Author Thomas Cahill poses this question in the introduction of Desire of the Everlasting Hills:
In other words, is the world a better place because of Jesus?
IÕll anticipate some of the more obvious arguments.
No. Just look at all the evil done in the name of Christianity: the Crusades, the holocaust, the Inquisition, Salem witch trials, the massacre of Native Americans, etc. Therefore, Christianity has had a negative influence on the world.
You canÕt really blame Jesus for these things. Imperialism was rampant before Jesus. ThatÕs the whole reason the Romans were in Palestine in JesusÕ day anyway. Alexander The Great managed to commit atrocities in Thebes, Tyre and other locales without the aid of Christianity. Darius III led the Persian Empire that was not exactly humane either.
Yes. Christianity has given solace and comfort to millions of people throughout the last 2000 years. Christians helped form democracy in America and have given the world great advances in learning and art.
Again, we canÕt attribute this to Jesus specifically. Religions of all sorts have given comfort to adherents throughout the ages. That is, I believe, why religion exists. Democracy was begun in Greece and is still being refined today. American democracy is not the result of Christians exclusively. As far as the humanities and knowledge go, individual Christians have contributed to the world, but these contributions are independent of their faith. Christianity also hindered the progress of knowledge, cite.
Yes. Christianity has shaped the events of the last 2000 years, largely through the influence of the Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation and then through both the RCC and Protestant denominations.
I believe this is irrelevant. If not Christianity, then some other religion would have dominated. Whichever religion the dominant ruler followed would have been the dominant religion. In the history of the Western World, rulers used the Christian Church to their advantage without necessarily following the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus really didnÕt make a big difference in the world, per se. Many men have been more influential in how the world has developed. Alexander The Great shaped the political structure of the Mediterranean area for centuries. Confucius changed the way the government operated in ancient China.
JesusÕ teachings, however, can make a difference in individual lives.
Does anyone have another conclusion?