February 16, 2018

Important Technologies in Christian Anthropology

This is not a Christian project, but it is worth understanding some of the key technologies of Christianity.

The following is a list of metaphysical and anthropological facts which are (as far as we can tell) true, necessary, and generally unrecognized outside Christianity. This list is not exhaustive. It consists of those which we have checked out and understood so far:

  1. Humans are sinful creatures, but fundamentally good. In that we often do things which are against our higher intentions and against our sense of right and wrong, but we do have a fundamental desire to do what is right. This synthesis position is major fact of human condition, but often denied in both directions.

  2. We should feel guilty about our sin, but channel that guilt into seeking to live like a saint. As opposed to embracing that sin, or being demoralized by it. Again often denied.

  3. There is a higher ordering power to the universe, which is perfectly good, all-knowing, all-causing, and which gives the universe its telos. It is proper for humans to subordinate themselves to this power. Christians call this God the Father, others have less well developed equivalents. This seems to be spiritually necessary for us to put ourselves in the right place in the cosmos, and orient ourselves in the right direction. It is also interestingly explanatory and clarifying of some of the big philosophical questions in cosmology.

  4. We can be forgiven and redeemed for our sins, given proper contrition and penance. This is key to psychologically resolving the contradiction between sinful nature and good intent. Unresolved past sin weighs on the mind and causes more sin. Our minds require forgiveness to detach from past sin so that it no longer weighs us down in this way.

  5. We should cooperate-by-default to help each other out, but not to the point of enabling defection or parasitism. Fully individualist or particularist value systems eventually fail by lack of solidarity, but fully collectivizing value systems fail by lack of regulation towards productive prosocial behavior. Christianity appempts to walk the line correctly here.

There are many more of these, as Christianity is an enormous and well developed philosophical system. But Christianity is not alone in containing insight. We should expect other religions as well to have key pieces of social technology and wisdom of the good life that follow from key true claims about the world.

Mining these philosophical systems for these kinds of things, and analyzing them in more depth than we have done here, should yield many insights.

Edited and curated by Wolf Tivy

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