The Christian virtues - what are they ?
Much ado is made about "Judeo-Christian values" and "Christian values". What are these values ? Are they based on facts or fantasy ? How are they relevant to today's world ?
According to a May 2002 Pew Research survey, 14% of Americans claim that these values are necessary to be a good American (what these values are, is not mentioned). According to a survey from last April, 7 out of 10 Britons believe that "Christian values" "are still valid in today's society", and 71% desire these values to be taught in schools. This means that there is a significant proportion of non-religious out there who support the insanity of "religious education". This is, to be nice about it, sickening.
Now, that British survey does mention some of the "Christian values". And I quote :
Joel Edwards, the general director of the Evangelical Alliance, one of the organisations, said that millions of people recognised the positive benefits of Christian values.
"Forgiveness, respect, hope and trust are rooted in the Christian faith and they are the antidote to a culture that is being railroaded into an individualistic, rights-orientated mentality," he said.
Are you retching yet ? Let's give a hand to the poor Christians who are trying to turn over our cursed "individualistic" and "rights-orientated" mentality ! Because if there's something we need in our modern world, it's more belief and less freedom. I won't even try to figure out how a culture can be "railroaded" - are foreign TV stations blasting propaganda of individualism and freedom on the poor Briton population ? Should we send foreign aid ?
Never mind the boisterous rhetoric, let's look at these "Christian values".
* Forgiveness : I assume this means "pray for your soul and anything you've done can be forgiven, as long as you believe in my religion". It is a "forgiveness" that means total irresponsibility and total dishonesty. It is not a value, or a virtue, but the vice of a soldier or a suicide bomber. So insofar as it is a horrible evil, I have no problem conceding this horrible vice to Christianity. That makes one...
* Respect : I am at a loss to figure out how this is Christian in any way. Respect is something that is earned by one's actions, but Christianity preaches total non-judgment of the individual believer (as I've noted in the previous point). So I have to disallow "respect", as it has nothing to do with Christianity.
* Hope : I assume this means "hope of your soul going to a supernatural fantasy land when you die". I hope (hah !) I don't have to explain why this is completely irrelevant to human life, meaningless and absurd. Any hope that is given to us human beings come through the agency of reason, not of faith. It comes from science, it comes from atheism, it comes from anarchy, it comes from, in short, all the forms of peaceful individualism that exist. Insofar as hope has nothing to do with Christianity, I'm afraid I have to disallow it as well.
* Trust : I fail to see what trust has to do with Christianity at all, apart from the fact that religion makes people see others as toold of belief instead of actual human beings. Insofar as this is true, I would tend to distrust committed Christians. Also, trust, to be rational at all, must be based on judging the other fellow benevolently. So I have to disallow this as well.
So the only value we have left is "criminal forgiveness". Well, this is rather a paucity of "Christian values". Where should we find the others ? Wikipedia, as always, comes to our rescue, and lists worship of God, fidelity in marriage (whatever happened to abandoning your family ?), renunciation of worldly goods, renunciation of violence, forgiveness of sins (but we had that one already) and unconditional (which is to say, blind and irrational) love. To these I would add : injustice, faith and ignorance, and arrogance.
Does this mean that I think all Christians possess these vices ? Not at all. As I always make sure to point out, many Christians do not follow "Christian values" at all, but rather follow common-sense rules of living. These Christians I call "practical atheists". The rest is the vocal fundamentalist half of Christianity, which actually follows "Christian values". Those Christians I don't call at all - I stay as far away from them as I humanly can.
Can Christianity possibly have any relevance to today's society ? The absurdity of a tribal book still applying in a world of cars, skyscrapers and quantum physics. any more than Aristotle's virtues are relevant to a scientific and technological society - rather quite related to the relativist belief that all opinions are equally valid. But this is nonsense. Christianity no more applies to today's society than the theory of humors applies to medicine.