Saturday, January 8, 2011

Religion Poisons Everything?

"There are no Christopher Hitchens Leper Colonies or Richard Dawkins Charities," writes Mark Shea, reminding us that "[i]n a Darwinian world, concern for the weak and sick doesn't tend to reach the top of the To Do list" and providing us with a blessed counter-example "who cannot be explained by the little systems of order created by Ditchkins" — Fr. Damien Continues to Inspire.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

One of the sad truths about the Darwinian mentality is that it rarely gives birth to individual acts of human charity and solidarity for the poor, the weak, the marginalized, the "defective." After all, if we are all just random intelligent apes who are doomed to oblivion anyway, why then show compassion and tenderness for those who are sick, who are wounded, who are weak. This is not to say that all atheists are brutal or cruel, but that atheism -- the belief in naturalistic materialism -- does not give rise to the kind of compassion and tenderness that religious faith does.

11:31 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

The "compassion and tenderness" that "naturalistic materialism" does produce tends to come at the point of a gun.

3:47 PM  
OpenID danightman said...

When it comes at the point of a gun, it is usually because what "tenderness" there is has been appropriated from Christianity and distorted in a cruel way.

It isn't just the vices that did harm when Christendom fell apart, but the virtues as well.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Where do I start?

"There are no Christopher Hitchens Leper Colonies or Richard Dawkins Charities," writes Mark Shea...

Why should there be? Hitchens and Dawkins are just two men. Does Mark Shea have a charity? What's his point?

Let's be clear: there are far more non-religious than religious charities in the world. And many religious charities are concerned, first and foremost, with increasing their flock and saving souls.

There is also a tremendous amount of state-sponsored charity, given by secular governments, mandated by secular citizens.

How do you explain the fact that the Nordic countries, among the least religious in the world, also lead the way in foreign aid?

One of the sad truths about the Darwinian mentality is that it rarely gives birth to individual acts of human charity and solidarity for the poor, the weak, the marginalized, the "defective."

Is this what they teach you in Church? What a load of complete rubbish.

I've already mentioned that secular charities outnumber religious ones, and that secular states give more aid than non-secular ones.

I've already given an example on this site of the Fred Hollows Society, which is responsible for giving sight to more than a million blind people in the developed world. He once studied for the priesthood, but died an atheist. According to his eulogy, "he cared too much about humans to devote his life to God."

And there's the rub. Hollows was, first and foremost, a human, and he was motivated by his humanity. "Morality", in the distorted modern sense of the world, came before religion, and not the other way round. People have been guided by altruism and the urge to help their fellows since the dawn of time. Religious people would like us all to believe otherwise, but the proof is irrefutable: if religion is the sole catalyst of goodness, why are so many non-religious people good? Where does this wellspring of kindness come from, for those who have never read a theistic tome?

9:46 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(continued...)

Put it another way: my mother has hated the Church ever since she was a child. She runs a wildlife rescue centre and our family looked after foster children throughout my childhood. I know of no religious person who has given as much as her, in time and money, to charitable causes. Her motivation?

You tell me.

When it comes at the point of a gun, it is usually because what "tenderness" there is has been appropriated from Christianity and distorted in a cruel way.

Where does all this hateful bile come from? Again, you need a firmer grasp of history, and of humanity, and of common-sense. "tenderness" was not bequeathed on the people of the world through Christianity. You would understand this if you had traveled to non-Christian countries, and seen how families live and love, often humbly, usually with great goodness, whatever their beliefs. The fact that you've come to hold such hateful and ignorant prejudice proves the exact opposite of the point you're trying to make.

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I'm noting a pattern here: When the crimes of officially atheistic regimes are brought up, atheists wash their hands of them, with Hitchens I believe even blaming religion, and now, all non-religiously motivated acts of charity are being credited to, you guessed it, atheism! Show us a specially atheistic-inspired charity, not a merely secularist one.

Atheists only count for a miniscule percentage of the global population or of that within any society, even Scandanvian societies. Is Scandanvian charity motivated by "the belief there are no gods or tooth fairies" or by other reasons, perhaps even that a millenium of Christianity left a certain mark?

Enlighten me, please, on how the Darwinian mentality, that spawned eugenics and other horrors, prompts people to care for the sick and the weak.

Religion, and specifically the Christian religion, has historically been the chief motivator of charity, even if your noble mother hated the Church.

And if this is "hateful bile" you need to get out more.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Van said...

When the crimes of officially atheistic regimes are brought up, atheists wash their hands of them

Of course they do. A nutbar who is an atheist is not a nutbar because he's an atheist. Should we also blame all crimes committed by Christians on Christianity?

If you can prove that atheism motivates crime or evil, you've got a point. But you can't, so you don't.

Show us a specially atheistic-inspired charity, not a merely secularist one.

To answer this one, I'll refer you to your next sentence:

Atheists only count for a miniscule percentage of the global population or of that within any society

Not only that, but atheists give to secular charities. Why do atheists need special atheist charities, when they can, and do, give to any charity they want, including, but not limited to:

Oxfam, the Red Cross, the United Nations Children's Fund, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, etc etc etc etc.

Is Scandanvian charity motivated by "the belief there are no gods or tooth fairies" or by other reasons, perhaps even that a millenium of Christianity left a certain mark?

Ah, so that's it. They may not be Christian, but it is their history of Christianity that makes them good? How could it be otherwise? After all, Christians are “of God”; everyone else is wicked. Right?

If this is so, how do you explain the moral philosophies of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Persia, India, Greece, Judea, and China? Read about the Golden Rule.

I'm curious to hear your take on it.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Enlighten me, please, on how the Darwinian mentality, that spawned eugenics and other horrors, prompts people to care for the sick and the weak.

Enlighten me on how mathmatics prompts people to care for the sick and weak.

Enlighten me on how the lightbulb prompts people to care for the sick and weak.

Enlighten me on how the Wheel prompts people to care for the sick and weak.

Evolution is not a moral schema. It's a scientific theory. People can believe in evolution and still be good.

Religion, and specifically the Christian religion, has historically been the chief motivator of charity, even if your noble mother hated the Church.

Wrong. Altruism has historically been the chief motivator of charity, and altruism is an innate human trait.



As for the hateful bile, I was talking about Danightman's assertion that non-Christians are incapable of "tenderness" without cruelty. That's pretty hateful stuff, particularly if you're a non-Christian.

Remember, not once have I said that Christians are not good people; on the contrary, I believe most Christians are good. My objection is to the lack of reciprocity; the finger wagging Christians who can't conceive of morality outside their (relatively new) belief system.

6:40 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"If this is so, how do you explain the moral philosophies of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Persia, India, Greece, Judea, and China?"

As the name of this blog suggests, I'm about as much a perennialist as a Catholic can get without having Pope Ratzinger burn me at the stake, so I know and respect the universalism of the Golden Rule. Catholic Natural Law and Natural Theology have always respected the world's moral, ethical, and religious traditions, from Saint Paul's sermon about the "unknown god" on Mars Hill down to our time.

That said, to think that anything approaching Christian charity developed outside of Christendom is to be ignorant of history.

7:02 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"Enlighten me on how mathmatics prompts people to care for the sick and weak."

The point of the post was that Darwinian materialism and atheism does not motivate people to charity, not that materialists or atheists cannot be charitable. Religion, and especially the Christian religion, in contrast, does.

7:10 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

If I might speak for danightman, I believe he was speaking shorthand, referring to a quote any literate Catholic (this blog's audience) would recognize immediately:

"If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber."

Thus spake Flannery O'Connor.

8:11 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Van, the crux of the matter is not whether or not atheists and other materialists can be charitable; the Church teaches that Man is created in the image of God, something Mencius hinted at when he wrote of the innate goodness of Man.

The cruz of the matter is what worldview promotes charity. Materialists can only be said to be charitable despite their worldview.

10:16 PM  

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