Religion’s Charity

This essay was inspired by a conversation I had with a person I loved, and is somewhat related to the one above. And it’s basically about how Christianity has divorced itself from, and now regularly attacks, innate human decency. The topic of the conversation was how acts of a benevolent nature become effectively valueless in the eyes of certain sects within the Christian community, when they discover that the person taking the benevolent actions isn’t a member of their particular sect, or the religion as a whole. It had been quite clear to me for some time why this occurs, but apparently not to some others, so I’m going to do my best to explain. As the price of knowledge is the responsibility of spending time sharing it. The question is, why to some Christians do benevolent acts mean less, or nothing, when coming from an atheist? To answer this, one must first look at the fundamental purposes of religion for the majority of people. And those are as follows… • • • Alleviation of the fear of death. Provisions for what actions must be taken to acquire that alleviation. To reduce the likelihood of social revolt on the part of poor and or suffering believers.

Example: Murder is sin, and the government decides what is murder and what is simply killing, thus attacking any government in a military fashion is sinful, while attacking the government’s enemies is not. Follow the rules, continue to suffer in silence, or you don’t get heaven. Render unto Caesar. Or as Napoleon said… “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” Ok, but what do any of those have to do with charitable acts? In order to alleviate the fear of death you must keep the dying busy. You have to give them something to do, because if they sit and think, they may see the truth, become disheartened or angry, and possibly speak out against the religion as a whole and of course that’s a problem, because speech is the root from which action grows. "Idle hands are the Devil's playground"

What possible goal is worth taking actions towards if you are dying? Well it follows that it has to be something after death, and in order to have something to gain, you have to have something to lose, so they make a list of rules. These rules must be followed. If they are, the person gets a pleasant afterlife, if not the person is punished either by lack of advancement (Buddhists) or active punishment (Christians etc). The rules have to be more important than life itself, and without exception, in order to work. Here we begin to step into some of the traps laid for us by moral absolutism. It also follows in this world view, that if something is to matter after life is over then it becomes the entire point of life, since life is finite and death is not. Life itself. takes on the flavor of some sort of test. This is where charitable acts come in. Charitable acts only have value if they are a part of the rules mentioned before, because what good are they to you if you still go to hell? Even then they can only have value because of the rules. To many devout Christians they have no intrinsic value at all. They are only good because God and Jesus or whoever says so. There is only one logical end to that line of reasoning. Charity alone is worthless, in the eyes of Christ. But that doesn’t wash, for example according to Jesus. "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." (Mark 10:21) How could they paint themselves into such a corner? Where did the position that one cannot earn salvation via good deeds come from? Why not simply say doing good is good enough? Obviously Jesus was pro-charity. Here’s their problem, if charitable actions influenced the rules, then that would make the rules less important, and thus subject the entire system to doubt. In order for the illusion to work the rules must be without exception, in order that they might provide absolute comfort before death, again without exception. If you allow for the concept of a benevolent atheist entering heaven because of the value of her charitable acts then it follows that you also allow for a callous, cruel, yet rule following Christian going to hell on merits of her personal mercilessness, or you allow for God being unjust. … Not to mention allowing for God to interpret actions instead of the church, which might cause some social issues. The possibility of this is intolerable, because the whole selling point of religion is structure, punishment, and reward. That’s why no matter how good you are in the eyes of a devout Christian, if you don’t believe in their particular sect, in all its dogmatic and questionable glory, they’re happy to mentally sentence you to hell. Because in so doing they strengthen their own chances of heaven.

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