Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Moral Responsibility vs Christianity part 2

1. The most immediate way in which Christianity eliminates moral responsibility, is by immediately elevating God and the Bible as the ultimate moral authorities. Like in any other theistic religion or cult, the doctrines are claimed to be the ultimate, or even sole, path to a moral life. Any human reasoning or means of support is comparatively insignificant, and people who do not follow the doctrines are morally deficient by definition.

From a theological standpoint, God is Creator of all, and is assumed to be in total control of its creation - he can kill it, wipe it out, with no negative judgment passed upon this whatsoever. If humans can pass any moral judgment at all, it would be on extremes such as genocide and mass murder, and yet Christians do not even allow this. In essence, within the Christian worldview, no human morality, however justified, can gain the credibility of God's subjective will.

The effect of this is to both undermine the individual's natural desire for moral autonomy, and to turn the individual's perspective towards the absolutist approach of Christianity.

Couple with this the fact that many conversions happen when a person "fills a hole" in his life or "turns his life around", and projects his personal gains on his newfound religion. This is a common psychological phenomenon, and happens towards all sorts of cults, religions or hobbies, but in the case of conversion to religion it reinfoces the idea that moral autonomy ("the persno I let myself be") is inferior to moral submission ("the person Jesus made me into").

2. Another fundamental and motivating Christian belief is the belief in the afterlife. Ironically, Christians see such a belief as a boon to responsibility, under the pretense that they are forced to be responsible by the threat of eternal repercussions. However, this is wholly inapplicable to most sects of Christianity, which believe that man is saved by belief alone and not by deed (basically ignoring the question of obedience by stating that a saved person will naturally desire to be obedient).

It has been pointed out many times that belief in the afterlife is in fact one of the most dangerously amoral beliefs there are. Such a belief is the most effective value-destroyer there is : if this material life is only a dress rehearsal, a test, a stepping stone to the infinite value of salvation and eternal life, then any horrific action can be justified by religious motivations. This point has been made eloquently by people such as Richard Dawkins :

If death is final, a rational agent can be expected to value his life highly and be reluctant to risk it. This makes the world a safer place, just as a plane is safer if its hijacker wants to survive. At the other extreme, if a significant number of people convince themselves, or are convinced by their priests, that a martyr's death is equivalent to pressing the hyperspace button and zooming through a wormhole to another universe, it can make the world a very dangerous place.

By eliminating the moral weight and fear of death, it is precisely moral responsibility which is eliminated.

Furthermore, the belief that salvation can only be obtained by belief, and that any crime can be "forgiven", means that the individual is no longer accountable for his actions - not to himself and his conscience, to others, to nature or to God. Religion, therefore, offers the ultimate illusory temptation : total criminal, hedonistic freedom followed by eternal bliss. Christian salvation is the dream of the irresponsible.

Also see Aaron's blog Killing the Afterlife for more on the nonsense of believing in the afterlife.

Continue on to part 3.

Post a Comment


At 2/09/2006 9:11 PM, Blogger Mike declaimed...

Have you ever discussed why so many Christians are in fact good and moral people?

At 2/09/2006 9:48 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Good question. I have addressed part of this in my articles on moral development, which every normal human being goes through, and how religion blankets that. So while I haven't written an entry on that topic specifically, you can already see the answer within the model.

At 2/09/2006 10:28 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...


Basically, they're good people in spite of their Christianity.

At 2/10/2006 8:35 AM, Blogger Vic declaimed...

Since when is following rules out of pure self-interest 'moral' or 'good'?

At 2/10/2006 3:26 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Since when is following rules out of pure self-interest 'moral' or 'good'?"

What a silly question. Everyone acts on "self-interest".

At 2/10/2006 8:13 PM, Blogger Vic declaimed...

You are right, Francois - I was unclear. I should have clarified the christian's self-interest as 'not wanting to burn in hell' - and, to me, simple pain avoidance hardly seems to make a moral system. Or is there something I'm missing?

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