Christianity = Very Effective Law Enforcement?

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Christianity = Very Effective Law Enforcement?

#1

Post by James » Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:34 pm

Was Christianity a system made up to control the masses?

In today's society, the population is kept in check by police and judicial systems. These are organisations whose primary objective is to enforce the laws of the society. This system is inadequate and by no means foolproof. Criminals are sometimes never caught, miscarriages of justice take place and the law can be seen as ambiguous. The problems with this system arise from the fact that the criminal sees the law enforcement organisations as obstacles rather than a complete barrier. The individual is tempted to crime with the knowledge that he has the chance of getting away with it. This system is extrinsic - the individual is persuaded not to perform a crime by an external organisation. The onus is on this external organisation to monitor, catch, punish/rehabilitate the criminal.

Now imagine a society where there is no need for external organisations to intervene, where crime is prevented. Each and every member of society is intrinsically predisposed to stay within the bounds of the laws. In order to achieve this, the system must persuade all individuals of the following:
1. A morality - the laws which must be obeyed (eg. the Bible).
2. Rewards - for obeying the laws (eg. Heaven).
3. Punishments - for breaking the laws (eg. Hell).
4. A system of constant monitoring of every individual (eg. omniscient God).
5. The opportunity of rehabilitation (eg. benevolent God, forgiveness).

As I have demonstrated in brackets by each point, Christianity cleverly contains all of these properties.

The beauty of this system is how easily it can be accepted by society. The individual asks itself "Should I follow God's laws?". "If I don't then I may go to Hell if God does exist. On the other hand, if I do believe in God, yes I will probably spend more time trying to live by His morality and laws, but is that such a bad thing? The morals described in the Bible are reasonable enough and this way I cover all my bases. If I die and God exists then I will go to Heaven, if he doesn't exist then at least I will have led a virtuous life.
As the individual has no way of proving or disproving God's existence, the safe bet is to follow the morals described in the Bible.

Any opinions?

James

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#2

Post by Felgar » Fri Dec 24, 2004 3:46 pm

The only thing wrong with your reasoning is your fundamental assumption that man devised Christianity as a means of control. Instead, start with this assumption: A loving and all-knowing God provided the foundation upon which mankind could build a wonderful and fruitful society. Now, if you start there, pretty much everything you said will hold.

A society where each individual is intrinsically motivated NOT to sin; where there's no theft, crime, or adultery. Yup, sounds like a good idea to me. I'd expect it to be clever considering it comes right from God...

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#3

Post by Mastermind » Fri Dec 24, 2004 4:57 pm

It would not be very effective law enforcement in my case, if it was simply invented by man, because I would have realised it by now(I have recieved enough scientific and metaphysical proof to believe +99%). I don't obey God's word out of fear of Hell, like a lot of people seem to do. I obey it because I believe in absolute good and evil, and I know which side I choose to stand with. Heaven is the reward, not the goal. If it weren't for God, I would probably be in the middle of robbing a multi-million dollar piece of art right now.

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#4

Post by James » Fri Dec 24, 2004 5:03 pm

Hi Felgar,
Felgar wrote:The only thing wrong with your reasoning is your fundamental assumption that man devised Christianity as a means of control. Instead, start with this assumption: A loving and all-knowing God provided the foundation upon which mankind could build a wonderful and fruitful society. Now, if you start there, pretty much everything you said will hold.
The idea of my post was to make the point that the Bible may have been written by man to control society. In this case Christianity is a methodology devised to persuade members of society to live within a prescribed morality. In this case there is no need to make the assumption of the existence of a God.
Felgar wrote:A society where each individual is intrinsically motivated NOT to sin; where there's no theft, crime, or adultery. Yup, sounds like a good idea to me.
It would be nice wouldn't it...

James

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#5

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Dec 24, 2004 6:01 pm

James wrote:The idea of my post was to make the point that the Bible may have been written by man to control society. In this case Christianity is a methodology devised to persuade members of society to live within a prescribed morality. In this case there is no need to make the assumption of the existence of a God.
Really this is quite implausible considering the many authors behind Scripture, and many who were behind the NT books suffered for their faith. This is an idea only a naive Atheist would come up with, but anyone with a historical background on early Christianity, or how the Bible came together, would know otherwise.
James wrote:1. A morality - the laws which must be obeyed (eg. the Bible).
2. Rewards - for obeying the laws (eg. Heaven).
3. Punishments - for breaking the laws (eg. Hell).
4. A system of constant monitoring of every individual (eg. omniscient God).
5. The opportunity of rehabilitation (eg. benevolent God, forgiveness).
I disagree with 1, 2 and 3 (though opinions are devisive on 2 it seems). Everyone fails the law, and so noone deserves to be with a full righteous God. So something new was require which we are able to obtain. And that something was grace through Jesus Christ by whom all can be made righteous in God's eye.

This is the core of Christianity, and I'd say a major difference between it and other major religions. We are told that we only have to come to Christ, and then the Holy Spirit will shape us and help us to become more like Him. God reaches out to us, as we reach out to Him. On the other hand, other religions have rituals and laws they have to keep, in order to attain holiness. This is a core difference I see.

<blockquote>10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16ruin and misery mark their ways, 17and the way of peace they do not know.” 18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:9-26)</blockquote>It could probably be equally argued by some that Christianity opens up the floodgates of sinning, because all can be covered by God's grace, but then this misunderstands "faith in Christ" as a simple belief irrespective of ones conviction and desire.

Kurieuo.
Last edited by Kurieuo on Sat Dec 25, 2004 2:48 am, edited 6 times in total.
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#6

Post by Prodigal Son » Fri Dec 24, 2004 6:04 pm

i guess the bible (the new testament is what you're referring to here? which was written following jesus death...hence the name christianity) WAS written as a means of controlling society. it was a way to teach people how to live better lives.

but if you think about it, humankind would never have written the bible or had a need for it without a God, because without a God there would be no right or wrong. everything would be an accident and so there would be no meaning to life and without any meaning, no consequences and without any consequences, nothing that is really morally wrong...no real crime and no criminals.

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#7

Post by Felgar » Sat Dec 25, 2004 12:36 am

Kurieuo wrote:This is the core of Christianity, and I'd say a major difference between it and other major religions. We are told that we only have to come to Christ, and then the Holy Spirit will shape us and help us to become more like Him. God reaches out to us, as we reach out to Him. On the other hand, other religions have rituals and laws they have to keep, in order to attain holiness. This is a core difference I see.
That's a really good point Kurieuo. I was treating the topic more superficially, but I'm glad you thought to point this out.

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#8

Post by James » Sun Dec 26, 2004 7:56 am

Kurieuo wrote:Really this is quite implausible considering the many authors behind Scripture, and many who were behind the NT books suffered for their faith. This is an idea only a naive Atheist would come up with, but anyone with a historical background on early Christianity, or how the Bible came together, would know otherwise.
First and foremost I would describe myself as agnostic — I don't think we are in a position to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of God.

Yes the scriptures were written by a number of authors and they did suffer— but let's continue the analogy to present day society and methods of government. The laws and methods of governing in our society have also been introduced by many people, over many years. Furthermore, throughout history, many have suffered to introduce laws/regimes/beliefs. Can you think of any revolution or war throughout history where people have not suffered in order to fight for what they believe in?

The works in the Old and New testaments are perfect examples of how laws and morals evolve over the course of history. Each book was introduced to add a new law, evolve an old law or cover a loop-hole.

Kurieuo wrote:Everyone fails the law, and so noone deserves to be with a full righteous God. So something new was require which we are able to obtain. And that something was grace through Jesus Christ by whom all can be made righteous in God's eye.
Could the NT simply have been a complete revision of the archaic Old Testament which had become out of touch with the state of society? A reminder that God was still watching and was as present as ever? Also a way of "wiping the slate clean" - forgiving all of mankind's previous sins - a fresh start.
Kurieuo wrote:This is the core of Christianity, and I'd say a major difference between it and other major religions. We are told that we only have to come to Christ, and then the Holy Spirit will shape us and help us to become more like Him. God reaches out to us, as we reach out to Him. On the other hand, other religions have rituals and laws they have to keep, in order to attain holiness. This is a core difference I see.
Yes, the core of Christianity is to follow a set of rules/guidelines by which you should live your life. If you do this you will be rewarded. If you do not, you will be punished.

In the letter from Paul to the Romans, the general message I get is practice what you preach and strive for perfection because you are far from perfect.
Colors wrote:but if you think about it, humankind would never have written the bible or had a need for it without a God, because without a God there would be no right or wrong.
You are assuming that right and wrong are real properties of nature, and that God invented them. Right and wrong are defined by whoever writes the law. Right and wrong are needed to provide society with a clear view of the law. God is a (fictional?) mechanism to monitor and reward/punish right or wrong acts.


James

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#9

Post by Mastermind » Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:58 pm

You didn't understand a thing from our replies, did you?

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#10

Post by Kurieuo » Mon Dec 27, 2004 10:00 pm

James wrote:The works in the Old and New testaments are perfect examples of how laws and morals evolve over the course of history. Each book was introduced to add a new law, evolve an old law or cover a loop-hole.
What... like the loophole in the burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offerings, and sin offerings? :P I'm wondering whether you've ever actually read the Pentateuch, or even the Levitical law before, or is your understanding simply the ten commandments?
James wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:This is the core of Christianity, and I'd say a major difference between it and other major religions. We are told that we only have to come to Christ, and then the Holy Spirit will shape us and help us to become more like Him. God reaches out to us, as we reach out to Him. On the other hand, other religions have rituals and laws they have to keep, in order to attain holiness. This is a core difference I see.
Yes, the core of Christianity is to follow a set of rules/guidelines by which you should live your life. If you do this you will be rewarded. If you do not, you will be punished.
I'm with Mastermind here—did you read what I wrote?
Kurieuo wrote:In the letter from Paul to the Romans, the general message I get is practice what you preach and strive for perfection because you are far from perfect.
If that is all, then you miss a lot in Paul's words.
James wrote:Right and wrong are defined by whoever writes the law.
Perhaps you would agree then, that rape and murder could some day be morally right?

Kurieuo.
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#11

Post by James » Tue Dec 28, 2004 5:13 am

Mastermind wrote:You didn't understand a thing from our replies, did you?
Sorry Mastermind, I hadn't actually read your initial reply. I think we posted our comments at about the same time, so I missed yours. As I interpret it, the gist of what you're saying is that the existence of God can be proved conclusively through science. I've been having this discussion with Kurieuo, and we have got nowhere. I would be happy to discuss it with you, but on the relevant discussion board.
Mastermind wrote:If it weren't for God, I would probably be in the middle of robbing a multi-million dollar piece of art right now.
You say that you believe in Good and Evil. I would hope that you were able to see the "evil" in robbing an art gallery without the need for religion or God to tell you so. But if not, then I suppose it just goes to show how effective Christianity is at law enforcement.
Kurieuo wrote:I'm wondering whether you've ever actually read the Pentateuch, or even the Levitical law before, or is your understanding simply the ten commandments?
Obviously I can't claim to have as good an understanding of the Old and New Testaments as you guys, but I did actually start reading the Old Testament (from the beginning) a few weeks ago. Whenever I am presented with a Biblical quote I look it up and read the entire chapter which contains it for context. So I am trying to understand what it's all about.
Furthermore, I have at least attempted to interpret what you are all saying in lay-terms. But when I am faced with ambiguous phrases like
"come to Christ"
"the Holy Spirit will shape us"
"Without a God there would be no right or wrong"
It makes it quite difficult for me to see what each of you is trying to say.
Kurieuo wrote:If that is all, then you miss a lot in Paul's words.
I was generalizing, but I am happy to hear your interpretation of the passage.
Kurieuo wrote:
James wrote:Right and wrong are defined by whoever writes the law.
Perhaps you would agree then, that rape and murder could some day be morally right?
The definition of murder is "unlawful killing" and rape is "the crime of forcing someone to commit sexual acts" so, by definition, neither will ever be legally right. Personally I do not see how murder or rape could ever be morally right. The murderers and the rapists of the world obviously think otherwise, at least for the brief period while they are committing their respective crimes. Morals are personal things which are dependent on the situation: take mercy killing for example.

If you are going to believe in God, then you must make the assumption that the old and new testaments are, one way or another, divinely inspired by Him.
It might be hard to imagine for some of you, but try to picture a world which is governed only by natural laws and not a supernatural power. Where life has occurred through chance events and mankind has evolved to the point it is at now. It is perfectly feasible that mankind would develop a method to control its own society. The method of using a supernatural power as a way of enforcing this control is extremely effective. A supernatural power, by definition, is beyond proof - no-one can prove or disprove its existence and must therefore accept it through lack of conclusive knowledge.
This is certainly a view that has not been conclusively disproved. Can any of you even comprehend such an idea?

James

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#12

Post by Kurieuo » Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:20 am

James wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:I'm wondering whether you've ever actually read the Pentateuch, or even the Levitical law before, or is your understanding simply the ten commandments?
Obviously I can't claim to have as good an understanding of the Old and New Testaments as you guys, but I did actually start reading the Old Testament (from the beginning) a few weeks ago. Whenever I am presented with a Biblical quote I look it up and read the entire chapter which contains it for context. So I am trying to understand what it's all about.
Perhaps I was a little unfair. I should have probably just questioned for more details about what laws evolved, or what loop-holes existed.
James wrote:Furthermore, I have at least attempted to interpret what you are all saying in lay-terms. But when I am faced with ambiguous phrases like
"come to Christ"
"the Holy Spirit will shape us"
"Without a God there would be no right or wrong"
It makes it quite difficult for me to see what each of you is trying to say.
I thought what I wrote was self-explanatory, but to try explain further, within Christianity it is not believed that one needs to be good to get to God. Instead Christianity works from the foundation that none of us are good, and none of us a worthy of being with God, and so any solution has to come from God. It is believed the solution is through Christ, not by trying to be good.
James wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Perhaps you would agree then, that rape and murder could some day be morally right?
The definition of murder is "unlawful killing" and rape is "the crime of forcing someone to commit sexual acts" so, by definition, neither will ever be legally right. Personally I do not see how murder or rape could ever be morally right. The murderers and the rapists of the world obviously think otherwise, at least for the brief period while they are committing their respective crimes. Morals are personal things which are dependent on the situation: take mercy killing for example.
So when many Jews died in the holocaust by the hand of Nazi Germany, they weren't really murdered? Additionally, there was nothing wrong with this? As for rape, yours is one defination, and I have to say I think it rather silly to think if no law existed forbidding rape, then "rape" wouldn't exist. Now by rape here I mean the definition: "To force (another person) to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse."

I'd agree with you that I cannot also see how murder or rape could ever be morally right. But if right and wrong is simply whatever is dictated by law, then rape and murder (that is, brutal or unprovoked killing of innocent people) can actually be declared alright. Yet, I can't see on what ground you could then still say that rape is wrong. Additionally, how can "moral reform" happen, if morality is grounded in the laws that govern society? ;)
Jame wrote:If you are going to believe in God, then you must make the assumption that the old and new testaments are, one way or another, divinely inspired by Him.
Not true at all. Yet, I do nonetheless make such an assumption as I'm sure many Christians do. But although many accept inspiration, not all accept inerrancy. Instead, some such Christians believe everything written should be accepted (or rejected) on its own merit.
James wrote:It is perfectly feasible that mankind would develop a method to control its own society. The method of using a supernatural power as a way of enforcing this control is extremely effective. A supernatural power, by definition, is beyond proof - no-one can prove or disprove its existence and must therefore accept it through lack of conclusive knowledge.
While feasible, it doesn't appear to me as true when I look over history. Especially in relation to Christianity, which didn't arise through some political agenda of control, but in far the opposite circumstances. Additionally, the argument you seem to be proposing appears to be based on faulty reasoning. Just because society may have been caused to believe in a higher power (i.e., by those wanting control), such does not mean that a higher power does not exist. Infact it is probably more the case that because many already believed in a higher power, that such beliefs could have (and can be) used by someone in power as a tool for own selfish agenda. If there is such a correlation between religious beliefs and control, I think you might be hastily inferring causation out of correlation.

Kurieuo.
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#13

Post by James » Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:20 am

Kurieuo wrote:But if right and wrong is simply whatever is dictated by law, then rape and murder (that is, brutal or unprovoked killing of innocent people) can actually be declared alright.
No, you misunderstood me. Right and wrong are dictated by an individual's morals. Morality is personal, everyone has different opinions about what is right and wrong. The law is a general consensus of the morals that should be enforced as law. Morals dictate the law. So if the general consensus of society was that murder was in fact okay, then perhaps murder would no longer be illegal.
Kurieuo wrote:So when many Jews died in the holocaust by the hand of Nazi Germany, they weren't really murdered? Additionally, there was nothing wrong with this?
Of course they were murdered. For the average person, morally speaking, murder is naturally an abhorrent crime. I think murder is wrong and you think murder is wrong. But what of the murderer? The murderer must have thought murder was right for some period of time to justify the act. In the case of the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany (I might add that I am hesitant to talk about such a sensitive subject), horrific as it was, many Nazis were convinced that they were right in what they were doing. Their sense of right and wrong was redefined by fallacious propaganda and a tyrannous leader. What they were doing (which was murder) was wrong to you and me, but to them it was right. Morality is personal.
In this respect I commend Christianity on its preaching of selflessness and the "love thy neighbour" mentality. And to be honest, I also agree with most of the morals it teaches. As I have said before, if you follow the word of the Bible, you will live a virtuous lifestyle (although slightly conservative and perhaps scientifically stifled).
Kurieuo wrote:Additionally, the argument you seem to be proposing appears to be based on faulty reasoning. Just because society may have been caused to believe in a higher power (i.e., by those wanting control), such does not mean that a higher power does not exist. Infact it is probably more the case that because many already believed in a higher power, that such beliefs could have (and can be) used by someone in power as a tool for own selfish agenda.
I agree, it does not mean that a higher power does not exist, but it puts a very large question mark over what is actually the word of the Lord and what is the word of someone in power with "their own selfish agenda".

James

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#14

Post by Prodigal Son » Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:24 pm

actually, right and wrong are not defined by whoever writes the law. every culture in the world (discounting small devious cults, sects, anamolies) know and accept that sex/torture with/of small children is wrong. did they get together to write this law?

furthermore, studies of pre-verbal children has demonstrated that they have a built-in morality to understand right and wrong (what will hurt people, what is unfair, etc.)...before they understand the law or have had a chance to learn it.

i think you need to do a little more research.

good books: the case for a creator, the case for christ, the case for faith by Lee Strobel (will answer alot of your questions).

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#15

Post by James » Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:16 am

Hi Colors,

How did you get this:
colors wrote:actually, right and wrong are not defined by whoever writes the law.
Out of this:
James wrote:Right and wrong are dictated by an individual's morals. Morality is personal, everyone has different opinions about what is right and wrong. The law is a general consensus of the morals that should be enforced as law.
?

I would also like to say that I think the discussion is digressing ever so slightly. Let's stick to the topic of discussion: Is it possible that Christianity was devised or adapted to be used as a method of law enforcement by man?

James

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