Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Should we give Christianity its due?

I was watching a debate today between Daniel Dennett and Dinesh D'Souza...

If you are interested:

It's here

From the debate I have somewhat better opinion, not GREAT but better, of D'Souza. I still think he is way off on many matters but I don't hate him as I used to.

During the the question and answer session a question was asked about Scandinavia and how they can be a majority atheist population and yet have societies that seem so much more civilized and enlightened. The evidence presented was:

- They give more to charity.
- They have lower crime rates.
- Their schools out perform most other countries including the United States.

Dennett told a story about how he was planting a hay field, and a neighbor made a suggestion. The suggestion was that he plant oats as a nurse crop along with his hay seed. Mr. Dennett asked his neighbor what a nurse crop was. A nurse crop comes up first and protects the slower growing hay.

As Dennett explained Christianity was the scaffolding that our more modern and enlightened morals are based on

I'd never heard it quite put this way but I was intrigued by the concept.

Perhaps we atheists should give the good aspects of Christianity their due. The morals of early Christianity were an improvement over the previous morals.

But I don't think they are the end. If they were women would still be considered property.

Scandinavia was ostensibly Christian at an earlier point, now they are irreligious or atheistic, and they excel in societal matters more than the God-fearing United States...

So what accounts for this?



karen said...

What accounts for this?
Because Christianity today doesn't reflect the nature of its original Source.
If it did, it'd be a whole 'nuther animal.

SirRobert said...

I'm struggling to understand your meaning.

Are you suggesting that what we call Christianity today bears little resemblance to what it's supposed to be?

If this is the case, who is the ultimate interpreter or decider of what it means to be a TRUE Christ follower?

I know you'll probably: "Well Christ of course!"

My response would be that there are literally thousands of denominations of Christians who have VERY different interpretations of what Christ meant. As Christ has decided NOT to come down again (and who could blame Him given the response he got the first time) and set us right!

Or is it your suggestion that some of laws of the Bible don't apply to us today?

And again, I have to ask, who decides?

This implies that even Christianity has a bit of moral relativism within it.

Let me just say I see much beauty in SOME of lessons Christ taught and I take those to heart. I also receive lessons from other traditions. They too have value!

karen said...


Jesus message was love. That's it. It's pretty easy to interpret. Be kind. Be helpful. Be supportive. Yes, there is a lot of interpretation, such as if someone is trying to kill you. Do you turn the other cheek or fight back? I know what I'd do...and it might not be what Jesus would have done (and didn't do) but I'm certainly not going to start that conflict. Not everyone walks with that Jesus 'tude.

Example: This is hard for me...I'm a warrior personality--I want to protect people. I've been challenged with a neighbor that I'm supposed to love, but would like to beat to a bloody pulp! :-) But, I've reacted to all of his stuff with calm and kindness...which has kinda set him off a little bit more, but gradually, he is coming around. We even say good morning now.

The Bible was written by men. It's supposed to be inspired by God...and a lot of God shines through, but a lot of man has interfered. Plus, we haven't gotten the best translations, either. Lots of the words are added in there or mis-translated. There's a lot of Truth in there. I love the book, when translated better than the KJV. There is also a bunch of cultural stuff in the Bible, so no, lots of the stuff in there is not applicable today. For instance there are scriptures there that people have translated to judge gays harshly, when the real translation probably means something different altogether. The message of Jesus is FREEDOM and LOVE, not laws, not slavery, not oppression.

There is Truth in many other sources, as well. Truth runs through many people, whether Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, whatever. God works through all kinds of people, thank God! There is even scripture that tells us that God WANTS to hide things from us, and we're supposed to seek it out. That's my thing, and I love it.
Churches are the "example" we have of Christians. I don't go to church, except on occasion. I'm an ordained elder in the RCA, but don't "belong" anywhere because churches have become big business--ordered, money-grabbing and spirit-quenching. Jesus wouldn't fit in there.