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Thu Jan 26, 2012, 03:24 PM

 

Would the world be better with or without Christianity?

Thought Experiment:

Let's just say we could convince every Christian that Christianity is untrue, a myth, and convince them not to practice it. Similar to a question Prof. Dawkins once asked Christopher Hitchens. But let's postulate for a moment that this could be achieved. Would it do any good? Would it do any harm? Or would it do nothing?

I opt for the latter. In reference to Dawkins' quote that "for good men to do evil, it takes religion," I argue lots of things can trigger a good man to do evil. Psychoses, hallucinations, fear, and the influence of drugs can make a person commit evil. And when I mention fear, I am not referring to Xenophobic fear, but more the 'seeing a shape moving in the night, and you shoot at it first' type of fear.

Christianity, and all religions for that matter, are pretty much what the believer makes of them.

Yes, there are cultic tendencies, and these are never more apparent than in Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity. But in the end, these are more the fault of authoritarianism, of cult of personality or manipulation. The same thing happens at a Lyndon LaRouche movement, or a Maoist uprising, or in North Korea.

But many people choose religion for mundane reasons. The believer likes the congregation, or the church has a great youth program, or the believer really likes hymns. Or, as in many cases, the believer wants to change the world for the better.

Now, I am not advocating theism with this thread, but at the same time I am not viewing Christianity as all good or all bad. It is a tradition conceived at a time before germ theory, before genetics, before the theory of evolution - even before we knew the Earth was round. Like any tradition, it has changed with time, and has had reactions against those changes.

As any revolutionary will tell you, large sweeping changes usually don't occur during times of oppression, but during times when certain freedoms were extended, then taken away. Think the US after WWII, USSR after Glasnost, and a current example is Syria.

And of course, with every large sweeping change there is a backlash. But I digress.

Your thoughts?

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply Would the world be better with or without Christianity? (Original post)
Taverner Jan 2012 OP
immoderate Jan 2012 #1
cleanhippie Jan 2012 #2
MarkCharles Jan 2012 #3
AlbertCat Jan 2012 #17
FiveGoodMen Jan 2012 #18
MarkCharles Jan 2012 #20
Deep13 Jan 2012 #4
Taverner Jan 2012 #7
Deep13 Jan 2012 #8
Taverner Jan 2012 #16
Deep13 Jan 2012 #21
Taverner Jan 2012 #22
ChairmanAgnostic Jan 2012 #13
BiggJawn Jan 2012 #5
ZombieHorde Jan 2012 #6
onager Jan 2012 #9
Taverner Jan 2012 #15
mr blur Jan 2012 #10
BlueJazz Jan 2012 #11
PassingFair Jan 2012 #12
HopeHoops Jan 2012 #14
AlbertCat Jan 2012 #19
iris27 Mar 2012 #23

Response to Taverner (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 04:16 PM

1. I pretty much agree. But the problem with "What if...?" ...

It's the rest of the hypothetical. I'm supposing that people will find some substitute to rationalize what they do. And they will remain ethically what they would have been as a Christian. Now what if we suppose some other ethical intervention? Might help.

--imm

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 05:14 PM

2. The world would be a better place without a lot of things.

Whether christianity is one of them is a matter of opinion, an opinion I do not share. I do feel, however, that the world would be better off if we could leave our religious inclinations behind as we progress into the next age of human evolution. Religion had its time and its place, and that time and place came and went some time ago, IMO.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 05:22 PM

3. Provocative question, speaks more to the history of humankind than to...

 

the appropriateness or inappropriateness of Christianity.

Your post begs other questions, namely: what is it about the history of civilization that gave the edge to Christianity over Judaism, Islam, Buddhist thinking, or Hindu thoughts? Was the evolution of Christianity as a major influence upon Western European and all American thinking more a result of finding gold and oil and other natural resources here and in Northwestern Europe, and is THAT the reason Hindu or Buddhist thought does not dominate the most advanced, richest, most influential democratic nations of our world of 7 billion people?

Think of a news broadcast on TV any night of the week. We KNOW that over 2 billion people out of 7 billion are followers of a Christian religion. Do we hear news events about the other 5 billion? Do we only follow cataclysmic events like earthquakes, tsunami's or other outrageously destructive events in the world of non-Christians? We do hear a few things about Japan and China here and there, but we hear a lot more about the UK and Germany, both relatively Christian nations. Indonesia has a population of several hundred million, while the UK's population is around 100+ million. Do we hear about people in Indonesia, a country with more time zone areas than the continental USA?

What's the magic of Christianity and how does it influence us to look mostly at the 2/7ths of the world who are mostly Christian?

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Response to MarkCharles (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:06 PM

17. What's the magic of Christianity

Forced conversion?

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:07 PM

18. Adoption by the later Roman Empire?

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:55 PM

20. As far as I am concerned, most religions are equally un-magical. Or maybe..

 

they all rely upon magic, not sure which.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 08:40 PM

4. Without.

The idea that people deserve to go to hell without intervention and that suffering somehow makes a person better are among the most destructive beliefs I can imagine. The central doctrine of Christianity is evil at its core.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 09:28 PM

7. Oh I agree - it can be very evil

 

Christianity is a misanthropic religious, as are all Abrahamic ones.

But what I'm saying is that if we took it out of the picture, something else would pop up in its place.

Assholes are assholes. Christianity is just their excuse. Take it away, and they'll find another.

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Response to Taverner (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 12:03 AM

8. Hard to imagine one worse than Christianity. nt

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 11:47 AM

16. At the risk of fatwa, I would say Islam does...

 

But hell, all religions can be used for evil

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Response to Taverner (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:13 PM

21. Can be, but only because Christianity is weakened...

...by secularism, at least in the industrial world.

It's not just that it can be used for evil. Christianity's core doctrine is evil.

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 09:41 PM

22. The core doctrine of many religions is evil. They never expected it to go so far.

 

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Response to Deep13 (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 10:47 AM

13. agreed.

One needs only to look at the history of this cult and the blood, vengeance, death, and torture that followed this cult from continent to continent. Everywhere it goes, bad things happen. Pick any slice of time. The Dark Ages? anti-intellectual claptrap and death. Spanish inquisition? ditto. Witch hunts in France, Germany, Italy, and the colonies? Ditto. The Extermination of tribes in the Americas? Ditto. Even now, the catholic/christian influence is causing major harm in Africa. Lynching of gays and "witches", prevention of condom use, and worse.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 09:08 PM

5. I vote "Without" too.

Especially Calvinism. What a sweet deal they have. If you're successful, that's a sure sign of Gawd's favour, and yer blessed.

On the other hand, if you're poor, that's a sure sign that you've pissed off old Whiskers somehow, and he is rightfully punishing you.

And it wouldn't be right to intervene and extend charity to those people because , hey, who are WE to meddle in Gawd's affairs?

Calvinism- christianity for Objectivists who need their celestial security blanky and aren't brave enough to be Atheists.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 09:12 PM

6. By "better," do you mean more promiscuous?

Then probably not.

By "better," do you mean creationism would be less likely to be taught in American schools?

Then probably yes.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 02:33 AM

9. 2 alternative histories...

Both from the fun book What If #2:

1. Jerusalem, 33 CE - ignoring a hostile crowd screaming for blood, Pontius Pilate pardons Jesus Christ. Jesus returns home, under the protection of Roman soldiers.

The Romans decide they LIKE this kind of religious leader - he tells people to forgive their enemies and even to pay their taxes! What a guy!

Even though he is still around and presumably the Subject Matter Expert, Jesus lives long enough to see the religion he founded degenerate into innumerable squabbling sects. All claiming to be the Real Xians, of course. Jesus dies at the age of 90, blind and senile.

By then the Roman Emperor takes his title of Pontiff Maximus seriously. He becomes the Emperor-Pope, leader of the One True Xian Church, and ruthlessly cracks down on any hint of heresy or schism.

The Roman Army marches with a convert-or-kill mentality, always accompanied by a sub-army of aggressive Xian missionaries.

On the Roman borders the upstart sect of Islam pops up and is quickly exterminated, becoming a footnote in history.

By the 15th century, word spreads of new lands, across the oceans far to the west. They too will soon become part of the Holy Roman Empire...the REAL one.

2. Actium, 31 BCE - the naval forces of Cleopatra and Marc Antony defeat Octavian. Alexandria, Egypt, becomes the political, educational and religious center of the world.

Earlier members of the Ptolemy family were religiously very...flexible. Ptolemy I let himself be named "Pharoah," even though he was about as Egyptian as Liz Taylor and probably laughed at the whole idea in private.

The Ptolemies invented their own god, Serapis, and saw it spread far beyond Egypt. By the mid-First Century CE, Egypt is ruled by Caesarion - the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. Who, following Ptolemaic practice, married his half-sister Selene - the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. IOW, one damn formidable family.

They hear of some useful new religious ideas percolating just over the Sinai border, in Palestine. So useful that they convert, as do all their citizens (except for Alexandria's thriving Jewish community, which all rulers had the good sense to leave in peace).

And the world sees the formation of...The First Church of Jesus Christ - Alexandria.


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Response to onager (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 11:46 AM

15. Or a third....

 

Manicheanism makes big inroads into the Roman empire (as it did.) A man named Saul is met instead by Manicheans instead of Christians, who lead him out of the desert and into Damascus. Manicheanism spreads throughout the empire, taking on many characteristics of this Essene-based obscure Jewish religion called Christianity. Early Christian tradition is adapted into Manicheanism rather than vice versa. Persia becomes the new religious center of the middle east, and Islam makes no inroads into Persia, Assyria, Babylon or anywhere outside the Arabian peninsula.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:56 AM

10. It would be better (saner) without all religion,

not just Christianity.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:54 AM

11. I say without and (without going into many ideas on the thought), is the fact that each person...

...would have to accept total responsibility for one's actions.
There would be no "The devil made me/her/him do it" or "God told me this is the right thing to do"

Whatever actions you perform in life, whether good or bad, would be YOUR choice.

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Response to BlueJazz (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 09:25 AM

12. +1. I was going to say personal responsibility.

I know too many people who roll over and put things "in god's hands"
when they should be stepping up and handling their problems.

Although, as an atheist, I often come to the conclusion that
there are some things that I can't change, and that I just have
to live with...so I guess my brain performs the same function,
just without the "savior" aspect.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 10:51 AM

14. Come on. You would be taking away a shitload of material from stand up comedians!

 

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:12 PM

19. Well, if it HADN'T existed way back when....

... the library at Alexandria might not have been burned and we might not have had the Dark Ages. So we'd be a couple of centuries ahead.

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 01:56 AM

23. Kick.

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