But, if we are going to complain about theology and religion causing inequality between the sexes in the third world, would we suppose that religion and theology are to credit for their relative equality in the first?
Perhaps the reason the West has become the place where liberal democracies are is because of good theology. Or is the fact that liberal democracy has emerged where the civilization is Christian and not otherwise some sort of coincidence?
Good comments, Sulla. Liberal democracy emerged first in Christian civilization. It is now imitated elsewhere with great success.
The concept of liberal democracy developed in the minds of those that believed in the Christian God. John Locke greatly influenced the development of our American democracy, for example, and his concepts were rooted in the fact that all people are equal, because all people can comprehend God. Our civil rights were deemed "God given." Genesis 1:26, where we are all made in the image of God, and therefore equal.
But it goes back much further. There are political roots going back to St. Augustine's magnum opus Civitas Dei..."City of God" where there is a sphere of Godly matters, and a sphere of secular matters. Christianity's main concern is the heavenly city, not the earthly one. This is the beginning of the idea of a secular state. In our liberal democracy's Constitution it reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
Aquinas asserted that this "image of God" had a spiritual soul, endowed with free will and intellect. This grants human beings a special dignity which must be respected and not deliberately interfered with.
Since, as Damascene states (De Fide Orthod. ii. 12), man is said to be made to God's image, in so far as the image implies an intelligent being endowed with free-will and self-movement: now that we have treated of the exemplar, i.e., God, and of those things which came forth from the power of God in accordance with His will; it remains for us to treat of His image, i.e., man, inasmuch as he too is the principle of his actions, as having free-will and control of his actions.
So we have our Bill of Rights enshrining the free exercise of our individual wills in everything from speech, to assembly, to worship, and so on. It codifies equal treatment before the law, since we are all created equal
In juxtaposition we have political movements that are not rooted in Christian theology--on the contrary. Marx's political ideology was explicity anti-Christian and Atheist. Christianity was the opium of the masses. There was no God. What kinds of political regimes did that system develop?
The same is true of modern science. It only ever developed in Christian culture...and spread from there.
The idea of an orderly Universe governed by laws came from the theological concept of an orderly giver of laws--God. That man could understand the laws of the Universe came from the idea that man could comprehend the mind of God, or at least improve his understanding over time. Both of these ideas: that the Universe is governed by law, and that man can find a way to make sense of it all, are at the foundation of modern science, and both stem from theological ideas.
Jeff seems to buy into the conflict thesis narrative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis
Theology is worthless? It's fruitage is bad?
The fruitage of theology:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Maybe Jeff hasn't thought outside the box yet.