• http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com Michael Meadon

    This isn’t directly relevant, but there is a mountain of evidence from cognitive science that what people believe (explicitly) far from determine how they behave. There has even been a suggestion that conscious thought consists mainly of confabulation of unconscious decision making.

    (The central thrust of your piece stands, of course).

    • http://synapses.co.za Jacques

      If you’re talking about Haidt, then I don’t think the evidence suggests what you’re saying – I’m happy to believe that we construct explanations post-hoc (lawyers, not judges, etc.), but that doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on the the extent to which beliefs might influence behaviour, whether or not we’re aware of those effects. But you may not be talking about Haidt at all – if you’ve got any particular article in mind, please let me know?

  • Jan

    A couple of comments, all within the general ambit of your posting, some more directly relevant than others:

    Christianity is not something you can put in a box, outside politics, economics, one’s career and so forth. It is a worldview, finding its ‘application’ within every aspect of a christian’s life. It informs the way we form opinions, make decisions, act, think, say, feel and even how we interpret what we hear. I am sure Christianity is not unique in this and that other mainstream faiths such as Islam and Zionism will have a similar viewpoint.

    This means that sometimes our country’s laws, even our constitution, is in conflict with our christian worldview. Similarly many post-modernist views in this day and age also clash with our christian worldview. When these conflicts occur it can bring a lot of anguish to a christian. Some christians (not all) cannot ignore these conflicts and will speak out or chose to act/not act.

    Christianity (accordingly also our churches) does not have the sole ‘right’ to morality. Good moral values can be exhibited by all people (good or evil), non-believers and atheists.

    Christian churces (protestant and catholic) are institutions, important for christians in many aspects of our lifes (such as community, teaching, etc.), however these institutions are still man-made, constructed and managed by fallible human beings.

    Being christian, believing in a Greater Good, means that we also believe in the existence of its antithesis: evil. Therefore we believe that not only will what we think causes us to do what we do, but evil is in all of us and evil will exert its power over us and because we were created with a free will we will often bend to this power – against God’s will for us.

    Finally, most christians also believe that no amount of ‘good action’ in this life will lead to being rewarded with eternal life in heaven. Heaven is a free gift from God, already paid for by Christ’s death on the cross. By God’s grace and by accepting Christ as your Saviour you will go to heaven.

    Our hearts and thoughts go out to all victims of crime, we pray they find peace and healing. We also pray for the perpetrators of crime, that they see the error of their ways, stop doing crime and truly find God.

  • The Doctor

    ‘This means that sometimes our country’s laws, even our constitution, is in conflict with our christian worldview. Similarly many post-modernist views in this day and age also clash with our christian worldview. When these conflicts occur it can bring a lot of anguish to a christian.’

    So if I live down Alice’s hole in Wonderland and find it in conflict with the laws of the land that I *actually* live in, I should expect anyone to care?

    • Jan

      I cannot say whether you should or shouldn’t expect anyone to care. Maybe you would care: a) you might be a christian (then you should care), or b) by virtue of going through the effort of replying to my post you feel that what I say ring with some truth.

      Caring about the feelings of our brothers and sisters in this country is not only a sign of our basic humanity, but is sorely needed in this day and age where mainstream politicians can spew forth hate without many blinking.

      One example of conflict between law and the christian worldview: we believe all human life (prior and post birth) is sacred, but christian doctors in state hospitals are expected to perform abortions on demand.

      • The Doctor

        Firstly, as you yourself point out, Christianity is not necessary to morality (and as Jacques’ original post stresses, there are too many cases where basic morality – what you call “caring about the feelings of our brothers and sisters” – is seriously undermined by believers and religious leaders).

        As for the Christian doctor who is forced by law to go against his/her religious beliefs, well that is a matter of priority. If he/she considers Christianity to be more important than the law (or worse, “above” the law), then their choice would have to be to not be a public servant. If they make the choice to be a scientist working as a public servant, then their private beliefs should have no bearing on their professional lives.

        • Jan

          I do not refute that you would find morally corrupt or evil individuals within churches and under religious leaders and believers. So without attacking the relevence and necessity of posts such as Jacques’, the point I want to make is that basic morality within this country is being undermined by christians, non-christians and non-believers alike.

          Churches and church leaders are on perilous ground if they believe for one moment that they are infallible.

          Back to your statement: ‘So if I live down Alice’s hole in Wonderland and find it in conflict with the laws of the land that I *actually* live in, I should expect anyone to care?’

          Why should we care? Christians believe God made the land (and everything around us), and then He made us and He appointed us as custodians over the land and all His other creations (animals, plants, natural resources, etc.) Because christians believe humans are the appointed custodians of the land we care. Maybe atheists or non-christians have a differenet reason for caring. I would like to understand these reasons?

          Same can be said of why we should expect other to care. If the ‘others’ are christians they should care about all peoples of the land. If they are non-christian or atheist, again I would like to hear the argument why they would care or not care about all peoples of the land?

          • The Doctor

            Are you serious? You can’t imagine why non-Christians should care about others, or about the world they live in?

            How about: because we all have to live here. Which means it is in my interests – and everyone else’s – that people obey laws on the road, don’t kill others randomly, don’t litter or allow their dogs to shit right outside my front door, think before they speak, and so on.

            The question is: why should we care about a set of values that exists outside of the common good – and by common I mean the good that is the right of EVERYONE. To doomsdayers who claim that only the saved will survive the “apocalypse” scheduled for 21/5/2011 and that everyone else be damned, I say: what kind of misogynistic, arrogant, selfish universe do you live in? If the irony of supposedly “love thy brethren” wasn’t so f**king tragic and rancid, I might even be tempted to laugh.

            Then again, it’s all nonsense anyway, so I think I’ll have another drink and a good laugh anyway.