Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the purpose of religion

One of the things which featured in the recent debate on this post is the idea that “religion should be about improving oneself”. This has got me thinking; ‘religion’ of course takes many forms, but in the vast majority of cases I disagree with this.

To paraphrase MarkC, religion is certainly something which as a by-product might help with “improving oneself”, but however you measure self-improvement it is not the sole point, certainly not in the Judeo-Christian case.

In fact, if your sole aim is to “improve yourself”, why waste your time playing around with the trappings of religion? Most religions are based around the idea of faith in God, and that, surely, is the point.

Considering Christianity specifically, Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” and so ‘religion’ should not be in danger of becoming all about worshipping God; rather, the worship of God has (in theory at least) been at the centre since the outset.

Of course, as has been said here before, faith has to be put on to action, and I believe that “loving God with all your heart, soul and mind” should have positive practical consequences in the way in which you live your life, especially if you then follow the second commandment to love your neighbour as yourself. Maybe some of you would place this under the category of “self-improvement”.

On this note, I’m intrigued by the anonymous comment that “[worship is used] in often destructive ways that can cause problems of intolerance, hatred and even division within a family.” Demonstrating hatred, for example, does not fit with loving God and your neighbour as yourself and should not, therefore, be a direct consequence of worship.

But then I wonder if this is where making religion about improving oneself is actually a cause of the problem. Religion is often said to be responsible for many a conflict, but I think that in the vast majority of cases it’s not the religion itself, but the way in which the practise of it has become self-centred. The moment that you start thinking about what you personally can gain from something, loving God and loving your neighbour begin to get left at the wayside, and often that is when problems arise.

I also think that it is the cause of problems in another more subtle way. If you believe that religion should be about improving oneself, does this mean that you place expectations on others? Do you, perhaps unfairly, expect those who are “religious”* to behave in a certain way, and adhere to certain standards? I wonder if this, as much as anything, is a cause of the aforementioned family divisions.

Incidentally, I've been thinking about this post for a few days, and I went to a conference on 'Worship'. That too has got me thinking, and if I can find time I shall distill some of my thoughts here. But for now, I shall leave it here.

>>

*I don't like that word especially, as it has all sorts of misconceptions associated with it, but it will do here.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

James it is precisely the concept of putting god first that causes the problem. Detaching yourself from reality and putting everything into worshipping god is what lead to an inability to live in the real word and justify everything that you do. That way lays the madness that is extremism and fundamentalism. The 9/11 bombers were putting god first. Now I am not obviously saying that all people who put god first will do these things, but it erodes the barriers. And Christians are no more immune to this corruption of religion than any other faith.

I know what you are trying to say James about it being the second that corrupts the first. It is in fact the other way round.

Scott said...

Anonymous, what bosh.

No-one lives in the real world all the time - everyone indulges in day-dreaming; everyone enjoys fiction, stories, legends, gossip. And no-one is moved constantly by reason: whim, fancy, fantasy, mood and much else all play a part. You are describing robots not humans. You are acquating irrationalism with psychopathia; that's madness.

In so far as it is irrational the Christian religion is merely a way of morally day-dreaming, in a sense, of fixing our behaviour on a faith in the Good Things - the things of God - living by impulses born out of stories, moods, legends, fancy, fantasy which happen to be the Truth, embodied in Holy Scripture, stirred up in us by the Holy Spirit.

It is a far less dangerous irrational life than a secularist's, or an atheist's, or a radical Islamist's, for it is bound and ordered by a record wholly benign, by inviolable laws against crime, and by an enduring hope of a better future.

Anonymous said...

" Detaching yourself from reality and putting everything into worshipping god is what lead to an inability to live in the real word"

It is the people who are attached to the world that put importance into this world. Why would people who truely believe that this life is "only a shadow of things to come" and are more interested in spirtual things be as interested in material things as others? The 9/11 bombers were driven by many things, the religion was only important to them when it was attached to an Earthly cause. These people were hardly deeply spiritual.

The real world is the one of Wars, famine and disease. One of the reasons people persue religion is for hope for a better tommorow. That's obviously not to say that people haven't used Religion to commit evil.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Scott, you kind of proved my point.

You set Christianity apart from other religions, which immediately makes your judgement questionable. Radical Christians are just as capable of committing atrocities in the name of god (and do) as Radical Muslims or any other faith or belief. The danger comes when you feel that your beliefs set you out from the rest, and become a justification to do anything. I was certainly not equating irrationalism with psychopathia. I was merely stating that if left unchecked, a lack of perpsective and balance can lead to dangerous behaviour. Christianity was not being singled out here, indeed I have great respect for it. This danger applies to all faiths and beliefs, you only have to look around the world today or pick up history books to see this.

Your conviction that this fantasy happens to be the truth is flawed, as surely this view can only be a conviction held through faith. Other religions would disagree with you for a start, as they would believe that their scriptures were the truth. Some of these can be dated much further back than the bible.

Furthermore Christianity is not unique in stating inviolable laws against crime. This is cornerstone in almost all religions or beliefs and is a human quality rather than something that we should do only to please god. Furthermore if you take James's comment about the purpose of religion as being to love god, then this in itself does not ensure that people lead a good life.

I am intrigued by your use of "and by an enduring hope of a better future". What do you mean by this exactly?

Scott said...

Christianity is very different from other religions.

You write: "Radical Christians are just as capable of committing atrocities in the name of god (and do) as Radical Muslims or any other faith or belief."

Which pretty much invalidates everything you could ever say on the topic. Remind of the last time a Christian fundamentalist strapped bombs to his chest and walked into an Israeli school, or the last time an evangelical beheaded a Muslim on webcam, or the last time the Presbyterians flew commercial jets into a skyscraper, etc, etc. Remind me the last time a church preached such things. Remind me how many vicarages are at present being wire-tapped. What you can do is find maybe one, or two, examples of people claiming to be Christian and doing something nutty. But you can find *millions* of other religious adherents - and atheists - now and through history, who in turn have *millions* of victims, and whose actions, unlike the 'Christians', are not explicitly and provably contrary to their holy or venerated texts.

If you think all religions can be taken as one, I fear you are so monumentally and wilfully ignorant of all history and theology as to be very hard to have much of a conversation with. You can't reason a man out of a position he was never reasoned into.

Most of your points reveal this kind of lousiness too, I'm afraid.

1) "The danger comes when you feel that your beliefs set you out from the rest, and become a justification to do anything."

No it doesn't. Christian charity - which amounts to billions of dollars a year and billions fed, clothed, and sheltered all across the world, as well as innumerable trifling acts of grace and kindness everyday, from a door held open, to an offer of a lift home, to babysitting in an emergency, to caring for a sick friend - comes from this. The Christian does not believe he is superior; but he does believe he is charged with moral responsibilities and duties above and beyond someone who does not believe. (Because, of course, the non-believer inevitably does not believe in the scriptures which instruct us in this way; though you will find often a residual morality left over from the 1,500 years of Christianity in this nation. Though this now is fading fast).

2) "Furthermore Christianity is not unique in stating inviolable laws against crime. This is cornerstone in almost all religions or beliefs and is a human quality rather than something that we should do only to please god."

Doesn't it please God because it is also good to man? How is that contrary or detachable? And if you say it is a cornerstone in almost all religions, how can you earlier say that all religions in fact encourage beastliness? Lousy stuff, again. I would also point out that it is not a cornerstone of all religions by any means at all. But it is of Christianity; because uniquely in Christianity a saviour is the cornerstone, so there is a conversion available from evil, rather than just rules against it, and dependence on another, rather than oneself, to keep them. You might say that's just a fantasy: even so, it is one which demonstrably works, which again would only disprove your earlier post too, whilst we're at it.

3) "Furthermore if you take James's comment about the purpose of religion as being to love god, then this in itself does not ensure that people lead a good life."

It does if that God forbids evil, commands and encourages and aids us to do good, and offers grace and restoration when we fail or fall. There is scarcely anything more calculated to help someone lead a good life. On the one hand it impels us to do great things for the world and our God; on the other it eschews despair when or if we fail in that or in the daily business of holiness, and gets us back on our feet to go at it again. (As a Christian I would also add that it gives us a Lord and Saviour interceding on our behalf, day and night, before the throne of the one Holy, True, Blessed, Glorified, All-wise, All-powerful GOD, and that such mediation is of all things the finest and most helpful... my point still stands speaking in non-spiritual terms though). What you are doing here is using a generality about all gods, in which you necessarily aggregate the moral consequences of following them into an indeterminate or negative loss, and then using that to attack a specific one. Lousy, lousy, lousy.

4) My enduring hope of a better future is the consolation and prize of Heaven, which keeps a man from despair at the state of the world and humanity, and demands of him all his energies in the small time he is allotted, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to reach and restore that fallen world and fallen fellow man to holiness, justice and righteousness; and in the world to come, life everlasting, a reprieve from Hell.

Gareth P said...

I have one thing to say JP - I Predict a Riot!

Love and kisses ;o)

Des said...

Thanks Scott, you seem to be on a mission to prove my point (I suppose it is remotely possible that you are being ironic, but that is incredibly unlikely, aboout as likely as you view of the "truth" being the truth").

I agree with you completely Scott, ther is no point discussing this any further with you as you are too delusional. Incidently I am not at all ignorant about this subject matter, but that hardly matters.

Your point (1) is so riduculous it doesn'y even merit a response. It is arogant, and blatantlt not true. Idon't dispute the kindness of Christians, but to believe for one minute that it is unique to Christians is laughable. I have friens of may faiths and what you would probably call non at all, and they are all equally capable of great kindness, genoristy. Infcat the kindess and most selfless friend at the moment happens to be muslim.

Your point (2) proves nothing. It and poiunt (3) are just ramblings, and again just comes accross as delusional.

As for point (4) my friend, what ever keeps you happy. My philisophy is live and let live. I do think that it is a pity that you feel despair at the world and need to cling onto the hope of an after life in order to get through yours. Personally, the thought of everalsting last sounds like a curse rather than a reward, but each to their own hey.

Not much point in responding to any further comments you make Scott, but I look forward to reading other comments that constitue sensible debate rather than than mere rantings.

Non the less Scott I wish you all the best, and a smuch happiness as you can find in your life.

Since we have another anonymous here I will sign off as Des.

Scott said...

What a peculiar flag of surrender to raise aloft!

You do realise you sound deeply, deeply pathetic - especially with all your points being 'You're wrong because you're wrong, and you're delusional because, well, you're delusional'.

I imagine this opinion is so absolutely clear to you that you didn't believe you needed - you know - argument, logic or example to prove it. But I'm afraid I, and everyone else, does.

Oh well. Off you ride into the sunset. I shall of course pray for you. Not only is your immortal soul in peril, but it appears you need some help with reading as well.

May I suggest a Continuing Education course? There are many highly acclaimed institutions which run them throughout the year, and I understand there is no stigma attached to adults of even advanced age or stupidity attending.

Des said...

Scott, you are the one dragging this debate down. You clearly have a problem. I was not surrendering, purely avoiding a pointless discussion with someone with a clear chip on your shoulder. There was, you realise, no logic, reason, nor indeed were there any examples in your ramblings.

History is full of atrocities committed by Christians in Christianity’s name, the Crusades, the Inquisition and the St Bartholomew massacres being but a few.

If it makes you happy praying for my "soul" then do so, but surely you have more constructive things to do. But you really don't need to worry. I am perfectly happy that I need not fear on that count.

You have a very peculiar way of debating. Resorting to insult is not very clever.

Incidentally, I have been educated to a very high level, and hold a PhD, and have spent years having sensible debates with friends of many faiths, all of which put you to shame. My wife is a Christian, and in my opinion the best person in the world. Considering you know nothing about me, you seem to want to make this a very personal discussion.

Anyway enough, because at the end of the day Scott you are spoiling this debate and you are in danger of dragging me down with you.

Scott said...

So... that's a very priggish way of saying... you still can't address my earlier points... great.

I suppose the reason you haven't or can't read them - from the evidence of this tediously self-righteous last post - is that your head is firmly lodged within your hindquarters.

A shame. Let me know if you ever do manage to extract it, and reply properly to my earlier post; I don't suppose you actually can, though, hence all this continuing bluster.

Anonymous said...

I have to say Scott, that you disappoint me... As a "Christian" reporting to JP's post and above comments I would expect you to show the typical traits of Christian humility, kindness, and generosity. Whereas you come across as somebody completely unwilling to accept another person's viewpoint, or even be polite to him or her..
As JP's father said recently one of the great things about being a Christian is being able to admit another person may be right even if you personally believe they are not. Or would you like to discuss that with him...? And how about as JP said - "...loving your neighbour...". Hmmm. Not doing much of that at the moment Scott, are you?

I am not even going to get into who I believe is right on which point. Maybe I'm not "clever" enough, and maybe that means I do need a Continuing Education course - to have even made those comments is another example of your apparently un-Christian nature.
I would prefer it, Scott, if you were not going to tar all Christians with the same brush so if you are going to continue insulting the intelligence and opinions of a complete stranger whom you know nothing about please do not do it in the name of Christianity.

Scott said...

Well, to be honest, I don't take very kindly to being lectured to by someone who styles themselves 'anonymous'. If you're going to come out and damn me, do so by name. It's cowardly otherwise.

I would say that you have a very good point, though. I stand a little condemned. However, I would suggest that you - in the above post, with all its exquisite self-righteousness and censorious bombast - have also fallen guilty of a temptation away from patience and humility. In damning me, you damn yourself.

The provocation to me (as no doubt to you), you must admit, was strong, given the rudeness and deliberate disregard of this 'des' fellow. I doubt it failed to register in your mind how, after I laboured on an extensive and generous explanation of my arguments earlier in the thread (in that very long post), his only reply was to immediately resort to ad hominem nonsense and dismissal. Thereafter we descended into this current nonsense. And if I did fall short of how a Christian should respond to that, I would only plead the Christian fact that Christian men are also fallible, weak, prone to fault, and "that which I would do, I do not; and that which I hate to do, I do".

To declare me an anathema to Christianity and all other Christians is a pretty unChristian thing to do. Far more unChristian than giving an obstinate scoundrel a bit of obvious, blunt advice and cajoling, when he attempts naked bluster.

Scott said...

P.S. As for James's dad's opinion, I do not know how accurate your report of it is, so I shall only tentatively respond.

I doubt he does quite believe it as you say it, because it's fairly mad. When another person's views strike home (and in this case as in most, with no real truth) at the basis of Christianity, every Christian is duty bound to defend his faith against it. We must be alert to falsehood, self-deception, self-regard, and all else. When I see an immortal soul - and we are all immortal souls - tricking himself, and hoping to trick others, with the kind of easily disprovable hogwash of Des, then I and every other Christian must dash in to do what they can to explode his theories.

My fault was in perhaps exploding his theories but alienating the man. That is all I would regret. However, having tried patient reasoning, and this not moving him in his obstinant ignorance - the maxim that one cannot reason a man out of a position he was not reasoned into, comes to mind. I suppose it doubtful one can ridicule a man out of it, though. That is where I no doubt fell.

I think you fell just as badly too, though. How upstanding is it to leap in judgement and to question - even deny - another's Christianity, on the basis of a few posts on the internet? Your "quotemarks" around your description of me as a "Christian" should keep you awake at night for a good while, if you have any sense, and are more than just a bundle of judgement, priggishness and self-regard.

Anonymous said...

Only a fool would describe themselves as perfect - I am no fool. I did not actually say that I was a Christian, and I don't really think it matters whether I am or not. I did not claim to be patient and humble - merely that you as a self-proclaimed Christian were not showing those traits. I don't actually remember describing you as "an anathema to Christianity and all other Christians" - you just did that yourself. I merely pointed out you weren't behaving as I would expect a Christian to behave.

If Des has a PhD I can only assume he is of above average intelligence. If he chooses to believe in nothing then good for him. You choose to believe in God -good for you too. Why can't you respect his intelligence and be polite - even if he was not polite to you? He should undoubtedly do the same back - only the difference is he was not actually claiming to act as a Christian should. You were. From the things he has written it sounds as though he has had many discussions about various religions, including Christianity, so it would seem he is not as ill-informed as you make out. Why don't you respect him for at least trying to find out more? Maybe he was reasoned into not having faith... how would you know? You think he has tricked himself into this hogwash - he clearly believes you have tricked yourself into the hogwash of Christianity... Is it up to either of you to correct the other? You wouldn't want to be talked out of Christianity, I'm sure you don't believe it is possible - why should he be talked into it? Show him by example why you believe being a Christian is the best thing...
Whilst I can understand your desire to convert everyone, I do not think your methods of insult are quite the right way to go about it.
My point was, and is, that you would appear not to be behaving in your replies as a Christian should. Or as Jesus would have...? I did not at any stage say that I was trying to behave like Jesus - before you insult me (or my intelligence) again.

I assure you I do have some "sense" (yet another insult at someone you know nothing about!) but I will sleep as soundly as I always sleep tonight. Thanks for worrying though!

PS If I am a coward by not giving my name then to be quite honest I don't care. It really doesn't matter what my name is. I have the right to remain anonymous. (After all I am already damned apparently!)

Scott said...

Well, I suppose you are clearly 'Des' himself then. Especially given all your claims for his grand intelligence, etc, etc.

Can anyone do a check on his address etc to find out? JP?

I could see his Phd, and raise you mine. I could also see his apparent hinterland of discussions about religion, and raise you mine. And so on and so on.

All of that takes us nowhere. Or perhaps it takes back to - you know, with nothing else left - the original argument!

You and he - or perhaps I should just say... you - must confine your argument to, well, argument, and your rebuttal to, well, things I have put forward and which can be rebutted. Reason must answer reason, and logic must answer logic. I am not interested in assumptions, or cloudy possibilities, or personal history, or all these other chimeras. I am interested in his stated points. He should be interested in mine - which only replied to his. A conversation of this nature is a contest between the two and very little, indeed nothing, else.

Answer my points. Defuse them before they explode yours. But don't pretend they aren't there. Everyone who reads this can still hear the hissing of the flame's advance...

(As for you sitting there to judge Christians harshly by standards you yourself gladly debauch and despise, I have never witnessed a more charming fatuity).

Anonymous said...

Oh dear... perhaps I shall leave it up to Des to respond further. I am most definitely not he.
As you have answered none of my previous points I can only assume that it is because you are ashamed to have been seen through with your (un)Christianly attitude towards non-Christians.
I do not debauch nor despise Christians - except those who give Christianity a bad name. You've done that yourself.
Be happy with your life. I am sure Des will be happy with his.
I will no longer bother to respond - you are completely unwilling to see anyone else's viewpoint other than your own so there is no point in discussing anything with you.

Scott said...

... says a man who didn't address any of my points, except for one.

Naturally you did so fecklessly. I never said you 'debauch' or 'despise Christians'. I said you "judge Christians harshly by standards you yourself gladly debauch and despise". It's the STANDARDS, not the Christians. This was a reference to the fact of your imperious review of my conduct, in a post above, where you fell foul of the same misconduct - and then said it didn't count because you weren't a Christian.

Since you cannot take the time to read things properly, maybe it is for the best that you don't say things so hastily - or indeed at all - any more.

As for my not responding to any of your points. I did. It was this paragraph:

"ou and he - or perhaps I should just say... you - must confine your argument to, well, argument, and your rebuttal to, well, things I have put forward and which can be rebutted. Reason must answer reason, and logic must answer logic. I am not interested in assumptions, or cloudy possibilities, or personal history, or all these other chimeras. I am interested in his stated points. He should be interested in mine - which only replied to his. A conversation of this nature is a contest between the two and very little, indeed nothing, else."

Bye Des!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Pot calling kettle black. So sad that you can't read properly either then. You clearly need to attend a Continuing Education course in reading what has been written and thinking about it first before replying - rather than responding with more insults.

How many times do I need to point out I am not Des? Just because you disagree with him does not mean that someone else can't understand what he is pointing out and what you are neglecting to listen to.

You are quite right - there is no point in continuing - as you clearly do not read and understand.
Goodbye Scott. I am quite happy to leave it there. Bet you can't though, can you?!

Des said...

Scott you are priceless, still resorting to insult, and not adding any substance of your own. Are you really that rude to everyone that disagrees with you?

Thanks anonymous, not sure if you are Christian or not (though I suspect you are). I am just sorry that you had to endure the same nonsense that I have had to just for defending my right to disagree with Scott. Interesting that Scott could think we are the same person, Sounds like you are either with him or against him, and if your against him you're me (whatever you say). I should feel privileged to be singled out so.

Anyway Scott, as you obviously need a more explicit response (which I know won't satisfy you, but again that was my point) here we go ...

(1) Each religion sets itself out from the others. My point was that it is wrong to do so, you just gave the usual predictable points as to why you thought Christianity is better. Like I said there is no point arguing with you, because you firmly believe it. Your list of good things that Christians do does not make Christians any better than other religions that also perform good deeds. I did in fact give an example in stating that the most selfless friend I knew was a Muslim and not a Christian. So I wasn't questioning the kindness of Christians ( after all I am married to one), but simply pointing out that this belief that Christians are some what better than others is what I was questioning. It is hardly surprising that since Christianity is dominant in richer countries, that Christian charities have more money to give. It isn't how much you give absolutely, it is how much you forgo yourself to help others that matters. Think you'll find that there is a story in the bible about that. You are very naive to think that Christianity was uniquely capable of teaching this nation morals. Had it been any other faith, you would be saying just the same about it though you would no doubt believe that had you been born in Saudi Arabia, you would still have been a Christian.


(2) You chose to completely miss interpret me on point two, and if you read the earlier post you would have seen what I meant. I agreed that religion ought to result in better people, but in practise that isn't what happens. Lots of awful things are done in the name of religion by its members, and even in the modern church I see people get over enthused about the worship of god and their personal relationship with god and then cause misery and division amongst the congregation.

(3) I believe one should be good because one knows it is fundamentally right and one believes in doing the right thing towards other human beings, not just to please god. That implies that you are not necessarily good in yourself (no doubt you will tell me that we are all sinners). Doing it for god should only be part of the equation if you choose to believe in him.

(4) Wasn't a point, but an opinion. I simply gave you mine.

Anyway, I have better things to do Scott, but a pleasure all the same.


What will your next Charitable insult be I wonder.

Take care Scott...

Gareth P said...

Scott, you appear to have a small shoulder on your chip!

DNFTT

Scott said...

"Like I said there is no point arguing with you, because you firmly believe it."

Such a statement bespeaks serious lack of confidence in your powers of reason and persuasion, and your very argument itself. Which is kind of sad. And kind of obvious - given that, as you admit and demonstrate, it took all this time for you to stop insulting me, and actually reply to my post of yonks and yonks ago.

Thus far I stand justified in all I have heretofore said on the matter. Anonymous and whatnot must surely repent of their silly interjections.

It's also a highly peculiar and vaguely psychotic canard, though, and one which you and 'anonymous' resorted to repeatedly. I'm not sure you appreciate the deranged circuits such a proposition traces. How odd that rather than test your arguments by firing them at me, you plead that regardless of their quality or truth - which you merely vouch is unquestionable and unparalleled - I would not be moved an inch by them anyway, and therefore there's no need in saying them. Hence you win, and we can all go home satisfied.

That is certainly one way to proceed, but not, I fear, a particularly graceful or convincing one.

But now we *can* at last turn to your arguments. I must say they do not really glorify your much-vaunted Phd, which 'anonymous', of course, just happened to know about.

1) "It is hardly surprising that since Christianity is dominant in richer countries, that Christian charities have more money to give."

I find it very kind that you have done much of my argument for me here. Did it never occur to you wonder *why* countries described as Christian are richer - and therefore able to give more money? Could it be because they're - Christian? That the dominant religious system which guided men for so much of their past, has something to do with it? That the Christian religion, with its insistence on individual liberty, collective duty, resolute industry, and in all this an unstained honesty, is just far more successful - and different in this by implicit and explicit contrast to every other religion - in organising humanity for useful and beneficent ends?

Judge a religion by its fruits. It seems to me, on this point, that using your findings - that Christian nations are overwhelmingly more successful than others - we can conclude that Christianity, contrary to your other claim, is absolutely and significantly different *and* superior to all other religions.

Money is not the only measure. It isn't even the most important. But the wide dispersal of wealth amongst a population - i.e. a nation being, as you say, qualitatively 'rich' - and this richness being peculiarly, as you say, Christian - is a testament to the truth and effectiveness of your forefathers' religion. What I am merely doing here is teasing out how, even in your attempt to disprove the true Christian faith's uniqueness, you accidentally rely on it.

"You are very naive to think that Christianity was uniquely capable of teaching this nation morals. Had it been any other faith, you would be saying just the same about it though you would no doubt believe that had you been born in Saudi Arabia, you would still have been a Christian."

Hang on! You are the one who just said that Christianity has made many countries uniquely rich! You are the one who made, thereby, such a claim for its morals - that they have been taught to the nation, and so had an effect unlike any other religion in any other country. If England was Muslim, like Saudi Arabia, it would of course be an utterly different country - and by your argument, inevitably poor, unsuccessful and squalid. Thus I obviously would not credit - looking abroad at far more successful, and Christian nations - the public religion with much good to its name or creeds.

I don't know if I'd be a Christian had I been born in Saudi Arabia. Certainly there are some highly persecuted, and frequently murdered, Christians in that sinkhole of a nation (a nation which you would not willingly distinguish, along with its religion, from England, and its Christianity of old). But like all Christians I believe God chose where I was to be born, and I could have been born nowhere else than here. So it is a rather weak and irrelevant point.

2) "I agreed that religion ought to result in better people, but in practise that isn't what happens."

But since you aggregated all religions into one huge soup, along with all their results, how can you ever truly test this - especially since every single religion makes specific claims which discount and oppose every other? You cannot look at religion in aggregate at all! Until you, with your phantom Phd, realise this, you will forever prove whatever you want to prove in the most inaccurate fashion.

3) "I believe one should be good because one knows it is fundamentally right and one believes in doing the right thing towards other human beings, not just to please god."

But without a God, and the Holy Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit, and a Saviour - or any other ineffable, traditional, proven source, though I think these are the only effective ones, and you betrayed a similar belief too - how can you tell yourself what is fundamentally right? You can only do so by having yourself sit in judgement as god. And if all follow your ways, doing whatever they judge and decree is right, you open the world up to a kind of moral anarchy. No doubt many would do good, relying basically upon unspokenly Christian morals. But many others would do bad, or manipulative, or wicked, or incompetent things, and you would never be able to say they shouldn't have - or shouldn't continue to. They would claim they were doing what they judged to be right. And the last judge in that - without God - is his own brain.

That is very similar - and oddly I realise we have mentioned this before - to being mentally deranged. Heresy always was closest of all to insanity.

Scott said...

Well, I'm glad to see I'm unanswerable. Since I'll be out of the country - and away from the internet, unless I'm lucky - for the next few weeks, I suppose that's an end of it.

Thank God.

Sam said...

Scott, I have just read some interesting discussions between you and various different people. Although it gets somwehat repetitive on all sides...
"Anonymous and whatnot must surely repent of their silly interjections" That says it all really doesn't it! How kind of you to describe everyone else's opinions as "silly".

As somebody has already said I really don't think there's any point in anyone answering you back... which of course according to you is a fault. "Such a statement bespeaks serious lack of confidence in your powers of reason and persuasion, and your very argument itself"!
You clearly believe no matter what anyone else says that you (and you alone) are right; nobody else is allowed an opinion about anything and if someone gives one you shoot it down because yours is so much better, and even if logical reasoning has been given you consider it illogical.
You evidently don't read (or re-read) what has been written... "Des" said early on he has a PhD, you commented on it, then you accuse "Anonymous" of "just knowing about it" when it was already discussed by you! Were you sleep-talking for that part of your long-winded conversation? Sounds like it!)

I am sure we are all glad that you are away for the next few weeks. Maybe it'll give you time to consider and listen to what other people might be trying to say rather than studiously ignoring it. I don't imagine your absence will prevent you from some utterances which are of course brilliantly intelligent and full of such wisdom. I congratulate you on your large ego, and only wish you the best for the future.

Sam

chrisp said...

Why, how charming people are when accusing other people of failing to be charming! If Scott is obnoxious, a lot of other people have been obnoxious about that too.

I don't even know what the original point being argued over was, really, on either side. Now it's all about conduct and etiquette and other things which I feel are almost irrelevant - because so hard to judge - on the internet, I think I wish the riot prediction was true; rioting people, at least, have to sleep. And there are riot police who can soak them all with pepper spray at appropriate moments. Goodness knows how anyone has the strength to carry on with 23 posts already fired out... I suggest JP march in and issue baton smacks to all.

Gareth P said...

This thread may have disproved Godwin's law though...