UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Reflection 22 (p14 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.

Orthodox Christianity appeals to the desires and fears of mankind. It is presented to the world under the two aspects of hope and dread. Some persons regard it as a system of love, offering them a pleasant future, stimulating within them hopes delightful to indulge, and supplying their imagination with splendors enchanting to contemplate. On the other hand, many reject Christianity because it contains gloomy forebodings, presenting to them a being who is represented as constantly sowing the seeds of discord and unhappiness among society, who has nothing but frowns for the smiles of life, and whose chief business it is to crush and awe the minds of men with fear and apprehension. If Christianity furnishes its believers with hopes of heaven to buoy them up, it also gives them the dread of hell to cast them down. The one is as certain as the other. As soon as a child begins to lisp at its mother's knee, its young mind is impressed with the notion that there is "a heaven to gain, and a Hell to avoid." As the child grows to maturity, this notion is strengthened by false education and religions discipline, until at last the opinion is formed which frequently culminates in making the victim an abject slave to a fancy-created heaven and an inhumanly-pictured hell. Christians sometimes assert that to deprive them of their hope in heaven would be to rob them of their principal consolation, If this be correct, so much the worse for their faith. Better have no consolation than to derive it from a creed which condemns to eternal perdition the great majority of the human kind.

The true object of rewards and punishments should be to encourage virtue and to deter vice. Most, if not all, of the religions of the world have employed these agencies in the promulgation of their tenets, not, however, as a rule, in the correct form. Theologians have connected their systems of rewards and punishments with the profession of arbitrary creeds and dogmas that have little or no bearing on the promotion of virtue or the prevention of vice. The final reward offered by Christianity is made dependent on beliefs more than on actions. This is unjust, inasmuch as many persons are unable to accept the belief that is supposed to secure the reward. Moreover, according to the Christian system, the same kind of encouragement is held out to the criminal who, after a life of crime, repents and acknowledges his faith in Christ, as to the philanthropist whose career has been one of excellence and goodness.

(Next page)