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← Is Christian morality psychopathic?

Is Christian morality psychopathic? - Comments

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer

Now THAT is strident.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:05:04 UTC | #630361

GoneGolfing's Avatar Comment 2 by GoneGolfing

An absolutely brilliant demolition of Craig

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:06:42 UTC | #630362

jameshogg's Avatar Comment 3 by jameshogg

Love how Sam is just talking about what Christianity says, and that he will get all the accusations of being too offensive.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:14:31 UTC | #630369

yyarovyy's Avatar Comment 4 by yyarovyy

And this is why, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to have Sam Harris on our side.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:19:36 UTC | #630372

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 5 by Peter Grant

Yes!

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:32:02 UTC | #630377

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 6 by AtheistEgbert

The idea that there is such a thing as 'Christian morality' is a myth. People either have the natural capacity for being moral or they don't. What religion does is provide a simplified (and obviously fictional) emotional narrative for a person to give their lives meaning.

Also, people are beginning to confuse morality (our ability to be caring and compassionate) with justice. I think most of the problems with religion is that it distorts notions of justice so as to spread injustices. Barbaric and medieval religions have barbaric and medieval notions of justice, including ideas such as punishment with fear and pain.

As some of the recent comments on this board suggest, many atheists still hold on to medieval notions of justice which contradicts our capacity for moral empathy. This is probably because our notions of justice spring from popular fiction and the news media, rather than from reason.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:39:32 UTC | #630381

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 7 by Luke_B

Was that part of a debate? And did the opponent just start crying and run away?

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:44:40 UTC | #630384

Hypoluxa's Avatar Comment 8 by Hypoluxa

Sam is as clear as crystal.

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:26:22 UTC | #630395

RationalistOne's Avatar Comment 9 by RationalistOne

That was incredible. I'd love to see the reply Dr. Craig made to that.

Does anyone know what the barbaric practice of post holes referred to?

I've heard the one of shoes in walls, but not children in post holes.

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:30:12 UTC | #630399

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 10 by Peter Grant

Comment 7 by Luke_B

Was that part of a debate? And did the opponent just start crying and run away?

He did seem to get all offended and whine a lot if memory serves:

Harris vs. Craig

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:40:36 UTC | #630403

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 11 by Stevehill

Begging to differ, but the title here is wrong. It's not about whether "Christian morality" is psychopathic.

It's about whether some Christians' view of hell, as interpreted by Craig, is psychopathic - and on that definition I'd have no problem agreeing.

But billions of Christians do not believe the psychopathic version on which Harris's thesis depends. Even the Catholics have abandoned "limbo" (where unbaptised kids go until they hopefully merit a place in heaven); mainstream Christian doctrine is not that every dead Hindu infant burns forever, but that they'll probably be OK because they never knew any different.

I'm not defending Christianity: it's bullshit. But Sam is being as extreme as the extremists he rightly condemns. It's like saying "ignore all Christians on all topics because of the existence of Harold Camping or Fred Phelps". It's an easy win in a debate. And a cheap shot.

And self-defeating, because thinking Christians (they exist) will not recognise what he's talking about, and probably think no more of the lunatic stereotypes Sam is attacking than he does.

Get past the stuff about shellfish and mixed fibres (actually Jewish, not Christian) and there's not a lot in "Christian morality" that differs materially from any ethical system that a rational society would adopt.

This is an easy, but really rather lazy argument. It'll serve to dispose of Craig, but that's not hard.

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:44:19 UTC | #630407

hemidemisemigod's Avatar Comment 12 by hemidemisemigod

Well, I read the question and thought no, don't be silly. But having listened to his rather brilliant arguments, I'd say that the term psychopathic is a close enough description.

The trouble is that most religious people don't (or won't) think deeply enough to reach the logical conclusion of their beliefs.

I've always thought that hell would be a silly idea because you'd eventually get used to it. To quote Marvin the Paranoid Android - "The first ten million years were the worst, and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline."

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:50:23 UTC | #630410

littletrotsky13's Avatar Comment 13 by littletrotsky13

Does anyone know what the barbaric practice of post holes referred to?

I've heard the one of shoes in walls, but not children in post holes.

I suspect it's referring to a Japanese practice (see wikipedia). He does overdo the children aspect (the practice used "maidens", which may have been children, but you can't be sure), which is an automatically enotive aspect that clouds reason and frankly, it feels cheap.

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:57:57 UTC | #630411

Chris Langstaff's Avatar Comment 14 by Chris Langstaff

Comment 11 by Stevehill :

But billions of Christians do not believe the psychopathic version on which Harris's thesis depends. Even the Catholics have abandoned "limbo" (where unbaptised kids go until they hopefully merit a place in heaven); mainstream Christian doctrine is not that every dead Hindu infant burns forever, but that they'll probably be OK because they never knew any different.

Do you have a source for the "billions do not believe in hell" statement? I was raised catholic and I'm only 31, and was definitely taught that hell is real and you go there unless you accept God, go to church, receive communion, say confession. I'm pretty sure that evangelicals believe that as well.

Even if Johnny Churchgoer doesn't take it too seriously or doesn't think about it, he is still giving money to the organization which does. At the very least he's listening to that org's views on other moral issues.

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:59:49 UTC | #630413

sirmailbox's Avatar Comment 15 by sirmailbox

Yes, this was part of a debate between Sam and the Christian apologist William Lane Craig. If you REALLY want to see Craig get smashed on the topic of moral foundations, watch his debate with Shelly Kagan.

Tue, 24 May 2011 20:02:11 UTC | #630415

kidchicago's Avatar Comment 16 by kidchicago

What makes it so incredible is the power of the simple example. And Sam does it so well!!!!

And each of our four horsemen continues to remain on the offensive!!!!! I don't think there are ever going to be enough believers ever again to silence this ever-louder oncoming train of thought.

It doesn't take a 3-digit IQ anymore to sense the dawning of real dawn.

Tue, 24 May 2011 20:03:16 UTC | #630417

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 17 by ZenDruid

Of course, Christian morality is psychopathic. Such morality is primarily based on the mythical Top Ten, Number One being, "It's all about Me! ME ME ME ME ME!" Inevitably that nonsense drowns out the nice guy who said, "Ah, just be righteous to one another."

Or is that schizotypic?

Tue, 24 May 2011 20:07:59 UTC | #630419

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 18 by Stafford Gordon

Get out of that!

Tue, 24 May 2011 20:19:35 UTC | #630422

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 19 by Luke_B

Ref Comment 10: Cheers Peter! It's a good two hours and I don't have time at the mo but I'll be sure to check the link properly soon (although when I say 'properly' that may well include a bit of skipping if Harris gets too whiney, or just generally annoying). But thanks again!

Tue, 24 May 2011 20:27:17 UTC | #630426

Delogic's Avatar Comment 20 by Delogic

Sam goes to the heart of the argument and stabs it repeatedly! It is so refreshing to see a person actually practicing clear thinking and honest talking about the implications of religious concepts. If Sam could be president of my country, I would give him the job.

Tue, 24 May 2011 20:59:01 UTC | #630432

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 21 by Stevehill

Do you have a source for the "billions do not believe in hell" statement?

I didn't say that. I'm no theologian but my understanding is that there is no prima facie assumption that a non-catholic who has never been made aware of the "good news" (some three month old in Tibet say) is going to burn forever.

Most Catholics and indeed Protestants have a far more nuanced, and forgiving, view these days.

I won't presume to excuse Pentacostalists, Evangelists and Presbyterians, who are all stark raving mad. But in most parts of the world they are also a minority.

Harris should at east give credit where it is due: lots of Christians, and Christian charities, do lots of good work. There are many things to attack them for, and deservedly so, but lack of morality is reaching...

Actually I wish more Christians would practice the morality their own Bible tells them to. Rather than fleecing their followers, Camping style. Or covering up paedophilia, Pope style.

Tue, 24 May 2011 21:35:37 UTC | #630443

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 22 by JHJEFFERY

Comment 11 by Stevehill

mainstream Christian doctrine is not that every dead Hindu infant burns forever, but that they'll probably be OK because they never knew any different.

Steve, you don't live in Florida do you? :)

Tue, 24 May 2011 21:36:06 UTC | #630444

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

I didn't say that. I'm no theologian but my understanding is that there is no prima facie assumption that a non-catholic who has never been made aware of the "good news" (some three month old in Tibet say) is going to burn forever.

I can back that up. As a UK Catholic growing up in the 60s Hell was not mentioned. It was considered to be old-fashioned nonsense. Also, we didn't believe that a non-Catholic would go to Hell if not baptised.

The general feeling was that Catholicism was just one route to being a good person. It didn't matter much if at all if you were Church of England, or even Muslim. They were just aspects of the same thing. Even the idea of a personal God was thought a bit silly.

There was a lot of impatience with the Vatican, as it imposed all kinds of harsh rules that made people's lives miserable. We thought of the Pope as hopelessly out of date. Our priests really didn't mind much about matters like contraception.

I don't know how common my type of Catholicism is, but I can confirm it did exist.

Tue, 24 May 2011 21:43:29 UTC | #630448

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 24 by Noble Savage

Comment 11 by Stevehill :

Begging to differ, but the title here is wrong. It's not about whether "Christian morality" is psychopathic.

It's about whether some Christians' view of hell, as interpreted by Craig, is psychopathic - and on that definition I'd have no problem agreeing.

But billions of Christians do not believe the psychopathic version on which Harris's thesis depends. Even the Catholics have abandoned "limbo" (where unbaptised kids go until they hopefully merit a place in heaven); mainstream Christian doctrine is not that every dead Hindu infant burns forever, but that they'll probably be OK because they never knew any different.

You misunderstood what Sam was saying. The reason it's psychopathic is that they believe morality is simply issued by a competent authority. That's the way children at risk for psychopathy think. Like Sam says, children at risk for psychopathy think it's ok to punch other children if the teacher says it's ok. Normal children do not.

Tue, 24 May 2011 21:48:38 UTC | #630452

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 25 by Noble Savage

Comment 23 by Steve Zara :

I didn't say that. I'm no theologian but my understanding is that there is no prima facie assumption that a non-catholic who has never been made aware of the "good news" (some three month old in Tibet say) is going to burn forever.

I can back that up. As a UK Catholic growing up in the 60s Hell was not mentioned. It was considered to be old-fashioned nonsense. Also, we didn't believe that a non-Catholic would go to Hell if not baptised.

The general feeling was that Catholicism was just one route to being a good person. It didn't matter much if at all if you were Church of England, or even Muslim. They were just aspects of the same thing. Even the idea of a personal God was thought a bit silly.

There was a lot of impatience with the Vatican, as it imposed all kinds of harsh rules that made people's lives miserable. We thought of the Pope as hopelessly out of date. Our priests really didn't mind much about matters like contraception.

I don't know how common my type of Catholicism is, but I can confirm it did exist.

As you're very much aware, any configuration of religious beliefs you can possibly think of exists. The fact that some christians have poor reading comprehension, doesn't make The Bible any more palatable.

Tue, 24 May 2011 21:53:31 UTC | #630453

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 26 by gr8hands

Stevehill is in error. Every religious poll of christians demonstrates that they overwhelmingly believe in hell, heaven, efficacy of prayer, and the creation myth.

Here's a simple way to find out: using Google, put in the various denominations you are curious about, along with the words "belief" and "hell" -- then look what the denominations themselves have to say.

Sample: Southern Baptist -- http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/basicbeliefs.asp

The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell.

Or you can let others do the research for you, and then look at their links (check out Hell):

http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/charts/denominations_beliefs.htm

============================

For me, there is another immorality that goes unspoken. You are alive on Earth for, say, 100 years. You die without jesus. How long is the appropriate punishment for that, in order to retain morality? One million years of torment? One billion? One trillion? Several hundred cycles of the universe Big Bang/Big Crunch (if that is the cosmology model that turns out to be right)? Several trillion universal cycles? All for what was done during 100 years?

How can anyone in their right mind think that would be just or moral?

Tue, 24 May 2011 22:06:40 UTC | #630454

korben's Avatar Comment 27 by korben

This may be a bit off topic but I'll ask the question anyway. What is a Christian nowadays? It seems that all those who call themselves Christians pick and chose and redefine and reinterpret what they believe in constantly and not two people believe in the same thing. So if they can't even agree on what they are, they probably are anything but Christians, meaning, they're just people who adopt the label Christian as a fashion item, and to talk about a "Christian morality" may be meaningless; I mean, which Christian's morality is the right one? Is there such a thing as "a" Christian morality?

Tue, 24 May 2011 22:09:22 UTC | #630457

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 28 by DocWebster

After listening to this it was jarring to Dr. Craig come up and essentially spend his entire time attacking Sam as a person and not addressing his arguments in any meaningful way.

Tue, 24 May 2011 22:09:57 UTC | #630458

sanban's Avatar Comment 29 by sanban

I didn't say that. I'm no theologian but my understanding is that there is no prima facie assumption that a non-catholic who has never been made aware of the "good news" (some three month old in Tibet say) is going to burn forever.

No, only decent people who take care of their families, contribute to society and leave a legacy of good, but rejected the various death cult/s as nonsense.

Harris should at east give credit where it is due: lots of Christians, and Christian charities, do lots of good work. There are many things to attack them for, and deservedly so, but lack of morality is reaching...

Yes, we should give credit to Mao for modernising China and to Hamas for feeding the poor and supporting widows, too. That doesn't mean we can't condemn them along with the Church for their murderous acts and immoral and nonsensical ideologies.

Tue, 24 May 2011 22:19:13 UTC | #630462

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 30 by Steve Zara

As you're very much aware, any configuration of religious beliefs you can possibly think of exists. The fact that some christians have poor reading comprehension, doesn't make The Bible any more palatable.

This wasn't "any configuration of religious beliefs", or lack of ability to read. It was, at least in my community, a common profile of Catholic views. I have evidence for this - read the novels of David Lodge on Catholicism, such as "How Far Can You Go?"(1980). They are a good documentation of the ranges of belief and views of the Vatican.

It may be convenient to insist in a pretty much universal belief in Hell amongst Christians, but we have to deal with the complexity of the real world.

I'm starting to think that we need another version of 'PC' - 'Politically Convenient' - views based on simplistic representations of reality that make coming up with slogans easy.

Tue, 24 May 2011 22:22:09 UTC | #630463