How is Utilitarianism compatible with Christianity?

  1. Utilitarianism promotes selflessness, Bentham stated that it isn’t about a single person’s happiness but rather ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’. Christianity promotes ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ another selfless teaching.
  2. Utilitarianism is based around making people happy, many argue that religion is also based around making people happy through re-establishing a right relationship with God.
  3. Mill believed his version of Utilitarianism captured Christianity’s Golden Rule ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated’.
  4. Both Strong Rule Utilitarians and Christians believe in Absolutist and Deontological rules. For example, ‘Do not kill’ is both in the 10 commandments and Strong Rule Utilitarianism’s principles.

How isn’t Utilitarianism compatible with Christianity?

  1. Although Rule Utilitarianism is based around the idea of creating happiness through rules, these rules are derived from ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’ not from divine command.
  2. Genesis 1:26 states that all humans were created in God’s image making them equal, therefore all humans require equal treatment which Utilitarianism fails to deliver.
  3. God has no part in Utilitarianism, it is entirely based upon human rights.
  4. An Act Utilitarians goal is to achieve happiness whereas a Christians is to do God’s will.
  5. Many Christians follow a deontological, absolutist approach to moral issues and rules, whereas Act Utilitarians don’t, they prefer a more consequentialist and relativistic approach.
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