This little video tidbit has caused quite a stir prompting American Atheists to call for an apology, not from the professor at Harvard Business School who made the video, but from the Chancellor of Troy University who disseminated it as a Christmas message.
This is from the WEB site of the Richard Dawkin’s Foundation.
“What started as a holiday message to students and faculty from Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., has now turned into a religious debate and the American Atheists demanding a public apology from the school’s leader.
On Dec. 30, Hawkins sent a message out to students and faculty containing a video that he said “speaks to America’s greatness and its vulnerability.
The video, which has nearly a half million views on the video sharing website YouTube, is of Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen recalling a conversation with a Marxist from China who was completing a fellowship at Harvard.
Christensen said the economist told him before leaving that he had no idea how critical religion was to the functioning of democracy.”
Here is the video in question.
I’m not sure what this has to do with “Religious Freedom”, what I do know is that it is more, albeit mildly presented, “Fear Mongering”. Christians and the religious in general frequently engage in this tactic as a means of Apologetics. Without God, they say, the world will go to hell in a hand basket. Compassion, kindness, love, fellow-feeling, charity and all those other wonderful attribute of which only Christianity is the fountainhead will dry up and disappear if you don’t allow Christianity free reign throughout all aspects and institutions in society. Your children will inherit a world full of greed, strife, hatred, misogyny, genocide, punitive justice, intolerance and all manner of other ills. It will be a living hell and you will only have your own godless self to blame. So, goes the argument.
Of course, Christianity HAS had free reign throughout all aspects of society and it’s institution in almost all the countries of Europe for oh, close to 2000 years and nearly 200 in the US. We all know how well that went. It is only been relatively recently that secularism has been gaining ground. Just look at the absolutely hellacious conditions in countries like Norway and Sweden for example and see where rampant secularism and atheism will get you. I believe they are regularly rated among the happiest most beneficent societies in the world….SO THERE!
Christians further argue that the world is getting worse and worse as it gets more and more secular, just look around you, just read some of Stephen Pinker’s book, “The Angles of Our Better Nature” if you want to see how horrible the world has become at the hands of the Enlightenment, Science and growing Secularism.
We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the bestselling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps, Pinker presents some astonishing numbers. Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate of Medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then suddenly were targeted for abolition. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the people they did a few decades ago. Rape, battering, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, cruelty to animals—all substantially down.
How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? What led people to stop sacrificing children, stabbing each other at the dinner table, or burning cats and disemboweling criminals as forms of popular entertainment? The key to explaining the decline of violence, Pinker argues, is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence (such as revenge, sadism, and tribalism) and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, bargain rather than plunder, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.
With the panache and intellectual zeal that have made his earlier books international bestsellers and literary classics, Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature. This gripping book is sure to be among the most debated of the century so far.”
The argument in the video and from many a pulpit is clear, as the church disappears from society, Professor Christiansen worries, who will teach our Children morality? Who will teach them the good moral character that would lead them to voluntarily obey the laws of society. “You cannot hire enough police”, he says, to insure a safe, law-abiding society, if there is no religion (that is, Christianity). Immorality and lawlessness will abound, society will crumble and we will return to the barbarism of, well, perhaps the Old Testament?
Notice, however, what the Chinese Marxist actually says. The reason democracy works is because “Most people, most of the time voluntarily choose to obey the law”. He attributes that to religion, to Christianity. Further he contrasts this to the government enforcing that obedience by say, the threat of punishment or constant surveillance. How is any to people voluntarily obeying the law because they fear being punished by say, perhaps, God? Professor Christiansen contends that Society can’t do what God can, follow through with the threat of punishment. How then is that voluntary? Professor Christiansen describes this as though the Marxist friend is marveling at the wonders of democracy and religion. Perhaps he was actually aghast that democracy was so dependent of the delusion of religion, particularly Christianity.
Notice the way this message is conveyed. Notice the subtle black and white pictures that spin by, of surveillance cameras, police and criminals being lead away. You see, IT’S ALREADY BEGUN!!! What’s more he indirectly throws in the “Red Commie Threat” here too. Although he doesn’t explicitly state it he is argueing that Democracy will be shattered and we will all be under enthralled to Atheist Marxism (like that under which his Marxist friend lives). His friend is a foil for all that is to be feared and which he believes is doomed to fail.
Failing to have a rational argument, a reasoned argument, to believe the dogma of Christianity, they appeal to unreasoned and unsupported fear! They accuse all who do not believe in God and indeed all who are of another religion, of being immoral, unprincipled and unwilling, without the “big stick” of judgment and hell, to live in community and society simply for the benefit of themselves and those around them, simply because it is right, full stop! You should fear the expression of your desperately wicked human nature they say, and fear where it will lead! That is the message. You are despicable, immoral and unprincipled without Christianity. If not you, then everyone else, fear them!
On morality without God, here is a wonderful conversation between Dr. Shelly Kagan of Yale and Dr. Willisam Lane Craig.