Is Christianity Evil?
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20-05-2017, 03:06 PM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(20-05-2017 05:23 AM)SYZ Wrote:  
(19-05-2017 07:24 AM)mordant Wrote:  The better and more useful question is, "Is Christianity doing harm in the word, rather than good?". This is a far less subjective question, although admittedly still pretty subjective. But at least we can take a stab at evaluating the question based on what effects Christianity has in the real world...

I'd agree with the "good" side. Christianity per se obviously equates with far more good or positivism in the world than harm or evil. It's important to separate so-called Christians from Christianity as a whole. We can all cite cases of modern crimes committed against society by Christian followers, but then there are also plenty of atheist (non-theist) rapist, muggers, and murderers out there.

Although having said that, there are far more religionists in US jails than atheists—measured on a pro rata basis—from a sample of 218,000 in Federal prisons.

What Percentage of US Prisoners Are Atheists?
Christianity has all sorts of good intentions and certainly promotes programs and activities that have good intentions but the pesky law of unintended consequences keeps getting in the way. Believing things without evidence, and doing the right things for the wrong (unjustifiable) reasons, eventually comes back to haunt you and the people you're trying to help.

People allow themselves to confused by these good intentions in part because we are so used to the social mechanisms of religious faith being leveraged as the delivery mechanism for all sorts of social good. For example, most folks here would agree that Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, is a particularly egregious religious nutjob who constantly spouts all sorts of extreme right-wing conspiracy nonsense, yet he runs Samaritan's Purse, an organization that bills itself as providing no-strings-attached help in war-torn countries, including Islamic countries. Assuming for the sake of argument that Samaritan's Purse in fact does only humanitarian good in the world, that doesn't mean the same good couldn't be (and isn't) accomplished by secular organizations such as, say, Doctors Without Borders. Or that it couldn't be done better and more efficiently by such organizations as aren't burdened by religious ideation.
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20-05-2017, 03:41 PM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(20-05-2017 03:06 PM)mordant Wrote:  Christianity has all sorts of good intentions and certainly promotes programs and activities that have good intentions but the pesky law of unintended consequences keeps getting in the way. Believing things without evidence, and doing the right things for the wrong (unjustifiable) reasons, eventually comes back to haunt you and the people you're trying to help.

There is no such thing as christinanity or Islam or judaism. There are numerous denominations thereoff, promoting different goals, having different believes and presenting themselves differently.

One of the main mistakes so many people make. Applying the broad brush. There are streams of christianity I wholeheartedly despise and there are others I'm largely in agreement with, minus the divine component. With christianity one has about 40.000 different denominations to choose from. Not sure about the others of the big three. But there sure are many.

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20-05-2017, 06:42 PM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(20-05-2017 03:41 PM)abaris Wrote:  
(20-05-2017 03:06 PM)mordant Wrote:  Christianity has all sorts of good intentions and certainly promotes programs and activities that have good intentions but the pesky law of unintended consequences keeps getting in the way. Believing things without evidence, and doing the right things for the wrong (unjustifiable) reasons, eventually comes back to haunt you and the people you're trying to help.

There is no such thing as christinanity or Islam or judaism. There are numerous denominations thereof, promoting different goals, having different believes and presenting themselves differently.
One can legitimately speak of these religions as a whole. It all is a matter of context. Obviously that doesn't obliterate the differences in different denominations or ignore the individuality of particular individuals. You can still make decent generalizations about the whole belief system.

There is a reason that Christianity's countless denominations fall under the same label, and that is that they have some things in common -- mainly, the belief, without evidence, that Jesus Christ is the divine son of god. What exactly that means, whether one is trinitarian or unitarian for one of countless examples, are details. Christianity is theism with Christ as the divine object. That is as unsupportable for an Episcopalian as for a member of the Church of God in Christ or some singleton snake-handling congregation.
(20-05-2017 03:41 PM)abaris Wrote:  One of the main mistakes so many people make. Applying the broad brush. There are streams of christianity I wholeheartedly despise and there are others I'm largely in agreement with, minus the divine component. With christianity one has about 40.000 different denominations to choose from. Not sure about the others of the big three. But there sure are many.
Same here ... I have few to no practical quibbles with many liberal Christians for example. In fact I have quite a bit of common cause with them. That said, I still do not think its beneficial to believe in invisible beings and realms, even "loosely" so to speak, or I'd be a liberal Christian myself, now wouldn't I?

All that said, I stand by my statements about Christianity, taken as a whole.
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21-05-2017, 07:52 AM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(20-05-2017 03:41 PM)abaris Wrote:  
(20-05-2017 03:06 PM)mordant Wrote:  Christianity has all sorts of good intentions and certainly promotes programs and activities that have good intentions but the pesky law of unintended consequences keeps getting in the way. Believing things without evidence, and doing the right things for the wrong (unjustifiable) reasons, eventually comes back to haunt you and the people you're trying to help.

There is no such thing as christinanity or Islam or judaism. There are numerous denominations thereoff, promoting different goals, having different believes and presenting themselves differently.

One of the main mistakes so many people make. Applying the broad brush. There are streams of christianity I wholeheartedly despise and there are others I'm largely in agreement with, minus the divine component. With christianity one has about 40.000 different denominations to choose from. Not sure about the others of the big three. But there sure are many.

There may be doctrinal differences between all these thousands of versions of Christianity and other religions but they all share the same essentials and they all affirm metaphysical subjectivism as their starting point, making them all based on a false view of reality. They all ascribe to some kind of mysticism, i.e., irrationalism. They all preach the morality of self-sacrifice, which is anti-life. They all ultimately preach collectivism which is anti-individual rights.

They are all:

-Anti-reality

-Anti-reason

-Anti-life

-Anti-freedom

Some may be better than others on a sliding scale of evil but they're all evil.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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21-05-2017, 09:32 PM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
Quote:There may be doctrinal differences between all these thousands of versions of Christianity and other religions but they all share the same essentials and they all affirm metaphysical subjectivism as their starting point, making them all based on a false view of reality. They all ascribe to some kind of mysticism, i.e., irrationalism. They all preach the morality of self-sacrifice, which is anti-life. They all ultimately preach collectivism which is anti-individual rights.

Self-sacrifice is not anti-life and collectivism is not anti-individual rights, how did you come to these conclusions? Self-sacrifice is a valid form of personal expression, while collectivism and individual rights can fit together given a proper code of ethics.
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21-05-2017, 09:34 PM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(21-05-2017 09:32 PM)Angra Mainyu Wrote:  
Quote:There may be doctrinal differences between all these thousands of versions of Christianity and other religions but they all share the same essentials and they all affirm metaphysical subjectivism as their starting point, making them all based on a false view of reality. They all ascribe to some kind of mysticism, i.e., irrationalism. They all preach the morality of self-sacrifice, which is anti-life. They all ultimately preach collectivism which is anti-individual rights.

Self-sacrifice is not anti-life and collectivism is not anti-individual rights, how did you come to these conclusions? Self-sacrifice is a valid form of personal expression, while collectivism and individual rights can fit together given a proper code of ethics.


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22-05-2017, 06:13 AM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(21-05-2017 09:32 PM)Angra Mainyu Wrote:  Self-sacrifice is not anti-life and collectivism is not anti-individual rights, how did you come to these conclusions? Self-sacrifice is a valid form of personal expression, while collectivism and individual rights can fit together given a proper code of ethics.
Self-sacrifice for the greater good is fine if it is voluntary and not compelled in any way. Because you cannot compel someone to give up something that belongs entirely to them. The problem with religion is that it often compels various forms of self-abdegnation completely untethered from the individual's ownership of self, on the basis that the self belongs to an imagined invisible being, rather than to itself. This is the fundamental basis for totalitarianism and other forms of slavery. It is designed to break down healthy personal boundaries, or at least to render them permeable.

Collectivism, at least in early Christianity, was less a central dictum in my view than it was a response to its minority status in the societies of the day, and its genuinely persecuted status (as opposed to the mostly imagined persecutions of today in societies where Christianity has achieved majority status). I believe that modern Christians make the mistake of adopting the circle-the-wagons, all-for-one-and-one-for-all ethos of the early church as normative for today -- not by actually living in communes, mind you, because somehow they have come to take personal property as another sacred notion -- but by simply being paranoid and taking simple disagreement as an existential threat.

Of course there are compartments of Christianity where collectivism also violates individual rights, such as those who teach the tithe, which compels people to abrogate a percentage of their personal wealth to the collective. Even where the tithe isn't literally seen as a binding rule, it is seen as a minimal rule-of-thumb (as one preacher I heard put it, if people could give 10% under the law, they should give at least 20% under grace, out of the sheer love of god and the sheer joy of giving, because, you know, god loveth a cheerful giver, which implies that he hateth a reluctant giver).

My basic point with all this, is that self-sacrifice and collectivism are easier to imagine as a pure good than to realize as one. In practice, and particularly in a religious faith context, they end up being net harms. It's rather like how easy it is to imagine and yearn for an ideal of marriage, and quite another thing to hammer out a mutual existence with an actual messy human being who fails to receive all your projections and live up to all your expectations.
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22-05-2017, 08:12 AM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(21-05-2017 09:32 PM)Angra Mainyu Wrote:  There may be doctrinal differences between all these thousands of versions of Christianity and other religions but they all share the same essentials and they all affirm metaphysical subjectivism as their starting point, making them all based on a false view of reality. They all ascribe to some kind of mysticism, i.e., irrationalism. They all preach the morality of self-sacrifice, which is anti-life. They all ultimately preach collectivism which is anti-individual rights.

Self-sacrifice is not anti-life and collectivism is not anti-individual rights, how did you come to these conclusions? Self-sacrifice is a valid form of personal expression, while collectivism and individual rights can fit together given a proper code of ethics.
[/quote]

I came to these conclusions by reason. That's how. By observing and identifying the facts of reality.

Let me define my terms. When I speak of self-sacrifice, I'm not speaking of kindness towards others or good will towards others. I'm speaking of making the good of others your primary purpose in life. I'm talking about a duty ethics. I define sacrifice as the giving up of a value for something of lesser value or of no value. That's precisely what the morality of self-sacrifice teaches: that in order to justify one's existence one must live for the good of others, placing one's own interests second. In the case of religion the sacrifice is to please a god. In the case of collectivism it is the good of the group. In both cases it is the good of some other.

But look at the facts. Man is a biological organism. He faces a fundamental alternative of life vs. death. Life is a process of self-generated, self-sustaining action. Every organism, no matter what it is, must take action to gain the values it needs in order to sustain it's life. If it fails in that action or is unable to take it, it dies. On my view, life is the standard and the purpose of morality. The morality of life tells one to take such action and live.

The morality of self sacrifice is based on the exact opposite premise; that one must live for others, placing one's own interests last. Whatever the value, one must give it up to others, up to and including one's life.

Now we have a contradiction; what a man must do to be moral is the opposite of what he must do to live. Therefore the morality of self-sacrifice is anti-life.

Collectivism is the corollary to the morality of self-sacrifice. It places the standard of the good as the group, not the individual. The individual must sacrifice his own interests to the interests of the group. You doubt me, go read any of the speaches of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin. See for yourself how many times they use the terms self-sacrifice and altruism. They were explicit altruists.

It's either one or the other: self-sustaining or self-sacrificing. You can't mix the two. What would your standard?

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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22-05-2017, 09:20 AM (This post was last modified: 22-05-2017 09:25 AM by big green mouth.)
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(22-05-2017 08:12 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  
Quote:
(21-05-2017 09:32 PM)Angra Mainyu Wrote:  There may be doctrinal differences between all these thousands of versions of Christianity and other religions but they all share the same essentials and they all affirm metaphysical subjectivism as their starting point, making them all based on a false view of reality. They all ascribe to some kind of mysticism, i.e., irrationalism. They all preach the morality of self-sacrifice, which is anti-life. They all ultimately preach collectivism which is anti-individual rights.

Self-sacrifice is not anti-life and collectivism is not anti-individual rights, how did you come to these conclusions? Self-sacrifice is a valid form of personal expression, while collectivism and individual rights can fit together given a proper code of ethics.

I came to these conclusions by reason. That's how. By observing and identifying the facts of reality.

Let me define my terms. When I speak of self-sacrifice, I'm not speaking of kindness towards others or good will towards others. I'm speaking of making the good of others your primary purpose in life. I'm talking about a duty ethics. I define sacrifice as the giving up of a value for something of lesser value or of no value. That's precisely what the morality of self-sacrifice teaches: that in order to justify one's existence one must live for the good of others, placing one's own interests second. In the case of religion the sacrifice is to please a god. In the case of collectivism it is the good of the group. In both cases it is the good of some other.

But look at the facts. Man is a biological organism. He faces a fundamental alternative of life vs. death. Life is a process of self-generated, self-sustaining action. Every organism, no matter what it is, must take action to gain the values it needs in order to sustain it's life. If it fails in that action or is unable to take it, it dies. On my view, life is the standard and the purpose of morality. The morality of life tells one to take such action and live.

The morality of self sacrifice is based on the exact opposite premise; that one must live for others, placing one's own interests last. Whatever the value, one must give it up to others, up to and including one's life.

Now we have a contradiction; what a man must do to be moral is the opposite of what he must do to live. Therefore the morality of self-sacrifice is anti-life.

Collectivism is the corollary to the morality of self-sacrifice. It places the standard of the good as the group, not the individual. The individual must sacrifice his own interests to the interests of the group. You doubt me, go read any of the speaches of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin. See for yourself how many times they use the terms self-sacrifice and altruism. They were explicit altruists.

It's either one or the other: self-sustaining or self-sacrificing. You can't mix the two. What would your standard?

I Wrote:That our moral sense is not anchored by objective moral values does not mean that our moral inclinations are without foundation. Our feelings give us feedback on the world just as surely as our eyes and ears do. A person who does not feel pain will likely die. The body has a wisdom the reasoning mind lacks. Johnathan Haidt postulates that our moral reasoning has five dimensions, or bases. 1) harm, 2) fairness, 3) authority, 4) loyalty/ingroup allegiance, and 5) purity or sacredness. These five bases all matter objectively in the working out of functioning of a social group or species. [...] Those who care not for harming others will be detrimental to the functioning of the social group. Those who disregard fairness, likewise. Morality is a brain shortcut for caring for these values, which ultimately is caring about the well being of the group. An individual on their own can decide not to care about the well being of the group, but that choice is not without consequences for our own. We are evolved to care about our overall well-being as a group, and these 5 bases are merely the mechanism by which we implement that bias. We are biased to be pro-survival, and likewise we are biased in favor of actions that preserve these properties. Acting otherwise is an attack upon the group, and such attacks are not ignored by the group. If you were the caretaker of a group, would you tolerate harm, unfairness, disobedience, disloyalty and defamation? Do you really need anything more than the combined interest of the group to justify your actions? Humans are a social species. Our moral emotions are an artifact of that.

First of all, I disagree that it's all one or the other. Matter of fact, it's hard to see the instinct of self-preservation itself as having any moral dimension. We act so as to preserve our life and pass on our genes, but it isn't considered morally good that we do so. It's just something we value from a morally neutral standpoint. It's an instinct, and you run into problems when you start elevating instincts to the level of moral goods. We have an instinct to harm others when we are harmed. Does that make it a moral good? I don't think so.

I'm investing a lot in Haidt's particular framework, but I think he's right when he points out these five themes as being core to morality. These are all values which promote the well-being of the group. In a sense, they are hard-wired altruisms, and I don't think that's a bad thing simply because it takes priority away from more self-centered values.
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22-05-2017, 10:58 AM
RE: Is Christianity Evil?
(22-05-2017 09:20 AM)big green mouth Wrote:  First of all, I disagree that it's all one or the other. Matter of fact, it's hard to see the instinct of self-preservation itself as having any moral dimension. We act so as to preserve our life and pass on our genes, but it isn't considered morally good that we do so. It's just something we value from a morally neutral standpoint. It's an instinct, and you run into problems when you start elevating instincts to the level of moral goods. We have an instinct to harm others when we are harmed. Does that make it a moral good? I don't think so.
I agree, I am not comfortable with elevating self-preservation to some sort of moral imperative. It smells of overthinking. Individual rights and autonomy deserve respect but considering only those rights is not how civil society is constructed and maintained.
(22-05-2017 09:20 AM)big green mouth Wrote:  I'm investing a lot in Haidt's particular framework, but I think he's right when he points out these five themes as being core to morality. These are all values which promote the well-being of the group. In a sense, they are hard-wired altruisms, and I don't think that's a bad thing simply because it takes priority away from more self-centered values.
Much about living in a modern technological society with hunter-gatherer instincts that haven't caught up to current realities, involves overriding default programming, however compelling it seems, to accomplish greater good. No one gets everything they want. Self-actualization cannot invariably have primacy if we also want to pursue corporate purposes.

Of course if I want to pay the price of living like a hermit, I can have more (perhaps, most) things my way. But most of us are not hermits.

The objectivist emphasis on self seems to forget that we are hyper-social creatures and that social reciprocity is a primal need for nearly all of us. Self-expression and self-determination and freedom of association are important, but at the same time we aren't by nature solitary heroes in Ayn Rand novels either, unmoved by and uncaring of others apart from how they can advance our own agenda. Nor should we be.
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