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Dec 24 2011

It *Is* A Wonderful Life

I read it in the news, today,
And thought it rather odd:
The world would be much better
If we all believed in God

The heart of Christian charity
Depends on our belief;
It’s love of God that separates
The giver from the thief

Our movies and our novels serve
To highlight this conviction;
Though just like Aesop’s fables, they
Are moralistic fiction

The books about morality
Have overflowed the shelves
They show the hell that comes of people
Thinking for themselves.

Belief is what determines
How the common man behaves;
And everything goes smoothly
When we’re willing, happy slaves.

A bit more, after the jump:

I’ve long noted that the best evidence for God always seems to be hypothetical. To illustrate the alleged closed-mindedness of atheists, evidence is posited (like, say, the floating, mile-high statue of Jesus) that has never been seen, and (the claim goes) still would not convince an atheist of god.

Today’s CNN Belief Blog takes a slightly different tack: the examples aren’t hypothetical, they are fictional. Bedford Falls (or Pottersville) of “It’s a wonderful life”, “Lord of the Flies”, and a quote by T. S. Eliot (and a passing Hitler reference that may as well be fiction), are all brought to bear, to make the case that without religion, we are doomed as a civilization. As Aesop made clear long ago, fiction serves to illustrate the point of view of the writer, not the real world. The human wins the fight against the lion, when the human paints the picture.

If we are to make a better world, we need to look at the actual, real world to do so, to see the real problems, and the real solutions. It does not help us to constrain our vision, and it certainly does not help us to focus our attention away from the real world and into the pages of an ancient book.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Pierce R. Butler

    From the link: According to the research of The Barna Group, Christians are the most charitable segment of the population by a substantial margin. Hence, any society that is liberally sprinkled with them has a greater concern for the poor, sick, orphaned and widowed – “the least of these,” as Jesus called them. (This is precisely what Nietzsche, and Hitler after him, hated about Christianity.)

    I have to wonder what those Barna numbers would look like if we subtracted the “charity” going into the pastor’s pocket and the glorification of the respective clubhouses enhancing nothing but the members’ local social status.

    Leaving the Nietzsche question to the resident FTB expert, we can give CNN’s pal Taunton half a point for recognizing that AH did object, personally if not publicly, to churches’ drawing the us-them line on non-racial grounds (though more so for their competition in the cult market, even while he professed himself a faithful believer).

    Taunton loses a point for a generic right-wing-talking-head cliché: … Obama blames Republicans; environmentalists blame industrialization; the “Occupy” people blame everybody who isn’t occupying something… (And another for the obligatory Dawkins distortion; come on, all the cool kids are twisting Hitchens’s words now!)

    But we gotta give him credit for some honesty about his own anti-human creed – … a doctrine central to Christianity: that evil is innate to us all.

    Any Niall Ferguson readers around? Does NF actually claim that “the decline of the West can, in part, be attributed to the decline of a robust Christian presence in Western culture”?

  2. 2
    rikitiki

    Re: Pierce R. Butler -

    as Cuttlefish points out, we need to get out of old myths and see what’s really going on. And what’s going on is that, according to a Stanford study

    http://www.ssireview.org/pdf/2005WI_Feature_Reich.pdf

    though Christians might give more, only about 8-9 percent of each dollar gets to the needy, whereas with secular charities the percentages are much, much higher. It isn’t how much is given, it’s how much actually helps those in need.

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