This post was prompted by Richard Glover’s question “What about Christianity do you see as misanthropic?”, and I felt that his question deserved a longer response than would be appropriate in a comment box, so here goes.
What Is Christianity?
Before I can answer Richard’s question, I need to make clear my own understanding of the nature of Christianity. (Hint: those who would disagree with me should start here.) I see Christianity as having two parts: a core, and society’s response to that core.
Society’s response to the core is as varied as the individuals who come into contact with that core. At one extreme, we have individuals who believe in what is essentially a personal God, a basically benificent creature who has no relationship to the God of the Old Testament. These people interpret the Bible in a very flexible fashion. At the other extreme, we have people who believe that the Bible is a true and precise record of God and all of creation; such people for example include Young Earth Creationists, and those who allow their relatives to die by preventing routine life-saving medication.
Groups in society display an equally wide range of responses to the core. At one extreme we have countless organisations doing good work in the name of Christianity, looking after those members of society who are unfortunate or poor. At the other extreme, we have examples such as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisitions.
The responses of individuals and groups to the core vary through time and place, and are governed as much as anything by the mores of the society in which they live.
What Is The Core?
By now, you will probably have inferred that by the core I mean the Bible and all that springs immediately from it. I believe that the core is misanthropic. In the best of scientific tradition, I am now required to justify that claim.
At the bottom of all this is the question of whether or not an individual accepts the scientific method. I have faith in the scientific method (okay, I chose that word deliberately!) because I have found that it works for myself and (more importantly) for those who rely on me. The scientific method relies on using falsifiable evidence: if the evidence and interpretations claimed can be reliably repeated, then there is a chance that the claim is true. The more often the repetition is observed, the more often the claim is likely to be true. I base my life on this. I am aware that many (most?) people choose not to go down this analytical route.
We now come to the Bible, and its central thesis, which is of a virgin woman giving birth to a male child, and that child ascending to heaven after his crucifiction. None of the evidence in this is falsifiable; as such it must be immediately dismissed. Moreover, since science has shown us that there is a difference in mass between X and Y chromosomes, how did one of X chromosomes in Mary’s womb get converted to a Y chromosome without killing Mary by all that mass being converted to energy? Anybody who claims that an “angel did it” is relying on evidence that is not falsifiable.
The above is merely one example of claims made by Christians based on evidence that is not falsifiable. The claim by Christians that other people believe the same thing used as justification for their own positions also ultimately lacks the quality of falsifiability.
So Why Is Christianity Misanthropic?
By denying the scientific method, the core of Christianity causes teachers to teach falsehoods, such as “DNA wasn’t invented then”, “It was Noah’s flood that caused the Grand Canyon”, and “The Earth is only 6,000 years old”. This misleads learners. This is unacceptable in a civilised society.
On the basis of the above, I conclude that (the core of) Christianity is misanthropic.