Darth Wong wrote:
I was thinking about this a while ago, and it occurred to me that Islam is a much better-constructed religion than Christianity, in the sense that it contains a lot more practical advice. In theory, you could actually live by the dictates of Islam.
The same is not true for Christianity. Fundies may dispute this, but I've read the Bible and you simply cannot follow all of its principles simultaneously. Nor can you live like Jesus and expect to prosper, either as an individual or as a nation. Jesus (or at least the idea of Jesus) may have been a great inspiration to others in a vague "I can never live up to his example" way, but even those who claim to worship his name and his teachings don't actually live by them. Who actually throws away all of his worldly possessions to go around the world preaching Christ's word? Who actually turns the other cheek when struck, or passively lays down to die? Nobody, so Christians learn to habitually disobey their own religious teachings when convenient.
So here's my idea: this might be an advantage, relative to Islam. If Christianity were a better-constructed religion, then perhaps it might actually be possible to live by it, in which case Christians would not have become accustomed to disobeying whichever parts of the Bible got in the way of practical living. But it's not, so Christians did get in that habit, which made it possible to be more flexible about what they did or did not believe. Darwin, after all, had an education in the divinities before becoming the father of evolution theory. Could this have happened if Darwin was a Muslim? Is it possible that there actually was a reason that the modern scientific revolution began in Christian Europe, rather than historical happenstance, and that this reason was Christianity's utter inability to function as a practical system in the real world?
I've seen Christians trying to prove some major difference between Islam and Christianity for years, usually because they want to prove that they're completely different from their enemies. In most cases, they are not; the basic mindset is certainly similar. But could it be that the lousy construction of Christianity is the key difference they're looking for? Unfortunately, for them, it may not be the difference that they want.
Yes. If you look at religions as vehicles to deliver value sets, then having a flexible religion is good, not just for the people holding the religion, but also for the religion. By having a varied and contradictory set of doctrines, Christianity is highly adaptable, it allows its followers to adapt their religious beliefs to varying environments, and allows the religion to appeal to converts, which increases its ability to transmit horizontally.
It is basically religious phenotypic plasticity. In a religiously homogenous environment where there is intense external pressure such as pre-vatican 1 europe fighting off muslim hordes? Then become intolerant theists of destruction. Jesus and God hate the infidel! Living in a pluralistic society with less external threat? Become eccumenical anglicans... Jesus and God embrace the unbeliever....
Need converts? Here, we can certainly incorporate your cultural traditions.... etc etc etc.... Of course this also makes the religion prone to splitting and the resulting internal conflict...
Of course the other religions have their own advantages and costs.