Christianity came into the world long after the invention of bread, wine, and other elements of civilization, at a time when it was too late to deify their inventors, when these inventions had long since lost their religious significance. Christianity introduced another element of civilization: morality. Christianity wished to provide a cure not for physical or political evils, but for moral evils, for sin. Let us go back to our example of wine in order to clarify the difference between Christianity and paganism, that is, common popular paganism. How, said the Christians to the heathen, can you deify wine? What sort of benefit is it? Consumed immoderately, it brings death and ruin. It is a benefit only when consumed in moderation, with wisdom, that is, when drunk in a moral way; thus the utility or harmfulness of a thing depends not on the thing itself, but on the moral use that is made of it. In this the Christians were right. But Christianity made morality into a religion, it made the moral law into a divine commandment; it transformed a matter of autonomous human activity into a matter of faith.
In Christianity faith is the principle, the foundation of the moral law: "From faith come good works." Christianity has no wine god, no goddess of bread or grain, no Ceres, no Poseidon, god of the sea and of navigation; it knows no god of the smithy, no Vulcan; yet it has a general God, or rather, a moral God, a God of the art of becoming moral and attaining beatitude. And with this God the Christians to this day oppose all radical, all thoroughgoing civilization, for a Christian can conceive of no morality, no ethical human life, without God; he therefore derives morality from God, just as the pagan poet derived the laws and types of poetry from the gods and goddesses of poetry, just as the pagan smith derived the tricks of his trade from the god Vulcan. But just as today smiths and metalworkers in general know their trade without having any particular god as their patron, so men will some day master the art of leading moral and happy lives without a God. Indeed, they will be truly moral and happy only when they no longer have a God, when they no longer need religion; for as long as an art is still imperfect, as long as it is in its swaddling clothes, it requires the protection of religion. For through religion man compensates for the deficiencies in his culture; and it is only from lack of culture that, like the Egyptian priest who makes sacraments of his rudimentary medicines, he makes sacraments of his moral remedies, makes sacred dogmas of his rudimentary ideas, and makes divine commandments and revelations of his own thoughts and emotions.
— Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion, translated by Ralph Manheim (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 23rd Lecture, pp. 212-213