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
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.
COLONIAL JUSTIFICATION AND RESISTANCE
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.
The thing on slavery caught my intention, because in my intuition, religion was one major actor/motivation in imperialism.
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.
Some historians argue that if churches had used their power, the Atlantic slave trade might have never occurred. By the same logic, others argue that the Catholic church and Catholic missionaries could have also helped to prevent the colonization and...
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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”.
Taxonomically, my family is Freethinker (including atheists, skeptics, agnostics); my genus is Humanist (including the religion-based), and my species is Secular." — John Rafferty “Who are the secular humanists? Perhaps everyone who believes in the...
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.
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.
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.