Moral Standards

First published: 25th June 2007

Can I remind Karen Rees (Letters, June 24) that Christianity has not provided a fixed moral standard. For much of the last 2000 years, "Good Christians" have kept slaves, and tortured and killed "heretics".

The differences between then and now in what was morallty acceptable on less violent matters are also profound: women were the property of their husbands; some races were seen and inherently inferior; education was restricted by race and sex; and the immorality of ursury was the plot foundation of Shakespear's "Merchant of Venice" - do you have credit cards? Were respected members of those communities really reading the same book that forms the foundation of Ms Rees morality?

The Bible can, and has, been interpreted in many ways, so it provides no absolute moral standard as Ms Rees imagines. Ms Rees asks for a moral standard to condemn the atheist Joseph Stalin as though being an atheist makes someone a mass murderer. Perhaps we should also recall Stalin's contemporary, Pope Pius XII, who refused to take a stand against Hitler, who had a warped version of Christianity for his followers. For a positive approach, take a look at the doctrine of Utilitarianism and the principle of `the greatest happiness of the greatest number', advocated by Jeremy Bentham, or the writings of many other moral philosophers and thinkers such as Bertrand Russell and George Bernard Shaw.