This is something I’ve been pondering for a while after I saw a comment on another website implying that Christians were better than non Christians because of charity work, such as operation shoe box, that Christians participate in and run. I’ll concentrate on Christians in this post because it was a comment from a Christian that sparked off my train of thought, but the same principals can be applied to any religion.
After reading that comment, I started thinking about the motivations of Christians to participate in such activities, and I came to two conclusions, both of which are worryingly self-serving. So let’s take a look at them.
You’ll notice that any charitable organisation that is affiliated with a religion makes it very obvious that such a link exists. Take the Christian Missionaries for example, they promised technology, food and social advancement to the people indiginous to the areas they visited. In return, the people would have to become Christian. It was a simple premise that exploited the most vulnerable people in the world under the guise of charity. What they were really doing was exploitation. We’ll give you X if you convert to our religion. I’ve spoken about the need for the church to maintain its numbers in the past, so sending workers out to relatively unknown areas of the world in order to “plant” churches seems like a sensible, if not moral, way to do this.
While modern Christian charitable organisations aren’t so overt, they still have alterior motives. Christian Aid, for example, makes sure that everyone they help knows that they have been helped by a Christian organisation. In fact, I was asked for a donation by a friend who was collecting for Christian Aid. I pointed out that while I do donate to charity, I am very careful not to donate to any charity with a strong religious affiliate, because of the reasons detailed above.
I think we all know what the prize on offer is, an eternity in the best (but most boring) place not-on-earth, heaven. What people seem to forget is that all Christians have been incentivised to follow other Christians. And if they believe in God, they also believe in heaven (and hell), so the incentive, as far as they’re concerned, is a good one.
So when a Christian does a good act, you have to remember that it is never selfless. At the end of the day, each and every Christian is thinking to themselves “one more point I can make to get into heaven”. If they can help someone and get them to convert to Christianity, well just imagine how many points that would be!
So based on the two points above, it’s very difficult to accept that a Christian would do a good deed for the sake of doing a good deed. And whilst I’m sure many Christians will argue the fact that they have been incentivised, they can’t argue about its existence (in their mind). And once an incentive exists, it’s very difficult to ignore.
On the face of it, it would appear that Atheists acting on bahalf of charities are in a far better position to help. Otherwise, it’s like letting a car salesman fix your alternator. You know you’re going to get sold to, and you know he’s looking to get some reward in the end.
What are your thoughts? Can there be a truly good Christian?