1. Standard memberIron Monkey
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    11 Dec '07 04:361 edit
    Disclaimer: I am not a Christian

    There are a lot of threads debating whether the metaphysics of Christianity is true / plausible etc. But let's leave those questions aside here and discuss whether a widespread belief in Christianity enhances a society, or has the opposite effect, or no effect at all.

    The first thing to get out of the way is that we can acknowledge that, historically, terrible deeds have been done in the name of Christianity - unjust wars have been fought (certain of the Crusades), people tortured (the various Inquisitions, but particularly the Spanish) - and move on. As far as I know, there is nothing in the teachings of Jesus, Paul and so on that condones unjust war or torture, so we can consider these examples of Christianity's being hijacked.

    The second thing to get out of the way is fundamentalism - fundamentalists tend to re-introduce the kind of small-minded thinking that Jesus criticised the Pharisees for. It also imports a lot of Old Testament stuff that Christianity essentially renders obsolete. The idea of a vengeful God is replaced by the idea of a loving God and so on. It also imports stuff like the Genesis story of creation and insists on its literal truth. Yes, this is Christianity as practiced by some, and is probably not socially useful, but again we can acknowledge that and move on. What I'm after here is whether Christianity at its best is socially useful or not.

    It seems to me that this sort of belief can help people psychologically by making them feel 'someone' is looking out for them, so they are less likely to despair when all is going wrong.

    Also, the notion of an afterlife that can be spent in heaven or hell, depending on one's actions here on earth, provides strong reasons to behave ethically for someone with these beliefs. Society is better when people behave ethically toward each other.

    Christian teaching even has something to say about what it is to behave ethically ('Do unto others...", "Love one another..." ). A society comprised of people who follow these maxims would be pretty good to live in, I would think. And there's nothing stopping people from following these maxims, even if they believe that Christian metaphysics is true. Of course, there is the question of whether they have a reason to so act, but that's a question for another time.
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    11 Dec '07 05:06
    Buddhism has a clause written into the religion that basically requires Buddhists to respect all other religions and faiths and worldviews within certain reasonable limits. That's pretty cool. 90% of what sucks about Christianity would go away if they had a rule like that.
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    11 Dec '07 11:511 edit
    they do have a rule like that, love one another, do good to them that persicute you. many more.
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    11 Dec '07 12:11
    Originally posted by darthmix
    Buddhism has a clause written into the religion that basically requires Buddhists to respect all other religions and faiths and worldviews within certain reasonable limits. That's pretty cool. 90% of what sucks about Christianity would go away if they had a rule like that.
    But as Christianity essentially claims that failure to follow it results in eternal punishment, the 'loving' thing to do would be to convert as many people as possible by any means possible.
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    11 Dec '07 12:24
    Originally posted by Iron Monkey
    The first thing to get out of the way is ....
    The second thing to get out of the way is fundamentalism - ....
    What I'm after here is whether Christianity at its best is socially useful or not.
    That is fine as long as you keep in mind that the two major points you have so readily gotten 'out of the way' are critically important issues.
    It must be noted that any religion will breed fundamentalism / wars etc so even moderate religion should be discouraged. It must also be noted that segregation is another major problem with religion which breeds conflict and social problems in general.

    As far as I know, there is nothing in the teachings of Jesus, Paul and so on that condones unjust war or torture, so we can consider these examples of Christianity's being hijacked.
    Both condoned the Jewish religion and the old testament in general and as such condoned unjust war, torture etc etc (except that the old testament claims it is just).

    It seems to me that this sort of belief can help people psychologically by making them feel 'someone' is looking out for them, so they are less likely to despair when all is going wrong.
    The real question is whether or not there is any scientific evidence for such a view. Either people with 'problems' are naturally drawn to religion or the above view is false. My observation is that the atheists on this site are generally better balanced mentally than the Christians and have far less despair etc. The problem with Christianity is it replaces the despair of this world with even greater despair and fear of the next life. When you do something wrong you are now answerable to God etc.

    Also, the notion of an afterlife that can be spent in heaven or hell, depending on one's actions here on earth, provides strong reasons to behave ethically for someone with these beliefs.
    One would think so but observation does not bear it out.

    Christian teaching even has something to say about what it is to behave ethically ('Do unto others...", "Love one another..." ).
    The Bible has teachings of all sorts and it should be noted that people pick out or interpret those teachings towards the more ethical ones and so we could reasonably assume the whatever the religion or source material people would naturally go for the more ethical teachings. Maybe it is the people that want to be ethical and not the religion itself?

    A society comprised of people who follow these maxims would be pretty good to live in, I would think.
    Have you lived in a Christian society? And were you talking about Christians or "people who follow these maxims"? They are quite different situations.

    And there's nothing stopping people from following these maxims, even if they believe that Christian metaphysics is true. Of course, there is the question of whether they have a reason to so act, but that's a question for another time.
    There is no need for the people to call themselves Christian in order to follow those maxims.
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    11 Dec '07 17:39
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    But as Christianity essentially claims that failure to follow it results in eternal punishment, the 'loving' thing to do would be to convert as many people as possible by any means possible.
    Exactly; that's my point. If you take seriously the premise that only those who who accept Christ will be saved - and I realize not all Christians believe that - but if you do, then the dogma of your faith basically renders you incapable of accepting and respecting the faiths of others. Other religions are not only wrong, they're harmful, specifically because they're not your faith and are therefore leading their followers to ruin. It doesn't matter how good or bad other worldviews are in this world; if they're not Christianity, they're not good enough.

    I'm not blaming Christians; I don't doubt they have the best of intentions. I'm blaming one specific tennant of their faith, which often focuses their good intentions in a way that makes them incapable of accepting the faiths of others.
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    11 Dec '07 18:57
    Originally posted by darthmix
    Exactly; that's my point. If you take seriously the premise that only those who who accept Christ will be saved - and I realize not all Christians believe that - but if you do, then the dogma of your faith basically renders you incapable of accepting and respecting the faiths of others. Other religions are not only wrong, they're harmful, specifically becau ...[text shortened]... r good intentions in a way that makes them incapable of accepting the faiths of others.
    Speaking as a Christian I would say that my faith adresses the main issue of what seperates us from God of life and love which is sin. Sin seperates us from God thus we must then decide on what sin is and how to deal with it if at all. For me sin is the destructive force in the universe that brings pain and suffering, thus, if this is so, it should be our prime focus for erradicating it. For the Christian, this is why Jesus came. Through him we can conquer sin in our current lives as well as the life hereafter.

    This brings us to the issue of "other faiths". Other faiths, other than Christianity, do not see Christ as THE answer to the sin question. In fact, not all religions even agree that sin is what seperates us from
    God or that sin even exists, or if it does, how it should be defined. As a result you have a wide range of dogma as to how one can commune with God or be accepted by him and some even say that all roads lead to God.

    Having said all that, I think that as a believer I can still respect people of other faiths and, in fact, if I walk in love with them I am required to do so. I will merely respectfully disagree with those that see things otherwise. To me it is evident that there is a dividing line in this life between good and evil. For example, how can a road taken my Hitler be equivalent and lead to the same place as a Mother Theresa? These questions lead to even more disturbing questions such as, what is the purpose to this life if anything? Is it simply to enjoy life and drink in as many pleasures as humanly possible or is there more to it all outside my own little world.

    Although I run the risk of offending those who I respectfully disagree with I must do so because Christ is the answer to the problem of what ailes us. To do otherwise would be uncaring and unloving if I really believe it. However, it is equally important to realize that God forces himself on no one so why should I? All that can be done is to point to the one God who loves them and is waiting for them to turn to him, so it this offends some and then so be it.
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    12 Dec '07 17:40
    Originally posted by whodey
    This brings us to the issue of "other faiths". Other faiths, other than Christianity, do not see Christ as THE answer to the sin question. In fact, not all religions even agree that sin is what seperates us from
    God or that sin even exists, or if it does, how it should be defined. As a result you have a wide range of dogma as to how one can commune with ...[text shortened]... spect people of other faiths and, in fact, if I walk in love with them I am required to do so.
    I... rest my case? Naturally you're able to respect people of other faiths, as you say, but you can't actually respect the faiths themselves because your own religion teaches - fundamentally - that those faiths which do not recognize Christ as the only path to salvation are leading their followers astray. How can you respect a religion that you believe is leading its followers away from the one truth? And so on.

    Don't get me wrong; I think it's fantastic that you're polite and respectful around people of other faiths. I just think it's too bad that not everyone of your religion is that polite, and that they're encouraged in their impoliteness by a belief system that teaches that all other religions are not just incorrect, but harmfully so. I think your religion, and the whole world, would be better off if it didn't claim to be the only path to truth; it's religious absolutism like that that's behind a lot of our religious intolerance and struggle and violence in this world.
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    12 Dec '07 18:50
    Originally posted by Iron Monkey
    Disclaimer: I am not a Christian

    There are a lot of threads debating whether the metaphysics of Christianity is true / plausible etc. But let's leave those questions aside here and discuss whether a widespread belief in Christianity enhances a society, or has the opposite effect, or no effect at all.

    The first thing to get out of the way is that we ...[text shortened]... ion of whether they have a reason to so act, but that's a question for another time.
    You are a victim of misguided thinking.

    Christianity is the best thing that ever happened to the world.

    You have your facts screwed up.
  10. Donationbbarr
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    13 Dec '07 02:20
    Originally posted by josephw
    You are a victim of misguided thinking.

    Christianity is the best thing that ever happened to the world.

    You have your facts screwed up.
    Christianity is ritualized self-hatred. As such, there is nothing to recommend it.
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    13 Dec '07 05:01
    Originally posted by darthmix
    I... rest my case? Naturally you're able to respect people of other faiths, as you say, but you can't actually respect the faiths themselves because your own religion teaches - fundamentally - that those faiths which do not recognize Christ as the only path to salvation are leading their followers astray. How can you respect a religion that you believe is l ...[text shortened]... t's behind a lot of our religious intolerance and struggle and violence in this world.
    Either Christ is our only hope or he is not. Either statement, however, that is for or against this idea is an absolutist statement. What makes one better than the other? Really it only has to do with the whether the statement is true or false. For me is true. It is akin to someone claiming that the earth is flat instead of round. If I believe the world to be round I have two options. I can belittle the poor soul for believing such an untrue statement or I can respect his position by talking respectfully to them and try to understand where they are coming from. I think the later approach is the most constructive and conducive to possibly reaching them and possibly correcting their twisted thinking.
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    13 Dec '07 05:02
    Originally posted by bbarr
    Christianity is ritualized self-hatred. As such, there is nothing to recommend it.
    How so?
  13. Standard memberIron Monkey
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    13 Dec '07 06:252 edits
    Originally posted by whodey
    Either Christ is our only hope or he is not. Either statement, however, that is for or against this idea is an absolutist statement. What makes one better than the other? Really it only has to do with the whether the statement is true or false. For me is true. It is akin to someone claiming that the earth is flat instead of round. If I believe the world ...[text shortened]... tructive and conducive to possibly reaching them and possibly correcting their twisted thinking.
    In the case of the world, you can take doubters out to space (at least, in principle) so they can see for themselves that the world is a globe. In the case of religion, all you can do is point to a book and mumble something about knowing God directly. It's not nearly as convincing.

    If someone living in a stone-age society believes the world is flat then fair enough, but if a person living in the modern world with access to all the sources of information we take for granted believes the same thing - that's just ignorant. be polite by all means, but be firm. Their view is simply incorrect. But because your "evidence" in the religion case is much more flimsy - some would say it doesn't constitute evidence at all - a degree of circumspection is desirable.
  14. Standard memberIron Monkey
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    13 Dec '07 06:28
    Originally posted by darthmix
    I'm not blaming Christians; I don't doubt they have the best of intentions. I'm blaming one specific tennant of their faith, which often focuses their good intentions in a way that makes them incapable of accepting the faiths of others.
    That's 'tenet', not 'tennant' - 'tennants' are people living in rented accommodation.

    Tenet: A doctrine, dogma, principle, or opinion, in religion, philosophy, politics, or the like, held by a school, sect, party, or person. (from OED online)
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    13 Dec '07 08:06
    Originally posted by Iron Monkey
    In the case of the world, you can take doubters out to space (at least, in principle) so they can see for themselves that the world is a globe. In the case of religion, all you can do is point to a book and mumble something about knowing God directly. It's not nearly as convincing.

    If someone living in a stone-age society believes the world is flat th ...[text shortened]... would say it doesn't constitute evidence at all - a degree of circumspection is desirable.
    When I talk of belief I am not merely refering to a mental acknowledgement that x, y, and z exists or does not exist, rather, I am speaking of more than this. Biblically the greatest commandment is to love your God above all else and sin is simply the breaking of the command to love your God and your neighbor. So I ask you, can one acknowledge that God exists mentally and still break this law of love? Sure they can and they have, or at least, Biblically.

    This brings us to the issue of faith. Faith is not a mere recognition that x, y, and z exists, rather, it is relationsal in nature. For example, those you love you place your faith in to various degrees. Therefore, the issue of whether one places their faith in God lies soley in their love for the image of God they hold and not in their mental acknowledgement that God exists. For example, you seem to believe that I exist because you wrote to me, however, does this mean you place your faith in me?
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