While Machiavelli himself was not above moral reproach, he was born and died a Christian and was neither depraved nor unprincipled. His attacks on the church were anticlerical rather than anti-religious, being directed against the scandalous lives of the popes and their political activities. He did compare contemporary Christianity unfavorably with the paganism of the ancients, but he criticized Christianity primarily because it had become the means to socially undesirable ends—the subjection of the many to an avaricious minority— and called for a return to some kind of original creed. While he dwelt upon the socially pragmatic value of religion he did not view it from this stand-point alone.
With very few exceptions down the ages, discussions in moral philosophy - the study of right conduct - have failed to systematically investigate the origin, nature, and course of evil in a manner free from supernatural imaginings. Evil was often considered something to be endured rather than something that could be understood and eliminated by rational measures. And - as Lobaczewski demonstrates - the origin of evil actually lies outside the boundaries of the conventional worldview within which the earlier moral inquiries and literary explorations were conducted. Evil requires a truly modern and scientific approach to lay bare its secrets. This approach is called “ponerology”, the study of evil, from the Greek “poneros” = evil.
Machiavelli did not disguise his dislike for Christianity which by exalting humility, meekness, and patience had, he said, weakened the social and patriotic instincts of mankind. Hence, he mocked at Savonarola though he was the saviour of democracy, and he had a special dislike for the Holy See as a temporal power, as he saw in it the greatest obstacle to Italian unity; to use his own expression, it was too weak to control the whole peninsula, but too strong to allow of any other state bringing about unity. This explains why he has no words of praise for Julius II and his Italian policy. It was merely as an opportunist that he courted the favour of Leo X and Clement VII. On the other hand, when death came his way he remembered that he was a Christian and he died a Christian death, though his life, habits, and ideals had been pagan, and himself a typical representative of the Italian Renaissance.