June 16, 2009

This is Christian Morality?

English: Painting of Moravian spiritual leader...
Painting of Moravian spiritual leader Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf, 1727-1752. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the most pervasive myths about atheism is that atheists are immoral because gods are somehow required for good behavior. Of course, the person making such an accusation tends to have a particular god in mind and to disqualify all others without any justification. I think I'll steer clear of that tangent for now. Instead, I'd like to stick with the idea that a particular god - or at least belief in a particular god - is the only thing standing between a person and bad behavior. This appears to be a core tenet of the sort of Christian "morality" practiced by fundamentalists and extremists.

When a Christian makes the claim that atheists are necessarily immoral because of their lack of belief in the Christian's preferred god, the atheist typically retorts by asking if god-belief is the only thing preventing the Christian from running wild in the streets. Some Christians will answer in the affirmative; others will recognize the worrisome implications of this and activate their reality-distortion field to escape the question.

Once in awhile, a Christian making such a claim might experience a moment of terrifying honesty. Austin Cline reports on just such an occurrence from Jeff Allen who tweeted the following (including the spelling error):
Dear liberals and athiests, My religion is the only thing that keeps me from killing you, are you sure you want me to give it up? #tcot
If you believe Mr. Allen, it appears that he would be a murderer without his god-belief. I agree completely with Austin when he says:
If the only thing preventing Jeff Allen from going on a psychotic killing spree is his religion, then perhaps everyone else is better off if he keeps his religion. Contrary to what Allen might imagine, though, he's hardly offering a positive argument in defense of religion.
I should also note that Jeff Allen left the following comment on Austin's blog:
I am only commenting to say that whoever tweeted that is not me. I am a Christ follower who couldn’t disagree with the tweeter in this article more. May God have mercy on his soul. Blessings to all you skeptics.
Maybe someone hijacked his Twitter account. Then again, maybe he was temporarily possessed by demons. In the world of fundamentalist Christians, one never knows for sure.