Who are happier -- Christians or Atheists?

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January 19th, 2015 at 1:20:41 PM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 328
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Quote: Nareed
I said it explained much, like all the evil wrought by Christians over millennia.


I made a mistake. I did not say that on this thread.

But the point is a valid one.

The vast majority of everyone in the West are Christians of one sort or another. This hasn't prevented massive injustice and cruelty throughout time. Be it by individual Christians, or by Christian institutions like old European royalty (which regarded kings as ruling by Divine right) or the various Christian churches themselves. Torture as a tool of the judicial process was as prevalent in the very Christian Byzantine Empire as it had been in the very pagan original Roman Empire. View the sweeps of European history since Constantine's adoption of Christianity until today, and war is pretty much the same, oppression, slavery, mistreatment of women, mistreatment of foreigners, etc. are all about the same.

What positive changes take place come mostly from outside the Church. Largely from pre-Christian thinkers like Aristotle, once they were rediscovered by the philosophers of the Enlightenment. That is to say, once the application of reason without preconceived religious ideology became the norm in Europe. Even then, it took several revolutions to do away with rule by Divine right and for the Church to gain some distance from the state.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
January 19th, 2015 at 1:50:09 PM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 110
Posts: 11597
Quote: Nareed
View the sweeps of European history since Constantine's adoption of Christianity until today, and war is pretty much the same, oppression, slavery, mistreatment of women, mistreatment of foreigners, etc. are all about the same.


That's the Christians spreading the 'good news'
and 'joy' of their religion. Now they just use
guilt instead of force.

Quote: N
That is to say, once the application of reason without preconceived religious ideology became the norm in Europe.


Religious ideology is the killer of original
thought. Dogma and doctrine keep the
masses in line, until things like the printing
press show up to spoil everything.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
January 19th, 2015 at 8:51:19 PM permalink
FrGamble
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 45
Posts: 5191
Quote: Nareed

The vast majority of everyone in the West are Christians of one sort or another. This hasn't prevented massive injustice and cruelty throughout time. Be it by individual Christians, or by Christian institutions like old European royalty (which regarded kings as ruling by Divine right) or the various Christian churches themselves. Torture as a tool of the judicial process was as prevalent in the very Christian Byzantine Empire as it had been in the very pagan original Roman Empire. View the sweeps of European history since Constantine's adoption of Christianity until today, and war is pretty much the same, oppression, slavery, mistreatment of women, mistreatment of foreigners, etc. are all about the same.

What positive changes take place come mostly from outside the Church. Largely from pre-Christian thinkers like Aristotle, once they were rediscovered by the philosophers of the Enlightenment. That is to say, once the application of reason without preconceived religious ideology became the norm in Europe. Even then, it took several revolutions to do away with rule by Divine right and for the Church to gain some distance from the state.


I disagree that the changes Christianity brought since Constantine are negligible. I think Christianity brought many noticeable improvements in every area of society from the pre-Christian era. However, I admit that the leaven of Christianity was indeed hindered and slowed by the embrace of it by the powerful. If you look at the almost communist structure of the early Church found in the Acts of the Apostles, everyone sharing with everyone else so that no one was in need. There was a true sense of equality among all the disciples, whether they were Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free - there were no distinctions. Yet when the powers that be embraced this new faith its more radical societal changes were dampened. They couldn't be forgotten nor could they be extinguished. There was always this dormant seed of Christ's message that couldn't be contained or controlled. Different saints and movements through the sweeps of history brought this to the fore and it would topple kings and oppression, especially when they tried to use Christianity to maintain their immoral reigns. The greatest thing to ever happen to the Church was to lose the Papal States. Once the Catholic Church was no longer a worldly power it could slowly go back to becoming what it was always meant to be - a spiritual power.

It's kind of like Christianity is a grenade. Tyrants and others can use it to wield power but it is always ticking against them. The truths of Christ will end up exploding and destroying anything that oppresses or harms others. An example might be the slave trade. Slave owners used to use certain cherry picked stories and passages from the Bible to justify their evil. However, the truth of Christ was always working against them. Eventually, the abolitionists using the very same Bible showed the truth and the whole slavery issue blew up in the face of the world because of the teachings of Christ who could not be held in bondage any longer.

I do think pre-Christian thinkers did indeed add a lot to the development of theology. However, you would be fooling yourself to think that these ideas were the application of reason without preconceived religious ideology. A religious and theistic mentality saturates and often is the foundation for these great thinkers. I think the real question you should be asking yourself is how has the relatively new atheistic ideology impacted the world? Why is it that with the rise of atheistic governments we have seen the most atrocious human acts in history? If you are worried about the retardation of progress because of the usurping of the Christian religion by powerful governments and people, why are you not anxious about what governments that have embraced atheistic philosophies have done? For it is these forces that have cause more bloodshed, discrimination, and oppression than all the "Christian" states combined.
January 19th, 2015 at 9:48:47 PM permalink
Wizard
Administrator
Member since: Oct 23, 2012
Threads: 145
Posts: 3174
Quote: Nareed
What positive changes take place come mostly from outside the Church.


Did you know the current Gregorian callendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it?

I smell a future WoV trivia challenge question.
Knowledge is Good -- Emil Faber
January 20th, 2015 at 3:04:19 AM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 103
Posts: 6767
Quote: Evenbob
It's because so many religious people
seem miserable, that's the reason.
And non religious seem happier.
All the rules of religion and all the
guilt seems to suck whatever joy
people might have right out of
their lives.


While I usually agree with EB, I have to say I do not see this at all, unless you want to extend the term "religious" to some of the movements we have today like environmentalism and the gay movement, which have taken on the form of secular religions in many ways. Those followers are indeed unhappy and angry.

Some people think that they are supposed to feel "happy" all of the time. It is worse lately because too many people think TV is real and Facebook is an accurate description of everybody else's life. A large part of Christianity is the idea that you get to hear, "you screwed up, don't worry, God still loves you. Now here is how to try to do better next time." Some people need that reassurance more than others. Some do not. What is constant is that religion anthropologically happens in every society. If it is not to God then it is to the cult of personality in N. Korea.

The unhappy ones, IMHO, are the ones who think that showing up is going to be like a happy pill. They see happy people at church and figure that showing up is what is important. They do not get that there will be bad in life and you have to deal with it. Some find that at the church. Some find it at some other place. Some look for it in a bottle or needle. Some don't find it ever and mentally collapse.
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
January 20th, 2015 at 6:47:02 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 328
Posts: 11349
Quote: Wizard
Did you know the current Gregorian callendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it?


Did you know it's a rather minor, but important, correction to the Julian Calendar, named after Gaius Julius Caesar, who was also the Roman Republic's dictator for life and Pontifex Maximus (high priest in chief) for all the pagan cults of Rome, who instituted it?
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
January 20th, 2015 at 7:23:38 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 328
Posts: 11349
Quote: FrGamble
I disagree that the changes Christianity brought since Constantine are negligible.


Of course not. but they were hardly earth-shattering either, as Christian apologists would like you to believe.

The biggest change was that Christian theology became an integral part of state policy. That led to religious wars in very short order.

Quote:
If you look at the almost communist structure of the early Church found in the Acts of the Apostles, everyone sharing with everyone else so that no one was in need. There was a true sense of equality among all the disciples, whether they were Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free - there were no distinctions.


we agree for once, but not for the same reasons. Had Christianity managed to retain such character, it would have collapsed within a century, taking the nation which adopted it down in the process.

What would have replaced it, we've no idea. Probably some other Eastern cult, or maybe the Persian fire worship. Maybe even some version of Judaism or old Egyptian beliefs.

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Different saints and movements through the sweeps of history brought this to the fore and it would topple kings and oppression, especially when they tried to use Christianity to maintain their immoral reigns.


But not to topple popes who launched wars of conquest in the East...

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The greatest thing to ever happen to the Church was to lose the Papal States. Once the Catholic Church was no longer a worldly power it could slowly go back to becoming what it was always meant to be - a spiritual power.


Yes, that has sped up the church's inevitable decline. Industrialization is good for much of the rest.

Quote:
I do think pre-Christian thinkers did indeed add a lot to the development of theology. However, you would be fooling yourself to think that these ideas were the application of reason without preconceived religious ideology.


The only pre-Christian thinker who comes close to the Christian ideals is Plato, which is why the early Apologists borrowed all they could from him and why many modern Christians still love him.

Quote:
I think the real question you should be asking yourself is how has the relatively new atheistic ideology impacted the world?


When there is one worth looking at, I'll look at it.

Quote:
Why is it that with the rise of atheistic governments we have seen the most atrocious human acts in history?


Since you're obviously talking about Nazism and communism, need I remind you they both are more akin to secular religions? Oh, and weren't you just a moment ago praising the communist aspects of Christianity?

See the problem with these ideologies is not that they do without God (though Nazism was embraced and abetted by many Christians), but that they rely on the same principles of Christianity and most other religions: sacrifice of the self to a higher cause or power. It doesn't matter whether it is the estate, the race, the community, the nation, the world, or God. The principle is that the individual is nothing, and obedience to an authority figure is all. In the end the Pope says "Kill the infidel usurping the Holy Land," the Fhurer says "Kill the Jew who stabbed us in the back," and the party secretary says "Kill the enemies of the people." Does it matter if the killing is in the name of God, the Volk or the State?

It doesn't. what matters is the same selfless virtues are promulgated and embraced by all, be it by force or threat of force (or Hell). And the results tend to be the same. If your defense is "the atrocities of my side were not as bad as the atrocities of other sides," that's no defense at all. The same people who think it an unfair, horrible, terrible and inexcusable atrocity to have killed Jesus, think nothing of killing and torturing the likes of Giordano Bruno or any random bunch of Jews or Muslims they happen upon, including women and children.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
January 20th, 2015 at 9:03:08 PM permalink
FrGamble
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 45
Posts: 5191
Quote: Nareed
we agree for once, but not for the same reasons. Had Christianity managed to retain such character, it would have collapsed within a century, taking the nation which adopted it down in the process.


Again the idea is that it would not have been adopted by any one nation. Christianity from its beginning was a rejection of worldly power. The Messiah as a military leader who would fight and liberate those who oppressed the chosen people was not how God envisioned it. A Messiah who came to free humanity from the much more cruel and common tyrants of sin and death was not what the 'powers that be' expected. A poor and peaceful iterant preacher was not who they envisioned to free them from the Romans and was part of the reason why they so vehemently rejected this King of the Jews.

While the Christian states and Christendom have collapsed it is exactly this character of Christianity which still exists today and with the example of folks like Mother Teresa, JP II, and Pope Francis is stronger than ever. The more Christianity lives this pure and poor character the stronger it becomes, like it was in the persecuted early Church when the faith spread so quickly and couldn't be conquered even by Rome. It was finally corralled and contained by the Emperor accepting it. This neutered the power of Christianity in some ways but also had other advantages. Now as the Church continues to shake free from its worldly trappings and political power it becomes the world changing force it was always meant to be.



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Yes, that has sped up the church's inevitable decline. Industrialization is good for much of the rest.


see above


Quote:

The only pre-Christian thinker who comes close to the Christian ideals is Plato, which is why the early Apologists borrowed all they could from him and why many modern Christians still love him.


Again all pre-Christian thinkers had as their foundation some sense of the Divine and spiritual. The pre-Socratic philosophers have much to offer the Christian. Have you not read St. Thomas Aquinas? His love affair with Aristotle transformed the Church's theology.



Quote:
Since you're obviously talking about Nazism and communism, need I remind you they both are more akin to secular religions? Oh, and weren't you just a moment ago praising the communist aspects of Christianity?

See the problem with these ideologies is not that they do without God (though Nazism was embraced and abetted by many Christians), but that they rely on the same principles of Christianity and most other religions: sacrifice of the self to a higher cause or power.


You couldn't be more wrong. I know that the atheistic apologetic line is that these non-believer states were just secular religions but that doesn't explain the ferocity of evil they unleashed upon the world. You can also try to say that comparing atrocities is not a defense, but in the light of the holocaust, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. that comes off as sounding quite a bit naïve.

Also I am staggered by you pinning the blame on the idea of sacrifice of the self. If anything I think you are showing that this idea of sacrificing for the higher cause is the most powerful thing we as human beings can do. It is such a powerful force that when used by evil men, be they popes or dictators, they cause the most unspeakable harm. However, when people are willing to sacrifice themselves for the higher cause for someone or something that is good such as love, equality, civil rights, or Jesus the greatest people and movements in human history arise. The problem is not the idea of sacrifice. Sacrifice is the most noble, most powerful, and most effective way we can bring about good in this world. The fact that it can also be used to bring about evil is only more proof of its power and how careful we must be in what we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for.
January 21st, 2015 at 6:40:41 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 328
Posts: 11349
Quote: FrGamble
While the Christian states and Christendom have collapsed it is exactly this character of Christianity which still exists today and with the example of folks like Mother Teresa, JP II, and Pope Francis is stronger than ever. The more Christianity lives this pure and poor character the stronger it becomes, like it was in the persecuted early Church when the faith spread so quickly and couldn't be conquered even by Rome.


The let us see every last church give up all its property and assets, and let's see Sr. Francis live entirely from charitable handouts and to do without the very expensive vestments.

I support this wholeheartedly, as it will lead to the final downfall of Christianity that much more quickly. And that's why it won't ever happen.


Quote:
You couldn't be more wrong. I know that the atheistic apologetic line is that these non-believer states were just secular religions but that doesn't explain the ferocity of evil they unleashed upon the world.


To begin with there was no apology in my post. I have never tried to justify any totalitarian ideology and I never will.

To continue, they were secular religions, modeled on the very successful scheme of Christianity. In many ways they even preached the same values, such as poverty and sacrifice. As to ferocity, ask the Huguenots, the Puritans, the many expelled Jews, the Muslims in the time of the Crusades and many others, how ferociously evil the holy church was to them. It was a difference of degree rather than kind.

To finish, the Holocaust would not have been possible absent 1,500 years of unremitting anti-Semitic hostility from a very Christian Europe.

Quote:
Also I am staggered by you pinning the blame on the idea of sacrifice of the self.


Good :)

Sacrifice is the most evil idea ever foisted on humanity.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
January 21st, 2015 at 7:28:27 AM permalink
FrGamble
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 45
Posts: 5191
Quote: Nareed
The let us see every last church give up all its property and assets, and let's see Sr. Francis live entirely from charitable handouts and to do without the very expensive vestments.

I support this wholeheartedly, as it will lead to the final downfall of Christianity that much more quickly. And that's why it won't ever happen.


You know not what you are asking for. This would lead to the rise of Christianity the likes of which the world hasn't seen since after the Resurrection!



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To begin with there was no apology in my post. I have never tried to justify any totalitarian ideology and I never will.


By rejecting sacrifice you are justifying the totalitarian regime of your own passions and wants. Your tyrant becomes yourself and we all become your unwilling subjects.

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To continue, they were secular religions, modeled on the very successful scheme of Christianity.


They removed a loving God, pretty essential to the success of Christianity. They took its greatest idea, sacrifice, and perverted and twisted it towards evil and a powerful few.

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As to ferocity, ask the Huguenots, the Puritans, the many expelled Jews, the Muslims in the time of the Crusades and many others, how ferociously evil the holy church was to them. It was a difference of degree rather than kind.


Again here you are showing an extraordinary bias that clouds the reality of the situation. Even if it was a matter of degree rather than kind, which it most definitely is not, you are comparing thousands to millions. The difference in kind we find uniquely in the atheistic governments of the 20th century is a total disrespect for human life. This is what leads to things like the Holocaust. Even with unfortunate and sinful anti-Semitic sentiments one first has to remove God before such atrocities can even be contemplated.

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To finish, the Holocaust would not have been possible absent 1,500 years of unremitting anti-Semitic hostility from a very Christian Europe.


The same hostility that lead to so many heroic efforts on behalf of the Church to save Jews throughout Europe?
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