See: what this group wants to do is dismiss all Bible study as useless under the cover of things like trying to set the date and the time for Christ's return (which the Bible defines as a waste of time, btw). But what it exposes instead is its own dismal understanding of the role of the Bible and the study thereof on the very context of the debate it is trying to wage. . .So, using criteria valued by the left -- overcoming inequality and poverty -- centuri0n calculates some under-appreciated advantages:
For example, was it a waste of time to use the Bible in the development of Western political philosophy and law, including the abolition of slavery and the progress of political rights? How about when the Bible was used to establish medical missionary hospitals – waste of time, or effort well-spent?
[W]hatever "down side" he can argue about Christianity is vastly – by a factor of 10 minimum – outweighed by the benefits of Christian philosophy to the people of the world.Nor I.
Here's my ante: If you take the total population of Africa and divide it by the number of Christian medical centers in Africa (that's hospitals and staffed clinics, not just outreach centers) you get about 1 Christian med center per 170,000 people (you sift through the WHO data yourself). That number will be higher in the West and lower in the East, so let's assume the higher population in the East brings the ratio down to 1:150,000. That means there are about 40,000 Christian medical centers in the world today.
If each of those centers, on average, only treats 1 person per day, last year they treated 14,600,000 patients; in the last 10 years, using that ridiculously low-ball number, they treated 146,000,000 patients. That's the low-ball figure for the global medical benefit of Christian for 10 years – and it doesn't account for anything like the indirect effect of the research and development of dugs and treatments in the last 100 years by Christian doctors like John MacLeod (insulin) and Alexander Fleming (penicillin).
I'd be pleased to see in what way Christianity harmed that many people in the same concrete way as medical treatment helped them. It takes a lot of chutzpah to say that there are 150 million people in the last 10 years who were harmed by Christianity as directly and palpably as those who received medical treatment in that time benefited, and I have yet to meet the atheist who can muster the case.
I'd add this: Western Civ. would be worse without Christ. This isn't to slight Judaism, from which justice and female emancipation (among other pluses) derive. But the Talmud discourages conversion, and the Jewish faith includes certain inherent but powerful disincentives for half the potential pool. The net result is somewhat inner-directed beliefs.
By contrast, the "spread the gospel" feature of Mid-East Religion 2.0 upgraded the prior version 1.0 (and recent release 1.5766) by adding incentives to explore the outside. Preaching prompted discovery, cultural intercourse and trade--culminating in today's globalized and increasingly liberalized commerce and culture. And Old Testament ethics, as amended by Jesus, were downloaded to an increasingly open-minded world-wide audience. Ironically, the autonomy to be secular was triggered by the very faith they deny.
Of course, Western Civ. isn't ideal; neither Judaism nor Christianity is bug-free. But -- and this is where dogmatic secularists go awry -- Judeo-Christian values, reflected in release 2.2006, top any competitive software. Especially the overly-exacting operating system, famously resistant to open-source revisions, coded by a crypto Bill Gates as Mid-East Religion 3.0 (released 610-622 AD). No word yet on vapor-ware version 3.1.
(via Hatless in Hattiesburg)