View previous topic | View next topic

Christian philosophy brought peace to Europe and America

Page 12 of 12
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3 ... 10, 11, 12

Celebaelin
1285127.  Sat May 26, 2018 11:56 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
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.

We’ve already covered this at some length. The meat of this discussion starts with post 1242350

As regards church attendance we have a few solid facts from suze in post 1242687 which give us some sense of the nature of the way things were.
As far as I can tell this strand of the argument ends in post 1242775 with my suggestion that
Celebaelin wrote:
In fact I thought we had agreed that because the debate was about Christian philosophy and interpretation of the Bible and the “Liberation Theologians” regarded as essential that everyone, high or low, should read and study the Bible that Christian philosophy was instrumental in the development of Western culture; it was universally considered a fitting subject for debate, all could have access to the source material and all were encouraged or even compelled to read it. Some countries did not embrace protestant values but eventually the technological advances that resulted from a population directed towards intellectual as well as physical labours were adopted universally.

dr.bob wrote:
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.

The Romans had not developed metallurgy to a sufficient extent to exploit the developments they had made, also I would argue, and have argued earlier in the thread that their mindset was not mechanistically industrial. If by blind luck you mean the result of increased literacy and education in the population in general as a result of the Bible being published in English then yes, I guess that was an unexpected development but with hindsight it was predictable.

dr.bob wrote:
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?

Not much ‘waxing and waning’ since the Renaissance/Reformation but leaving that aside for a moment this line of reasoning raises a question – why didn’t the Mongols push on into Europe? The death of Genghis Khan fractionated the Mongol Empire and that’s about the size of it. I personally find it hard to believe that the Mongols could have penetrated far against 13th century knights but much of the evidence we have suggests that knights were the only troops that could stop the Mongols and it is possible that the European armies would not have sufficient numbers of them. The French created 2,000 new knights before Agincourt (1415) though and such a strategy might have proved more beneficial against the Mongols in the early 13th century than it was against the army of Henry V some 200 years later.
All this much predates the reformation however so the knock on effect is pure speculation.

dr.bob wrote:
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.

Yep.

dr.bob wrote:
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.

dr.bob wrote:
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"

So to be clear you’re saying that the compulsory element of Christian worship (take communion twice a year) is evidence of the lack of Christian influence?

dr.bob wrote:
...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.

The extent of the nature of this ‘obligatory Christianity’ is key I feel. It is required that people be nominally Christian (nominally protestant in fact) any further deeds are a matter of conscience. Given the nature of Christian thought I think it is entirely fair to assert that Christians who claim to be acting out of piety or religious influence be taken at their word.

As has been said elsewhere

To begin with we had the land and the white man had the Bible; later we had the Bible and the white man had the land.
I think it is necessary to distinguish the two processes however. Missionaries bring the Good Word to the pagans did not AFAIK actively participate in the subjugation of indigenous peoples but their promotion of non-violence will have been contributory. Slavery was widespread in Africa already of course – in fact it is somewhat ironic that you raise this issue when Christian culture is far more opposed to slavery than is Islam or Chinese thought. This does not of course excuse those who participated in the slave trade or who owned slaves but it does serve to indicate that they knew what they were doing was considered sinful by many since at least the time of St Augustine (354-430AD). I would also remind you that any slave who set foot on British soil was immediately considered a free man so the attitude of British Law and the church on such matters was clear and as such profiting from the slave trade was known to be an unchristian act.
dr.bob wrote:
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.

It was not the uniqueness that was at issue – you (or somebody) suggested that I was cherry picking just the ‘nice’ parts of Christianity. I suggest that Christianity IS the nice parts!

dr.bob wrote:
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.

Hence my “stoic” reference. Non-violent resistance is acceptable (if not exactly popular with the rich and powerful).

dr.bob wrote:
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).

I have no intention of going through all the different Christian Moral philosophies of the last 2,000 years one by one – my summary was intended as a simple summation of the root beliefs. You seem to accept that as being the case and point out that those beliefs are widely held outside Christianity. OK then as I have pointed out before what remains are political and economic boundaries and spheres of control dividing people of largely similar beliefs. I assert that Europe and the Americas have been influenced primarily by Christian philosophies – that the core philosophies are shared by other religions and modes of thought (with equally patchy results) does not contradict my original assertion.

dr.bob wrote:
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.

Any action taken by you in this regard is sinful. I don’t see the problem – if you believe in God then fine if you don’t then that’s also fine except you have to suck it up. Believers will tell you that God’s will prevails. Some people might mention karma or some similar concept.

dr.bob wrote:
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.

I wasn’t aware that the two were mutually exclusive but then again I’ve not read any of Mr. Friedman’s (hereafter referred to as the antichrist) works.

dr.bob wrote:
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.

That the actual meaning of the quote is that Laplace had no need of the hypothesis of God’s intervention rather than his existence seems only to support my claim for Christian influence; I’m surprised you brought it up.

I had planned on doing some housework today so thanks for allowing me to delay that... again. : )

 
brunel
1285141.  Sat May 26, 2018 4:41 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
dr.bob wrote:
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?

Not much ‘waxing and waning’ since the Renaissance/Reformation but leaving that aside for a moment this line of reasoning raises a question – why didn’t the Mongols push on into Europe? The death of Genghis Khan fractionated the Mongol Empire and that’s about the size of it. I personally find it hard to believe that the Mongols could have penetrated far against 13th century knights but much of the evidence we have suggests that knights were the only troops that could stop the Mongols and it is possible that the European armies would not have sufficient numbers of them. The French created 2,000 new knights before Agincourt (1415) though and such a strategy might have proved more beneficial against the Mongols in the early 13th century than it was against the army of Henry V some 200 years later.
All this much predates the reformation however so the knock on effect is pure speculation.

I think that you are getting confused between Genghis Khan and his descendent Möngke Khan, who died without an heir several decades after the death of Genghis.

Until then, the Mongolian Empire had been continuing to expand after the death of Genghis - whilst there were inevitably some factional politics, the more major splits occurred after Möngke Khan's death at the end of the 1250's, not the 1220's.

Furthermore, in the 1240's the Mongols did actually launch campaigns into Eastern Europe, managing to attack Southern Austria, Hungary and Poland. They were able to inflict a fairly heavy defeat on the Hungarian and Polish forces, such as in the Battle of Mohi, so the Mongols could still present a significant military threat.

 
Celebaelin
1285154.  Sat May 26, 2018 7:38 pm Reply with quote

brunel wrote:
I think that you are getting confused between Genghis Khan and his descendent Möngke Khan, who died without an heir several decades after the death of Genghis.

Quite possibly - that doesn't detract from my argument really though except in the mere* sense of their being 'materially inaccurate'. That phrase being easily and accurately translatable into 'patently wrong' in this instance rather than 'disingenuous'.

I was aware of Mohl (and other battles where the Mongols whupped ass) but not that the Khan under which they were conducted was not Temujin.

* you know, what with that undermining all question of the veracity of my suggestion(s).

 
Jenny
1285197.  Sun May 27, 2018 12:38 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
I would also remind you that any slave who set foot on British soil was immediately considered a free man so the attitude of British Law and the church on such matters was clear and as such profiting from the slave trade was known to be an unchristian act.


In what time period would you say this was true?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/12/british-history-slavery-buried-scale-revealed

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

As for "known to be an unchristian act", many Biblical quotations were used to support it.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-33/why-christians-supported-slavery.html

Christianity Today wrote:
Biblical Reasons

• Abraham, the “father of faith,” and all the patriarchs held slaves without God’s disapproval (Gen. 21:9–10).

• Canaan, Ham’s son, was made a slave to his brothers (Gen. 9:24–27).

• The Ten Commandments mention slavery twice, showing God’s implicit acceptance of it (Ex. 20:10, 17).

• Slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, and yet Jesus never spoke against it.

• The apostle Paul specifically commanded slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6:5–8).

• Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master (Philem. 12).

Charitable and Evangelistic Reasons

• Slavery removes people from a culture that “worshipped the devil, practiced witchcraft, and sorcery” and other evils.

• Slavery brings heathens to a Christian land where they can hear the gospel. Christian masters provide religious instruction for their slaves.

• Under slavery, people are treated with kindness, as many northern visitors can attest.

• It is in slaveholders’ own interest to treat their slaves well.

• Slaves are treated more benevolently than are workers in oppressive northern factories.

Social Reasons

• Just as women are called to play a subordinate role (Eph. 5:22; 1 Tim. 2:11–15), so slaves are stationed by God in their place.

• Slavery is God’s means of protecting and providing for an inferior race (suffering the “curse of Ham” in Gen. 9:25 or even the punishment of Cain in Gen. 4:12).


More reasons are cited, but there is a paywall for the rest.

 
Celebaelin
1285244.  Mon May 28, 2018 6:07 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
In what time period would you say this was true?

From 1772 onwards according to the Wiki entry you cite.

There is this however

Quote:
The slave trade had been banned in England in 1102. In a 1569 court case involving Cartwright, who had bought a slave from Russia, the court ruled that English law could not recognise slavery, as it was never established officially. This ruling was overshadowed by later developments. It was upheld in 1700 by Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt when he ruled that "As soon as a man sets foot on English ground he is free".

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

Quote:
Somerset v Stewart (1772) 98 ER 499 (also known as Somersett's case, or in State Trials v.XX Sommersett v Steuart) is a famous judgment of the Court of King's Bench in 1772, which held that chattel slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales, although the position elsewhere in the British Empire was left ambiguous.

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

Jenny wrote:
As for "known to be an unchristian act", many Biblical quotations were used to support it.

It may be reductio ad absurdum but you could argue a case for mass murder based on the Old Testament (Noah, Sodom, Moses and the Red Sea, probably others). I do not imagine that you would suggest this demonstrates that mass murder is condoned by Christianity but it is a parallel case (if a rather silly one).

The notion that people know the difference between right and wrong inherently is I suppose debateable because of cultural norms but on balance if it ‘feels naughty’ it probably is. Adults should be in a position to realise that certain proscriptions exist for sound moral reasons and that ‘because I want to’ or ‘I don’t understand why not’ are not sufficient justification. My point is that an inherent understanding of what is moral exists within humans and seeking out Bible verses to justify wrongdoing does not mitigate the amoral nature of such acts.

It is surprising that Jesus did not specifically condemn slavery but bearing in mind his message of ‘worship God and love thy neighbour (and all other commandments stem from these two)' I think I can justifiably claim that it is implicit and that his very forthright views on hypocrisy (Matthew 23 v25-26) clearly apply.

Quote:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

This is all something of a tangent though really; the legally condoned conduction of the slave trade and its subsequent criminalisation are part of our history and that at all stages the Bible was cited as justification for, and subsequently repudiation of, slavery is rather more to my point.

For instance 1 Corinthians 7 v21-24 (the first time Paul references slavery) indicates that, in essence, it is OK to be a slave - you can still be a Christian brother or sister. While Paul does not explicitly state this it must mean that love thy neighbour indisputably applies and thus that slavery as a subjugation of a fellow Christian is contrary to God's will. There is also a rejection of selling oneself into slavery as an act of Christian humility and abdication of earthly wealth.

Quote:
Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Moral superiority is not part of my argument although it is central to Christian philosophy itself and indeed is part of its mass appeal. Nice guys finish last but get their reward in the afterlife (if you believe in that sort of thing).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_slavery#Christian_abolitionism
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/slavery-and-the-bible-the-perspective-of-this-abolitionist/
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+7&version=NIV

 
Jenny
1285255.  Mon May 28, 2018 10:45 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
the legally condoned conduction of the slave trade and its subsequent criminalisation are part of our history and that at all stages the Bible was cited as justification for, and subsequently repudiation of, slavery is rather more to my point.


As I see it, those things are actually a refutation of your point, if your point is that Christian philosophy brought peace to Europe and America.

If the same philosophy (and it is the same philosophy, not just cherry-picked quotations, if you look at those things cited in the Christianity Today link I provided) can be used both to support and oppose something that in the modern world we can clearly see is offensive and immoral, then I think it is fair to say that our progress in abolishing it was far more to do with the evolution of public opinion and a general sense of its immorality rather than specifically with Christian philosophy. The same could be applied to legislation that benefits LGBTQ people.

 
Celebaelin
1285345.  Tue May 29, 2018 7:21 am Reply with quote

If you don't accept that the New Testament is reflective of a sea change in the philosophy of Biblical teachings, as it seems from the above that you don't, then frankly what was all the fuss about with regard to this Christianity lark?

Your opinion suggests that it is impossible for two opinions to exist based on the same data set without both of them being correct interpretations; I do not accept this. In that the decision as to which interpretation of Christian philosophy is morally superior (and therefore correct) is a matter of discussion and distillation through the filter of common consent then clearly public opinion is of importance. What determines the choice of what is contrary to

Quote:
...a general sense of its immorality...

do we think? Well, in the case of Europe and the Americas I suggest that this is primarily the Christian philosophy that stems from the New Testament. That it is implemented through the exertion of majority opinion (amongst those with a say in the matter) pretty much goes without saying. The legal prohibition against slavery of 1102 cannot really have been said to have been the result of a majority decision of the populace however - there is little doubt that if the populace had been consulted then they would have agreed (in the absence of a large scale 'turkeys voting for Christmas' effect) but that consultative process did not occur. The same would apply to any UK legislation up until the earlyish 20th century really when representational democracy became truly that. True representational democracy is however an idea that is itself allied with Christian notions of brotherhood and sisterhood based on egalitarian ideals and not dependent on notions of wealth, power or privilege.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/41/Electoral_democracies.png/1200px-Electoral_democracies.png
Electoral democracies world map 2016

This can also be said for the ideals behind trade unionism in the 1830s (so pre-Marx). These societies were not outlawed by those in a position to do so although it might be pertinent to ask why not?

What point was I vaguely stumbling towards? Oh yes - if the 'democratic' institutions that implemented laws prior to the 1920s were not truly representative but rather reflected the interests of the few then what was the source of the impetus towards emancipation and enfranchisement which we have been talking about? I suggest that it was inspired and motivated by Christian philosophy - certainly Wilberforce's commitment to abolitionism started after he became a [devout*] Christian in 1785.

* I qualify this because I assume he was nominally a Christian prior to this date.

 
dr.bob
1285366.  Tue May 29, 2018 10:52 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
The Romans had not developed metallurgy to a sufficient extent to exploit the developments they had made, also I would argue, and have argued earlier in the thread that their mindset was not mechanistically industrial.


My argument was simply that, at the time, the Romans were at the forefront of technological innovation. Would you agree with that?

Celebaelin wrote:
If by blind luck you mean the result of increased literacy and education in the population in general as a result of the Bible being published in English then yes, I guess that was an unexpected development but with hindsight it was predictable.


OK, this is a big issue that needs tackling. You've suggested that literacy rates increased as a result of the protestant reformation, and this then lead to the industrial revolution. Let's examine the various strands of this.

I found a graphic, from this article, which shows literacy rates in different European countries since 1475. At first glance, I will agree that it broadly supports your argument, in that literacy rates in protestant countries like the Netherlands and the UK rise at a far faster rate than Catholic countries like Italy. However, it's hard to draw firm conclusions from such a small number of examples. I'll note, for example, that Catholic France has similar literacy rates to Protestant Germany for most of the period being reported, so I would suspect it's not quite as simple as you seem to be making out.

Another thing to note is that literacy rates in the UK leapt from around 15% to just over 50% in around 100 years, then stagnated, in contrast to the Netherlands where rates continued to improve over time. If the fact that the Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe was thanks to protestant teachings improving literacy rates, wouldn't it have happened in the Netherlands rather than the UK? I'm sure you would accept that the causes of the Industrial Revolution are many and various, and factors such as the density of populations and the ready supply of raw materials are down to simple blind luck, not because of anything Jesus said.

Finally, your argument seems to be steadily morphing into "Peace and prosperity in Europe and America was caused by the Protestant reformation."

Celebaelin wrote:
why didn’t the Mongols push on into Europe?


No idea. Could it possibly be simply the lack of decent communication made ruling an empire of that size impracticable?

Celebaelin wrote:
So to be clear you’re saying that the compulsory element of Christian worship (take communion twice a year) is evidence of the lack of Christian influence?


No. If that's what you've taken from it, then you've misunderstood my point entirely.

I've underlined the compulsory element of Christian worship until relatively recently simply as a reason not to assume that any good deeds were as a result of Christian beliefs. People do good and bad things whether they're religious or not. If people were obliged to be Muslim or Shinto, they would probably do similarly good things. If religion was banned and people were forced to be atheist (c.f. Communist Russia), the same would apply. People do good things, and Christianity happened to be there, so to point to those people as examples of the influence of Christianity is suspect at best.

Celebaelin wrote:
This does not of course excuse those who participated in the slave trade or who owned slaves but it does serve to indicate that they knew what they were doing was considered sinful by many since at least the time of St Augustine (354-430AD).


Do you have any evidence to back that up? As Jenny has pointed out, given the swathes of Bible quotes used to justify slavery, I'd suspect that these people didn't consider their actions at all sinful.

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

It was not the uniqueness that was at issue – you (or somebody) suggested that I was cherry picking just the ‘nice’ parts of Christianity. I suggest that Christianity IS the nice parts!


I disagree here. As I pointed out, every successful religion preaches the same idea of tolerance, forgiveness, and love. The "nice" parts are pretty much the same in every religion, so clearly what makes Christianity distinct from, say, Islam or Hinduism must be the ways in which it differs from those religions, not the parts that they have in common.

Celebaelin wrote:
dr.bob wrote:
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.

I wasn’t aware that the two were mutually exclusive but then again I’ve not read any of Mr. Friedman’s (hereafter referred to as the antichrist) works.


I don't think that they're mutually exclusive, just completely unrelated. Ben Bernanke was another big fan of Friedman and he was Jewish. I don't think his enthusiasm for monetarism had much to do with his Jewish ideals.

Celebaelin wrote:
That the actual meaning of the quote is that Laplace had no need of the hypothesis of God’s intervention rather than his existence seems only to support my claim for Christian influence; I’m surprised you brought it up.


I was merely responding to your observation that he hadn't been executed for his heresy. That was why.

Celebaelin wrote:
I had planned on doing some housework today so thanks for allowing me to delay that... again. : )


Happy to help :)

 
dr.bob
1285367.  Tue May 29, 2018 10:57 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
In that the decision as to which interpretation of Christian philosophy is morally superior (and therefore correct) is a matter of discussion and distillation through the filter of common consent then clearly public opinion is of importance.


Hang on. I thought Christian philosophy was supposed to be the teachings of Christ. You say it is the result of "the filter of common consent". My wording of that would be "picking and choosing from the self-contradictory parts of the Bible to fit in with popular opinion." If the teachings have to be debated and agreed upon, and change over time, then what good are the teachings?

Celebaelin wrote:
if the 'democratic' institutions that implemented laws prior to the 1920s were not truly representative but rather reflected the interests of the few then what was the source of the impetus towards emancipation and enfranchisement which we have been talking about?


Popular opinion.

You don't need true democracy for public opinion to influence the way a country is run. Just ask Louis XVI. Ever since the French revolution, modern governments were keenly aware that they needed to keep the great unwashed happy. If there was sufficient popular opposition to a policy, the government would change it even if it ran counter to the interests of the few.

 
bobwilson
1286720.  Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:26 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
If you don't accept that the New Testament is reflective of a sea change in the philosophy of Biblical teachings, as it seems from the above that you don't, then frankly what was all the fuss about with regard to this Christianity lark? ………………what was the source of the impetus towards emancipation and enfranchisement which we have been talking about? I suggest that it was inspired and motivated by Christian philosophy……………


Since things seem to have quietened down on this thread – and therefore I won’t be interrupting the discussion……………

Cel SEEMS to be of the opinion that Christianity is an improved/modified version of the “flawed” Old Testament, and that it arises in isolation. Although he doesn’t explicitly state this, the assumption is implicit throughout his posts.

I’m probably what would be described as an extreme Darwinist – and it’s my belief that ALL human (and, indeed, all animal) social structures can be explained by the relatively simple rule of “survival of the fittest”.

Once we humans began to live in complex societies (when we began to have individual specialisms rather than simply being tribal hunter-gatherers) a whole new set of problems emerged. One fairly trivial example would be how to distribute the meat from the hunting of a wild animal.

In hunter-gatherer type groups, the general rule is that he who is strongest/most active in the hunt takes his share first – with the rest grabbing whatever they can (a model that is still followed by pack hunting animals today).

This model doesn’t work when some of the group NEVER take part in the hunt because they’re busy doing other things of general benefit to the group, and for which they are better suited.

That’s when societies start laying down laws – rules by which the society is governed – and you find proto-government. These are necessarily simple laws – as exemplified by, for example, the ten commandments. They have to be simple because they need to be easily understood, and agreed, by the entire population.

The trouble with simple laws (indeed, with all laws) is that they’re inevitably flawed – which I think is self-evident. “Thou shalt not kill” is something which is easily understood, and which appears to be pretty obvious – until you get to the “what about when…” situations.

Hence societies develop structures (ie more complex laws, judicial systems, etc) to deal with the inevitable disputes which will arise about how to interpret the “basic” laws. This is when (for instance) Talmudic Law or the Code of Hammurabi arise.

There is, however, an intrinsic problem with laying down laws – they’re never going to be right (or rather, perfect) and they will always have unexpected consequences. That, in turn, leads to questioning of those laws (the standard childish refrain of “but that’s not fair”) and pressure to modify the laws to reflect the imperfections.

Christian mythology assumes that Jesus appears from nowhere with a whole new set of teachings that either replaces and/or builds upon the existing law – with a novel concept of “shouldn’t everybody just be nice to each other”.

I find that incredibly difficult to believe. I think it far more likely that that idea had been knocking around for a while – and that Jesus is simply the most extravagant exponent of the idea (at the time). If it were otherwise, I suspect that he would have been just another forgotten preacher with some wacky ideas. (This is rather similar to the idea that Shakespeare invented certain words – he may have been the first to use them in popular entertainment, or the oldest extant record of their use, but had they been completely novel words then his plays would have been too obscure for the general public).

Once that premise is accepted (and I think it’s beyond debate, to be honest) then Christianity is not the impetus for “christian thought”, it becomes a reflection of the zeitgeist.

In other words, the causal structure proposed by Cel is inverted. It is not Christianity that motivates charity, emancipation, etc – it is the zeitgeist, the inherent “goodness” if you will of humanity, that finds an expression and needs to find a way to reconcile it with the existing laws.

Put another way – if the Law says X – and the generality of public opinion says “well, that’s just plain wrong” – then all it takes is an inspirational speaker who can come up with a pithy phrase (eg “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”) to motivate the mob, and thereby lead to a fundamental shift in the ways of society.

Wilberforce wasn’t opposed to slavery because he was a Christian – he was opposed to slavery because he thought it was wrong. He used Christianity as a vehicle because it was convenient. If he’d been born in a Buddhist or Moslem environment, he would have used those as the vehicle. If he’d lived in an atheistic society he might have used some other method (I have a vague recollection that Adam Smith was opposed to slavery, not on moral grounds but because it makes poor economic sense in a capitalist society – slaves have no money to spend).

So, to get back to the original statement

Quote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas


No. The transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture (whether in Europe and the Americas or elsewhere) is driven by Darwinian evolution – it’s a more efficient way of ensuring the propagation of the genes. Christianity is simply another way of codifying the laws that govern complex interactions between disparate groups.

 
Jenny
1286823.  Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:02 am Reply with quote

Essentially I agree with bob wilson on this. If you look at all new religious movements that arise, they build on attitudes and thinking that is more beneficial to the group as a whole if the group as a whole adopts them.

 
dr.bob
1287615.  Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:28 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
Christian mythology assumes that Jesus appears from nowhere with a whole new set of teachings that either replaces and/or builds upon the existing law – with a novel concept of “shouldn’t everybody just be nice to each other”.

I find that incredibly difficult to believe. I think it far more likely that that idea had been knocking around for a while – and that Jesus is simply the most extravagant exponent of the idea (at the time).


That's a good point. One obvious example of the general "be nice to each other" is the so-called Golden Rule. This introduced the idea of reciprocity and is generally summed up as "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself". Or, coming at it from the opposite direction, "One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.

There are lots of pre-Christian examples of this philosophy. In Ancient Greece, Isocrates (436–338 BC) said "Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you." It occurs several times in Buddhist scripture, such as "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udanavarga 5:18). It also appears in Confucianism ("What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.")

bobwilson wrote:
Once that premise is accepted (and I think it’s beyond debate, to be honest) then Christianity is not the impetus for “christian thought”, it becomes a reflection of the zeitgeist.


That's a good point, and it fits nicely with my previously argued stance which claimed that churches and religious leaders generally changed their position as a result of a swell of popular opinion, rather than being the agents for moral change as they often claim to be.

 
bobwilson
1291524.  Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:49 pm Reply with quote

Since this thread has again fallen into disrepair (no bad thing in my opinion) and therefore I won’t be interrupting any discussion…………………

I would posit that Christian philosophy (along with its’ cousins – Judaism and Islam, and the lesser but equally tendentious distant relatives nationalism and fascism) has been the most destructive force in history, the one that has opposed most vigorously any form of progress, and that it should itself be vigorously opposed wherever it raises its’ ugly head.

In the UK we’re what would generally be described as “tolerant” about religion – notwithstanding the likes of Tommy Robinson, we see vicars, imams, priests etc as quaint hangovers from an earlier time of a bicycling Father Brown visiting parishioners delivering biscuits along with crumbs of comfort to those in distress. In Douglas Adams’ phrase “Mostly Harmless”.

I would argue that those bicycling vicars are the remnants of dangerous pathogens that need to be excised from the corporate body politic lest they flair up again into a virulent infection. Alternatively, they should be used as vaccines – let them spout their nonsense, and let’s point out their stupidity to immunise the next generation.

Just as the human body becomes more susceptible to dormant viruses when in crisis, so too does the body politic become susceptible to the dormant virus Faith when in crisis. Even Stalin re-opened the churches when the Nazi’s came calling.

Christianity (and similar religious beliefs) begins with Faith (with a capital F) – and Faith (with that capital F) is a pernicious ideology that brooks no argument. All ideologies that are built on Faith begin with a statement of irrefutable Facts (again, capital F) – evidence is then found to support those Facts. Or more frequently, evidence is found (and other evidence wilfully ignored) to support a particular interpretation of those Facts.

Those who argue for NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria – ie that science and religion are different realms that have nothing to say about each other) are deluding themselves. As Dawkins says - if the sun did in fact remain stationary in the sky, or the Red Sea part, this is very much in the realm of science.

Science begins with looking at the facts (not Facts) – that is, verifiable evidence-based information – and looks for explanations. Scientists may, and frequently do, misinterpret that evidence and come to wrong conclusions. I think it was the scientist JJ Thompson who calculated that the Sun, if made of coal or some other similar burnable substance, could have existed for no longer than about 10,000 years. (Isn’t it odd that no biblical literalist trots out that “proof” of the bible anymore?).

An evidence-based interpretation of history must inevitably conclude that religion, certainly in the Christian/Islamic/Judaic mould, has been nothing but destructive. It is also the model upon which Fascism and Soviet-Communism was built.

I avoided going this far before because I could see that others were using more temperate language than I would have chosen – but frankly, the statement

Quote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas


has to rank as one of the most disingenuous utterances of the century.

It is in spite of, not because of, Christian philosophy that we’ve managed to progress this far. It is the remnants of Christian (and Islamic, Judaic) philosophy that prevents us from progressing further. It is the tolerance of this cancerous stupidity that is holding us back from reaching our full potential.

If I were dictator would I close churches? No. I would, however, expect churchmen to justify their beliefs and batter the idiots into submission.

Cel’s original premise would be better rendered as

Quote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the warlike transformation to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas


If it weren’t for Christian philosophy, we’d have had this shit sorted out a long time ago.

 

Page 12 of 12
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3 ... 10, 11, 12

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group