Disregarding all the other religions in the world, Christianity doesn't really have that much power over people anymore. Today, people tend to cherry-pick Christian values. One can choose how much money to donate during mass, if they choose to donate at all. They're not going to burn you alive for missing a few Sundays, either. So to say that the Christian church supports altruism today would be false. They no longer use force. And, as Objectivists argue, the only thing that matters most is not belief, emotions, or opinions (as I've learned), but action.
Additionally, I have never experienced, back when I went to church, pressure to "give until it hurts," so I can't really agree that they still do that. Can you give me proof, or any recent articles of this going on?
Yes, very much so.
I don't agree. Christianity is, in fact, increasing in power.
Yes, thanks to the Enlightenment. But even so, there is continuous push-back -- in part due to the inherent contradictions within Christianity.
True, but there is still social pressure to donate -- the passing of the collection bowl alone is a form of pressure, particularly in sight of your fellow church-goers.
One Catholic family I know is terrified of missing church on Sunday, because he fears he will go to Hell if he does. So they may not kill you, but a level of guilt and torture is still present. Manipulating those feelings is a major source of power for the Church.
That's a big leap, and I don't agree. The church most definitely supports altruism. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is still one of the cornerstones of Christianity. The concept of altruism runs deep in Christianity: "Giving is more important than receiving," "Turn the other cheek," the parable of the widow's mite, the Sermon on the Mount, etc.
The thing about altruism is that it's impossible to practice it consistently, so religionists go to great lengths to try to explain that away while still endorsing it -- hence abominations such as Original Sin, and so on.
Also, a big focus of Christianity is to prepare for the "afterlife" -- the idea that what happens after you die is somehow more important than what happens while you're alive. Talk about sacrifices! That's driven by altruism at its core.
FWIW, Kant understood that altruism is necessary for religion, probably more than most Christians do.
answered Jan 23 '12 at 23:41