Are people better off without christianity?


#1

Ignorance of the word of God is an excuse, that is to say, if growing up not being exposed to christianity you are not liable for incidental sin as you were unaware. Like the bushmen of Australia for example. They won’t go to hell because they did not know it was a sin to covet their neighbor’s wife or whatever.
This is what I was told is the official catholic stance so I am sorry if it is not. Granted that it is indeed true, a thought comes to mind: aren’t you doing more harm than good by sending missionaries? For example: a new island is discovered tommorow, and the inhabitants have never had contact with the outside world, so you decide to send them christianity. 50% take to christianity and 50% stick to their traditional way of life they have always practiced. You just sent 50% of those people to hell, where as before they could have gotten away with ignorance. So wouldn’t they have been better off without the missionaries?


#2

[quote=Wormwood]Ignorance of the word of God is an excuse, that is to say, if growing up not being exposed to christianity you are not liable for incidental sin as you were unaware. Like the bushmen of Australia for example. They won’t go to hell because they did not know it was a sin to covet their neighbor’s wife or whatever.
This is what I was told is the official catholic stance so I am sorry if it is not. Granted that it is indeed true, a thought comes to mind: aren’t you doing more harm than good by sending missionaries? For example: a new island is discovered tommorow, and the inhabitants have never had contact with the outside world, so you decide to send them christianity. 50% take to christianity and 50% stick to their traditional way of life they have always practiced. You just sent 50% of those people to hell, where as before they could have gotten away with ignorance. So wouldn’t they have been better off without the missionaries?
[/quote]

I don’t think so - see, we (that is HUMAN BEINGS) do not send anyone ANYWHERE…we do our best as Catholics to offer the fullness of the Christian faith to the world we know and discover. We leave judgement for all eternity to God Our Creator and rely upon his love and infinite mercy to take care of all the details.

I do understand your dilemna/question though because I was concerned about my brother. He has left the Church and knowingly walking away from the Word Incarnate and The Truth can be judged as a mortal sin. But my confessor reminded me that I really do not know my brother’s heart, and that his struggle may be an ongoing thing and is between him and Jesus. All I can do is pray, for to fall into the sin of despair or to get all prideful and righteous in his face would be a sin on my part.

My toughest struggle, as a Catholic Christian and Obedient Daughter of the Holy Mother Church is to trust in Jesus. The prayer disciplines I do help - I do them even on those days when I am pretty sure no one is listening and no one cares.

Does this help? There are far more learned people on this forum than I. Ask Father Serpa. He is an amazing source of information.


#3

[quote=Wormwood]Ignorance of the word of God is an excuse, that is to say, if growing up not being exposed to christianity you are not liable for incidental sin as you were unaware. Like the bushmen of Australia for example. They won’t go to hell because they did not know it was a sin to covet their neighbor’s wife or whatever.
This is what I was told is the official catholic stance so I am sorry if it is not. Granted that it is indeed true, a thought comes to mind: aren’t you doing more harm than good by sending missionaries? For example: a new island is discovered tommorow, and the inhabitants have never had contact with the outside world, so you decide to send them christianity. 50% take to christianity and 50% stick to their traditional way of life they have always practiced. You just sent 50% of those people to hell, where as before they could have gotten away with ignorance. So wouldn’t they have been better off without the missionaries?
[/quote]

While on a superficial level your comments hold a sort of perverse logic, it misses the fact that not spreading the Gospel is simply not an option - according to the Bible and Church tradition:

**Mission - a requirement of the Church’s catholicity **

849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:339 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."340

339 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.
340 Mt 28:19-20.

I think we don’t have a choice in the matter as Christians, since Christ specifically instructed His Church - through the Apostles and in Scripture - to preach the Gospel to all the ends of the earth. It is not within our authority as christians to say that we should keep the Truth to ourselves for the good of the souls of the "blissfully ignorant. It is our duty as Christians to respond in love to the commands of our Lord and share the good news.

One other matter. You wrote:

… if growing up not being exposed to christianity you are not liable for incidental sin as you were unaware. Like the bushmen of Australia for example. They won’t go to hell because they did not know it was a sin to covet their neighbor’s wife or whatever.

The Church does not teach that one is not responsible for the consequences of their sin simply because they are not a believer. The Church teaches…

**“Outside the Church there is no salvation” **

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. [my emphasis here.] 337

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

335 Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21:PL 3,1169; De unit.:PL 4,509-536.
336 LG 14; cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5.
337 LG 16; cf. DS 3866-3872.
338 AG 7; cf. Heb 11:6; 1 Cor 9:16.

So, to paraphrase, one does not get a “free pass” if one is not a follower of Christ. But then again, one is not automatically damned to hell either. The Church simply acknowledges that the non-believing person’s salvation is - like everyone else’s - dependent upon the Lord.

Peace


#4

Hello again Wormwood;
You wrote;

For example: a new island is discovered tommorow, and the inhabitants have never had contact with the outside world, so you decide to send them christianity. 50% take to christianity and 50% stick to their traditional way of life they have always practiced. You just sent 50% of those people to hell, where as before they could have gotten away with ignorance. So wouldn’t they have been better off without the missionaries?

Your hypothetical makes several false assumptions. First, even If 50% take to Catholic Christianity, that still is no guarantee they are “saved.” Second, as I noted in the above response, the 50% that “rejected” christianity are not thereby damned. They have the rest of their lives to consider the truth of christianity. Third, there is the factor of whether or not a person remains invincibly ignorant of christianity, even after being exposed to the truth, in which case they are not necessarily cut off from the possibility of salvation. Fourth, your hypothetical assumes that the Church makes the decision of who goes to Hell and who goes to Heaven, which is clearly NOT the case. That being said, I would have to say that your hypothetical fails to convince because it is based on several inaccuracies and because it defies common sense and basic christian principles concerning the Lord’s power of granting salvation.

Peace again,


#5

The Church teaches that those who are invincibly ignorant of Christ and his Church may find salvation by following the dictates of their conscience, which is kind of like saying: Parachuting into an unfamiliar wilderness without food or water or blanket or map or compass, a person may survive and find his way out alive but then again he may not. However, the person would greatly increase his chances of survival and of finding his way out of the wilderness alive, if he is properly equiped with the above mentioned items and uses them and that’s where the Church comes in. The Church has all the equipment (the Sacraments) necessary to assist anyone wanting to survive and make it out of the wilderness of this life alive.


#6

I think that others have given you some very good answers. I would only add that we ARE made for joy; that is, for union with God. My acceptance of Christ (after “dissing” Him for much of my life) has brought me so much joy and peace of mind, that I wish others to know the same. Christ is a gift: a gift meant to be shared. If you had something that you knew had the potential to bring great and deep joy to a person (not to mention eternal rewards) wouldn’t you feel compelled to tell the truth? Man is a creature that seeks truth—why hold it back?


#7

You just sent 50% of those people to hell,

Thank God no one can send anyone else to hell! :bowdown2: It’s all about your own choices.

As for if the world would be better without Christianity, that’s a resounding :nope: NO!!! :nope:

Let me answer your questions with some of my own:

1.) Are children better off without parents? Parents won’t let us eat whatever we want because supposidly someday we’ll get sick from it. But who knows when that day will be? Could be tomorrow, could be eighty years later. Maybe I think it’s worth it to get sick for the sake of chocolate.

2.) If you had a terminal illness, would you want to know? Would it be better to die unexpectedly or to live dreading it, but also getting it treated and maybe extending your life and maybe being that one in a million who gets cured? The chances are so small you would get cured, wouldn’t it be better to live out your time normally? Although, some might prefer to get to see their families and friends and do fun things before they do die.

3.) Are we better without history? Man, it’s depressing! Who really wants to know what terrible things our ancestors did? So few people actually learn from our past, why not just forget about it? Forget slavery, forget the Holocaust, forget the wars and forget all those black marks on our lives. Of course, then we also lose culture, family memories and honorable actions.

It all depends on what you think is better: ignorance that may result in pain or pain that may result in benefit? :hmmm:


#8

[quote=Todd Easton]The Church teaches that those who are invincibly ignorant of Christ and his Church may find salvation by following the dictates of their conscience, which is kind of like saying: Parachuting into an unfamiliar wilderness without food or water or blanket or map or compass, a person may survive and find his way out alive but then again he may not. However, the person would greatly increase his chances of survival and of finding his way out of the wilderness alive, if he is properly equiped with the above mentioned items and uses them and that’s where the Church comes in. The Church has all the equipment (the Sacraments) necessary to assist anyone wanting to survive and make it out of the wilderness of this life alive.
[/quote]

What a great explanation! I wish I’d come across this last year when I got totally stymied by this question from a friend of mine!


#9

[quote=Wormwood] For example: a new island is discovered tommorow, and the inhabitants have never had contact with the outside world, so you decide to send them christianity. 50% take to christianity and 50% stick to their traditional way of life they have always practiced. You just sent 50% of those people to hell, where as before they could have gotten away with ignorance. So wouldn’t they have been better off without the missionaries?
[/quote]

Missionaries convert no one. Only God does that. He judges according the grace received and our response to it. The bushmen in Australia may not receive that grace and thus would not be judged, we believe, becasue they didn’t listen to the missionary. They will still be saved through Christ by a way known only to God.

Why are missionaries necessary…because that’s the model Christ set up. It really is that simple, but then I’m a pretty simple minded fellow.:slight_smile:


#10

[quote=StCsDavid] They will still be saved through Christ by a way known only to God.

[/quote]

Er…I mean they may still be saved.


#11

LSK

I don’t think so - see, we (that is HUMAN BEINGS) do not send anyone ANYWHERE.

Hello again LSK. You (human beings) send missionaries to the areas in question :slight_smile:

We leave judgement for all eternity to God Our Creator and rely upon his love and infinite mercy to take care of all the details.

Tell that to the Aztecs.

Robert in SD
So, to paraphrase, one does not get a “free pass” if one is not a follower of Christ. But then again, one is not automatically damned to hell either.

See that is the dilema. It isn’t a free pass but you can bet they wouldn’t be judged as harshly as someone who knowingly turns from God’s will. I am sure God won’t be mad that their marriage wasn’t in a church as there were no priests for thousands of miles. Just seems like you could inadvertantly cause people to go to hell by trying to “save” them.

try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation

  • You are reading “may” as maybe, but it is clearly used in the grammatically correct sense that they are allowed to, as their ability would not come into question.(i.e. may I go with you…yes you may). It just says if they follow their conscience then they will be ok, as they are ignorant of the exact laws.

First, even If 50% take to Catholic Christianity, that still is no guarantee they are “saved.” Second, as I noted in the above response, the 50% that “rejected” christianity are not thereby damned. They have the rest of their lives to consider the truth of christianity. Third, there is the factor of whether or not a person remains invincibly ignorant of christianity, even after being exposed to the truth, in which case they are not necessarily cut off from the possibility of salvation. Fourth, your hypothetical assumes that the Church makes the decision of who goes to Hell and who goes to Heaven, which is clearly NOT the case.

Ok that is why it is a hypothetical…I was giving false statistics to make the issue more tangible, the actual number accepting would be much lower. So if you want to be more technical or whatever, I guess you could say that more than 50% would be going to hell after a visit from the missionaries.


#12

Todd Easton
The Church teaches that those who are invincibly ignorant of Christ and his Church may find salvation by following the dictates of their conscience, which is kind of like saying:

Ok you are reading may as maybe also, but if you read the whole paragraph before that there is no indicator that is a speculative matter…it just says if they do as their conscience guides them then they are ok. Your whole example of camping doesn’t really seem to apply, but hey who better to survive in the wilderness than the bushmen eh?

I think that others have given you some very good answers. I would only add that we ARE made for joy; that is, for union with God. My acceptance of Christ (after “dissing” Him for much of my life) has brought me so much joy and peace of mind, that I wish others to know the same. Christ is a gift: a gift meant to be shared. If you had something that you knew had the potential to bring great and deep joy to a person (not to mention eternal rewards) wouldn’t you feel compelled to tell the truth?

Well I don’t know. It would be like giving someone a loaded gun, sure they would have security, but there is a chance they could kill themselves on acciedent. Maybe they were better off just locking their doors you know?

MariaGorettiGrl

1.) Are children better off without parents?

Depends on the parents.

2.) If you had a terminal illness, would you want to know?

Die unexpectantly…but the metaphor here is lost on me…which side did I choose? :slight_smile:

3.) Are we better without history? Man, it’s depressing!

Hmm perhaps the best analogy I have heard this week.
This does pose an interesting question. The first people didn’t have history and they were ok. Yet we learn so much from the mistakes of others. Again, I don’t think I could in good conscience answer this either way. Either way a lot of people walking around out there don’t know one thing about history and they look content.

StCsDavid

Missionaries convert no one

So why do they go?

Only God does that

So the missionaries just go to burn the religious paraphernalia? :wink:
Seriously though, the missionaries have converted tons of people, and the ones that would not convert were labeled heathens and treated basically like animals. On top of this you add that they are now more likely to go to hell because they heard the word of God so ignorance is no longer an excuse. What if it was the context that they hear about it in? Would that make a difference? Like I wouldn’t want to follow the church that was brought by Cortez the murderer if I were an aztec. I just say it seems like they would have been much happier if left alone and alive.


#13

[quote=Wormwood]Hello again LSK. You (human beings) send missionaries to the areas in question :slight_smile:

I did not make myself clear - we as human beings do not send people to heaven or hell. I apologize for confusing you.

Tell that to the Aztecs.

HUH?

See that is the dilema. It isn’t a free pass but you can bet they wouldn’t be judged as harshly as someone who knowingly turns from God’s will. I am sure God won’t be mad that their marriage wasn’t in a church as there were no priests for thousands of miles. Just seems like you could inadvertantly cause people to go to hell by trying to “save” them.

God is so much more infinite in His mercy - and He is not bound by OUR actions. You make it seem as though God has no choices or power over the fate of His own Creatures.

We, as Catholics, try to bring people to the Truth. But as a Catholic Christian I trust Jesus. I leave the decision for eternal judgement in the hands of a Loving Father - I worry only about myself. This was not an easy lesson for me to learn and it can be even harder to practice - but it is the essence of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Trust and Faith.
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#14

To beat people up with history is a poor rhetorical tool. Yes, some horrors have been done in the name of Jesus Christ under the auspices of the Holy Mother Church. There have been brutal times in history, when some methods of persuasion were used by people (all people) that are horrible in retrospect. Just as cutting the throats of infants in order to appease a god is horrific, or jamming chopsticks into the ears of school children to PREVENT them from practicing Christianity is horrific.

The Truth is we Catholics do not believe a person converts another person. A true conversion happens when someone hears the Truth and accepts it. Accepting the truth at the point of a sword, whether that sword is held by a Catholic, Protestant, Aztec, Jew or Muslim or a member of any other religion is hardly a true conversion.

I have incredible admiration for those people who have held to their religious convictions in the face of incredible pressure and odds. There are examples of those people from every religion and culture. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a member of the Communist party holding my infant upside down out a third story window while asking me if I really wanted to continue to go to Mass on a regular basis. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for an Aztec warrior to be defeated in battle, watch his female property be ravaged and then told by the same people that Jesus loves him.

You asked a hypothetical question. We gave you honest answers. People can affect a conversion, they can share the Truth, they can do so honorably and they can do so horribly and without love or honor. People do not send people to heaven or hell. Good thing, too, or I am sure my mother would have parked me there several times during my teenage years and my active drinking years.


#15

Hello Wormwood;

From the CCC

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. [my emphasis here.] 337

You wrote;

You are reading “may” as maybe, but it is clearly used in the grammatically correct sense that they are allowed to, as their ability would not come into question.(i.e. may I go with you…yes you may). It just says if they follow their conscience then they will be ok, as they are ignorant of the exact laws.

I am reading the term “may” as permissive but not mandatory. The Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines the term “may” to include: have the ability to; have permission to; be free to; used nearly interchangeable with “can”; used to indicate possibility or probability. Nowhere is the term “may” defined to mean the same as “must” as you suggest. The author chose the word “may” to connote a sense that one’s salvation as a non-beliver is possible or permitted but not assured. Your attempt to explain away the Church’s statement by re-defining the word “may” is not persuasive. It defies the common understanding of the term just as it defies common sense.

And as a final note on your point, I have no idea how the Lord judges one who falls under this category, but God is Love, so His judgments are infinitely loving as well as infinitely just.

You also wrote:

Just seems like you could inadvertantly cause people to go to hell by trying to “save” them.

Again, you are placing the power of granting or denying salvation upon individual human beings. The power is God’s alone. God does not make “inadvertent” mistakes - especially when it comes to eternal salvation.

Plus, one does not “inadvertently” reject Christ. If one does not accept Christ because one does not fully understand Him and/or the Gospel message, one is not condemned by their own invincible ignorance. One must fully understand the implications of their decision to reject Christ.

-Peace


#16

.LSK

God is so much more infinite in His mercy - and He is not bound by OUR actions. You make it seem as though God has no choices or power over the fate of His own Creatures

I never said he had no pwer in the situation, what I speculated is if there was a possibility that missionaries were doing more harm than good. I used the example of Cortez and the aztecs because, who could blame them for not converting, but still they technically fall under people that HAVE heard God’s word…And by what is dictated by what you “bind or loose” on the earth, people that have heard and still reject go to hell

To beat people up with history is a poor rhetorical tool. Yes, some horrors have been done in the name of Jesus Christ under the auspices of the Holy Mother Church. There have been brutal times in history, when some methods of persuasion were used by people (all people) that are horrible in retrospec

Well I in no way meant to imply that catholics were the only ones responsible for these abuses. I was using this example to show the more harm than good argument while simultaneously being facetious. My apologies if I offended.

The Truth is we Catholics do not believe a person converts another person. A true conversion happens when someone hears the Truth and accepts it. Accepting the truth at the point of a sword, whether that sword is held by a Catholic, Protestant, Aztec, Jew or Muslim or a member of any other religion is hardly a true conversion.

ok not only did you more adequately explain how missionaries do not convert people, but you also addressed the by the sword conversions…bravo.

You asked a hypothetical question. We gave you honest answers. People can affect a conversion, they can share the Truth, they can do so honorably and they can do so horribly and without love or honor.

Agreed. You know what is funny about catholics? When I speculate on the grey areas, you say “what grey areas?”, but when I argue in black and white you say, “what about these grey areas?!” Sometimes there is a circumstance that bends the rules, and sometimes not.

Robert in SD
I am reading the term “may” as permissive but not mandatory

No one said it was manditory, but there is set of conditions and granted that they meet those requirements they a) have the ability to b)have permission to and/or c)be free to achieve eternal salvation. Sounds like if they meet the requirments previously stated they are in, correct?

Your attempt to explain away the Church’s statement by re-defining the word “may” is not persuasive

Using your definitions I came to the same conclusion.

It defies the common understanding of the term just as it defies common sense.

What are you talking about? So if I said “you may go now”…you would think I was speculating on whether or not you might leave, as opposed to what I am really saying, which is “leave”. Is it just my futuristic convuluted understanding of grammar, or would you be incorrect here?

Again, you are placing the power of granting or denying salvation upon individual human beings.

No, I am granting the power to put those people into that dilema upon human beings. I am saying if missionaries went and put them in a situation where they were not only exposed to God, but reject him, then the tribesman is in more danger than when the missionary arrived.

Plus, one does not “inadvertently” reject Christ. If one does not accept Christ because one does not fully understand Him and/or the Gospel message,

I think this is debatable, but it is good to see that most people don’t assume they would go to hell.


#17

QUOTE]I never said he had no pwer in the situation, what I speculated is if there was a possibility that missionaries were doing more harm than good. I used the example of Cortez and the aztecs because, who could blame them for not converting, but still they technically fall under people that HAVE heard God’s word…And by what is dictated by what you “bind or loose” on the earth, people that have heard and still reject go to hell

You never outright said - but you spoke of people doing something. From the very first reply forward, we told you in very plain terms that we do not believe PEOPLE convert people. You started out this discussion with a hypothetical and then moved into semi-historical references.

Well I in no way meant to imply that catholics were the only ones responsible for these abuses. I was using this example to show the more harm than good argument while simultaneously being facetious. My apologies if I offended.

Your apology is accepted.

ok not only did you more adequately explain how missionaries do not convert people, but you also addressed the by the sword conversions…bravo.

Berkeley trained Rhetorician. Thank you.

Agreed. You know what is funny about catholics? When I speculate on the grey areas, you say “what grey areas?”, but when I argue in black and white you say, “what about these grey areas?!” Sometimes there is a circumstance that bends the rules, and sometimes not.

When you speculated on what you PERCEIVE as grey areas, we point out to you that we acknowledge that God is the ultimate source of Truth and Justice. This is adequately expressed in our Catechism. My suggestion would be for you to read it. It is an easy read for someone of your intelligence. You should be able to finish it in, say, a week. Then, if you have questions about sections you can reference them and ask instead of trying to set up hypotheticals and then referencing past human misdeeds as a way to prove people either wrong or as hypocrites.


#18

[quote=Wormwood]Ignorance of the word of God is an excuse, that is to say, if growing up not being exposed to christianity you are not liable for incidental sin as you were unaware. Like the bushmen of Australia for example. They won’t go to hell because they did not know it was a sin to covet their neighbor’s wife or whatever.
This is what I was told is the official catholic stance so I am sorry if it is not. Granted that it is indeed true, a thought comes to mind: aren’t you doing more harm than good by sending missionaries? For example: a new island is discovered tommorow, and the inhabitants have never had contact with the outside world, so you decide to send them christianity. 50% take to christianity and 50% stick to their traditional way of life they have always practiced. You just sent 50% of those people to hell, where as before they could have gotten away with ignorance. So wouldn’t they have been better off without the missionaries?
[/quote]

All responses to this have come from a purely logical/ pragmatic standpoint.

I used to think this way too, when I first came back to faith. “Gee, if I can claim ignorance wouldn’t it be unwise to be informed and therefore held accountable”?

But what of what we would lose?

The example stated in the post: “Like the bushmen of Australia for example. They won’t go to hell because they did not know it was a sin to covet their neighbor’s wife or whatever.”

The bushman may be ignorant of our faiths dogma against committing adultry yes. But the bushman is also ignorant of all the beauty, love and heavenly attributes of a marriage of total love and committment. Our faith teaches us the truth of how our lives are so much richer when we embrace these truths at the expense of some immediate satisfaction.

The bushman is not better off, the buushman is all more poor. The poor bushman.

I liken this to saying, I will never show my children the beauty of the ocean…because if they fall in love with it, someday they may drown.


#19

[quote=Wormwood]No, I am granting the power to put those people into that dilema upon human beings. I am saying if missionaries went and put them in a situation where they were not only exposed to God, but reject him, then the tribesman is in more danger than when the missionary arrived.
[/quote]

perhaps. just like how law-school teachers put people in danger when they provide their students with the resources to find novel ways to circumvent the law and commit crimes. or how medical school teachers put everyone in harm’s way by providing their students with the know-how to kill and maim in creative and difficult-to-detect ways…

but that is as may be. catholicism rejects the kind of utilitarian calculus you are performing here: the decision to do or to refrain from doing something is not made by determining which possible outcome instantiates more “good” (or less “harm”) - it is made by determining what one’s moral obligations are in terms of the rectifiable relations of one’s own will to the intelligible human goods at stake in the alternative choices.

so. in your example, a catholic missionary brings the truth to those without it for the same reasons that a first aid worker brings food to starving third world nations: because keeping people alive is good, just as it is good to disabuse them of ignorance. it simply doesn’t matter that by granting them more life and more knowledge one presents them with additional opportunities to cause harm to themselves an their neighbours, because whether or not they do so is up to them. you are responsible only for your own choices…


#20

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