Why the Golden Rule Isn’t So Original

The ‘Golden Rule’ is much older than any monotheism, and…no human society would have been possible or even thinkable without elementary solidarity (which also allows for self-interest) between its members. – Christopher Hitchens, “Is Christianity Good For The World”, Christianity Today, May 8, 2007

The golden rule is something you don’t have to teach a child. There is no need to say, “And if you don’t follow this rule, you’ll burn in hell.” – Christopher Hitchens, “Hitchens, Sharpton and Faith”, The New York Times, May 7, 2007

The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what everyone, at bottom, had always known to be right. Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that…The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump or bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirk. – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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