Catholicism: Net good or bad?
Catholics have done both amazing and horrific things. Would the world be a better place without the Catholic Church?
FOREWARNING: I have a quite negative view about organized religion. However this does mean I am a bigot. I respect my fellow human being regardless of creed. I may not agree with your belief, and you might not agree with mine, and it is both of our rights to disagree. While free speech legally exists, it doesn’t really because you might offend someone. This is a particularly sensitive subject but it’s an unavoidable part of life that people will disagree with you about certain things, and it’s absurd to be offended whenever these situations arise. If you happen to be a Christian or Muslim or Jew, I am not forcing you to read this and if you are offended in any way then that isn’t my fault. Regardless of any held beliefs we are all human beings and that is the only true family.
I’m gonna say yes to this question, in my opinion at least. In most religions I think God was originally meant to be a way of personifying the goodness that we all have in us, but organized religions are institutional bodies, meaning that it’s always had it’s leaders interests at heart rather than the common man, pretty much the same as any other institutional body (Aristocratic, governmental, corporate etc.) I personally think that religions, particularly Christianity and other Abrahamic religions, while apparently preaching love for your fellow man, actually just breed ignorance, intolerance and egotistic behavior. ie. My god is the only god and if yours isn’t real. This is because it works out better for the leaders of these religions. It’s a political tool.
Christianity has to be one of the most self contradicting and backwards religions that we’ve ever known. This is a very touchy subject and despite my views against some particular religions, I don’t have anything against the regular people who follow them because they’re pretty much victims of indoctrination. And because Abrahamic religions are so widespread, it has perverted the mainstream idea of spirituality, which consequentially created an equally intolerant and ignorant army of hardcore atheists. They are against the perverted Abrahamic version of God and are therefore dismissive of any mention of the word. I think there may well be a god, but not in the sense that these religions interpret the concept. I very much doubt there is an actual diety, and God may just the universe/consciousness that exists within us, not externally. I reckon these religions that personified the concept did so metaphorically, and half of the stories in holy books were probably meant to be fables ie. metaphors, because it makes it easier to explain concepts such as morality in that way. (Especially in the time where practically nobody could read or get educated in any way). Then somewhere along the way, what these metaphors were originally meant to represent were forgotten, and then they were taken literally from there on out.
I’ll give you an example of how metaphors can be a useful tool for explaining reality. Say you are science teacher, teaching a young class about basic electronics and you get to the topic of current and voltage. Because you can’t see electrons, it’s much easier to convey the idea by giving an analogy that is relatable. You say that a circuit is a hose with water flowing through it. The voltage is the pressure on the water.. The current is movement of the water, and resistance is the width of the hose.This obviously isn’t what a circuit is, but it allows for describing it. Then you teach your class about how everything is getting further apart from each other because the universe is expanding. You draw dots onto a ballon and then blow air into it and watch the dots get further away from each other. Again, this isn’t what the expansion of the universe looks like but it’s a more relatable way of explaining it.
Similarly, the concept of God is likely incomprehensible to us, or at least difficult to understand, so it’s easier to talk of god as it’s a being, a person. You don’t have to understand electronics to know there aren’t little hoses inside of your computer (Unless you have a water cooled system lol), nor do you have to understand theoretical physics to know the universe isn’t a balloon with air getting blown into it by your science teacher. Now I may have my theories, but I don’t profess to actually understand what God is, but I think it’s a safe bet that it’s not a bearded man dressed in white that lives in the clouds. It’s more likely just a metaphor. I think Hindu and Egyyptian gods were a better analogy because they represent different aspects of human emotion or existence. I could be wrong about this, but at least I have thought about it rather than blindly accepting someone else’s ‘truth’
The institutional Abrahamic religions took this idea and turned it into a system for controlling masses. Spirituality isn’t meant to have rules; the rules are only there to serve institutions. If God really is an actual deity that really does judge you when you die, and he is as benevolent and forgiving, then he won’t blame you for not picking the ‘right’ religion, and will judge you based on the virtues that you’ve lived your life.
Say there is a God and he is malevolant; one that would create all these people and know that they are all gonna be a part of different religions. Then tell different groups that their religion is right and they should kill other people in his name because they are all wrong. AND THEN after death only reward ONE of those groups, while the rest find out when they die that it was the wrong one and so they’re gonna burn in hell. Of course there are exceptions, but most people are born into a SYSTEM of belief about god; they don’t choose it (As opposed to non-institutional personal opinions about what god could be, because that does happen all the time). This god gives you the feeling of hunger, and then demands you subject yourself to suffering by starving yourself. He gives you the desire to express yourself, but demands you conform. Does that sound like something an unconditionally loving god would do to his people? If the answer’s yes then he’s a sadistic psychopath so fuck him, I’m not worshiping him. If not then he won’t care if you worship him or not. Most people aren’t motivated by their love for their religion; instead they’re motivated by their fear of punishment for not following it. It was the same with the Nazis.. I’m sure a lot of Germans didn’t agree with all the principles of Nazism, but after it grew to a certain point people were too afraid to speak out because they’d just ‘disappear’. Fear is a manifestation of ego and therefore a religion, or in fact any ideology or belief system that is based on fear is a manifestation of ego in our collective consciousness. So many people are motivated by egotistic emotions, not just Christians. As a whole ego has held us back for a long time, but I would say Abrahamic religions are the biggest examples simply because they caused the dark age.. Institutions that exist for the concentration of power are manifestations of ego in our collective consciousness as well, and a book that psychologically manipulates you and tells you exactly how to live your life seems more like something a power hungry (ego driven) person would create than something an actual benevolent God would create.
Generally, people who weren’t born into this indoctrination can see how much it contradicts itself, and like I said earlier, because of how big a part of our society and history it’s been, all of these connotations are brought to mind whenever there’s a mention of god. Basically people think that God and religion are the same thing, when in fact institutional religions have killed the concept of god.
Because of this widely held belief that God and religion are the same thing, many dismiss both as BS, turn to another belief system they call ‘being rational’. What I’m referring to is materialist-reductionism, which is what most scientists believe in. It’s the belief that if it’s unproven then it’s untrue, and that everything can be observed and understood directly. Most people who fall into this category don’t even know that it’s a belief system. It’s rather ironic that this belief is apparently ‘rational’ or ‘logical’, because it’s just as dogmatic and self contradicting as Abrahamism. There are things that are true that we can prove; things that are true that aren’t proven; and things that are unknown and unproven.
However there is an argument that actually nothing can be 100% objectively and deductively proven at all, called the incompleteness theorem. There must be at least one assumption that’s inductively made through observation and thus cannot be deduced. An example would be that male teenage drivers are more likely to crash than female teenage drivers. This is based on the assumption that what has statistically happened in the past will remain true in the future. Just because statistically more males have been involved with a crash doesn’t mean that you, a completely different person, will be more likely to crash if you are a male. Another example is that the world is really here. Having never been outside of your head, how can you say this for certain? Well, you can’t prove it or disprove it, and it makes little difference, so over-contemplating it is pointless and so you work on the assumption that it is real.
Always remember that belief and disbelief are two sides of the same coin. You cannot prove that God exists, nor can you disprove it. Acknowledgement of this is the rational stance, and saying that you KNOW that God doesn’t exist is just as irrational as saying that you KNOW he does.
@manimal, I don’t necessarily support the Church or anything, but when I say “amazing,” I’m referencing the positive things that various saints and Catholic heroes have done. Surely you aren’t saying people like Maximilian Kolbe or Mother Teresa were “amazingly bad?” Once again, I’m not saying that this makes everything that Catholics have done justified, I’m just saying some deserve a little credit.
@dhappe, Of course there are good people who are willing to make that ultimate sacrifice in defiance of the system, others work within its mechanisms to bring it down, heroes come in many shades, and I am just saying about Nazis that it would be ignorant to believe there were no such people within just like that.
@stormy-colt, Nice piece. As far as the whole God concept is concerned the closest I’ve come to any rational explanation can be found in the’ Conversations with God’ books (1-3) by Neale Donald Walsch. Some extremely profound truths can be found within the pages. Trust me.
@dhappe, The Catholic church is very much Mafioso, I seen a thing that reveals the Pope is the richest man in the world, you do not have that level of power and influence without some shadow play, it is unavoidable. I wonder how many insiders believe the ideology and how many are controlled by fear?
@dhappe, Do you mean Catholicism or the Church? Yes, the Catholic Church has done some pretty horrendous things, but in the grand scheme of things, what religion, organization, country hasnt? Not that Im justifying it, just putting it relative terms.
However, if you mean Catholicism in general, then I would have to say that, at is most basic roots, it is tremendous. The idea of Catholicism/Christianity is to follow the ways of Christ. At the heart of all of Jesus’ teachings was the idea of loving one another and seeing the interconnectedness of all civilization. My personal views of religion is that the people that are usually worshiped (ex. Jesus) are just great mystics preaching about spirituality. However followers couldnt completely grasp the idea so they made it into something more comprehensible (religions). Behind all religion is the idea of spirituality and most of the people on this site seem to be pretty spiritual people.
@stormy-colt, I think you wrote a much more eloquent view that I wrote/have. The one thing that I will have to bring notice to is that, there are actually Catholic/Christian documents or views, whatever theyre called, that state that you dont have to be a Catholic/Christian to get into Heaven, so long as you love “God” and are a good person you can get into “Heaven.”
Also, no religions, to my knowledge, endorse murdering others. Those “martyrs” are simply those people that took religion to the extreme. In that sense, I dont think that it is the religion telling them to kill people, it is, as you put it about atheists, the “stone-cold ones” that do these deeds.
Main point, I dont think that religion in itself is bad, it is the ones that take it to the extreme that really give it a bad rep. As someone stated earlier, the saints did amazing things in the name of the church, its just that the crazy bad ones are the people that get all the press.
On your topic about God simply being a metaphor for people to better understand what Jesus and other prophets preached. Youre spot on. I was watching a documentary about Judas and apparently the gospels in the Bible werent selected because of their deep meaning, they were selected because of they were the easiest for the masses to understand. In fact, Judas was apparently one of the only disciples to understand the spiritual aspect of what Jesus’ preached.
@eric0127, The majority of Gospels were omitted because of contradiction in accounts and philosophies. The final four were settled on because they didn’t conflict with each other, there were something like 90 other Gospels that were not made canon.
I use to be a Catholic before I decided that I was atheist. I believe that the people, not the religion, is the cause for the horrible deeds of the Catholics. For example, in the early 7th century the religion Islam was founded by Muhammad in the middle east. He united the Arabians, elevated the position of women and became the Caliph (king). He wasn’t a bad king either, he listened to his people and actually gave a damn. His successor Abu bakr still worked as a merchant while he was king (which is alot of work for a king). When the money hungry and power deprived Muslims gained power that’s when all of the middle east problems began. It wasn’t because of the religion it was because of the mind set of the people. They used the power of the religion to influence people. Anyone- religious or atheist- has the power to do bad. Hitler was a very powerful and influential man. He used the power of the government just like the Muslims and Catholics used the power of religion to influence alot of people to believe that their actions weren’t bad at all. The real problem isn’t catholics it’s the power of propaganda and the simple minds of people