Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Something most folks forget, if they ever knew it.

How Christian Charity Developed Western Ethics, Hospitals, Schools
I'm currently reading How Should We Then Live?, the Francis Schaeffer classic from 1976. I heartily recommend it as well.


Chiu ChunLing said...

I think a lot of people have never been taught it. Certainly my own generation was carefully protected from any public suggestion that the underlying principles of Western Civilization were derived from Christianity and such elements of Classical scholarship as had been preserved in the West (almost exclusively by religious institutions).

Of course, the aim of this program was to eliminate the foundation of Western Civilization. But one of the potentially unforeseen effects has been to blind many well-meaning but naive Westerners to how few of their basic presumptions about things like human dignity and individual worth have any currency outside of historically Christian nations. It is especially troubling when people refuse to acknowledge that "The China Dream" isn't really about making life better for the ordinary people of China, but about making them part of a nation which reliably serves the interests of the rulers. So many people are gulled by insincere lip-service to fine ideals by murderous tyrants at least partly because they forget that honesty itself is usually a negotiable virtue outside of the Judeo-Christian morality.

Of course, I'm pragmatic enough to think that Christian morality isn't right just because it is what Christ happens to prefer and people could easily live well by any other set of standards, but rather that Christ prefers that people live by a given morality because it leads to better outcomes for everyone. Conversely that would imply that there are principles in play which make the failures resulting from alternative moral systems predictable, and thus it should be possible to figure them out in theory.

But in fact, people generally aren't that smart. And people who are that smart don't always have everyone's best interests at heart if they haven't been raised in the context of Christian morality. After all, one of first lessons you'll learn in life if you're really that smart is that most other people are nowhere near as smart as you, particularly if you're raised in a society that doesn't have the benefit of Christian moral traditions helping them avoid many of the worst mistakes they could be making (for myself, because I was raised during that period when it was popular to deny the uniquely Christian source of practical morality but not yet popular to despise the morality itself, I thought people generally must be a lot smarter than they usually seemed because they had obviously managed to think of so many good ways to live better which should not have been obvious to total idiots...little did I suspect they had just plagiarized their ideals and refused to attribute the source).

Smart people who haven't been raised with Christian ideals tend not to think too much of the value of people who aren't as smart, except as easily used means to the chosen ends of their 'betters'. When you understand this, international politics is a lot less mysterious and a lot more predictable...predictably tragic, that is.

Anonymous said...

Excellent book. I read it in the mid 1980's. I recall it whenever I read about atheist's making the claim that they/society don't/doesn't/didn't need Christianity. It helped to develop my apologetic's skills which were necessary to count my mother's liberal/feminist propaganda.
And sadly it reminds me of how far Western culture has now fallen, as it embraces anew its pagan past.

TheBohunk said...

Agree with above statements. Wish that message could get out to more people.

I have been saying for years that the basic social building-blocks of a healthy and productive society also happen to be principles found in Christianity. One can argue the coincidence or not, but it remains true.

Now here is a fun test I like to run on people who don't believe that. Ask an atheist, or liberal, any person who thinks there is no place for religion in a modern society this question....Name one place on Earth where Christianity is not the legacy religion, where women have anywhere near as equal footing as their male counterparts as they do in most of Western Civilization? And ask them if they think THAT is a coincidence.