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Are Christians more materialistic than atheists?

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I live a very frugal, streamlined life.  I don't require much to live and have no interest in accumulating possessions that I will get sick and tired of eventually.  Many of you here operate on similar principles and aren't afraid to deviate from a traditional lifestyle.  As I embrace the idea that less is more, I can't help to think of the materialism that mainstream Christianity is all about.  Churches can't help but to but the latest crap, that may be flat panel screens for their lobby, a brand new shiny worship center, etc.  Christians on a personal level do the same and claim that God wants them to prosper.  In fact, I'm notice that barring the odd missionary. Christians in the west are obsessed with "stuff".  Why is this so?  Have any of you become less materialistic after deconverting?

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Even when I was a believer, I had no time for churches that bowed to money. There's a big church in Portland, the pastor has gold and diamonds on every finger, and he's called a "pastor's pastor" meaning he advises them on how to be pastors. He is surrounded by business lackeys at all times. Slick, polished, tailored suits, and one single directive - get the sheep to dish it out without question. Any questioning of tithing is met with "We think you'd be happier elsewhere". These guys won't ever not be rich, but they want more "blessing" poured out on them. Fuck the poor, the needy, the hungry, the homeless creeps, we're the King's Kids!

 

I attended there for a short while. They were picketed the last Sunday I was there, by another small church that was preaching at the believers to abandon their wealth and seek the presence of god. That was the kind of church I was after, but I wasn't in the mood to hook up with anyone. I told them that I was new to the area, but that they were preaching truth and to keep it up.

 

I do know a lot of believers that take it all very seriously, and are not at all materialistic. Some quit jobs at big companies to raise chickens and be self-sufficient, to escape the machine of business. Most others just try to do what they feel is right with the little wealth they have. But churches are packed with believers that dish it out for the wow factor and the latest project. But churches are also notoriously bad at handling finances. My old Nazarene church built, tore down, rebuilt, tore down, and rebuilt the ENTRANCE to the new church they were constructing. They didn't tell the congregation, because it wasted tens of thousands of dollars they had donated to the cause. The church eventually folded and was acquired by some other congregation.

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Hmmmm.... I haven't really noticed anything indicating such a correlation to me. I've seen both types of people in both the Christian and nonchristian camps. I suspect it's more a matter of general human traits. There are varying personality types, which one can find within and also outside the church. That's my impression, anyway.

 

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I think that any time you associate with others on a regular basis, you tend to compare yourselves to each other.  Since you see the same people in church every Sunday and are invited into homes for small groups and such, it's easy to get a little envious of what other people have.  It also makes it easier to justify having a lot of material things when you see people you look up to with a lot of "stuff".  There is also tons of Christian trinkets and decor advertised everywhere.  I remember going into some homes and seeing Christian "markers" all over the walls - sayings, plaques, picture frames, etc.  For some, the more Christian paraphernalia you have, the more "spiritual" you are.  There is definitely the perception that if you have wealth and health, you are blessed by god.

 

When I got into minimalism, I was still a Christian, though already in the process of deconverting.  I scoured the internet for inspiration and though there were a very few Christian folks advocating it, most were clearly secular.  

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All Americans are programmed to be materialistic, Christians and otherwise. It seems to me the materialist way of life is evenly distributed.

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11 minutes ago, florduh said:

All Americans are programmed to be materialistic, Christians and otherwise. It seems to me the materialist way of life is evenly distributed.


This is true, Americans and American culture is one of materialism and consumerism, why would it not permeate into mainstream religion too?  I think that since Christianity stunts an individual's ability to think outside the box, perhaps they are more prone to the traditional consumerist lifestyle.  During my time as a believer, the only exception to said lifestyle was by fringe missionaries who went to some remote corner of the world.  Here on the other hand (as in this forum), I've met the whole spectrum from people living in a camper, to a small apartment and living sustainably, to the usual house and 2 cars, etc.  

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2 hours ago, Daffodil said:

I think that any time you associate with others on a regular basis, you tend to compare yourselves to each other.  Since you see the same people in church every Sunday and are invited into homes for small groups and such, it's easy to get a little envious of what other people have.  It also makes it easier to justify having a lot of material things when you see people you look up to with a lot of "stuff".  There is also tons of Christian trinkets and decor advertised everywhere.  I remember going into some homes and seeing Christian "markers" all over the walls - sayings, plaques, picture frames, etc.  For some, the more Christian paraphernalia you have, the more "spiritual" you are.  There is definitely the perception that if you have wealth and health, you are blessed by god.

 

When I got into minimalism, I was still a Christian, though already in the process of deconverting.  I scoured the internet for inspiration and though there were a very few Christian folks advocating it, most were clearly secular.  

Yes, I use to be envious of people who invited groups to their homes, their large ornate homes.  That was until I realized how much their mortgage was, property taxes, maintenance, HOA, etc.  They had no flexibility in adapting to a different way of life whatsoever because they were up to their assess in financial burdens.

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21 hours ago, Fuego said:

Even when I was a believer, I had no time for churches that bowed to money. There's a big church in Portland, the pastor has gold and diamonds on every finger, and he's called a "pastor's pastor" meaning he advises them on how to be pastors. He is surrounded by business lackeys at all times. Slick, polished, tailored suits, and one single directive - get the sheep to dish it out without question. Any questioning of tithing is met with "We think you'd be happier elsewhere". These guys won't ever not be rich, but they want more "blessing" poured out on them. Fuck the poor, the needy, the hungry, the homeless creeps, we're the King's Kids!

 

I attended there for a short while. They were picketed the last Sunday I was there, by another small church that was preaching at the believers to abandon their wealth and seek the presence of god. That was the kind of church I was after, but I wasn't in the mood to hook up with anyone. I told them that I was new to the area, but that they were preaching truth and to keep it up.

 

I do know a lot of believers that take it all very seriously, and are not at all materialistic. Some quit jobs at big companies to raise chickens and be self-sufficient, to escape the machine of business. Most others just try to do what they feel is right with the little wealth they have. But churches are packed with believers that dish it out for the wow factor and the latest project. But churches are also notoriously bad at handling finances. My old Nazarene church built, tore down, rebuilt, tore down, and rebuilt the ENTRANCE to the new church they were constructing. They didn't tell the congregation, because it wasted tens of thousands of dollars they had donated to the cause. The church eventually folded and was acquired by some other congregation.


Our pastor would preach a message about the homeless and quite literally walk pass them and avoid eye contact after the sermon (our church was based in the downtown Orlando area, a hotbed for the less fortunate).  Mind you, some of those homeless were assholes at times but fuck Christian love, understanding, and acceptance.  No time for that shit, gotta go to the next church ministry meeting, etc.

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If you think about Evangelicism... by design the believers necessarily have something they are trying to "sell". In order to make this "product" sellable, they keep sugar coating it with various promises and delights (eternal LIFE, infinite BLISS, forgiveness from SIN - get it now for JUST $19.99), so it is totally sold on the premise of greed and desire. I don't know whether it's the tendency of Xianity in general or whether it's what it has become after an unholy marriage with American Capitalism... but yeah I think in many cases it encourages people to be more worldly. It presents spirituality primarily as an opportunistic exchange.

 

I guess now that I'm Xian I'm less enamored by grandiose promises and dreams... and I can be more down to earth and reflect on what really makes life worth living... like loyal friends, good companionship, and magical memories/experiences. I like to have nice things, too... but I guess I have a slightly less appetite for them when I am reminded of how twisted up people get trying to convince themselves they can hold onto things...

 

 

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I was raised Catholic, where priests must take a vow of poverty. I often heard that it was “Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (says the pope while sitting on his gold throne).

 

I still feel guilty when I spend money on myself. However this teaching has been one of the least harmful (and perhaps even beneficial) of my Christian brainwashings.

 

I try to live a zero-waste, minimalist lifestyle, and it makes me deliriously happy.

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     Whatever people do they will justify it.  The xians just use the bible.  It should come as no surprise that Capitalists use capitalism.  Socialists use socialism.  Environmentalists use the environment.  And on and on.  It's sort of how it works.

 

          mwc

 

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3 hours ago, mwc said:

     Whatever people do they will justify it.  The xians just use the bible.  It should come as no surprise that Capitalists use capitalism.  Socialists use socialism.  Environmentalists use the environment.  And on and on.  It's sort of how it works.

 

          mwc

 

 

And, of course, scientists use science and the scientific method.  

 

How dare they justify their science this way!

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Are Christians more materialistic than Atheists?......My answer (not trying to be smart-ass just direct).....WHO CARES?  I live my life for ME.  I encourage everyone to live your life for YOU and don't give a shit what others live for or think should be.  

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15 hours ago, ConsiderTheSource said:

 

And, of course, scientists use science and the scientific method.  

 

How dare they justify their science this way!

     Following what I said it would be scientists use science to justify their behavior.  So whatever behavior they're engaging in they would then state it is scientific to do whatever it is they are doing even if it is not.  But I guess I was not clear in how people tend to justify their actions.  So, to come back on topic, a scientist might come up with a scientific reason to explain why they should be materialistic and a xian might come up with a biblical one.  Both just want a justification.

 

          mwc

 

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11 hours ago, mwc said:

     Following what I said it would be scientists use science to justify their behavior.  So whatever behavior they're engaging in they would then state it is scientific to do whatever it is they are doing even if it is not.  But I guess I was not clear in how people tend to justify their actions.  So, to come back on topic, a scientist might come up with a scientific reason to explain why they should be materialistic and a xian might come up with a biblical one.  Both just want a justification.

 

          mwc

 

Lol. 

 

The scientific method is not about justifying anything.  In fact, it is the total opposite.  A scientfic premise is always assumed to be false.  It only become some degree of being likely after testing and examination.  The is no room for justification of belief or behavior under the scientific method.  It is all observe, test, quantify, and draw conclusions based only on what was noted and discovered.

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3 hours ago, ConsiderTheSource said:

Lol. 

 

The scientific method is not about justifying anything.  In fact, it is the total opposite.  A scientfic premise is always assumed to be false.  It only become some degree of being likely after testing and examination.  The is no room for justification of belief or behavior under the scientific method.  It is all observe, test, quantify, and draw conclusions based only on what was noted and discovered.

 

Agreed, but aren't there different kinds of science, as well?  There is the science that is testable, such as physics, and then there is the science that is not exactly testable, but more based on pure observation, such as Egyptology.  Apart from carbon dating, what other testing is done in the sciences of ancient peoples?  It's almost entirely conjecture.  That's not to lessen its significance or trustworthiness, but it's one of the less "solid" sciences and therefore more open to complete reversal of formerly held assumptions.

 

ETA:  Ooops, I thought I was responding in the other thread about ancient building techniques.  Sorry!  Feel free to disregard!

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On 8/13/2018 at 8:02 PM, florduh said:

All Americans are programmed to be materialistic, Christians and otherwise. It seems to me the materialist way of life is evenly distributed.

 

"All" is an exaggeration, but this certainly rings true for most Americans. 

 

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1 hour ago, Citsonga said:

 

"All" is an exaggeration, but this certainly rings true for most Americans. 

 

Pardon my hyperbole. Sometimes the programming doesn't "take" but it's a rather pervasive attempt at the least.

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12 hours ago, ConsiderTheSource said:

Lol. 

 

The scientific method is not about justifying anything.  In fact, it is the total opposite.  A scientfic premise is always assumed to be false.  It only become some degree of being likely after testing and examination.  The is no room for justification of belief or behavior under the scientific method.  It is all observe, test, quantify, and draw conclusions based only on what was noted and discovered.

     If what you're proposing is true that would mean that scientists could do no wrong.  Is that the case?  Or do scientists somehow manage to justify their actions like everyone else?  If a scientist were to desire a materialist life would it not make sense for that scientist to use science to justify that lifestyle?  To point to some research that would let them feel alright with living that way?  In the same way xians can point to a prosperity gospel to live their certain way?


     We know scientists engage in all the same sort of behaviors as everyone else.  We also know they justify their actions just like everyone else.  The scientific method is essentially a straw man.  You're arguing against something I never said and really plays no role in deterring the behavior we're talking about.  I was trying to say, giving just some simple examples, people use what is familiar to them to justify whatever behavior they wish to engage in.  That would mean scientists would use science.  It makes more sense than scientists would use religion but they could also use that depending on the person.  Since we were painting with broad strokes (ie. all xians) I just continued that trend.  Apparently my examples were too difficult.

 

     I can assure you that a scientist that wants to live a materialistic life or commit adultery does not apply the scientific method before engaging in these behaviors.  I can promise you that these things are not published for peer review by each individual.  There are no checks on these things.  We're talking about something separate from the application of science.  However, this person may well turn to research, a field they trust, that shows that humans are inclined to act in a certain way in order to justify their actions.

 

     Hopefully, we're more on the same page now?

 

          mwc

 

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Eh depends on the person. Ive seen materialistic xtians, and materialistic atheists. 

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Whether Christian or not, I think it depends on what you expose yourself to, and what you value in life.  Once we gave up commercial TV and stopped buying magazines, we stopped wanting everything we saw.  The kids even had difficulty thinking of things they wanted for Christmas and birthdays!  And I think some people do find their self-worth in the things they surround themselves with and the people they associate with.  If they work/party with people that drive brand new cars and live in big houses and take expensive vacations, they will likely want or think they need those things to be fulfilled.  My husband is blue-collar (police) and we have never been car people, so we always get 2-year-old cars and then drive them for 10 years or until they cost too much to maintain.  We also never felt the need or desire to impress other people.  I don't know.  Maybe it's a personality thing to some extent.

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