The ethical code is the core and vital component of any religion and the foundation of any successful society or civilization: all the rest of religion serves either to strengthen adherence to the code, or it corrupts the religion to serve interests other than those of society as a whole — the ease and comfort of a priesthood, perhaps, or an elite like that of the West today that sees the mass of mankind as disposable, and mostly unwanted. Purely secular religions are therefore possible: godless Confucianism has dominated Chinese thought for more than two thousand years, godless Communism ruled Russia for 70 years, sneeringly atheistic Political Correctness is now the religion of the West.
Whether due to differing degrees of corruption or a misconception about the nature of life, ethical codes are far from equal in their consequences: some preserve life and advance the interests of a nation or civilization, others may result in national self-destruction. Political Correctness is an example of a religion created as a weapon of mass social destruction. The antithesis of Christianity, which ruled European society as it rose to dominate the world not only militarily but in the arts, the sciences and every other branch of intellectual endeavor, Political Correctness is a religion of national self-genocide by means of mass slaughter of the unborn, the promotion of every form of non-reproductive sexuality, contempt for traditional female social roles, mass immigration and multiculturalism.
Driving the destruction of the Western religious and cultural traditions are the proponents of an adolescent atheism which asserts that because God does not exist, or because the world was created by the Big Bang, or because miracles do not occur, or because Jesus did not rise from the dead, the Christian code of conduct is thus somehow nul and void.
Such intellectual immaturity, promoted with full media support by the likes of Richard Dawkins, John Cleese, and the late Christopher Hitchens is equivalent to asserting that Shakespeare had nothing to say about morality because his plays are fictional, or that Star Trek tells us nothing of the human condition because the Warp Drive is based on fake science, or that the Hobbit is unworthy of anyone's interest because Bilbo Baggins inhabits a world of magic.
The logical reaction of one who finds the Biblical account of the life of Jesus factually implausible should not be to trash the Christian faith, but to read the Gospel as an inspirational story or myth, not history. Alternatively, one might edit the Gospels, which are based on mere hearsay and written by we know not whom long after the death of Jesus, to eliminate all reference to miracles, the virgin birth, and the resurrection. Having done so, one would still have the sayings of Jesus that underlay Western law and moral thinking from the Middle Ages until sometime in the late 20th Century, but without taint of the supernatural.
Leo Tolstoy was among those who have rewritten the story about Jesus to eliminate the supernatural. The result, however, appeals to few. It is like Harry Potter without the magic. To most who have been raised in the Christian faith, the Nativity Scene has a charm unrelated to the question of its historical veracity. Moreover, the best lines in the Gospel story as related in the Bible, for example, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" or "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" are lines for a dramatic genius die for, while the Biblical account of the Crucifixion is among the most heart-rending tragedies in all of Western literature.
Moreover, there are multiple strands to the Gospel story that allow it to be read in many ways. The opening words of John`s gospel, for example, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" encapsulates an entirely modern view of the world, the "Word" in the original "Greek" bible being "Logos" or "reason." The opening verse of John's gospel is thus a statement of the most basic idea underlying modern science, which is that the world can be understood through the application of reason and especially reason in mathematical form.
Atheism neither refutes Christianity nor has any bearing on the validity of Christian morality and Western culture. Atheists, therefore, if they are as rational as they claim, must chose between the death of the West through the trashing of the Western culture — the culture out of which our scientific understanding of the universe arose, or the survival of the West, its people and traditional culture, through restoration of its Christian ethical tradition.
As Nikolay Nikolayevich remarked in Boris Pasternak's great novel Doctor Zhivago:
What you don't understand is that it is possible to be an atheist, it is possible not to know if God exists or why he should, and yet believe that man does not live in a state of nature but in history, and that history as we know it began with Christ, it was founded by Him on the Gospels.Related:
CanSpeccy: Atheists for a Religious Society
Canspeccy: The rationality of Christian faith
CanSpeccy: Political Correctness Has Replaced Christianity As the Religion of the West
Myra Hess: Jesu, Joy of Man`s Desiring
Fr. James Martin: St. Francis