What good has the christian faith brought to us
Development of the educational system through Christianity
Indeed it’s impossible to study history without seeing the extraordinary role Christianity has played not only in the development of rational thinking but also in the spreading of such thinking—that is, the creation of an educational system. Though education was important in the pagan world, it didn’t become institutionalized until Christianity began its march across the globe. The early Greeks and Romans had no public schools of higher learning. It was Christians who established those. When the Huns, Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and other “barbarian” tribes overran what was left of the Roman Empire, it was the Christians who took the smashed European continent and imposed learning, order, and stability upon it. In the so-called Dark Ages, it was Christians again who painstakingly preserved, copied, and studied manuscripts from antiquity in order to pass them on to future generations. Christianity, therefore, was responsible for the Renaissance, or “rebirth,” of Greek and Roman culture. Now, if the Christian religion had really been so opposed to critical thinking, why in the world would it have acted so decisively to protect and preserve the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and other pagan philosophers? Why wouldn’t Christians have burned them in a big bonfire, as atheists claim they are so fond of doing to books that “contradict” the faith?
But there’s more. It was the monastery system of the church that maintained the intellectual culture of the West for hundreds of years and gave birth to the first universities and libraries. These great institutions spread throughout Europe and provided a systematic—as well as integrated—form of public education for the masses. For the first time in history, individuals from all social and ethnic groups were included, without bias toward ethnicity or class. This contribution was revolutionary. Nor was it just the Catholic Church that was responsible for the development of education. The Protestant reformers, who wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible, introduced to the world the concept of compulsory education for boys and girls. This, again, was a radically new idea. With all this focus on learning, is it any surprise that, later on, all but one of the first 123 colleges in colonial America were founded as Christian institutions—including Harvard, Princeton, and Yale?
Religion, the enemy of art ?
And what of the criticism that religion is the enemy of art? Jack Huberman, in his book The Quotable Atheist, says: “Religious authority has always sought to . . . control and censor art and literature.” Likewise, Rob Boston writes in Church and State magazine: “The truth is, religiously based censorship [of the arts] by the government has a long history in Europe and the United States.”
Just as scientific inquiry was founded on the idea that God and his creation are rational, so, too, was religious art founded on the idea that God and his creation are beautiful, and that humankind, being made in the image and likeness of God, has the power and the responsibility to make beautiful things too. This is the philosophy that lies behind so much of the world’s greatest artistic expression. And yet atheists continue to claim that religion has always been the enemy of art. Amazing!
Religion & freedom
They also contend that religion destroys freedom. But again, an unbiased look at history shows the exact opposite to be true. The biblical concept that all people are created in the “image and likeness of God” is the foundation of universal human rights—including freedom. Before Christianity, human life on this planet was considered cheap. Infanticide was not only common but applauded. Newborn children were routinely abandoned on the hillside, left to starve or freeze to death. Or they were killed outright through drowning—especially if they were baby girls. Adults didn’t fare much better. Everyone has heard about Roman arenas like the Colosseum, in which whole families were bludgeoned to death, mauled by wild animals, or burned alive—just for sport. The greatest and most respected ancient writers and philosophers didn’t object in the slightest to these barbaric practices. It was Christians who finally banned them. Why? Because the religious belief that all men are created equal is not a self-evident truth, as Thomas Jefferson famously wrote. To pre-Christian cultures, equality was a totally foreign concept. When the people of antiquity looked around at the world, they saw inequality everywhere—in physical appearance, mental capacity, moral conduct, economic and material possessions, and political power. The idea that all human beings were equal would have seemed preposterous to them. It was the Christian religion, building on Jewish tradition before it, that introduced the bedrock principle that all human beings are equal—maybe not in physical traits or material possessions, but in dignity, in honor, in value, and in spirit. Most importantly, Christianity taught that human beings are equal because God created them and loves them equally and to an infinite degree. Therefore, each human life has equal and infinite value. This is a Christian insight—not a pagan, secular, or atheist idea. When people today proclaim that human beings have a universal right to express their opinions freely, to go wherever they choose, to buy and sell property, to live the way they want to live—they are expressing an idea that has a distinctively Christian origin.
Humans are moral agents
As Dinesh D’Souza says in What’s So Great About Christianity:
Christianity emphasizes the fact that we are moral agents. God has freely created us in His own image, and He has given us the power to take part in His sublime act of creation by being architects of our own lives. . . . John Stuart Mill’s influential doctrine of liberty, which so many of us take for granted, is a direct inheritance from Christianity. It is no use responding that Mill was a product of the Enlightenment understanding of human freedom and equality. That notion was itself a product of Christianity. Where else do you think the Enlightenment thinkers got it?
The point that atheists refuse to grasp is that Christianity espoused a revolutionary philosophy of equality that set into motion an intellectual process that gradually changed everything. It was Christianity which rejected polygamy and adultery and exalted monogamous love—love geared toward the raising of children. This is the basis for the traditional family, and no matter how much secularists decry that institution today, there is still no other force more stabilizing and beneficial to civilization.
Equality of women
It was Christianity that dramatically elevated the status of women at a time when practically every other culture in the world oppressed them. Indeed, the ancient world treated women like animals. Read the Greek and Roman historians (such as Thucydides, Polybius, and Livy) to verify the truth of this! Women were the property of men, just barely higher than slaves. They had no rights at all. That’s why they were so frequently exposed to the elements as infants. Christianity changed that. Women had leadership roles in the early church. They were supported financially when their husbands died. They were given an education. Instead of being abused, they were sheltered and protected. The whole medieval concept of chivalry arose because Christian civilization considered women to be of a higher dignity than men. The indisputable fact is that the women’s rights movement of the last two hundred years has its roots not in pagan society, but in the principles of Christianity. The same can be said about slavery.
The Bible & slavery
Atheists are always claiming that because Christians owned slaves at various times in history, the whole Christian religion is hypocritical. But that’s nonsense. Slavery was practiced for centuries all over the world before Christianity came on the scene. No one ever criticized or opposed slavery in any systematic way—until Christianity. From its very beginning, Christians discouraged the enslavement of fellow Christians. And many early Christians purchased slaves for the sole purpose of setting them free. Because human dignity is at the heart of Christian doctrine, it was only a question of time before Christians began to realize that the very idea of “owning” another human being was contrary to their faith. By the Middle Ages, the institution of slavery—which provided the whole foundation for Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations—was largely replaced by serfdom, a system which at least guaranteed basic human rights to all workers—such as the right to marry and to own property.
Later it was Christians who started the first antislavery movement in history. It wasn’t Democrats who did that. It wasn’t Republicans. It wasn’t politicians or unions or any other kind of socially conscious group. And it certainly wasn’t atheists. It was the church. Slavery came to an end in Europe mainly because of the work of Christian activists such as William Wilberforce, the famous British evangelical philanthropist. And the successful antislavery movement in England—made up overwhelmingly of religious groups—took the lead in the international campaign to end slavery as well. By the early 1800s, two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society were Christian ministers. We see this same positive influence in every area of social reform. Take economic freedom. The ancient world—built on the backs of slaves—had no real concept of the value of labor; yet Christianity—with its emphasis on human equality and dignity—revolutionized the workplace. The concept of private property, property rights, workers’ rights, and unionization all flow from the Judeo-Christian understanding of work and its proper relationship to social justice.
Take the world of politics. We’ve seen how the idea that all men are created equal has its origins in the Bible. Well, the whole idea of limited government comes from Judeo-Christian tradition too. The notion that there are certain God-given, unalienable, moral absolutes—such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—that take precedence over any edict issued by a king, derives from Christianity. Is it any wonder that so many of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and at least fifty of the fifty-five signers of the US Constitution, were committed Christians? And what of the argument that Christianity is so concerned with getting people to heaven that it
neglects to care for them here and now? This is perhaps the most preposterous of all the atheist claims.
Social engagement & Charity
Before Christianity, there was virtually no institutional interest in helping the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, the disabled, the elderly, or the dying; but because of Christian teaching on the dignity of the human person, this societal callousness came to a screeching halt. In the year 369, Saint Basil of Caesarea founded a three-hundred-bed hospital—the first large-scale hospital for the sick and disabled in the world. Christian hospitals and hospices started springing up all over the European continent. These were civilization’s first voluntary charitable institutions, and they were built and paid for by the church. To this day, Christian influence permeates the health-care system. Just do an Internet search for Christian charities and see how many names appear. They are legion: missions to foreign countries, organizations to fight world hunger, inner-city soup kitchens, and ministries to assist those with every kind of infirmity. Think of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Think of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Think of all the orders of nuns established to care for the diseased and dying. Think of all the Christian orphanages that have helped so many abandoned and destitute children over the centuries. Think of the thousands of religiously affiliated hospitals that are still in operation across the globe. There’s simply no end to the number of charities founded in the name of Christ.
The only plausible explanation is that, contrary to what so many feebleminded atheists believe, the Christian gospel is not just about getting people into heaven. It’s about improving conditions in this life too. And isn’t that logical? If human beings are really made in the image and likeness of God, and if they truly have infinite value, then of course it’s an obligation for us to be caring and compassionate—to help people everywhere, especially those who are least fortunate. And yet atheists insist that Christians have their heads in the clouds and are happy to sit back and twiddle their thumbs as they await the Second Coming. That’s not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of effort to keep your eyes clamped shut in the face of so many facts. How can anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of history be so ignorant of all these social, intellectual, scientific, cultural, political, educational, institutional, and artistic gifts that Christianity has bestowed on civilization?
To me, its a difference like day and night. Adopting a theistic worldview, I can know God and experience his grace and love of a loving father. It's a joy to be able to witness to others about the greatness of God. In that way, I am making a difference in this world, and my life has also value for others. It means loving and being loved by others. Furthermore, I find meaning, self-worth, and ultimately it makes a difference, how I live, and who I am, and what I do today, has significance and consequences also in eternity. My life is not doomed when I die, rather I have the perspective of living eternally with God. So belief in God gives me hope for eternal life in heaven. Furthermore, I find peace with God through the forgiveness of my sins, through Christ's death on the cross and his resurrection. Without faith in God, there is no hope of deliverance of injustice and evil. Nor are there objective moral values. Everything becomes subjective and relative and depends entirely on each individual's standpoints. Ultimately, there is no good, and no evil. There are just different viewpoints and standards based on personal preferences. Furthermore, the existence of the universe and life makes sense and its existence is explained in a satisfying manner through a creator. In a broader sense,
Christianity has shaped western civilization in many ways for the better. The Bible itself is responsible for much of the language, literature, music, and fine arts we enjoy today as its artists and composers were heavily influenced by its writings. The liberties and human rights of secular governments, freedom, and rights of the individual, and so the criminal and justice system are a direct consequence of the Bible, and so the belief that man is accountable to God and that the law is the same regardless of social position, power and wealth. The education system, care of orphans and the elders, and hospitals goes back to the spread of monasteries, which were taking care of the general population. Science began to flourish in the western world, like Occam's razor in the twelfth century, and many science fathers, like Galilei, Newton, Volta, Ohm, Ampere, Kelvin, Faraday, etc. were all Christians. There are many other things, but this is just to name a few.
If you're talking about many of the first orphanages, all of our major Ivy League universities, in fact, all but one the first 123 colleges and universities in colonial America, almost every charitable organization i.e. the Red Cross, Nursing (Florence Nightingale), the abolition of slavery in both the Roman world and the European Slave Trade, ALL of the first sciences including the scientific method (as we know it today), Kepler, Newton, Pasteur, Boyle, Maxwell, Steno, Martel, etc; free enterprise and work ethic (ethics in general), wherever there are starving people, there are Christians feeding, wherever there are homeless, Christians are building shelters, in Rome during a plague Christians would not flee but tend to the sick and dying, the greatest contributions to music, literature, and art who brought them to music theory and even revolutionizing literature as we know it today are all contributed to Christians and Christianity.
"This is our culture's powerful emphasis on compassion, on helping the needy, and on alleviating distress even in distant places. If there is a huge famine or reports of genocide in Africa, most people in other cultures are unconcerned. As the Chinese proverb has it, 'the tears of strangers are only water.' But here in the West, we rush to help....Part of the reason why we do this is that of our Christian assumptions....The ancient Greeks and Romans did not believe this. They held a view quite commonly held in other cultures today: yes, that is a problem, but it is not our problem....However paradoxical it seems, people who believed most strongly in the next world did the most to improve the situation of people living in this one." -D'Souza
Objection: Religion and Christianity are responsible for many wars and suffering in the world.
Response: The false and bigoted narrative that Religion causes all the world’s problems, especially the most deaths is empirically false, willfully ignorant & purposefully dishonest. Biased & unbalanced as no credit given for the good religion has done (hospitals, care of needy, founding scientific method, abolishing slavery, etc). The facts of history show that only 7% of wars ever fought were for religious reasons. (Philip and Axelrod’s three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars).
While millions (around 259+ million in the last 100 years) have been killed by Atheists regimes like Stalin, Mao, etc.). That’s not counting the 56 Million+ abortions per year secular humanism has done and expands to now killing babies even AFTER they are born now in some areas.
Gregory Koukl summarizes it well:
“It is true that it's possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the detail it produces evil because the individual people are actually living in a rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it can produce it, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We're talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God.”
Last edited by Otangelo on Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:48 am; edited 9 times in total