his heart, whether the atheist acknowledges it or not. The Christian and the atheist are on the same grounds when they perform an act of kindness. It isn’t your behavior that gets you to heaven, but your faith in Christ.
This question is also loaded. It assumes that a religious person doesn’t do anything out of the kindness of his heart; rather, he only obeys God for a potential reward in heaven. That’s a horribly bigoted way to look at religious people, not to mention patently offensive to all of the kind-hearted religious people out there.
If you are against the Crusades and the Inquisition, would you have been burned alive as a heretic during those events?
If your interpretation of a holy book causes you to condemn your ancestors for having a different interpretation, will your descendants condemn you in the same way?
This question makes no sense.
Rape wasn’t always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why `do not rape’ is not part of the Ten Commandments?
I’m sure that has nothing to do with it since the Ten Commandments were written almost 4000 years ago.
More to the point, in the words of the apostle Paul:
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:8-10, emphasis added)
If you can’t see that raping someone is against the whole concept of loving your neighbor as yourself, then nothing I say is going to make any difference whatsoever.
Do animals need `god-given’ morality to understand how to care for their young, co-operate within a pack, or feel anguish at the loss of a companion? Why do we?
I don’t know enough about that to make an informed comment. But I believe that God created everything (including the animals) and therefore if they do all of those things then it was written on their hearts to do so by God.
Much the same way morality is written on our hearts. Meaning, as previously mentioned, when an atheist does an act of charity he is only following the moral code God himself wrote into the heart of every human being. I don’t see why animals would be excluded from having that morality wired into them.
If organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make us civil?
So, did the chicken or the egg come first?
Seriously, though, this question seems to imply is that religion can’t exist without society, but society can exist without religion. The truth is probably more complex than the question implies, and much more complex than I have time for in this post. I might dive into this more deeply in a future post, if I get some requests for it in the comments. For now, I think that the question is a gross oversimplification of the relationship of religion to society and vice versa.