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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Question of the day #47: Religious benevolence

Image hosting by PhotobucketMost hospitals and charitable organizations (at least here in the United States) are founded and operated by religious groups. While many people from those groups would like to point at this as evidence that religious people are therefore better and more moral than non-religious people, and therefore the superiority of the religious mindset is implied, it seems to me that there are numerous much better reasons for this phenomenon and implications that follow them. What are your thoughts on this?

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8 Comments:

At 6/13/2006 11:55 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

The fortunes that are built up in religious organizations by exploiting the gullibility of the faithful no doubt evoke some guilt in those that have access to the holy checkbooks. Charity is never a virtue for its own sake, but is an excellent balm for the conscience.

 
At 6/14/2006 12:23 AM, Blogger olly declaimed...

Having a father that worked for a Catholic hospital, I can't say that they are terrible by any means. They all believe they are doing 'God's work' so they do what they can to give back to 'God's work'.

In the end, I can live with it. At least it's a lot more practical and functional result of religion then televangelism is.

-olly

 
At 6/14/2006 1:38 PM, Blogger Brucker declaimed...

Among the many thoughts I had on my own question, it occurred to me that you're not likely to see an "Atheist Hospital" simply because there aren't any atheist organizations that are anywhere near as organized as numerous religious denominations.

Zachary's point about exploitation (whether you agree that it *is* exploitation) is really the key. While you can find plenty of people around who are willing to "give to the cause of Christ" and that money may be eventually funnelled into some sort of charity. If you asked people to "give to the cause of lack of God" or whatever, you wouldn't get a dime. Religious organizations are just better at raising money, and it has nothing to do with their moral underpinnings or lack thereof.

 
At 6/14/2006 4:06 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Well, that may just be a cultural phenomenon. Atheist organizations are few and far between primarily because they've had to operate secretly for so long.

In fact, when I visited them, the NTCOF bragged that they were ranked as the most generous blood donors of all churches in the North Texas area.

Maybe Christians aren't more generous, they're just more effective at consolidating donations.

 
At 6/14/2006 5:46 PM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee declaimed...

It's there because it's a group. Groups take care of their own, and grab more members that way. It keeps mother church in the mind of its weakest members, and sends a message to the not-so weak. So you see, there are many benefits.

Don't forget that hospitals are great places to troll. The Scientologists do it all the time. Of course, you expect it of christians--not bringing water, preaching--so it doesn't seem like such a big deal. The biggest trolls of all would be the La Leche League. Their "help" is felt deeply by women in the hospital with their guts sewn up and in terrible pain. They "help" and they won't let you forget it. More conscientious nurses keep their eyes open and shoo them if they get too scary.

Bottom line it, being seen in a hospital is great pr. As far as not seeing atheist "groups" contributing, well, that's because atheists contribute privately, as, well, people. Like human beings. Like Bill Gates, whom everyone hates? It's amazing how much of the hospitals he and some other big Seattle families have paid for.

As far as hospitals go, I never knew that religious groups funded them, until I moved out east. We don't really have a bunch of catholic, jewish, or lutheran hospitals. I never saw Marys or Jesi in a hospital until maybe 2 years ago.

 
At 6/15/2006 6:52 AM, Blogger Joe Otten declaimed...

Why on earth would I want to start a hospital or charity in the name of atheism, except to make a point to the believers.

And doing something like that just to make a point is to elevate your beliefs above the immediate purpose of the project - charity or healing. And in so doing to turn away potential help.

That's just something believers do because they have lower moral standards. Often they're not even doing it for other people, just for God. That's an indifference to the moral purpose of the project.

 
At 6/15/2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Alonzo Fyfe declaimed...

I wrote a blog entry on this at Atheist Ethicist" called Why Don't Atheists Build Hospitals?".

I compared it to the question, "Why Don't String Theorists Build Hospitals?" There is no reason to believe that string theorists contribute to medical charities more or less than anybody else. Except, they do not do so in the name of string theory. So, we do not have any sense of string theorists building hospitals.

Atheists contribute a great deal to medical care. The scientists who have made the drugs and invented the procedures that hospitals use were those evil, wicked "atheist materialist scientists." You know, those people who investigate phenomena under the assumption that they have understandable natural causes. If it was up to the theists, we would still see disease as a punishment from God and the whole idea of curing them would be sacrelige.

Note that the Church was against the practice of surgery when scientists were using it to learn how the body works. They were against the development of vaccines because immunizing children was "playing God." They called mental illness "possession" and treated it with exorcism or simply burning the mentally ill at the stake. They are currently against stem cell research.

In short, they have spent a great deal of energy preventing people from being treated and cured of any number of diseases. That is, until the atheist materialist came along and actually found the treatments and cures that hospitals use.

 
At 6/17/2006 4:46 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Every cult out there has charities to shield themselves from suspicion. All it means is that your religion has something to hide.

 

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