Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Christianity and The Golden Rule

By: Matthew Chatterton 

Morality is composed of sympathy, empathy, and reciprocal altruism. It is reasoned and argued, as it has been throughout the ages, for the purpose of figuring out how best to maximize prosperity and minimize suffering.

Christians call reciprocal altruism the "golden rule” and use it to bolster their religion. Christianity, however, is not the only religion with the golden rule and they weren't the first. Here are some world religions with a golden rule, by order of their age; descending.

Hinduism ≈ 7,500 years old

“This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Mahabharata 5,1517

Judaism ≈ 3,300 years old

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 3id

Zoroastrianism ≈ 2,600 years old

“That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.” Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5

Buddhism ≈ 2,500 years old

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5,1

Confucianism ≈ 2,500 years old

“Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.” Analects 12:2

Christianity ≈ 2,000 years old

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12 NIV

Taoism ≈ 2,000 years old

“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien

Islam ≈ 1,400 years old

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Sunnah

As you can see, Christianity wasn't even close to the first religion with a golden rule and, surprisingly, Judaism has a golden rule that isn't found in the "Old" Testament of the Bible.

Furthermore, the problem with the above religions is that they presume that we humans need to have the golden rule written down.

In some birds, mobbing behavior can be observed. When a predator is approaching, a bird may fly out into the open and warn all the other members of its species of the attack. To the novice observer, this may look suicidal. Why would the bird do something so selfless? The altruistic deed may make the individual bird look strong and dominant and will improve its chance of finding a mate. Even in non-breeding seasons, the members of the species that were helped by the warning will set aside food for the hero the predator will remember that hero and will, therefore be less likely to attack it when it is more vulnerable.

I didn't know birds read holy texts! Oh, they don't? That's right! This behavior was selected by nature over a very long time as it was with nearly all social species, including us.

The golden rule doesn't make Christianity look good; it makes Christianity look as redundant with older religions as older religions are with nature. When it comes to treating others well, Christianity is pointless.

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