How do I respond to this?


How do I respond when people say that their will always be religion as long as people feel their is something to gain from it?

i.e how do I refute the claim that Christianity is ultimatley selfish.



from my understanding, the Catholic Church knows that there are partial truths in other religions. i don’t know if those partial truths are of God, that’s why we accept them.


Thanks but I think I was not clear, I will rephrase the question.

How do I respond when people say that their will always be Christianity as long as people feel their is something to gain from it?

i.e how do I refute the claim that Christianity is ultimatley selfish.



Start by asking, “In what way is it selfish?”

Is it “selfish” because we care for the poor?

Is it “selfish” because we care for the unborn?


My guess is that the people who are asking you this question are suggesting that those who care for the poor and needy are somehow selfish because they derive satisfaction from their altruistic deeds. So basically they are saying that the desire for self-satisfaction is the motivation for altruistic deeds. All desires must have an object and if self-satisfaction is the object of an individual’s desire, that would seem convoluted as there are easier and more direct ways for a person to satisfy that desire.

My answer would be that the persons who are asking you this question are confusing the goal (or objective) of a good deed with the by-products of the same action. Self-satisfaction is a BY-PRODUCT of unselfishness, but it is seldom or never a motive.-- . (If the goal were self-satisfaction and the by product that I improved anothers’ life, that wouldn’t even make sense.)

And finally- ony an UNSELFISH person would gain satisfaction from performing an altruistic act. A selfish person would not gain any satisfaction from an altruistic deed nor would he/she want to perform it.


Parents derive satisfaction from caring for their children – yet many a parent has died to save a child. Is that “selfish?”


Hello VernHumphrey–

I am not sure how you are relating your post to mine. Please say more about that.

Thank you.


By giving an additional example, of course.


Thank-you, and quite a strong example, I might add.


The Christian is called to die to himself…i.e. be unselfish and carry his cross for the betterment of his neighbor.

So does this person think that sacrificing out of love in this life in order to be perfectly united with Christ in the next is selfish? If that is how he is defining it, then by all means, we are selfish!! :smiley:

Also, if that is how he is defining it…does he then think living a life that leads to hell is truly the unselfish life? :rolleyes: Not only should no one want to do that, but God doesn’t want us to do that!


I will also add, as is implied in your example, that the satisfation parents may gain in caring for their children is not the GOAL of child-care, but its by-product. The GOAL is the well-being of their children.

(Just as if a parent were to die to save a child, the goal would not be the parent’s death, but the safety of the child.)

So, just as Jesus died to save us, His death was never a goal in itself, but was the supremely unselfish salvific act for the eternal life of the children of God.


Christians have died for the faith and for others – Saint Maximillian Kolbe, who died in a concentration camp to save another inmate is a good example. Was that “selfish?”


I respond by saying that religion is man’s attempt to find God, but that Christianity is God’s attempt to reach man.

I also don’t deny that I have selfish motives. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full. I am all in! :thumbsup:


There are many points on this post that mirror this one, so I’m going to pick it out as an example.

Every action that people take is done to fulfill some need or desire. Try doing something you don’t have a need or desire to do. It’s impossible because there is always something that one hopes to gain.

One doesn’t need to be aware of the fact that they are fulfilling their own needs. They may even think that they aren’t fulfilling any of their needs, but if that were true they wouldn’t be doing it.

The parent values the life of the child, more so than they value their own life, so they will sacrifice themselves for the child whose life they value more.

Doing things for others is also a need that people have. I have an aunt who is forever buying my family gifts. She also has a much higher disposable income than we do. Sometimes we try and repay her, but then the gifts increase to compensate. We now try and keep the gift giving to an uncomfortable minimum. She probably assumes that she is doing something in order to be kind, but the motives are self-serving. She gets something out of giving the gifts.


The fact that you are taking this “claim” seriously invokes my curiosity.
If someone in conversation makes the claim that Christianity is ultimately selfish you should ask them why they are so cynical, ask them to cite specific examples, and be ready with numerous examples of why they are completely mistaken.


Wow! Talk about ungreatful!:frowning:


What I am trying to say is how do i respond to the claim that people only serve God as they think they can gain eternal life from it.


Give them Fr. John Corapi’s response. To paraphase, “Its not the the best reason, but it’s a good place to start.”


Because it would imply people are only motivated by fear – fear of the loss of eternal life.

But we have seen many examples of people motivated wholly by love.

Or to put it another way, the claim is based on the claimant’s skewed vision of humanity. You might just as well point out the original claimant is no doubt himself enjoying his argument (else why would he advance it?) and is therefore as selfish as those he sees as morally inferior to himself.


I’m going to try to think this out, posting my thoughts as they occur…Welcom to the mind of Spirithound. Mind your step.

I fast when the Church says I should. Do I gain from it? Well, yes, I unite myself with Christ’s suffering. Hopefully I also increase my sanctity, get closer to God. So I have denied myself something now for an increase in something later.
Coming from the devil’s advocate POV, I fast because it makes me feel good. Perhaps not physically, but spiritually/emotionally.
Back to Part 1. I am, by worldly standards acting unselfishly, because I am not paying attention to my worldly needs (at least for a little while).
Back to Part 2. The devil’s advocate needs to show that the selflessness I have shown by fasting is outweighed by the selfishness I have shown by gaining spiritually/emotionally.
I’m using spiritually and emotionally here to mean the same thing, but from opposite points of view (I’m aware that they don’t actually mean the same, but please bear with me). “Spiritually” is used by the Christian, “emotionally” is used by the devil’s advocate.
The Angel’s advocate knows that there is nothing wrong with spiritual growth, and in fact that it is a good thing. But spiritual growth doesn’t happen if you’re actually trying to “trick” God with your giving/fasting/prayer. But that’s an empirical question; can we know the intentions of individuals? But, the devil’s advocate will say that he does know the intentions of someone, and that that person is not gaining spiritually, but only emotionally. So, conclusion 1 is that we don’t know the intentions of a person, and so we can’t say whether they’re being selfish or not.
It also occurs to me that the devil’s advocate here is coming from the point of view that religion is bunk, and therefore spiritual growth is not possible, and therefore we are only deluding ourselves by being Christian.

So, to summarize, your questioner does not believe in religion, and therefore he cannot see the true spiritual benefit, but only sees a delusional emotional result.

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