Moral projection in Christianity part 1
To continue my discussion (or given the dearth of comments, my monologue) on the stages of morality and Christianity's place within it, I would like to sidetrack a bit and talk about moral projection in Christianity.
As I hope you all know, projection is a common defense mechanism in cult-think, and Christianity is no exception. In fact, monotheistic religions seem to engender an inordinate amount of projection. Everything that Christians use to criticize their opponents is in fact a flaw of their own belief system. For example :
* A life without God is a life without meaning or purpose - vs - Being part of an incomprehensible and uncontrollable "divine plan".
* Without God, you cannot explain logic or science - vs - The contingent theistic universe cannot explain logic or science. Only materialism can.
* Without God, you cannot explain our origins - vs- "God did it" means nothing and does not explain anything. Only science can explain it.
* A life without God is a life of immorality - vs - Crime rates and other immorality statistics much higher for religious people than the non-religious, and much higher in countries with a high degree of religion.
* Only belief in God is comforting - vs - Fear of God, Hell, sin, "the world". "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Order-based morality that leverages fear.
* A life without God is morally irresponsible - vs - Complete denial of moral responsibility through "original sin", "salvation by belief" and Jesus' "sacrifice".
* A life without God is petty and narrow - vs - Refusal to acknowledge any part of reality that contradicts one's belief system. No commitment to freethought, honesty or progress.
* A life without God is hopeless - vs - Christianity dismisses all our earthly supports as irrelevant, creating hopelessness in the first place.
So I think it is obvious that the phenomena of projection as defense mechanism permerates Christian thought. However, as I discussed on an earlier post of this series, Christianity in itself has no values or virtues. Whatever values or virtues a Christian has qua Christian must necessarily be projected from somewhere else. So then we get two questions : how is X projected, what does Christianity really say about X, and where does X really come from ?
Let's start with Barna Research's List of Success Determinants, telling us what Christians think makes a successful life. While this is not a good indicator of short-term values, this gives us a good indication of what Christians value in the long-term. Apparently, Christians have five important long-term values : family life (lasting marriage, good child-raising), social accomplishments (being rich, educated, making a difference in the world), emotional fulfillment (good job, happiness, satisfaction with life), spiritual experiences and development, good health. Let's look at these in turn, using my concept of stages of morality as secuilar basis :
* Activist Christians use Christianity as a justification for their "family values" activism. These "family values" are in fact anti-family and anti-values, consisting of the repression of anything that is counter to the Christian model of the family and family life.
This is reflected in the Bible, where the only passages about the family are either against the family in general (as in Jesus demanding people to hate and leave their families to serve his goals), against specific kinds of families (homosexual ones, for instance), or against deviations from a given model (such as ones that do not place Christianity, and the will of males, as a central concern).
The secular explanation for the value of the family is obvious : both evolution (all primate species except chimpanzees have family structures of some sort, and there is a strong evolutionary pressure to maintain that link) and the emotional bond between child and parents contribute to establish this value.in our psyche. As a rational moral agent, I may desire to continue to value my family as a source of priviledged relationships and helping hands (while I have never tried to hide my personal antipathy towards the concept of the family unit as a social construct, I certainly don't deny that such relationships can be very fruitful).
Due to its length, this article is cut in two parts. See part 2.