The joy of religion 9

Religion – we contend – is the paramount man-made cause of human suffering.

Death, pain, terror, despair are the worst afflictions, and religion – after nature itself – is the super-generator of them all.

If a religious person were to concede that truth, he would probably qualify it by saying that religion also brings comfort and joy to many people too. That also is true. But so does heroin, and it doesn’t make it a Good Thing.

Besides which, the joy of the religious seems to lie all too often in inflicting death, pain, terror and despair on the adherents of another religion.

Here’s a recent example from Pakistan, where Muslims enjoyed an exciting binge burning Christian homes. This is from an AP report at Yahoo! News:

Hundreds of people in eastern Pakistan rampaged through a Christian neighborhood Saturday, torching dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet.

Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and people of other faiths, including the nation’s small Christian community, are often viewed with suspicion.

Suspicion is not too bad. It’s the murderous hatred that does the worst harm.

The incident started Friday when a young Muslim man accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer in Lahore.

A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man’s home on Friday night, said Khan. Police registered a blasphemy case against the man after the crowd gathered and demanded action, the officer said.

Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.

Khan said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze. …

But Akram Gill, a local bishop in the Lahore Christian community said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between two men — one Christian and one Muslim — than blasphemy. He said the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback.

He said the Christian community handed over to police the accused man, identified by police and Gill as Sawan Masih, when police came to the neighborhood to investigate.

But they knew that was not enough to propitiate the offended Muslims.

Then the Christians all locked up their houses and went to relatives in other areas. He said the mob was armed with hammers and steel rods and broke into houses, ransacked two churches and burned Bibles and crosses.

“Poor people were living here. They have lost all of their belongings,” he said. “Where can they go now?”

The scene was chaotic. An Associated Press reporter said roughly 150 homes were torched.

One man was seen carrying a dog and some puppies from a burning house. Refrigerators, washing and sewing machines, cooking pots, beds and other household goods were ripped from homes, smashed and burned in the streets. …

These pictures of the thrilling rampage are from PowerLine:

 

Whoopee!

And not only is it fun, it’s also good because they’re doing it for God the Merciful.

  • rogerinflorida

    Take a look at this Diana West article:

    http://www.dianawest.net/Home/tabid/36/EntryId/2447/A-Bronze-Star-for-Submission.aspx
    I am so sick of brain dead christian BS merchants and their do-goody crap. Does this “pastor” not understand even the basic elements of an inquiring mind?

    • liz

      Thanks for the link!
      “We hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others”, in the case of Muslims, is a recipe for massive hypocrisy at best, suicide at worst.

  • liz

    Yes, religion wins the prize for being the biggest, best excuse for total unfettered hatred, pillage, and murder that’s ever existed. If “God” endorses something, it must be right, unquestionably. And the scriptures of all three Abrahamic religions do endorse those things. Islam goes even further than the others, though, and positively makes a doctrine of it.

  • Jack

    Jillian,

    I’m conflicted with attacks on Christianity. When you study philosophy you learn to appreciate human values and human virtues. There is no truth, no goodness or no beauty when values and virtues are dispensed with, as has been done by the Left since the rise of the Progressive era. Christianity did offer man a philosophic view of the world. It was wrong but it did have certain elements that I would say differentiate it from the rest of the religions as I understand them. And certainly from Islam which is a hate filled, death worshiping, mass-murder invoking cult.

    Christianity offered moral virtue, personal redemption, the view of the individual soul (thus it does have an individualist component), and the image of the sublime in the person of Jesus Christ. No, I don’t agree with the Christian vision or it moral code. But the West did rise under Christianity. And it was the anglo-Protestant ethos of white genteel society that was deeply connected with America’s rise to prominence. Its tough for me to hate Christianity. Its easy to hate Islam. Christianity did inspire beautiful artwork, beautiful architecture, beautiful music (many of the classical composers were writing music for liturgical themes). It also provided for civic virtue and personal honor.

    Now I know the horrors that Christianity oversaw as well. But my point is that Christianity as philosophy did offer things of value to this world. And it was Christian Europeans that created the GREATEST culture that man has ever seen. It was not Humean skeptical atheists that built the West.

    As I say I’m conflicted with Christianity and I always have been. I feel to condemn Christianity as evil without qualification is wrong. I respect you Jillian because you have a soul. Like me, you are not a nihilistic materialist atheist that thinks man is just a collection of atoms bouncing off each other. Modern atheism has a malevolence to it that I am uncomfortable with even though I too am an atheist. I know the deep flaws with Christianity, especially its founding. But I think it matured into something valuable in certain respects. Humanity was going to have to go through religion and religious philosophy before it got to rational secular philosophy, which it is still groping for. Christianity was a pit stop of sorts, but one that I wouldn’t say was completely without value.

    I offer that up for respectful discussion.

    • Jillian Becker

      I understand what you say, Jack. I hope you won’t feel that I am dismissive of your views when I say I have heard the same points made by thoughtful and uneasy former Christians quite a few times. What I mean is that I have thought about those points long and often. I will answer you only briefly here in a series of statements, because I have written much about Christianity on the website. (The word Christianity put in the search slot will produce a stream of articles.) I’m not intending to persuade you to change your mind, only to set down my own conclusions. I won’t confine myself to answering only the points you raise, but most of them will be answered.

      First, the teaching of any religion is immoral because it is taught as a truth and it is not true. For this, before one even looks at Christianity’s ideology or history, one can say that it is bad.

      It is perfectly possible to teach values and virtues without teaching a religion. The Stoics did it very well, for instance.

      What is wrong with Christian morality I have explained at length elsewhere. Enough here to say that if an ideal is set such as loving everyone who exists which we know perfectly well to be impossible – not to say profoundly unjust – it is a recipe for hypocrisy. Contrast that sentimental ideal with the persecutions and cruelties that the Churches went in for in the name of their faith, and we have a profoundly ironic and tragic spectacle.

      Those persecutions and cruelties blight Christianity utterly. Christians can no more plead that their Church also “did good” than a murderer can please that the rest of his life was that of a law-abiding citizen.

      Christianity was premised on the anathematizing of another religion, which was also (uniquely) a nation, and the result was the appalling history of antisemitism which led inexorably to the Holocaust.

      Yes, there are good people who believe they are inspired to their goodness by Christianity. My contention is that they would be good people anyway.

      Yes, there have been great works of art connected with Christianity. Again my contention is that those people would have done much the same thing if a totally different set of ideas and feelings had been their inheritance and inspiration.

      There was an excuse, even perhaps a need, to believe in gods in a pre-scientific age. (Though there were atheists at the time of the putative Christ and even earlier.) But in our time belief in the supernatural is absurd.

      Christianity is a cult of death and suffering. It was shaped by Greek mysticism and other-worldly thought. Its complicated theology derives from neo-Platonist visions of emanated divinities and layered heavens. How it bamboozled millions into believing in its theology is one of the mysteries forever attached to it.

      It WAS the Enlightenment that inspired the Founding Fathers. It is to the Enlightenment that we owe our humanistic values. What was it an enlightenment from if not the darkness that Christianity had brought down on Europe for a thousand years? It was the Enlightenment and its slow dawn (the Renaissance) that made European civilization great. (The backlash was the Romantic movement including Socialism.)

      There is no movement of atheism. There is no atheist community. Atheism is not a faith but its opposite. It is a simple intellectual position. It means “I do not have a god”. Or, “I do not believe that there is a god.” There’s really nothing more to be said about it. It entails no morality or philosophy. One can be on the Left or the Right politically and be an atheist. One can be a philanthropist or a criminal and be an atheist. One can be tolerant or intolerant and so on.

  • Frank

    “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
    ~ Blaise Pascal

    When it comes to non-believers Islam only offers three alternatives:

    1) Convert them
    2) Subjugate them
    3) Kill them

    • Habibi

      right because Christianity has a much better track record?

      • Jillian Becker

        Not at all, Habibi. We despise all religions equally. (But respect people, whatever they believe, unless they give us cause not to.)

        Christianity has been less savage and lethal than Islam in the last couple of hundred years, but its history of cruelty must never be forgotten.

      • Frank

        Christianity committed lots of atrocities in the Middle Ages. It does not have any better track record than Islam. The major difference between them is most Christians know it’s the 21rst century; most Muslims think it’s still the Middle Ages.

        “Muslims do not Have a clue about what constitutes a civil society”