Pagan and Christian notions of morality: a comparison:

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I'd say most Neopagan religions have some Christian influence (and many other, perhaps more important, influences).

edited 14th May '12 9:57:07 AM by SilentColossus

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27 ohsointocats8th Dec 2011 10:33:41 PM from The Sand Wastes , Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
As neither a Christian or a Pagan, I find this interesting.

I never really thought that the Christian obsession was with sex, but rather with the idea of future reward after death. Which seemed kind of silly to me...
28 NoirGrimoir8th Dec 2011 11:10:40 PM from San Diego, CA , Relationship Status: Anime is my true love
Rabid Fujoshi
I would say us Christians are obsessed with forgiveness of sins, actually.
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I'd say most Neopagan religions have some Christian influence (and many other, perhaps more important, influences).

That's true (and part of what I meant when I said that Chesterton's praise of "Paganism" probably didn't have Wicca in mind, especially given Chesterton's negative view of other proto-New Age religions, such as Christian Science).
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30 Carciofus9th Dec 2011 12:58:12 AM from Alpha Tucanae I
Is that cake frosting?
One text which is relevant to this thread is, I think, Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration, a declaration written by Hans Kung for the Parliament of World's Religions and signed by members of a number of different religions (you can find the list in the site), including Pagans.

I cannot summarize it entirely — it's a fairly complex text — but, in brief, it states some principles over which, in the author's opinion, there is substantial consensus among different religions, and which could be a basis for a "global ethic" of sorts, not for the purpose of rejecting the individual precepts of each religion but rather for the purpose of allowing better large-scale coordination between religious groups.

The "irrevocable directives" it mentions (chapter III, pages 8—13) are:
  1. Commitment to a culture of non-violence and respect for life; (note, however, that the text does not really advocate total non-violence — it only states that violent conflicts should be avoided, whenever possible).
  2. Commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order;
  3. Commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness:
  4. Commitment to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women.

Now, this is much more general than what this thread is about — it is worded in such a way to include Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians and all other signatories of the Declaration — but it still points out some principles which are certainly shared by many (modern) Christians and many (modern) Pagans.

edited 9th Dec '11 1:02:09 AM by Carciofus

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31 TheEarthSheep9th Dec 2011 05:45:46 AM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
I would like to slightly modify my earlier idea, building off of what Carc said.

Again, X is the Moral Constant, namely the greatest good for the greatest number.

Let L + R = X, where L is the Confucian concept of Li and R is that of Ren.

Again, z is the set of all of all cultures, including p (Pagan) and c (Christian), among others.

Let R be a constant value, based on Carciofus' post, meaning Rc = Rp = Rz.

Let L vary, meaning Lc =/= Lp =/= Lz, and this represents different rituals or actions that must be taken to achieve X.

In this case, either Lc + R = X, OR Lp + R = X, assuming that those are the only two belief systems. Of course, they're not, so it's possible that L(humanism) + R = X or that L(jainism) + R = X. It's even possible that more than one belief system fills that parameter, though that's really irrelevant.

Ergo, essentially everyone can agree on a value of R and a value of X, it's L that gives us the problem.
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32 DeMarquis9th Dec 2011 08:20:51 AM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
The problem, Earth Sheep, is that people place a value on the actions and contingencies (your "L") that produce the happiness, as they do on the state of happiness itself (your "X"). If someone came along and assured me that I could attain a state of perfectly satisfied bliss by allowing them to attach electrodes to my skull, even though this would effectively put me into a coma and remove my ability to think and act for myself, I wouldn't go for it. My ability to influence my own outcomes is too important to me to sacrifice, even at the expense of some suffering.

Some "L's" are incompatible. Communists believe that the path to universal happiness is when the laboring class owns all the means of production, religious fundamentalists believe that it consists of submitting to the will of God as espoused by a particular authority, Nationalists believe it is the promotion perfect solidarity within a specific national group, Rationalists believe it is the triumph of reason over superstition, Humanitarians believe it is when everyone shares feelings of universal brotherhood, and so on.

Christians believe that it consists of developing a personal relationship with Jesus. Pagans believe many things, but that isn't one of them.

Nobody knows which, if any of these things are actually capable of delivering "the greatest good for the greatest number". Hence, beyond a certain point, these differences are probably irreconcilable. Which is why pluralism and tolerance are the ultimate values. But pluralism and tolerance do not themselves solve problems or deliver happiness, they are merely a means by which diverging groups can live and work together.

Edit: But, you know, I don't want to completely reject your approach, either. Perhaps a better candidate for "universal morality" would be reciprocity. Some version of the "Golden Rule" is found in nearly every culture. It's almost as universal as the incest taboo.

edited 9th Dec '11 1:24:21 PM by DeMarquis

I do not compromise—I synthesize.
33 TheEarthSheep9th Dec 2011 03:23:37 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] I don't see the conflict. As I said, the L of Christianity isn't equal to the L of Paganism or to the L of anything else. L is subjective, and it is the only subjective bit in the formula. It necessarily has a defined value, as implied by the fact that adding a constant will achieve another constant, which means that it is also a constant. We do not, however, know the value of that constant, and the discovery of the identity of that constant is the goal of all systems of morality.
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34 feotakahari9th Dec 2011 05:11:11 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
^ You can't say that there's a single X, only that there's a single X for people who're all made happy by the same thing. To borrow from what De Marquis said, there are people who would choose to be hooked up to the machine, and they're just as "right" as the rest of us. People need to be given happiness on their own terms. (The problem comes when people use their own X to deduce an L, and start trying to apply that L to people who have a different X.)

edited 9th Dec '11 5:11:29 PM by feotakahari

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35 TheEarthSheep9th Dec 2011 09:03:30 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] No no no, we have a misunderstanding. X isn't a means of obtaining happiness, such as hooking up to the machine, it's happiness itself. L is the means of obtaining happiness.
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