When folks say atheists lack the moral foundation provided by Christianity, I always point to working on Sunday. The Bible condems it, one of the Ten Commandments is devoted to it and it’s been preached against since from day one. Then, it became morally OK.
To see how morally wrong it was, hear about Lyman Beecher, a nationally known preacher in mid 1800′s.
For Beecher, the most important moral issue confronting America was not slavery, or…wages and working conditions, but the shocking disregard for observance of the Sabbath. The sabbath…was nothing less than ”the great sun of the moral world…the cord by which heaven holds up nations from the yawning gulf of corruption and ruin.”*
At the time he gave some assembled preachers that message, he saw a moral crisis, Sunday mail delivery by the government itself. The Post Office provided some Sunday mail service because it was helpful to businesses and to rural people who came into town only on Sunday.
Preacher Beecher embarked on a nationwide campaign to stop this immoral practice. But, in spite of “the word of God”, the majority liked Sunday mail service too much to think it a sin.
The Christian method of deciding what is sinful and immoral has not changed since then. There are practical reasons to ignore many Biblical rulings on morality.
Atheists and Christians arrive at their moral values in the same way, by figuring it out for themselves.
* Freethinkers; A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby, 2004. Holt, p. 79.