Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How do you get good people to do bad things?

You start with a greater good and a higher purpose, and then you buy in on the idea that the end justifies the means, and if they believe in God, that the means are acceptable to God. With Christianity at least, you have a belief in place that people are supposed to have a choice if their obedience is to be meaningful, and that the future course of the great events of history are ultimately under the control of God, not ourselves. Christianity does not encourage people to think that the end justifies the means. 

Just to give you an example, you hear a lot of anti-gay preaching from Christians in America, but even when you hear of queerbashings, religious condemnations of homosexuality, in almost all cases, aren't even used as a pretext, much less a motivation. Why? 

Why were there these mass killings in countries like China, Nazi Germany, and revolutionary France, and Soviet Russia. The French and Russian revolutions started off with what appear to be good motives about overthrowing tyrannical monarchs and fair treatment for workers. The French started with liberty, equality and fraternity and ended up with Madame la Guillotine. The Russian revolution overthrew the Tsar, and put in the Party. 

Some atheists today think that they have a great purpose of saving the world from religion. I am starting to hear "the end justifies the means" reasoning from some of them. Let's be honest, these people have no qualms about stirring up anti-religious hatred. What other than their lack of power to do so will prevent them from doing the kind of harm these previous revolutionaries did, all in the name of reason and science.

14 comments:

B. Prokop said...

"What other than their lack of power to do so will prevent them from doing the kind of harm...?"

Answer: Nothing.

Jakub Moravčík said...

and that the future course of the great events of history are ultimately under the control of God, not ourselves

Determinism?

Bob said...

What is the practical difference between - ultimately under the control of God and determinism?

Gyan said...

1) Racial slavery was justified in America on explicitly Biblical grounds.
2) The Catholic bishops and Lutheran pastors instructed the German people to obey the Nazi govt even though the Nazi policy contradicted Christian dogma at fundamental points.

(2) is especially pertinent on how to get good people to do evil things.

B. Prokop said...

Gyan,

Before you post another syllable about the Church under the Nazi regime, I suggest you read Sacred Causes (or at least the first 283 pages) by Michael Burleigh, and/or (preferably "and") Prison Writings by Alfred Delp.

Alternatively, if you'd rather just watch a movie, I suggest either the amazingly good Maximilian, Saint of Auschwitz with Leonardo Dephilippis, or Life for Life (in Polish, with English subtitles).

All of the above available on Amazon.

Until then, you do not know what you are talking about.

Jezu ufam tobie!

oozzielionel said...

First, you have to find good people.

Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

Romans 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”[b]

Dave Duffy said...

"What other than their lack of power to do so will prevent them from doing the kind of harm these previous revolutionaries did..."

This was the thinking behind the Constitution of the United States.

"Before you post another syllable about the Church under the Nazi regime, I suggest you read Sacred Causes (or at least the first 283 pages) by Michael Burleigh, and/or (preferably "and") Prison Writings by Alfred Delp."

I would add:"The Shadow of His Wings"
by Gereon Goldmann, Benedict Leutenegger

Gyan said...

Prokop,
I thank you for the recommendations but does that change the point I was trying to make?

Christian political philosophy is in shambles. Right now, a county clerk attempting to exercise civil disobedience is being lectured that she must obey the law of the land, the content of the law notwithstanding,.And lectured by precisely those people that agree with her that the said law is unjust,

David Brightly said...

I don't know about good people but one way to get ordinary people to do bad things is to set them under an evil authority figure. That appears to be the lesson of the Stanley Milgram experiment.

Dan Gillson said...

I have an easier way to get good people to do badd things: pay them a lot of money and tell them they won't get caught.

Dave Duffy said...

"I have an easier way to get good people to do badd things: pay them a lot of money and tell them they won't get caught."

First you have to have easy money to do things the easier way. For those with a lot of money to throw around, this is a good strategy. For those with less money: tell good people they are being cheated by someone and convince them to play by the same rules as the scoundrels. This will give them the satisfaction they are not being duped.

Ilíon said...

"How do you get good people to do bad things?"

On what planet did one find these "good people"? It certainly wasn't this one.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, your fear of atheism is palpable. But your fear should be of any mass movement that claims it alone holds the key to paradise on earth or in heaven and seeks to outlaw all the rest.

Christians persecuted Hellenists, Jews and rival Christians for centuries.

And the one continent most seeped in Christian churches and prayers for the most centuries proceeded to blow itself up with a Thirty Years War, and endless smaller wars between Christianized nations, and two world wars. Christians elected Hitler to power. Europe has seen more continued relative peace peace since its religious faith has grown very weak than it ever saw during its previous centuries when it's religious faith remained much stronger.

As for some of the revolutions you mentioned, they were all bloody. And often they took place in peasant economies where resentments had risen far past the boiling point. Preindustrial France, and nineteenth century Russia and China. The American Revolution was also bloody but benefited from the fact that Britain was so far away, and France and Britain had been fighting for centuries, so we got France to help us. Also, after we won, we were only able to throw out the soldiers they sent over here, since we could not then sail to Britain to kill the king and other royals like in the self.contained French Revolution. But also keep in mind that America did undergo a local war between ourselves, a Civil War, with ministers being some of the loudest in favor of secession. And the toll of all the Americans killed in that conflict exceeded all the U.S. soldiers killed in both world wars, Korea and Nam and he Gulf War. And let's not forget all the natives of the Americas enslaved, persecuted or killed by Europeans for centuries. And all the African enslaved, persecuted or killed by the Europeans who moved to the Americas.

I don't justify any of that bloodshed, but just want to point out it was done in the name of people claiming power, something the churches all attempted to do from the time of Christian Roman Emperors and Christian European rulers even today's Religious Right. But secularism and deistic rationalism, and scientific advances dethroned the authority of certain biblical tales, and helped defang religion, but the urge for control and the human urge to join mass movements, political parties, or to become enthralled with nationalistic fervor, or racist fervor, or other kinds of fervor and lose ourselves in the collective remains a trait all primates should question if they want greater peace on earth.


Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, Take some time and read my response to Josh McDowell's chapter on The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience over at the Secular Web, and also my blog pieces and links to Things Christians Are Against