Thursday, March 19, 2009

Does it really need a big stick to make you moral?

Possibly a “Hard Hat” Post this.

The Arch Bishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who is in practical terms probably now more respected than Canterbury, especially in the Anglican Church internationally, recently said he is worried that Christians are regarded as "mad" by the rest of British society.

He seems to figure people think this because he imagines they see Christians as motivated by charity and compassion instead of greed and money and that they think that's crazy.

Now this touched on a post I did before.

Quite honestly, I figure he may have spotted a trend, but got the reason completely round his neck.

I don’t know anybody who thinks compassion, or charity is mad. I have asked around, so I guess it is probably a small sample and anecdotal, but maybe not wrong for all that. The Millions raised in the UK by the recent 'Red Nose Day' charity drive is a pretty solid counter to his argument, especially in a recession with many people worried about their jobs.

I already said in my other post why I think the religious in general and especially the overtly religious are now being looked on as potentially mad, bad and dangerous to know. I have kept looking into it when the chance comes and have not changed my mind any, in fact I am more sure it is how it is than I was when I wrote the original post.

Basically I think it is because of the surge in what is seen as religiously inspired terrorism. We know that the Terrorism in Northern Ireland has not gone away either and that had revolted and angered normal decent people all over the UK and Ireland of all stripes.

But that is not my main point here. What I think is frankly wrong, and a sign of religious blindness and even prejudice is the underlying assumption that I have heard before:

It boils down to the religious making an assumption that people who are not religious somehow have no morals, or consideration… because God isn’t there to beat up on them for being mean or having no morals.

Now there probably are people who would be mean if they didn’t fear God’s punishment. I figure they would be found amongst believers, because they would not exist amongst sceptics. I guess the same as there are probably those who are good because they fear the law.

There are certainly hypocrites amongst the religious. There are people who can justify being cruel, or righteously uncaring about those they see as sinners. Who smugly look down on others.

We have seen at the extreme there are people who can justify killing the innocent on religious grounds.

My point is. Yes there are non-religious people who are mean, bad and such. But there are religious people who are too. Still all that proves are people are people and some are not so nice.

What I will say is I have met and admired sceptics, humanists and atheists who are very moral, thoughtful, kind considerate people, sometimes dignified, sometimes full of fun. Two of the best examples of decent moral human beings I ever met were both humanists.

They are like that because of their personality, or moral convictions, not because of fear of God's big stick. To them it does not exist. They often show the "Christian" moral virtues without so much of the humbug. Kindness, decency and moral behaviour are not dependent on religion and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So though he appears to be a really nice man, I think the Arch Bishop is both wrong and a bit wrong headed if he believes people in general think Christians are “mad” for being charitable, or compassionate, because many sceptics are just as considerate, charitable and caring.

Like I said before if people do worry about that it is probably entirely for other reasons and Christians are not being singled out..


Gledwood said...

I find that AB of York really annoying, I was thinking of him randomly only this morning in fact

Crushed said...

I don't think it does, no.

But I think once it did.

I think one thing both Christians and Atheists fail to notice is this- pergaps I should put MY hard hat on before I say this...

Christ lived in a world where sticks ruled. So he had to invent, in my view, a myth to sell his story.

What his story was is that being nice to eachother works better. But he had to persuade people to do it.

And after two thousand years or so, we understand that point WITHOUT needing the stick. We live in a world where secular morals are in fact, the best of Christ's morals.

So Christians have lost the battle but won the war.

stan said...

am in a little cyncical state with the church myself.

jmb said...

I have to say I agree with Crushed in that I have always thought that the so called humanists took the best of Christianity but rejected God. So in a way Western society at least is based on Christian principles whether the majority of the people believe in a God or not and I think few would reject those principles of behaviour even if they reject the fact that their is a God.

Donnetta Lee said...

I think you summed it up this way in talking about people in general, jmb: some are nice and some are not so nice. There is much fear and jealousy in the world. Seems as if Man just can't get over it. D

Nunyaa said...

I agree Jmb, you put it in words better than I could hope to.

Smalltown RN said...

Well said JMB.....I remember studying about the Humanist theory and was very intrigued by it....I enjoy how you said Humanists took the best of Christianity and ignored the God concept....for don't have to have a religious foundation in order to be moral and just have to have a good foundation or knowing the difference between right and wrong....

excellent topic....

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Gledwood, He always seems quite jolly when I see him on TV. Why annoying?

Crushed, By and large JC was right though, you just have to be smart enough to see it.

Stan and JMB, Nunyaa, So does that mean you agree with the essential point of my post, about how people can be just as decent and moral without religion, as with?

Donetta, Yes it's down to people.

Small town RN, Absolutely my point.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I agree with everything you say, MT.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Welshcakes, Thanks.