In this post, I am going to argue that Christianity is morally inferior to both Islam and atheism. Christianity purports to answer moral questions, but instead offers a loophole that bypasses and excuses all those possible answers to morality. Islam, at least, does have a clear moral message and lacks any obvious subversion of its own system. Atheism also surpasses Christianity in moral systems in that it does not purport to answer moral questions, which at least leaves room for intellectual progress.
There is something obvious but important to point out. Religious moral ideas only work if the God actually exists; there must be a judgemental God who somehow dictatorially defines good and bad. If that isn’t the actual case, then holding to a religious moral standard is just a theatre. Based on the evidence, Christianity and Islam are about equally likely to be right (with a slight advantage to Islam, as Mohammed is better documented than Jesus). But, as all religions have about equal evidence in their favour, it’s more likely that neither Christianity or Islam are the right religion (even if a religion is true).
In this post, I shall subvert entirely the question of whether a dictatorially defined morality is a morality at all. Although, that one has to entirely surrender all their thoughts on what might be moral and instead obey the interpreted (and translated) definition by fiat, doesn’t seem to be a morality.
In a previous post, I argued that Christianity is only socially acceptable because Humanist and Enlightenment ideals have clipped and diluted it. However, the slave-keeping and stoning of unruly children and adulterers is not my point here. If I were a respectable person, acting as a cornerstone of society, who never killed or lied, nor raped or abused a child (holding myself to a higher moral standard than the Bible does), but I don’t believe, where do I go? The Bible is quite clear that I only go to Heaven―i.e. I’ve only been good―if I accept Jesus’ death as my redemption.
There are many apologists who argue that God holds us to an impossible standard, so doing goodness can never be enough in of itself to get into Heaven. So, if we reverse the thought experiment above, what happens then? Imagine I am a murderous, dishonest and abusive person, but I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Where am I going then? I’ve certainly not seen a Christian argue, with chapter and verse, that such a person is going to Hell. I’ve seen it asserted, but every time I get an answer with chapter and verse, it supports that person going to Heaven.
And that there is precisely the catastrophic failure of Christian morality. The child-abuse and slavery can be justified by saying humans have no intellectual access to what is moral and that what the Bible mandates and condones is, in fact, moral. It’s a poor argument, as human conversation is how we overthrew slavery after having it institutionalised, so clearly humans have some access to moral knowledge. However, it could be argued that an actual moral system could be observed. But, despite all the moral imperatives and implicit commands and the impossible standard, the whole system is undermined by a loophole. The expectation of perfection and unforgiving imperatives to thought crimes are all swept under the rug of human sacrifice.
Islam is superior to this. Despite Islam teaching brutal things and ultimately being more directly eschatological than Christianity, at least its agenda is clear. Jihad is highly unpalatable and there are many other aspects of Islam that are more violent and brutal than Christianity. But, the moral system is consistent. It gives an actual, sensible (although very poor) answer to the moral questions. And all the apparent immoral things it mandates are not really ‘immoral’ through the lens of Islam, just unpalatable to human sensibilities. Christianity not only also offers unpalatable imperatives and laws, but does not give a clear answer to the questions of morality.
Christianity and Islam also have moral contradictions in them. But the Koran includes a rule on how to abrogate (‘tafsir’) in the case of a contradiction: that which is written later in the Koran takes precedent. Presumably, following a logic that Mohammed became more enlightened as he lived on. Christianity offers nothing of the sort, except Jesus offering things that are more palatable. But nothing in the Bible can explain how ‘palatable’ can equate to ‘good’.
It appears, on its surface, Christianity’s abject failure to offer a moral system or even imperatives would make atheism and Christianity level. Christianity’s answer to moral questions is undermined by its own loophole to the point it is as if Christianity offers no answer at all. Atheism, also, offers no answer to moral questions. But, atheism doesn’t purport to answer moral questions. And that difference is profound. Because Christianity purports to offer an answer but doesn’t (or offers an answer so confused as to allow everything) it blocks the conversation to find an answer that actually works. Atheism doesn’t purport to answer moral questions, so it leaves a freedom for other discussions for how we should behave in society, what we will accept, liberties and security.
There have been failings in secular political systems. That seems obvious. If you ever want to argue that, you need to be clear about what the secular failing was. Nazism, for example, was populated by Christians and propagated on Christian rhetoric. You need to articulate exactly what the problem was. But the simple fact that atheism permits a conversation is not a problem, it’s the characteristic that gives it superiority over Christianity.