Cynical on Religion


Religion is when you try to feel better about living in a terrible world.

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4 thoughts on “Cynical on Religion

  1. Do you think that the practices of Christianity (love for God and others) actually *do* make living in a terrible world better?

    Or you do think that love itself is a lie, and does not serve to make the world a better place?

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  2. Hey Skarlet, I cannot answer your questions as written. You present to me an either/or according to your Christian worldview, which I do not share. So I could answer yes to both questions and no at the same time.

    The practices of loving a deity and doing good to others are not exclusively Christian, though loving the Christian God and doing good in His name I suppose would be. Loving a deity does not make the world a better place, unless that deity exists and responds positively, of course, so that only makes one religious by itself. Loving others is not exclusively Christian, as I said, and it would always improve the human condition if sincere and acted out appropriately.

    So, of course, I do not think that love is a lie, even if it is relative to the human condition and capacity in my own view. It would only be a lie and fail to make the world a better place in the sense it is founded and predicated upon the existence of a false deity, if that is the case. And I do not know that this necessarily means Christianity is false, just that I am skeptical towards it.

    A religious concept of God really should not be our prime motivation to love and do good to others, but rather an understanding of our common humanity and awareness of the presence of suffering in the human condition. If there is no God (which I do not believe as I am not an atheist) then life here would have no ultimate meaning beyond our own existence and capacity to enjoy life and be productive, but that should not encourage nihilistic selfishness and the like (though I will be forced to admit that it could philosophically). I think we will have truly evolved when we not only embrace our own humanity and the common good, but our own potential as well. However, human nature being what it is, I’m hedging my bets and sending some votes towards nihilism and human extinction just to be on the safe side.

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  3. Hey Byroniac. I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. I understand that I ask questions from within a worldview which you do not hold to, and I am glad that you are able to mentally translate them into questions that you can answer from your worldview.

    Now, you express your believe that love can and should be pursued outside of religion, and before I respond to that thought, I’d just like to clarify my original question.

    In your post you said that “Religion is when you try to feel better about living in a terrible world.” But my question is — if “religion” in christianity boils down to loving God and loving others (the two commandments which sum up the rest of the law and prophets), then:

    Would loving all (God and others) make a person “feel better” about living in this awful world, or could it actually MAKE things better to some degree?

    Now, aside from that, I do question your idea that “doing good to others are not exclusively Christian,” since christian means Christ-follower or imitator-of-Christ, and Christ was love. If God/Christ is love, then all loving actions are imitations of Him.

    Also, you say that love should be motivated not because of a concept of God, but rather “an understanding of our common humanity and awareness of the presence of suffering.” Now, I don’t know how much cruelty you’ve seen in your life, but I have seen people with an *understanding* of common humanity, and *awareness* of suffering, and they use that to hurt people more. They use their understanding and knowledge to hurt people.

    In addition to knowledge, you have to have an ideal. You, for instance, probably have an ideal like “ideally, people would not have to suffer.” The RAD child, on the other hand, would more likely have an ideal like “ideally, people/pets will experience as much pain and death as possible.” If you choose one ideal over the other, then you have already conceptualized the ideal. You say that love is ideal; I say that God is the ideal. But we agree, because God IS love.

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  4. I am not sure I understand the clarification to your question. You ask, “Would loving all (God and others) make a person ‘feel better’ about living in this awful world…?” Yes, it would. Well, it depends on the individual for the second part of that, as you point out. But it could represent some sort of emotional satisfaction. Then you ask, “or could it actually MAKE things better to some degree?” Again, I guess it depends on the individual. Having positive religious belief could motivate others to do good in their god’s behalf. The positive motivation and results of such a belief would not require the deity to actually exist, however. We see good deeds done in the name of religions we would both agree are false, so there is nothing inherent in the religion itself that enables them to be better people, but we would also agree that any positive action as a result of that belief (even if the belief itself is false) would improve things in this world for all concerned.

    Again, “goodness” does not belong exclusively to Christianity. Believing that it does obviously serves that religion’s bests interests, but does not make it true. And sure, Christ was love, but He was also hate, anger and judgment. Just read the cleansing of the temple, which could have occurred twice in Jesus’ ministry. Even if it was righteous and just, as Christians argue, Christ’s actions were not merely “love” and to argue such is to give an easily debunked oversimplification. The main point though is this: to suggest that one can only be and do good in Christianity is to assert something demonstrably false, just by virtue of any good deed done by a non-Christian any time in history, as long as that deed is known by some credible witness I think. Also think on the fact that all judgment is committed to the Son by the Father, and He will judge the eternal destiny of untold multitudes of souls, many of which will be cast into a place of unimaginable torment. Even if it is just in the view of Christianity, is it loving? In one parable, He even speaks of having rebellious servants slain before His sight (Luke 19:27). I do not argue that this is unjust, by the way, because if Christianity is true, then the analogy of judgment here is acceptable, but the question remains: is it loving?

    I am going to boil your last two paragraphs into a question on what is the basis for morality. That is a valid question, but I will have to come back to it. In fact, I plan to answer this and some other questions posed to me by someone on Triablogue (which I recently found out about the post there that addresses something I’ve written on my blogs).

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