Religion and progress

Did religion participate in advancing progress for humanity?

By progress, I mean:

Progress consists of deploying knowledge to allow all of humankind to flourish in the same way that each of us seeks to flourish.
The goal of maximizing human flourishing – life, health, happiness, freedom, knowledge, love, richness of experience – may be called humanism.
Pinker (2018) Enlightenment Now: The case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress

There are some videos which tackle the topic

If i look at Christianity history, i would say yes and no.

Yes as monks and copyists were tools in the transmission of Ancient knowledge, no as Church reserved knowledge to some and stiffed research for a long time.

No as church blocked political and social progress very late in history.

Yes as in high Middle age, it supported the freeing of slaves, no as later it supported slavery and colonialism.

No, as sexual repression is on of its gimmick.

No, as repression of women is a constant thing.

The list is not full but that’s what comes to my mind immediately.


Thank you very much.

You mean until very late in history?

What was the motivation behind that?

Yes i do

The idea of the equality of all men in front of god.

The attitude of the church was balanced as it did not condemn slavery but promoted the freeing of slave, as a pious act.

At the end of the Western roman empire, slavery was disappearing.

Later the doctrine of church was very balanced.

[Catholic Church and slavery - Wikipedia]

[Point de vue du Magistère catholique sur l'esclavage — Wikipédia’%C3%89glise%20accorde%20un%20droit,pr%C3%B4n%C3%A9%20comme%20un%20acte%20pieux.]

The English text differ from the French one on some points, but is more expanded.

Thank you again.

The thing on slavery caught my intention, because in my intuition, religion was one major actor/motivation in imperialism.

I think it was a pretext to justify colonialism.

Incidentally, Imperialism follows colonialism, but differs as a way to exploit the third world.

By imperialism, I meant imperialism since the very first imperialism of the 15th century.

As for the countries to the east of Europe, they continued to arouse the envy of the European colonial powers.
The latter justified their conquests by claiming that they had a legal and religious obligation to control the land and culture of indigenous peoples. They civilized “savage” or “barbaric” nations, and claimed to be acting in the best interests of those whose lands and peoples were being exploited.
Religious leaders encouraged and participated in the seizure of foreign lands and the exploitation of these lands and the peoples living there, often in the name of conversion to Christianity.

“Qu’est-ce que le colonialisme ? L’histoire de l’assujettissement des peuples indigènes, ainsi que l’exploitation de leurs terres et des ressources qu’elles abritent, est longue et brutale.”
By Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, DeepL Translation

Let’say that colonialism is a tool of imperialism, which can use other tools.

[Imperialism - Wikipedia]

[Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism - Wikipedia]

It is told that Malraux, the French author, has said: “The 21st century will be religious, or it will not be. »

I think that the 21st century will not be, insofar as it will be religious.

I am not referring to religions, as they are supposed to be, vectors of peace and love, but as they function, nests of bigotry, repression of desire, hatred and violence.

I do not deny the need for transcendence and hope, quite the contrary, but I think that religions have failed from this point of view.

Above all, I think that we need reason, tempered by common sense, by morality, and by empathy, in short, by true humanism.

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Like I keep saying, Christians have done and are doing all the things everyone else does. Some early church fathers were against slavery. When they were enslaved, they were against it. They fought the Romans, lost, but then became a legal religion in the 4th century, eventually Constantinople had a Christian emperor. The bad news, it was the worst version of it, oppressive, synagogue burning, and destroying the Christianity they didn’t like. That’s the main source of the imperialism.

There’s also an edifying list of milestones

… and brutality of colonialism in Africa.

However, history shows that the Catholic church did not oppose the institution of slavery until the practice had already become infamous in most parts of the world. In most cases, the churches and church leaders did not condemn slavery until the 17th century.

The five major countries that dominated slavery and the slave trade in the New World were either Catholic, or still retained strong Catholic influences including: Spain, Portugal, France, and England, and the Netherlands. …

The same pope wrote the bull Romanus Pontifex on January 5, 1455 to the same Alfonso. As a follow-up to the Dum diversas, it extended to the Catholic nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands, it encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the New World.

1866 AD Pope Pius IX declares:
Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given”.

American Civil War, Apr 12, 1861 – Apr 9, 1865

“tempered by common sense” :+1::+1:

What do you mean by morality?

Empathy is I think an operational value, I think it is quite clear what it means and what kind of goals it must attain

Morality : principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.

Well, it’s so large that it is difficult not to agree with.

But yes, I agree that morality should be part of humanism. Then the question is which kind of morality. My answer is consequentialism.
Last section here:

See also this excellent explanation by Steven Pinker:

Consequentialism as opposed to divine commands, I agree that’s the right choice. There’s a lot more to discuss there though. Excuse me if I don’t believe we can design a list of moral actions here. Pinker explains that beautifully. I do know who Borlaug is, and I’ve had a heck of a time trying to talk about him when I’m trying to get people to help solve the problems of chronic hunger. So, thanks for that Big Think.

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Borlaug was often called “the father of the Green Revolution”,[6][7] and is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.[8][3][9][10][11][12] According to Jan Douglas, executive assistant to the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, the source of this number is Gregg Easterbrook’s 1997 article “Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity.” The article states that the “form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths.”[13] Dennis T. Avery also estimated that the number of lives saved by Borlaug’s efforts to be one billion.[12] In 2009, Josette Sheeran, then the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, stated that Borlaug “saved more lives than any man in human history”.[14] He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.
Norman Borlaug - Wikipedia

yeah, and more importantly, what is missed is what he said after he got that award.

He said we can’t stop now. We had figured out how to interrupt the Malthusian cycle of feast and famine, but we did it by injecting chemicals and using fuel that is not going to last forever. But instead of doing that, we squabble about organic vs non-organic solutions and use food as as a weapon in the battle for world domination. We learned nothing.

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To many factors by what you could mean as progress.

Deploying knowledge is the main reason religion exists. The rules of law operate with less stress in countries that have better morals. Religion is about morals and how to apply wisdom.

Today we have more people moving to Atheism. There are probably a lot more Atheists that are Christian Atheists or sometime referred to as Catholic Atheists than you realize.

Religion has changed a lot in my lifetime just to keep up the membership. Is that progress? These questions are debated repeatedly. But that’s about to come to an end with AI.
In the last couple of years there has been an explosion of changing viewpoints coming from scholars. Timelines are being used today that a decade ago would have caused years of name calling and spin on sites like CFI. The whole creation of mainstream America religion is being challenged by today’s scholars without a lot of blowbacks. A total jump in religious viewpoints.
Thus, your question is very on target whether or not you can call religion humanism. I am afraid I can’t help you on that point. It is what it is. Having a lot of hours of research on religion history and how the bible came about, I try not to let the little things side tract me from the main points of my research. Wait a year or two and AI will answer your question in seconds.
I watch for key issues to surface and find religion is very interesting and a part of history that is fun to learn. For example, I just got three books in to help me better understand the Genesis of the NT. I have read parts of NT’s Genesis years back in my research, but it was not critical to understand because it never made the bible. And you could say that the Romans were building a religion for the good of humanity. And most religions have a Genesis. The Romans ended up moving to the Pauline Hellenistic Christianity, and I would say that it was not so much of the religion advancing humanity as humanity advancing a religion that met the requirements of the Roman needs that brought the OT on board to back up the NT without being a Jewish religion.
The human flourishing humanity you are talking about happened with the Egyptian religion and the Greeks and Romans were wanting to reach that form of government again.