Money Over Religion

Question on Quora:

Is religion the best “social media tool” for connecting strangers around the world? Do religions actually have apps for that, to keep up with businesses?

No. History tells us that money, but not religion, is the best tool that connects people around the world.

Can you imagine a world in which the growth of economy is discouraged? Consider the prevalence of violence in the Middle Ages, an era during which the laws were heavily governed by the Church. True, the religion cannot be held responsible for all the brutality during the period but it did, however, promote a zero-sum game by holding a hostile view to a free capital market. As Barbara W. Tuchman, a renowned American historian, explains in her work:

Christian attitude toward commerce was held that money was evil, that according to St. Augustine “Business is in itself an evil,” that profit beyond a minimum necessary to support the dealer was avarice, that to make money out of money by charging interest on a loan was the sin of usury, that buying goods wholesale and selling them unchanged at a higher retail price was immoral and condemned by canon law, that, in short, St. Jerome’s dictum was final: “A man who is a merchant can seldom if ever please God.”

As a result, innovations in all aspects of life in the Middle Ages were discouraged or prohibited, and the economic growth across the continent of Europe was next to non-existent comparing to the prosperity we experience today. Violence became prevalent as people fought for the small piece of pie (mostly lands, as science and technological advancement were suppressed in the name of God) that never grew, and almost all the time wealth easily fell under those in power, such as the Church. It was certainly not a good time to be born.

Fortunately, the authority of the Church has greatly reduced since then. Most Christians today, moreover, live a life of double standards. They selectively follow the lessons taught by the Bible and live mostly with a value system not created by God but great thinkers like Immanuel Kant and Adam Smith once they walk out of the church.

Money, while not a perfect answer to all problems, does promote a positive-sum game called “trading,” or commonly known as the free market today. Profits encourage innovations and everyone can be a winner as the pie continues to grow. Almost everything from food (e.g. restaurants, supermarkets, Blue Apron, etc.) to knowledge (e.g. books, education, news, etc.) is now traded in the market today. Unlike the religious value belief system that is backed with minimal reasoning and freedom of thought, everyone now has the right to choose or walk away from any service or product in the market… well, as long as you pay. For the first time in human history, freedom and reason triumph over wars and authorities, thanks to the power of the free market.

As for whether there is an app for religions… I am not sure why it is even a question to be asked on Quora. Of course there is an app for it. You can now pray with your iPhone and make donations to your church with the credit card that offers you the best cash back rewards. Let’s take off our hats and show our appreciation to the power of the free market again.

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