Christianity doesn’t even meet its own moral standards
Following on from my recent post about how Christianity falls into moral relativism, I was confronted with another well-worn apologist gambit that I was intending to address anyway – the claim that atheists don’t have any objective basis for morality, and therefore have no right to criticise Christianity. This is a bit different, as it rests on a claim about the subjectivity of atheism, not the objectivity of Christianity, so I thought it would be worth dealing with it separately.
In fact, for the sake of argument, I’m going to accept that atheism has no objective basis for morality, but Christianity does. I think I’ve pretty effectively demonstrated that this isn’t true, but you either agree or not, and there’s no point in rehashing those points. Even accepting these points, an atheist has a powerful response, by appealing not to his own morality, but Christianity’s.
There’s plenty of material available to demonstrate a lack of consistency between different parts of the Bible, so to narrow it down, I’m going to refer to just one short passage and point out how it ends up accidentally condemning God Himself. And it’s hardly an obscure passage – you probably know it well, if you’ve ever been to a church wedding.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs
God’s meant to be a God of love, so let’s pick a few examples and see how He measures up to these standards. First stop, Exodus 23:13:
Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips
Is it just me who thinks that sounds like a jealous lover? More than a little tension between this verse and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Then, in Deuteronomy 23:2-3, we see just how much God forgives:
No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation. No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation.
He’s not even prepared to forgive you for what your great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents did. How’s that for keeping no record? Next, in Deuteronomy 20:16-17, God shows how kind and merciful He is:
However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the LORD your God has commanded you.
In verse 19, He even seems to value trees more than people – obviously, you’re going to kill all the people, but if you cut down the trees you’ll be wasting fruit, and that would just be crazy! But best of all, Nahum 1:2 sums up in a single verse why God doesn’t meet Paul’s standards:
No comment needed. And there’s more where that came from. I don’t need to establish my own source of morality to criticise Christianity, because God’s actions are condemned by His own book. In order to make the claim that Christianity offers a clear moral code, you must simultaneously uphold both God’s actions and St Paul’s criticism of the traits He shows. Either God doesn’t even meet His own moral standards, or parts of the Bible are subordinate, which comes back to the subjective question of which ones, and how you tell.
It’s bad enough being told that my morality is inferior just because I don’t claim the authority of an invisible being to back it up, but the self-defeating nature of this “objective” morality is just ridiculous.