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Christian philosophy brought peace to Europe and America

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'yorz
1284343.  Thu May 17, 2018 5:58 pm Reply with quote

22 is major. If we cross off the ones that Alf cannot possibly have ticked, we can make an educated guess as to the ones that do apply for him.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1284346.  Thu May 17, 2018 8:15 pm Reply with quote

In keeping with the spirit of the sign, I was judging myself quite harshly...

 
tetsabb
1284351.  Fri May 18, 2018 4:20 am Reply with quote

I think I make 22 as well, not counting myself as a Mary-worshipping Catholic.

See you down below, Alf!

 
Baryonyx
1284356.  Fri May 18, 2018 4:59 am Reply with quote

23, thanks to that weekend in New Orleans....

 
dr.bob
1284368.  Fri May 18, 2018 6:09 am Reply with quote

The person with the sign has got it wrong. Hell is really awaiting anyone who misuses an apostrophe!

Hare Krishna's??!?!
New-Age Guru's?!?!!

Actually I take that back. An eternity of torment at the hands of Satan and his demonic helpers simply isn't a sufficiently bad punishment for them ;-)

 
ali
1284382.  Fri May 18, 2018 8:13 am Reply with quote

Alfred E Neuman wrote:
In keeping with the spirit of the sign, I was judging myself quite harshly...


I obviously have some work to do: it's all I can do to get to 20 - and I'm not really convinced I've earned some of them :(

 
Celebaelin
1284400.  Fri May 18, 2018 10:31 am Reply with quote

Welcome back dr.bob

My response must unfortunately be similarly lengthy. With appologies to the other posters who have responded in the meantime and whose posts I have not as yet read.

dr.bob wrote:
My question is: Are you asserting that the experience in Europe and the Americas is broadly any different from any other part of the world? Or are you saying: "Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas just as Islamic philosophy is responsible for the same transformation in the Middle East, and Confucianism is responsible for the same transformation in China"? You touch on this briefly in post 1283689, but I think the point could do with clarifying so we don't end up arguing at cross-purposes.

Generally yes, the just as... portion would apply but with the proviso that the development of modern systems of government and the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ occurred in the West and was enabled earlier in that environment by the multiplicity of thought that arose and gained recognition within Western thought principally as a result of the reformation.

dr.bob wrote:
The evidence you ask about would be examples of how Europe and the Americas differ from other parts of the world.

And the first thing that springs to mind, indeed the central thing from the point of view of this assertion is the more flexible approach to religious thought. More is a relative term of course but Protestantism did persist in Northern Europe. The root of, for instance, the Sunni vs Shia divide was by contrast political rather than doctrinal in origin. Religious differences occurred only after the de facto split had come into being.
Quote:
Because of the different paths the two sects took, Sunnis (85% majority – C.) emphasize God’s power in the material world, sometimes including the public and political realm, while Shiites value in martyrdom and sacrifice.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/04/world/middleeast/q-and-a-how-do-sunni-and-shia-islam-differ.html

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
I claim that Christian philosophy has influenced the peaceful development of Europe and America so it follows, does it not, that first hand citation of Christian motivation by the 'movers and shakers' who instigated changes towards peaceful advances would constitute documented causation.

No it doesn't, for two reasons.
Firstly, for much of the last 2,000 years of European history, being Christian was pretty much obligatory.

The power of the Catholic Church was incomplete up to, well, let’s use England as an example and say the 10th century and even when it was established that church attendance was obligatory that does not require any individual to proclaim his/her belief. To suggest that by Newton’s time he or other figures of the British enlightenment might have been executed for not professing his belief in God is highly questionable. What affect such a denial might have had on his appointments to positions of power is another matter admittedly but ultimately it is a question of conscience for the individual.

dr.bob wrote:
Secondly, and more importantly, you have failed to properly address my criticism that many supposedly Christian people throughout history have behaved in decidedly un-Christian ways. You yourself have acknowledged that this is true, but you have failed to address the problem.

I thought I had but you may be right. What people in power believe to be the correct interpretation is largely a product of their desire to achieve certain goals moulding the metaphorical clay of scripture into a pot of a shape suited to their ambitions. To take Cromwell as an example my best guess to explain his behaviour is that he was traumatised by the things he’d instigated and witnessed during the civil war but rationalised it as being ‘God’s Will’ and then carried though with the logic of taking ‘the good fight’ to the Catholics of the British Isles who had supported the King – and were therefore traitors. This interpretation allows the possibility that Cromwell believed what he was doing was right despite its rather obvious failings in the regard of Christian charity and non-violence.

dr.bob wrote:
As bobwilson points out later, you seem to be defining "Christian philosophy" as "being nice" rather than "being a church-going, bible-reading Christian." Whenever I have pointed out that Christian people have persecuted innocent people, or gone to war, you have simply dismissed this by saying "That doesn't count, because they weren't following Christian philosophy."

As regards Christian philosophy itself the ‘being nice’ part is pretty obviously self-evidently true from even a cursory reading of the New Testament the problem being it is not exactly ideally suited to the maintenance of political power or the affairs of state. There’s nothing to indicate that it was intended to be really but it does have this surprising tendency to make peoples’ lives more tolerable, which is politically desirable. Add to that the elements of stoicism and the concept of ultimate reward and it is a powerful weapon for the encouragement of public order and quietude. One of my main points has been that for the majority of the people most of the time the teachings of Christ promote a peaceful and productive, non-violent co-existence giving rise to a stable, prosperous, taxable society. That this in turn makes such societies a soft and inviting target for those whose beliefs are of a more aggressive nature is an exquisitely agonising irony and a major pain in the arse for anyone trying to keep everyone at least content. Your chances for contentment when some thieving, land-grabbing homicidal Dane has just buried an axe in your forehead are pretty remote. Your chances of experiencing any feeling at all are basically vanishingly small but I stray from my point. That point being that it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why a more vigorous response than ‘turning the other cheek’ might prove popular with both the great and the lowly under those circumstances.

dr.bob wrote:
If you want to provide docuemted evidence of causation, it would probably help if you defined precisely what you mean by "Christian philosophy", because on the evidence so far it seems to be only a very small subset of the tenets of the Christian church.

Indeed – organised religions are asked to rule upon issues which were not part of the teachings of Christ because the issues were not of significance to him or worse still are so far from what he considered to be the right way to live your life that the questions are almost meaningless in a Christian context. But churches are political bodies whereas individuals are not required to answer to the great and powerful when asked for an opinion in a certain weighty regard – if the chuch does not have an answer then the church does not have a say!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_philosophy

As Wiki demonstrates there have been a multitude of approaches to Christian philosophy over the ages which precludes me from citing any definitive meaning except to offer my own, rather simplistic, two pennyworth.

Have affection in your heart for all people (so don’t do nasty stuff to them).
Live in the hope of lightening the hearts of others (but don’t count on it).
Do not seek revenge on those who have harmed you (it’s not even really OK to secretly want something bad to happen to them).
Do not judge others unfairly or harshly (it’s not your place or your decision to make).
Believe that God IS love (so it follows that all love is a manifestation of God).

dr.bob wrote:
You see? There you go. Effectively you're saying "I'm only going to choose the Papal Bulls that fit with my idea of 'Christian philosophy' and ignore any that contradict my assertion, even though the Pope is clearly a Christian."
If you're going to wilfully ignore evidence that contradicts you then it will be impossible to have any meaningful discussion about the topic.

And therefore when decisions are democratically made by a vote and 80% of the people decide one thing the fact that 20% of voters wished for something else means that the vote is invalidated because it was not unanimous? Come off it bob.

dr.bob wrote:
I'd be interested to see how you're going to link the changes of the Thatcher government to her belief in Christian philosophy
//
if all you've got is one soundbite from 1979, then that's pretty scant evidence.

But, as you accept in the above, it is still evidence. I can’t say I’m aware of a multitude of religious quotes from Mrs T. But the idea, as I thought you had recognised earlier, was to reference a lot of significant thinkers who have cited religious influence. Or do none of those count because of Laplace’s
Quote:
I have no need of that hypothesis

which did not, incidentally, lead to him being promptly burned as a heretic.

dr.bob wrote:
You say above that the church's moral stance evolves, is accepted by believers and in turn leads to a more tolerant society. However, all the evidence suggests that it is society that becomes more tolerant, while the church is dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age by the opinions of its congregations, not the other way round.

No, that’s not exactly what I said. I said that reformers advocate a policy which is contrary to church doctrine. When (if) the church eventually accepts that reform it then becomes official church policy and at that point adherents to the rule of church law must decide whether they continue to believe what the church tells them to or whether they must split from the church over the issue.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Fri May 18, 2018 10:44 am; edited 1 time in total

 
Celebaelin
1284402.  Fri May 18, 2018 10:40 am Reply with quote

Since most of those comments were about the placard that's all dealt with now.

17 incidentally; and I echo Spud's hesitancy regarding that one.

 
Jenny
1284425.  Fri May 18, 2018 2:10 pm Reply with quote

Only 7, but perhaps I'm being lenient with myself. And it doesn't mention Quakers.

 
'yorz
1284429.  Fri May 18, 2018 3:25 pm Reply with quote

Nor are Sikhs mentioned.

 
bobwilson
1284448.  Fri May 18, 2018 6:58 pm Reply with quote

Well, I know what to put on the t-shirts for this summer's festival season

 
Dix
1284449.  Fri May 18, 2018 7:00 pm Reply with quote

Nor are people that spell worshippers with two p's mentioned. Clearly the sign writer knows the absolute truth about anything and can't possibly make a mistake.

 
bobwilson
1284450.  Fri May 18, 2018 7:31 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Generally yes, the just as... portion would apply but with the proviso that the development of modern systems of government and the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ occurred in the West and was enabled earlier in that environment by the multiplicity of thought that arose and gained recognition within Western thought principally as a result of the reformation.



To paraphrase – Confucianism, Islam, Christianity and other similar pervasive moral systems have, in the areas where they were active, facilitated (or possibly even initiated) the move from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture. Of these “stabilising” influences, the one that has had the most lasting impact is Christianity. Is that the thesis?

If that is the thesis, then you should be aware that you are talking from inside a bubble – a 20th century, western-oriented bubble.

You say

Quote:
the development of modern systems of government and the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ occurred in the West and was enabled earlier in that environment


But that simply isn’t true. “Modern” systems of government have been developing over thousands of years and via multiple strands. You’ve made the assumption that history is a progression from barbarousness to some utopian future bliss, and that our current system of government (ie Western style democracy) is a progressive step (indeed, the most advanced step forward) along that path.

What you refer to as “modern systems of government” are merely “systems of government”. To a (for example) orthodox Islamist, western systems of government are seen as primitive - or closer to home, Burke’s philosophy would be more aligned with the Saudi system than with the USA.

As for industrial, technological etc development – this too has been going on for thousands of years. If you had lived in 5th century China you would have been aware of the barbarous systems beyond your borders, primitives who were to be seen much as you would look at other wild animals. Interesting, but dangerous.

You would undoubtedly conclude that notwithstanding rumours of semi-civilised peoples far to the west, that the “onset of industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ occurred in Cathay and was enabled ………….” by what?

 
Celebaelin
1284616.  Sun May 20, 2018 11:33 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
To paraphrase – Confucianism, Islam, Christianity and other similar pervasive moral systems have, in the areas where they were active, facilitated (or possibly even initiated) the move from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture. Of these “stabilising” influences, the one that has had the most lasting impact is Christianity. Is that the thesis?

No; my thesis is rather harder than that. Whilst the moral systems you mention have certainly all had stabilising effects within their respective spheres of influence the specific evolution of Christianity has resulted, possibly by co-incidence unrelated to the intrinsic content, in a societal model which has become predominant in the modern world (democratic, industrial) in general and in Europe and the Americas in particular.

bobwilson wrote:
...you should be aware that you are talking from inside a bubble – a 20th century, western-oriented bubble.

I am aware of that but the bubble I reside in is the reality I see around me. It goes without saying that a subsistence farmer in Africa would have a very different view of reality but that does not negate the near total certainty that perturbations in the economies of the financial ‘big player’ nations will affect our hypothetical subsistence farmer. This very fact has been the cause of some friction of late I seem to recall.

bobwilson wrote:
You say
Quote:
the development of modern systems of government and the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ occurred in the West and was enabled earlier in that environment

But that simply isn’t true. “Modern” systems of government have been developing over thousands of years and via multiple strands. You’ve made the assumption that history is a progression from barbarousness to some utopian future bliss, and that our current system of government (ie Western style democracy) is a progressive step (indeed, the most advanced step forward) along that path.

I have made no such assumption as regards multiple strands, utopian bliss, or the alleged superiority of Western Democracy.

Winston S. Churchill wrote:
Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.


bobwilson wrote:
What you refer to as “modern systems of government” are merely “systems of government”.

“Systems of government” that occur in the modern era I think you’ll find.

bobwilson wrote:
To a (for example) orthodox Islamist, western systems of government are seen as primitive - or closer to home, Burke’s philosophy would be more aligned with the Saudi system than with the USA.

I assume you are referring principally to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France of 1790 because I see little else which would indicate common ground between his way of thinking and that of the Saudis.
bobwilson wrote:
As for industrial, technological etc development – this too has been going on for thousands of years. If you had lived in 5th century China you would have been aware of the barbarous systems beyond your borders, primitives who were to be seen much as you would look at other wild animals. Interesting, but dangerous.

Chinese technological development got stalled because of their fascination with bronze and ceramics rather than iron/steel and glass. I accept the barbarian comparison but then again who would have thought that Viking advances in metallurgy to make better swords would have repercussions in the advent of the industrial age. Well, no-one obviously unless they were pre-cognitive, but you get the point.

bobwilson wrote:
You would undoubtedly conclude that notwithstanding rumours of semi-civilised peoples far to the west, that the “onset of ceramic, political and communications ‘ages’ occurred in Cathay and was enabled by various influences including Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and systems of political governance.

FTFY

 
dr.bob
1285052.  Fri May 25, 2018 8:23 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
My response must unfortunately be similarly lengthy.


Naturally. Apologies for the time it took to reply, but there was necessarily a lot to deal with :)

Celebaelin wrote:
Generally yes


OK, I think we're edging toward some agreement on that point, then.

Celebaelin wrote:
the just as... portion would apply but with the proviso that the development of modern systems of government and the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ occurred in the West


It certainly did.

Celebaelin wrote:
and was enabled earlier in that environment by the multiplicity of thought that arose and gained recognition within Western thought principally as a result of the reformation.


OK, this is quite a bold claim that will take some examination. The reformation begin in Europe in the 16th century. However, I would argue that the real start of the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ was the industrial revolution which started some 200 years later.

I've often queried your evidence for cause and effect. Such a long lead time would suggest to me that the industrial revolution had very little to do with the reformation, otherwise it would have happened sooner.

Instead I would posit that the onset of the industrial, technological and communications ‘ages’ happened in Europe due to nothing more than blind luck. As evidence, I point to technological advances of the past. In Roman times, it could be argued that the Roman empire was a technological powerhouse. They had systems of sanitation, communication, and weapons technology which outshone the rest of the world at that time.

However, the last 2,000 years has seen a constant waxing and waning of technological innovation. With the collapse of the Roman empire, European technological advances ground to a halt. Then, by the 8th century, we see a rise in technology in the Islamic world with figures like Ibn al-Haytham laying significant ground work for our modern scientific method and making huge breakthroughs in optics and astronomy. At this point, the Islamic world was streets ahead of everyone else, but this golden age was sadly snuffed out by the revival of stricter Sunni practices, not to mention the small matter of Mongol invasions.

In the 11th century, the Song dynasty saw China rise to become the world's pre-eminent technological powerhouse. This period of stability saw innovations such as gunpowder, the compass, and printing technology. Not only did these innovations drive technology forward, but they also directly influenced European thinkers. Francis Bacon described Chinese inventions as having "changed the whole face and stage of things throughout the world", while later philosophers such as Voltaire, Leibniz, and Quesnay were extremely interested in, and influenced by, Chinese thinking. Sadly, once again, great empires come and go, once again largely thanks to those pesky Mongols. Who knows what the Chinese might have managed to create if they hadn't spent 100 years trying to free themselves from Mongol rule?

So, by the 18th century, Europe happened to be in a good place for the Industrial Revolution to happen. Sheer good luck had given us plenty of raw material to power it (e.g. coal). Other causes of the Industrial Revolution are hotly debated, but one suggestion is that the Enclosure movement in the UK made agriculture more efficient and drove lots of farmers into more cottage industries. Doubtless the true reasons are many and complex.

The industrial revolution lead to not only a boom in scientific advances, but also the development of capitalist economies, which have now taken over the world and ensured that the technological innovation hasn't hit any more stalling points.

The lack of Mongol invasions probably helped too ;-)

Celebaelin wrote:
And the first thing that springs to mind, indeed the central thing from the point of view of this assertion is the more flexible approach to religious thought. More is a relative term of course but Protestantism did persist in Northern Europe.


Very much a relative term, as evidenced by the people killed during the Prayer Book rebellions, or the people burned at the stake for Heresy by Bloody Mary. Not a great deal of flexible religious thought there.

Celebaelin wrote:
The power of the Catholic Church was incomplete up to, well, let’s use England as an example and say the 10th century


OK, so let's say "for much of the last 1,000 years of European history, being Christian was pretty much obligatory"

Celebaelin wrote:
and even when it was established that church attendance was obligatory that does not require any individual to proclaim his/her belief. To suggest that by Newton’s time he or other figures of the British enlightenment might have been executed for not professing his belief in God is highly questionable.


To be fair, I never claimed that blasphemy was punishable by death by Newton's time. However, it was still illegal until the mid-19th century. As an example from Newton's time, check out "Taylor's Case". A man convicted of blasphemy in 1676 was sentenced "to stand in the pillory in three several places, and to pay one thousand marks fine, and to find sureties for his good behaviour during life."

Of course, such laws do not require anyone to proclaim their belief. However, if you're born and raised into a society where everyone goes to church, where not so long ago people were put to death for not believing in God, and where blasphemy was against the law, it's not hard to see why people would choose to become rather enthusiastic followers of the state religion. If everyone is Christian, using examples of people doing good things as evidence of the benign influence of Christianity is specious. As Jenny pointed out above with her example of slave traders, you should also include all the bad things done by people who were just as Christian.

Celebaelin wrote:
As regards Christian philosophy itself the ‘being nice’ part is pretty obviously self-evidently true from even a cursory reading of the New Testament


I would agree with this (largely), though you'd have to admit it's hardly an original idea that's unique to Christianity.

Celebaelin wrote:
it does have this surprising tendency to make peoples’ lives more tolerable, which is politically desirable.


Is that not largely due to the promise of rewards in the afterlife, particularly for poor people (Luke 18:24-25, Matthew 5:5, Luke 16:19-31). If the poor and downtrodden are taught to believe that they will receive riches in the afterlife, especially because they're poor and downtrodden, then they're less likely to overthrow their powerful, rich masters.

Much like the lyric in Tim Minchin's excellent song The Fence* which says "The Buddhist line about future lives is the perfect way to stop the powerless rising up."

Celebaelin wrote:
As Wiki demonstrates there have been a multitude of approaches to Christian philosophy over the ages which precludes me from citing any definitive meaning except to offer my own, rather simplistic, two pennyworth.


That's fair enough, though it doesn't help your argument very much. You claim that Christian philosophy has had a significant influence over the last 1,000 years, but clearly people living 1,000 years ago have not necessarily been influenced by your own personal interpretation of Christian philosophy. As you point out, there have been many approaches, many of which will have influenced people over the last 1,000 years (not least because some of them would've been accused of heresy if they weren't influenced by them).

Celebaelin wrote:
Have affection in your heart for all people (so don’t do nasty stuff to them).
Live in the hope of lightening the hearts of others (but don’t count on it).
Do not seek revenge on those who have harmed you (it’s not even really OK to secretly want something bad to happen to them).
Do not judge others unfairly or harshly (it’s not your place or your decision to make).


These are common aspects of pretty much every successful organised religion throughout history. Any society that doesn't live by these rules wouldn't last very long.

Also, I'm not entirely convinced by the "do not seek revenge" argument. For sure, the New Testament has plenty of citations where people are encouraged to forgive, but this is slightly let down by verses such as Proverbs 20:22 and Romans 12:19 which basically say "Don't seek vengeance, God will do it for you." So the bad guy is still getting his just desserts.

Celebaelin wrote:
dr.bob wrote:
if all you've got is one soundbite from 1979, then that's pretty scant evidence.

But, as you accept in the above, it is still evidence.


It's not remotely as convincing as her belief in the teachings of Milton Friedman, though. If all you can offer is scant evidence that's less convincing that other existing evidence, that's not much of an argument.

Celebaelin wrote:
Or do none of those count because of Laplace’s
Quote:
I have no need of that hypothesis

which did not, incidentally, lead to him being promptly burned as a heretic.


Of course it didn't, because it's an apocryphal example.

*If you've not heard it before, treat yourself, it's awesome! :)

 

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