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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Philosophical Christianity

I mentioned in another post that I felt that within society, a religon meme could eventually evolve into something more enlightened: what I have decided to call a "philosophical religon". This is a religon which does not dictate what you believe, but rather affects how you act and how you view the world. I am of the opinion that a truly symbiotic religon would have to be a philosophical religon: anything which dictates what you believe, on any subject, begats dogma and stifles inquiry. (I don't limit this statement to religion, by the way, but it is the primary culprit)

Although I identify as an agnostic atheist, I am also something else: A philosophical Taoist. Although I do not subscribe to the superstitious beliefs of Taoism (there's not many: Taoism is already very close to a philosophical religon), its view of reality, way of living and many other things are something that I accept wholeheartedly. The Yin and Yang is the most well known Taoist symbol. I'll elaborate further if anyone is interested in Taoism.

So I began to wonder: assuming Christianity evolved along the same lines, what would a "Philosophical Christianity" be like?

There are some things that would remain detrimental. "We're all wretched sinners" would be transmogrified into general low self-esteem, and the general deference and obedience to authority that is such a fundamental part of christianity would never go away.

And we'd have to do away with the first two commandments: "Worship me" and "No idols for you" are both gone. But, "Blasphemy" could be changed to a general 'refrain from swearing in polite conversation' way, and the "sabbath" becomes the weekend. All the rest are perfectly decent, although we should note that "adultery" means "adultery" and "kill" means "kill": lust and hatred don't get a mention.

Being more christ-like would mean being generous with your posessions, loving everyone no matter their flaws and always being willing to sacrifice for the sake of others.

Jesus's admonitions against hatred and lust would become simple distaste for these things: a preference to avoid them. And the morals and ethics behind most of his stories would come to the fore, rather than the miracles and magic tricks.

And so on...

I reckon that many modern christians already treat christianity like this, as a philosophical religon, which is a major part of the reason I am always careful to distinguish "creationism" from "christianity".

What do you think?


  1. Hmmm, I don't know. I have mixed feelings on the liberal Christians. A lot of them just want to believe in some sort of old, detached senile God that will let them indulge in all the lusts (homosexuality, divorce...etc) that they like. I dislike that kind.
    However I do like the basic idea of the Christian outlook shaping people's worldviews , even if they do not hold to all tenets of traditinal Christianity.

  2. "Transmogrify"

    +5 for obscure words popularized by Calvin and Hobbes.

  3. Isn't it said that if you can explain Tao, you don't understand Tao?

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  5. Deleted previous due to incoherent drunken post

    The book of five rings is awesome.

    I think that the historical Jesus was both a philosophical Christian and a great marketeer. He bases Christianity off a previous religion to gain credibility (I'm channelling Lenin here), then uses this credibility to propose a moral framework that he intends to improve the people of the day.

    Sure its stale now, but it was pretty amazing considering what was happening back in the day. Just like Lenin made Russia into a power-house, but it went pretty stale too.

    Now it cant work today because of the simple fact it is based on a previous religion. Marketing, fads or tipping points are all temporary. In this case its not the ideals but the marketing that let him down.

    The people need a new ideology if they're going to move past religion. All those in favour of secular humanism say aye.

  6. been reading Voltaire lately? This sound a lot like enlightenment.
    What a pity that those 18th century philosophers didn't fully succeed.

  7. Well I was a Christian until about a year ago. I have looked back on my philosophy at the time and even then I was more of a Secular Humanist. I think a lot could easily move to a Humanist idea centered around a God. That is basically what I was doing until I finally asked myself why I believed.

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  9. You may tamper with religion, but the Living God never changes

  10. I, too have adopted a secular humanist view.

    Mankind knows far too little about the physical world for us to arbitrarily discount the possibility of supernatural, or divine intervention, and/or creation. It simply has not been, and possibly may never be proven.

    That being said, we do know enough now to be able to completely discount the bible as being the inerrant, literal history of the universe and mankind.

    It is way past time for religions, particularly Islam and Christianity to reflect our current state of knowledge.

    But, being the Certified Cynic that I am, way too many people are way too blockheaded and ignorant.

    I fear that we have not seen the last of massive killing and destruction based on the stupidity of "My God is better than yours", or "My God has told us to destroy you", or "My God is the only true God".

  11. Tilia, they didn't have Darwin to give them the scientific rationale.

    It's difficult to imagine a world without the theory of evolution. But back in their day it didn't exist. How about that? No theory of evolution! They had to wrestle unaided against 1000s of years of theology. They could say it was all wrong, but they couldn't figure out what to replace it with. That must have been tough.

  12. I also really like some of the concepts of Taoism, minus the supernatural. I've been looking into it for about 8 years now.

    I think if there ever was a historical Jesus, it would be interesting to know what he was really like and what he really promoted, verses the word of mouth bunk of the bible.

  13. @ Ezeki'El
    Another messianic who thinks San Fran is going down? What are the chances?
    Have you ever heard of Dani'El?

  14. Whateverman - If I was to read one book on philosophical Taoism, what would it be?

  15. Ezeki'El,

    Is it a requirement for people who believe that Da Fairy Jebus is gonna piss on the head of San Fran to have an alternative spelling of their name that includes an apostrophe?

    Just curious.

  16. @ Obsidian

    I've always had a bit of a fascination with Taoism I must admit.

    Could you elaborate a bit further? I'd especially like your interpretation of Lao Tzu's remark that 'When tao is lost only then does the doctrine of virtue arise'.

  17. Stew: The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff, definitely. That was the first book I read on Taoism, and captures the essence of Taoism brilliantly.

    Chris: I'm not actually familiar with that quote. Indeed, I'm not too familiar with Taoism's history, or with Lao Tzu, at all: just the philosophy. Wu wei.

  18. Are we taking bets as to who this Ezeki'El guy is?


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