The Christian God's Relative Morality

Christians like to throw around a concept that I would like to reexamine today: absolute morality. These thoughts are my own, but this is probably something that has been addressed many times by more competent freethinkers than myself. At any rate....

Please, if you haven't already, take a gander at www.proofthatgodexists.org. The main topic of this little exercise is absolute morality. It's hard to get around the point that "Molesting Children for fun is Absolutely Morally Wrong"; that act is indeed atrocious, and I would agree that it is absolutely morally wrong. The exercise then bunches "moral law" together with laws of science, mathematics, and logic and asks if these laws are universal or individual. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But, play along....okay, these laws are all universal; furthermore, they do not change. Eureka! This proves not only that there is most certainly a god, but that the Christian god is that god! (I'm not quite sure how that connection is made, but hey.)

That is the mindset, sadly, of many Christians. But if they took the time to read their holy book, they would quickly see how their god's "absolute moral law" is....not so absolute.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29---If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

This is god's absolute moral law?

Christians will protest, "That law was to protect women of that time!" Again, I ask: This is god's absolute moral law?

Exodus 21:20-21---When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he will be punished. If, however, the slave survives a day or two, he will not be punished as the slave is his own property.

This is god's absolute moral law?

Christians will protest, "That was the Old Testament! It all changed when Jesus paid for our sins!!" Again, I ask: This is god's absolute moral law?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35---Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must remain in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in the church.

This is god's absolute moral law?

Luke 14:25-26---Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them, he said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple."

This is god's absolute moral law?

I am not interested in the excuses Christians bring to the conversation when confronted with scripture such as these (and there are a multitude more where these originate....from their holy book). All I see is that they claim that morality is absolute and that their god provided that absolute morality. But then he changed his absolute moral laws. To fit the times, of course. Why couldn't his absolute moral law include from the beginning that rape and slavery were absolutely wrong, that women were absolutely equal, and that hating your family and self was absolutely psychotic?

A final, only half-related thought: If god (of any flavor) was real and he/she/it/them did in fact have an absolute moral law, would that absolute moral law change in relation to god's wishes, desires, plan, etc....or would the absolute law never be changeable, even by god. For instance, if god decided that "molesting children for fun" was not absolutely morally wrong, would it no longer be absolutely morally wrong? If no---this would still be morally wrong, then god has no control over absolute morality....it exists with or without god. If yes---this would no longer be absolutely morally wrong, then there is no absolute morality as it CAN be changed by god (regardless if he would or not).

Any thoughts? (Hopefully some that are a bit more clear than my own....)

Views: 19

Comment by Reggie on October 26, 2010 at 1:28pm
I have been having a little discussion with a friend who is super conservative and religious and it has touched upon these subjects. Christians, I often hear, say that their God is eternal and unchanging and therefore you can always count on him. Yet, they then say that the God of the OT is no longer, that he is reformed and now kinder and gentler.

I asked my friend if he believes that he gets his morality from the Bible, that it wasn't something inherent to humans. Well, that is what he believed. I then asked when he was judging the morality of something, did he know it instantly, or did he have to reference a Bible verse or passage in his head and think about it.

The lack of condemnation of slavery along with instructions he has tried to blow off as a product of the times. But why, I asked, can't an eternal, all knowing, and benevolent God be immune to the societal trends of mere humans? Why, if slavery is wrong now (which he agrees is), wasn;t it wrong then and get a rebuke from God? Well, he sent me a link that had a lot of hand waving apologetics that boils down to two points. The first is that slavery wasn't all that bad back then. The second was that the Bible was meant as a guide to salvation, not a driver for societal change. Pretty weak stuff. So, I asked him if he thinks there are good forms of slavery. I have not heard back, yet (most of this has been via email).

I did inspire in him a desire to get to know the Bible better. I have since asked him for his opinion on the passages you outline above.

Bottomline is that apologetics for Christianity must do a lot of mental gymnastics and hand waving to justify atrocities, immoralities, contradictions, and all the other silliness that reside in their holy book. It is natural for humans to make up their minds about a belief and then spend their efforts defending or rationalizing it. It is just how we evolved. Hell, I still do it all the time and it take real effort to critically examine your position on anything, which is why we don't do so for most of our decisions. Natural Selection is unkind to indecisiveness.

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