Today we post on our Pages (find the category in our margin) Jillian Becker’s review of The New Testament.
Here is part of it:
The New Testament is a work of fiction, based on the life, death, and oral teaching of a Jewish hasid (pious man) who, according to its chronicles, lived between the reigns of the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius.
Almost all its contents were originally composed in a demotic Greek known as koine, but it has been translated into most other languages. (Quotations in this review are taken from the King James authorized version.)
A compilation of writings by many authors, only one of whom is identifiable with any certainty, and all of whom were long dead when the anthology was first published in the late 2nd. century C.E., it is a tendentious production, its chief purpose being to support the contention of the Catholic Church that the pious man it names “Jesus”, was “God” incarnated as a human being.
Although the collection is purported to be a factual record, the documents were not selected for their quality of research, accuracy of reportage, or their credibility, but to serve this purpose. So the book is full of contradictions, and transparent distortions of known history. The strain this puts on a critical reader’s credulity is such that he must soon realize how impossible it is to distinguish any facts it might contain from the mass of obvious fabrications, though some of the contradictions give hints of truths covered up, and plausible guesses have been made by historians as to what might actually have been done and said by the characters whose existence is recorded. Some historians have used this useful formula: if a passage goes against the manifest purpose of the authors and compilers, its retention in the narrative might be because it was too well known to be omitted, and so has a higher probability of being an authentic quotation or recollection.
It would be a tedious task (and would take volumes, as it has) to point out all the contradictions, inconsistencies, and multitudinous implausibilities in the assembled documents; but some are so egregious that they may easily be spotted by an attentive reader, and few could escape a skeptic’s cold eye. … [A few examples are given.]
The Catholic Church made and published the book when it did because one of its many rival Christian Churches – led by Marcion, a rich ship-owner with a following possibly equal in size to its own – had gathered documents written in the late first and early second centuries – ten “letters of Paul” and most of the gospel of Luke – and published them in or about 140 C.E. as a testament of the faith. The Catholic Church regarded the Church of Marcion as heretical, but understood how powerful the existence of such a testament could be, and so produced its own orthodox version: the same “letters of Paul” and all four gospels at first, and a little later, around 200 C.E., more of the letters written by Paul or attributed to him, and the Acts of the Apostles, and an “Apocalypse of Peter”. It wasn’t until 367 C.E. that the twenty-seven “books” of The New Testament were recorded by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, as being as they are now, in the same order – which is not the order in which they were produced.
Marcion was a devotee of Paul, the originating author of Christianity, and like the antinomian Paul he wanted the Jewish scriptures – containing the Law which the coming of the Christ, in their conviction, had superseded – to be consigned to oblivion, and any connection between Christianity and Judaism to be buried. But the fathers of the Catholic Church came to realize that their religion could not do without that much older compilation of fictions, the Jewish bible; could not do without the moral law that it contained, which they separated from its ritualistic observances; and as Jesus was their “Christ” – that word being the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Messiah” – they needed the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming.
But Jesus, they believed, was much more than the Jewish idea of the Messiah. He was what Paul had said he was: the immortal “Son of God” born as a man “to save mankind from sin and death”. That was and is Christian doctrine. The Jews believed their Messiah would be a mortal man of great power, an anointed king who would free them from foreign subjugation and restore them, “the Children of Israel”, to independence and glory as in the days of David and Solomon. Jesus was obviously not their Messiah since he had come and gone without their being freed from Roman rule; and far from being restored to independence and glory, they lost their country, were scattered over the known world, and forever thereafter cruelly persecuted by all and sundry – especially the Christians.
How does The New Testament characterize God Incarnate as a teacher and preacher? Its portrait of Jesus places him on the sentimental side of rabbinic tradition. He is given nothing to say that was new except a mystical statement that bread is his body and wine his blood (a harking back to paganism that occurred to St. Paul as a revelation). He tells, as was the rabbinic way, fables with moral messages. Some of the messages are unintelligible (Matthew 20:16,, “So the last shall be first and the first last.”; Matthew 13:12, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath”. ) He utters no profundities – nothing comparable to numerous utterances of the Stoics, for instance – and falls far short of the intellectual stature of such rabbinic thinkers as his near contemporary Hillel and the second century Akiba. (Hillel was the gentle carpenter rabbi who turned the idealistic Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you”, into the far more practical rule not to do anything to any one else that you would not want done to you. That, he said, was the whole essence of the Law. Akiba’s insistence on free will – that you are always free to choose between good and evil – is a direct contradiction of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin.) But Jesus’s lack of profundity is not surprising. His authors were not men with great gifts of the mind, and they could not endow him with a genius that they themselves did not possess.
To the extent that Jesus is made to vary traditional Jewish moral teaching it is to shift its stress. Where the most important value in Judaism was justice (or “righteousness”), in Christianity it is love. The mission of mankind was changed from the necessary moral task of trying to be just to all equally, to the impossibly idealistic one to love all equally. The change softened and sentimentalized the theistic idea. This was a God who suffered; a God in the form, for a time, of a dependent infant; a God who forgave without limit. Most of the authors wanted to present him as a preacher of peace, though this aim is undermined by his saying (Matthew 10:34) “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” – one of the statements that may be genuine precisely because it does not accord with the intentions of the Church. And one of the great inconsistencies of the new doctrine is that this forgiving, pacific, loving, merciful God, contrasting himself to the vengeful God of the Jews, will yet be the ultimate judge of everyman, and condemn sinners to the eternal anguish of a Hell more terrible than anything Judaism had envisaged.
All in all, there is little to recommend this book in itself: it testifies to absurdities; much of it (especially the Epistles and The Acts) is pedantic and tedious; it prescribes behavior contrary to human nature and yet declares failure punishable by an eternity of agony; and it provides no important insights. It lacks, or has very little good poetry (just one chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, is a fine poem, and certainly not written by the pedantic St. Paul to whom it is ascribed!), the quantity and excellence of which is the redeeming feature of the so-called Old Testament. Its most impressive part, if judged as a work of literature, is Revelation, which seems to have been inspired directly by the vivid fantasies of the Old Testament’s book of Daniel.
But – mirabile dictu – it has had, and continues to have, an immense effect in the real world. Millions still believe its narratives to be true and its teaching to be superlatively good. Untold numbers have died in the last nineteen hundred years defending interpretations of its messages. It has contributed importantly to the culture of the West, and not only the West. Whether its contribution has been more enriching than detrimental remains a matter of controversy, but either way it cannot be ignored, and should be read by all who would count themselves educated.
But then again, you hardly need to read it if you live in the Western world. You cannot easily escape it. It is with us whether we like it or not.
In the year 1857, at the summer assizes of the county of Cornwall, an unfortunate man, said to be of unexceptionable conduct in all relations of life, was sentenced to twenty-one months’ imprisonment, for uttering, and writing on a gate, some offensive words concerning Christianity.
Today offensive words against Islam is a crime in Britain and most of the countries of the European Union.
Within a month of the same time, at the Old Bailey, two persons, on two separate occasions, were rejected as jurymen, and one of them grossly insulted by the judge and by one of the counsel, because they honestly declared that they had no theological belief; and a third, a foreigner, for the same reason, was denied justice against a thief.
This refusal of redress took place in virtue of the legal doctrine, that no person can be allowed to give evidence in a court of justice, who does not profess belief in a God (any god is sufficient) and in a future state ,,,
Meaning an afterlife in a Christian heaven or hell …
… which is equivalent to declaring such persons to be outlaws, excluded from the protection of the tribunals; who may not only be robbed or assaulted with impunity, if no one but themselves, or persons of similar opinions, be present, but any one else may be robbed or assaulted with impunity, if the proof of the fact depends on their evidence.
The assumption on which this is grounded, is that the oath is worthless, of a person who does not believe in a future state; a proposition which betokens much ignorance of history in those who assent to it (since it is historically true that a large proportion of infidels in all ages have been persons of distinguished integrity and honor); and would be maintained by no one who had the smallest conception how many of the persons in greatest repute with the world, both for virtues and for attainments, are well known, at least to their intimates, to be unbelievers.
The rule, besides, is suicidal, and cuts away its own foundation. Under pretense that atheists must be liars, it admits the testimony of all atheists who are willing to lie, and rejects only those who brave the obloquy of publicly confessing a detested creed rather than affirm a falsehood.
A rule thus self-convicted of absurdity so far as regards its professed purpose, can be kept in force only as a badge of hatred, a relic of persecution; a persecution, too, having the peculiarity, that the qualification for undergoing it, is the being clearly proved not to deserve it. The rule, and the theory it implies, are hardly less insulting to believers than to infidels. For if he who does not believe in a future state, necessarily lies, it follows that they who do believe are only prevented from lying, if prevented they are, by the fear of hell.
The quotation comes from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, first published in 1869.
New curbs on free speech (see the post immediately below) are taking the people of the West in the 21st century back to the 19th century.
Will the unaccountable passion among Western rulers and legislators for protecting the appalling ideology of Islam from criticism, take us all the way back to the time of Calvin’s Geneva and the Catholic Inquisition?
The answer has to be “all too possibly”.
Although we are atheists, we’re happy to bring our readers John Cleese’s persuasive recruiting ad for his new Christian church, because we are also capitalists:
Dennis Prager writes at Townhall:
One of the many remarkable traits of the progressives is their lack of self-awareness.
This trait was on display last week in the media and Democratic Party’s characterization of Donald Trump’s acceptance speech – and the entire Republican National Convention – as “dark”.
For the left to dismiss other Americans as having a dark view of America is preposterous.
Because no one – not Trump, not the Republican Party, not any conservative – has nearly as dark a view of America as does the left.
Across the board – from the universities to the media to the Democratic Party – the left, around the world and in America, has an unremittingly dark view of the United States.
Here’s a brief glimpse.
- Racism “is part of our (American) DNA”, President Barack Obama said in 2015. Is there anything Trump said in his acceptance speech that is as dark about America as that?
- On July Fourth weekend, Vox published a long column arguing “3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake”.
- The most widely read historian in American high schools and colleges, the late left-wing professor Howard Zinn, was asked (by me) whether he thought the United States had done more good or more bad in the world. “Probably more bad than good,” he answered.
- The left regularly characterizes the United States as a sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist and bigoted country.
- Our wars are wars for imperialist expansion, driven by material greed.
- The top 1 percent relentlessly exploits the other 99 percent.
- America is rigged against blacks, Hispanics and the 99 percent.
- Cops kill unarmed blacks proportionately more than they kill unarmed whites because so many cops are racist.
- About 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted on campus.
Is there anything in Trump’s speech that can match any of those left-wing views of the United States for “darkness”?
Moreover, every one of those leftist critiques of America is false.
Nevertheless, we are in a dark time in America. In fact, Trump didn’t make the case for America’s darkness nearly effectively enough.
- Our universities – outside of the natural sciences – are being destroyed as learning institutions. They close minds, censor speech and indoctrinate rather than educate.
- Blacks have more anger toward whites and America than at any time since the civil rights era.
- American students are learning less while being indoctrinated more. They graduate high school barely able to write a coherent essay with proper sentence structure, grammar and spelling. But they know all about the existential threat allegedly posed by fossil fuels.
- According to a recent Gallup Poll, fewer young Americans than at any time since polling began are proud to be Americans.
- A greater percentage of Americans are dependent upon government for their income and even for food than at any time in American history.
- The American national debt is the highest it has ever been. And it is increasing at a rate that can only lead to an economic implosion.
- A smaller percentage of Americans are married than at any time in American history.
- Americans are having fewer children than ever.
- Fewer businesses in proportion to the general population are being started than ever before.
- Sectors of major American cities are essentially killing zones.
Is that dark enough?
And the list is only a partial one.
Moreover, every one of those dark facts is the result of left-wing policies, left-wing politicians, left-wing writers, left-wing professors and the left-wing party, the Democratic Party.
If all Donald Trump did between now and November were to delineate the darkness created by the left and the Democrats, he could potentially win in a landslide. But, for reasons that elude me, he won’t, just as no Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan has. In the same way that Democrats won’t identify America’s international enemy – Islamic terror – Republicans won’t identify America’s domestic enemy, the left.
And until Republicans do, the darkness won’t recede.
We agree with his diagnosis – except for one item we removed from his own list of truly dark facts about contemporary America. We removed it because it is not a dark fact at all.
It is this:
Fewer Americans than ever before believe in God, go to church or affirm Judeo-Christian values, the basic moral code of America’s founding and of Western civilization.
The basic moral code of America’s founding was NOT that two-headed chimera “Judeo-Christian values”. The Constitution of the United States embodies the values of the Enlightenment.
Jewish values and Christian values are essentially different. Judaism holds justice to be the highest value. (Which was a good idea; only exactly what those men of old who wrote the Bible considered just was often not good at all.)
Christianity holds love to be the highest value. Love granted unconditionally. Even to the sinner; even to those who do evil to others; so mandating hypocrisy – which provides cover for every imaginable cruelty. And it is the opposite of justice.
Furthermore, Christianity brought a thousand years of darkness down on Europe; a darkness that was only finally dispelled by the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment set reason above faith, and enshrined liberty as the highest value. Protecting the freedom of each individual became the duty of the state. Under the rule of law, “justice” applied to the individual; only to the individual.
It is real progress if “fewer Americans than ever before believe in God and go to church”.
The churches did a terrible job when they had power. Let’s have no more priests ordering our lives. How about electing a businessman to lead us?
No matter what he says for political convenience – Donald Trump is not a religious man. And for us that is a definite plus.
He believes in his own ability to bring new opportunity for wealth and joy to all Americans.
He is a capitalist. Wherever true free-market capitalism flourishes, freedom flowers and happiness becomes visible.
His speech was not dark. It was a promise of a new dawn.
A promise he might fulfill if he becomes the next president of the United States.
Prometheus Books has reissued George H. Smith’s book Atheism: The Case Against God, first published in 1979. The new edition has a foreword by the atheist physicist Lawrence M. Krauss.
Smith systematically – and usefully – refutes many “proofs” of the existence of God.
He denies that Christianity is a source of moral good. He says bluntly in his concluding chapter: “The precepts of Jesus simply do not merit a serious or comprehensive refutation.” We agree. The teachings of the biblical Jesus (a fictitious character even if based to some degree on a living person) are not illuminating, interesting, or persuasive. They are not worthy of serious refutation, but in the light of their effects on the history of the human race, they require judgment. Like Smith, we judge them to be bad.
“The major precept of the biblical Jesus is … obedience and conformity. … When Jesus says “believe” he means “obey”. …
“When conformity is required, as it is in Christianity, what are the results? … The sacrifice of truth inevitably follows. One can be committed to conformity or one can be committed to truth, but not both. The pursuit of truth requires the unrestricted use of one’s mind – the moral freedom to question, to examine evidence, to consider opposing viewpoints, to criticize, to accept as true only that which can be demonstrated – regardless of whether one’s conclusions conform to a particular creed. …
“The fundamental teaching of Jesus – the demand for conformity – thus gives rise to a fundamental and destructive teaching of Christianity: that some beliefs lie beyond the scope of criticism and that to question them is sinful, or morally wrong. By placing a moral restriction on what one is permitted to believe, Christianity declares itself an enemy of truth and of the faculty by which man arrives at truth – reason.
“Whatever minor points may be offered in defense of Christianity, they cannot compensate for the monstrous doctrine that one is morally obliged to accept as true religious beliefs that cannot be comprehended or demonstrated. It must be remembered that this teaching is not incidental to Christianity: it lies at the heart of Jesus’ mission, and it has played a significant role throughout Christianity’s history. It was this belief that “justified” the slaughter of dissenters and heretics in the name of morality, and its philosophical consequences may be described as the inversion – or more precisely, the perversion – of morality.”
Smith writes clearly and vividly. For atheists, his book is a pleasure to read. For a religious reader, if any will attempt it, it could be an ordeal – or an enlightenment.
Jillian Becker July 13, 2016
A poor, illiterate woman named Aasiya Noreen* worked in the fields to help support her family of five children, two of them her own and three of them her husband’s from a former marriage.
Aasiya was a Christian. A Catholic. Her family were the only Christians in the small village where she lived some thirty miles outside Lahore, the capital of the Punjab in the Islamic state of Pakistan. The Christians of the region were an underclass, traditionally assigned to menial jobs.
One hot summer’s day in June, 2009, Aasiya was harvesting berries along with some Muslim women. They all became thirsty. The Muslim women sent Aasiya to fetch water from a well. Aasiya found a battered tin cup abandoned near the well, and had a drink from it before refilling it and carrying it to her fellow workers. One of them accused her of drinking from the cup and so making it unclean. Christian lips should not contaminate a cup that Muslims drink from. All the Muslim women agreed on that.
A dispute arose. Which was the one true religion? The Muslim women knew that Islam was the truth. Aasiya knew that Christianity was the truth. She dared to say (according to her own account), “Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammed ever do to save mankind?”
The Muslim women were deeply offended. They went to their imam and told him that the Christian woman Aasiya Noreen had insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
The imam took action. He gathered together a number of good Muslims willing to defend the Prophet and the true faith of Islam, and led them to the house where Aasiya and her family lived. They set upon her and her husband and her children with righteous blows. The police arrived in time to save the Christian family from being beaten to death. The avenging mob agreed to spare them on condition that the police laid a charge of blasphemy against the woman. The police duly arrested her and put her in jail, where she languished for more than a year before she was brought to trial in November, 2012.
Aasiya told the court that the woman who accused her of blasphemy had a grudge against her, resulting from an old quarrel, and the accusation was made out of a desire for revenge. The judge did not accept her story as a defense. He also chose to overlook inconsistencies in the testimony of the witnesses against her. He decided that she was guilty of blasphemy and sentenced her to death. She was to be hanged for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad whose name is never mentioned by a Muslim without having peace wished upon him.
She was the first woman ever to be condemned to death in Pakistan for blasphemy – her crime being considered so heinous that even death was not sufficient punishment. She was also to pay a fine equivalent to $1,100. She and her family had never in all their lives possessed a sum approaching $1,100. Nor did they know of any way they could raise it.
When the verdict was pronounced, the crowd in the court rose to its feet, applauding and shouting “Yes, kill her! Kill her! Allahu Akbar!”. And yet more enthusiasts for justice, more celebrants of the glory of God, broke down the doors to swarm into the court, their furious, triumphant shouts swelling the chorus of “Allahu Akbar!” The greatness of their merciful God could hardly have been more passionately attested.
Assiya’s husband, Ashiq Masih, appealed the verdict. He and Aasiya hoped that the High Court would at least suspend the sentence.
There was a man in a high position who was deeply moved by the fate of Aasiya and determined to do all he could for her. He was Salmaan Taseer, the governor of the Punjab. He persuaded the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to come to her rescue. In December 2012, Taseer publicly announced that if the High Court did not suspend her sentence, the president would pardon her. And Zardari would have done so, but the Lahore High Court hastened to issue a stay order against a presidential pardon.
So Aasiya remained in prison in Lahore, in solitary confinement in an 8 by 10 foot windowless cell.
At first the governor would visit her, with his wife and daughter. But then the court ruled that only her husband and lawyer could see her.
On January 4, 2011, Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by one Mumtaz Qadri who resented the governor’s concern for the blasphemer. (He was hanged for the crime in February 2016.)
The Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti – himself a Christian, and the only Christian member of the cabinet – was so disturbed by the case that he set about doing all he could to get the laws of blasphemy changed. He announced that he was prepared to die fighting for Aasiya Noreen’s release. He received many death threats, and on March 2, 2011, he was shot dead in his car near his home.
Many times Aasiya’s appeal was postponed. In October 2014, the High Court finally heard her case – and upheld her death sentence. Her husband then appealed to the President. But he was restrained from issuing a pardon, so her lawyers appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court. In July, 2015, the Supreme Court suspended her death sentence “for the duration of the appeals process”.
Hundreds of Pakistanis have publicly protested against her being still alive. An imam offered $10,000 reward to anyone who would kill her, and apparently some 10 million citizens declared themselves ready and willing to do the noble deed. Assiya’s family have gone into hiding, and they fear for her safety and survival if she were to be released.
That is how the matter stands at present.
Aasiya Noreen is under sentence of death for taking a drink of water from an old cup on a hot day, and saying something she had been taught to believe, to some other women who had been taught that it was something that should not be believed and should not be said.
For a drink of water, for fantastic rumors about “Jesus” and “Muhammad”, lives ruined and lost.
*Aasiya Noreen is usually called “Asia Bibi” in press reports. “Bibi” simply means “woman”.
Sunday being their day of rest, it is probably the best day of the week to talk to our numerous Christian readers about their religion.
Today we talk about the man who named himself (quite late in his life) Paul, and is known to history as Saint Paul.
We compare St. Paul, whose followers are now estimated at 2.2 billion – making his invention, Christianity, the biggest religion in the world – with Muhammad, whose followers are now estimated at 1.6 billion – making his invention, Islam, the second biggest religion in the world.
There are close similarities between St. Paul and Muhammad:
Both invented a god and claimed a unique relationship with him.
To each of them this god expounded exclusive information; in St. Paul’s case directly, in Muhammad’s through an intermediary.
Both claimed that his god gave him unique authority to expound his truth to the world.
Both declared that his god demanded mankind’s submission to the divine will.
Both desired his faith to become the single religion of the entire world. Though this dream has not been realized in either case, each launched an ideological movement that became enormously successful. In this they are peers, and no other individual comes near to matching their achievement in terms not only of numbers of followers but of endurance through time. (Christianity has lasted some 2,000 years, Islam about 1,500.)
Both preached the subjugation of women.
Both preached the obedience of slaves.
Both anathematized homosexuality.
Both preached predestination.
Both taught martyrdom as a model way to die.
Each held himself up as a model of the perfect man.
Each took the idea of monotheism from the Jews; laid claim to their mythology and historical legends; picked some of their commandments and rules, and adapted all of it to his special needs.
Each hoped to convert the Jews and when he failed, stuck it to them.
Differences between the two persons and their respective ministries:
Muhammad was illiterate, St. Paul was literate.
Muhammad spread his religion by the sword, St. Paul by the word. (Later Christians and Muslims used both.)
Allah and Christ – the tethered and the free-range gods:
Muhammad attached his god to himself so tightly that there could be no Allah without Muhammad. It cannot be said that St. Paul cut Christ loose, but he did give him quite a lot of slack.
A theocracy versus separation of powers:
No secular authority can share power with Islam. There’s no part or detail of life, no action, no speech, no custom, no thought that is not regulated by Sharia, the law of Islam. The Christian churches share authority with secular powers, though there is almost always a line drawn between their respective provinces.
The main difference between the moral teachings of the two religions:
St. Paul’s Christianity teaches its adherents to be pacific, altruistic, forgiving and self-sacrificing. Muhammad’s Islam teaches its adherents to be bellicose, acquisitive, unforgiving and merciless.
To what extent are these contrasting doctrines obeyed by Christians on the one side and Muslims on the other? The Muhammad doctrine has been more faithfully followed through the history of Islam than the St. Paul doctrine through the history of Christianity. Europe, the first Christian continent, is more secular than religious now, but Christian doctrine has so soaked the culture that pacifism, altruism, and self-sacrifice is moving the Europeans to submit to the hordes of Muslims pouring onto their continent, carrying out rapine and slaughter, and demanding dominion. Islam – whose very name means “submission” – submits only to Allah.
So which side will win and which side lose looks like a foregone conclusion.
Yesterday, April 24, 2015 was the 100th anniversary of the day the (Muslim) Turks started to massacre the (Christian) Armenians.
This is from History.com:
Most sources agree that there were about 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the [start of the] massacre. …
On April 24, 1915, the Armenian genocide began. That day, the Turkish government arrested and executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals. After that, ordinary Armenians were turned out of their homes and sent on death marches through the Mesopotamian desert without food or water. Frequently, the marchers were stripped naked and forced to walk under the scorching sun until they dropped dead. People who stopped to rest were shot.
At the same time, the Young Turks created a “Special Organization”, which in turn organized “killing squads” or “butcher battalions” to carry out, as one officer put it, “the liquidation of the Christian elements”. These killing squads were often made up of murderers and other ex-convicts. They drowned people in rivers, threw them off cliffs, crucified them and burned them alive. In short order, the Turkish countryside was littered with Armenian corpses.
Records show that during this “Turkification” campaign government squads also kidnapped children, converted them to Islam and gave them to Turkish families. In some places, they raped women and forced them to join Turkish “harems” or serve as slaves. Muslim families moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property.
In 1922, when the genocide was over, there were just 388,000 Armenians remaining in the Ottoman Empire.
That is to say the territory that had been the Ottoman Empire – defeated by the allies in the FirstWorld War, and subsequently broken up and terminated.
“Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.”
We quote the words of Aurora Mardiganian. The documentary film Auction of Souls (1919), from which this still is taken, was partly based on her memoir, Ravished Armenia. She described being raped and thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islam’s rules of war). She managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified.
Starving Armenian children being teased with a piece of bread by a Turkish official during the Armenian genocide, 1915
The much respected magazine, National Geographic, carries in its latest issue an article on atheism. It is titled: The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion.
The author is Gabe Bullard. He writes:
There have long been predictions that religion would fade from relevancy as the world modernizes, but all the recent surveys are finding that it’s happening startlingly fast. France will have a majority secular population soon. So will the Netherlands and New Zealand. The United Kingdom and Australia will soon lose Christian majorities. Religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been, even to people who live in countries where faith has affected everything from rulers to borders to architecture.
But nones [those who are affiliated with none of the religions] aren’t inheriting the Earth just yet. In many parts of the world — sub-Saharan Africa in particular — religion is growing so fast that nones’ share of the global population will actually shrink in 25 years as the world turns into what one researcher has described as “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest.” (The other highly secular part of the world is China, where the Cultural Revolution tamped down religion for decades, while in some former Communist countries, religion is on the increase.)
Yes. And devout Muslims are pouring into Europe by the million: an extraordinary event that will entirely change the character of Europe, but which Gabe Bullard does not seem to have noticed.
And even in the secularizing West, the rash of “religious freedom bills” — which essentially decriminalize discrimination — are the latest front in a faith-tinged culture war in the United States that shows no signs of abetting anytime soon.
Within the ranks of the unaffiliated, divisions run deep. Some are avowed atheists. Others are agnostic. And many more simply don’t care to state a preference. Organized around skepticism toward organizations and united by a common belief that they do not believe, nones as a group are just as internally complex as many religions. And as with religions, these internal contradictions could keep new followers away.
These are not “divisions”. There never was a solid phalanx of non-believers that could split apart. These are different opinions. That is all.
“Keep followers away”? “Followers” who want a cut-and-dried non-believing ideology that they can accept holus-bolus as the religious accept the doctrines of their faiths? Absurd!
If the world is at a religious precipice, then we’ve been moving slowly toward it for decades. Fifty years ago, Time [magazine] asked in a famous headline, “Is God Dead?” The magazine wondered whether religion was relevant to modern life in the post-atomic age when communism was spreading and science was explaining more about our natural world than ever before.
We’re still asking the same question. But the response isn’t limited to yes or no. A chunk of the population born after the article was printed may respond to the provocative question with, “God who?” In Europe and North America, the unaffiliated tend to be several years younger than the population average. And 11 percent of Americans born after 1970 were raised in secular homes.
Scientific advancement isn’t just making people question God, it’s also connecting those who question. It’s easy to find atheist and agnostic discussion groups online, even if you come from a religious family or community. And anyone who wants the companionship that might otherwise come from church can attend a secular Sunday Assembly or one of a plethora of Meetups for humanists, atheists, agnostics, or skeptics.
The groups behind the web forums and meetings do more than give skeptics witty rejoinders for religious relatives who pressure them to go to church — they let budding agnostics know they aren’t alone.
But it’s not easy to unite people around not believing in something.
It’s also totally unnecessary.
“Organizing atheists is like herding cats,” says Stephanie Guttormson, the operations director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, which is merging with the Center for Inquiry. “But lots of cats have found their way into the ‘meowry’.”
Guttormson says the goal of her group is to organize itself out of existence. They want to normalize atheism to a point where it’s so common that atheists no longer need a group to tell them it’s okay not to believe, or to defend their morals in the face of religious lawmakers.
But it’s not there yet.
Why does anyone need a group to tell them that it’s okay not to believe in something they don’t believe in? But we accept that there are such people, and so agree that the group should “organize itself out of existence”.
The article then goes on to discuss who the atheists are in terms of race (fewer blacks than whites, it says), the sexes (fewer women than men, and the predominance of white men a manifestation of “privilege”).
Of course no one can possibly count the atheists of the world. We get Third World commenters on our Facebook page who tell us that they have to keep their atheism secret for fear of persecution and even death.
Gabe Bullard calls the distribution he alleges a “problem” of “diversity”. His article is right up to date with its fashionable lingo.
To do him justice, he does quote one atheist – Mandisa Thomas, a black woman – saying that “the demographics of nones don’t accurately reflect the number and diversity of nonbelievers; it just shows who is comfortable enough to say they don’t believe out loud.” And: “There are many more people of color, there are many more women who identify as atheist.” And: “There are many people who attend church who are still atheists.”
The cheeriest part of his article is this:
Compared to past campaign seasons, religion is taking a backseat in this year’s U.S. presidential election. Donald Trump is not outwardly religious (and his attraction of evangelical voters has raised questions about the longevity and the motives of the religious right).
But then he goes on:
Hillary Clinton has said “advertising about faith doesn’t come naturally to me”. And Bernie Sanders is “not actively involved” in a religion. … Aside from Ted Cruz, the leading candidates just aren’t up for talking about religion.
Apparently he does not recognize that Leftism is a religion. It is THE secular religion. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both devotees of it. Bernie Sanders could be fairly called a high priest of it. They are as piously Leftist as Ted Cruz is Dominionist.
Bullard ends on a jocular note:
For all the work secular groups do to promote acceptance of nonbelievers, perhaps nothing will be as effective as apathy plus time. As the secular millennials grow up and have children of their own, the only Sunday morning tradition they may pass down is one everyone in the world can agree on: brunch.
We hope so.
What have atheists said about the article?
Atheist Jerry Coyne writes at his website:
National Geographic publishes article on atheism and secularism, but descends into Authoritarian Leftism and slanders against Harris and Dawkins
Well, it’s time to cancel your subscription to National Geographic — if you still have one. For a while it’s been turning into a religiously-infused tabloid rather than the educational nature/anthropology magazine that I loved of yore. In several posts I’ve documented its increasing tendency to coddle religion … and it’s only going to get worse since the magazine was taken over by Rupert Murdoch.
Now the magazine has hit its lowest point yet, polevaulting the shark in a new piece by journalist Gabe Bullard, The World’s Newest Religion: No Religion. While starting off as a decent bit of reportage about the rise of nonbelief and secularism, it suddenly descends into slander and clickbait, highlighting the “privilege” of nonbelief, the dominance of atheism by white males, and accusations that the “leaders” of atheism (whom they name) are misogynists.
And there is a comment made at Patheos which we like, although we very seldom agree with its Leftist atheists on anything except atheism itself.
The comment is made by Terry Firma. (He goes on, however, to say what he likes about the National Geographic article.)
I wonder if any serious major publication would refer to people who don’t play sports as athletes, but that is essentially what NatGeo is doing here. Atheism is no more a religion than off is a TV channel, than being bald is a hairstyle, and than not-collecting-stamps is a hobby. People who assert that atheism is a religion either haven’t given it much thought or are trying to get a rise out of atheists.
Bernie Sanders, whether he likes it or not, is a Jew. And as he is a man of the Left, he doesn’t like it.
The Jews – UNIQUELY – are both a nation and a religion. Yet it is not only possible but common for Jews to be one OR the other. Converts to Judaism are obviously of the religion but not of the nation. Many Jews – probably a majority of Western Jews – who are of the nation by birth, are not religious.
Perhaps it would be better to speak of the Jews being “a people” rather than a nation, as a Jew’s legal nationality might be American, or British, or French etcetera.
Bernie Sanders is of the Jewish people. And for two millennia his people were despised, humiliated, robbed, tortured, murdered individually and en masse by the Christian powers – longest and most atrociously by the Catholic Church. (Except in America.)
For a while, between the early 19th century and the mid-to-late twentieth century, many of the educated Jews of Europe and Russia put their hopes for relief from persecution in the new religion of Communism, in which (its theorists claimed) there would be neither Jew nor Gentile, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, neither rich nor poor: for all would be one in the utopia of the Communist state.
But where Communist utopias were established in the twentieth century, Jews found they were not welcome. That should have told them that Communism would not save them. But many Jews who realized that the Lenins and Stalins of the Communist faith could not be relied on to treat them much better than had the Christians, were yet unwilling to give up the utopian Communist dream. Some Jews had realized this early on, so tried forming their own Communist party – the Bund. But as a separate group what could it achieve? A society in which there would be neither regrettably-still-sort-of -Jewish Jew nor absolutely-no-longer-Jewish Jew, neither bond Jew nor free Jew, neither male Jew nor female Jew, neither rich Jew nor poor Jew: for all would be one in the utopia of a Jewish Communist … What? Where?
Other Jews, who could think better, decided to work to regain the ancient Jewish homeland in the Eastern Mediterranean region of the Ottoman Empire, and establish an actual state on real territory. They were the Zionists. In 1948 they achieved their state, their safe haven at last, on real territory that had been part of their ancient homeland.
Those Jews who, despite being unwanted, remained faithful to the Communism imposed on Russia and Eastern Europe, stuck to their abjuration of their Jewishness, the peoplehood as well as the religion. So did – and do – most of the Communists of Jewish descent everywhere in the free world.
As Communists often object to being called Communists since the Leninist-Stalinist utopias of Russia and Eastern Europe collapsed in poverty and criminality, we will call them Leftists for the rest of this article. Bernie Sanders is a Leftist.
Meanwhile, the Jews’ ancient persecutor, the Catholic Church, has selected a leader, Pope Francis, who is also a Leftist. He has found it possible to join the new religion without leaving his old one. He owes this achievement to his fellow Latin American priests, who spun the antithetical dogmas of secular Communism and Triune-God-worshiping Catholicism together in such a whirl of words that they came out of the Synthesizer as one substance, inseparable. And the stuff, the thing, was named “Liberation Theology”.
It is Leftism. The Pope is a Leftist, like Bernie Sanders.
For Leftists, their Leftism trumps all. No appeal to loyalty, history, precedent, reason, logic, decency, or common sense can move them. They want there to be neither black man nor white man, neither civilized nor savage, neither citizen nor illegal alien, neither CEO nor minimum-wage-earner, neither one sex nor any of the others, but all to be one in the global Communist mystic egalitarian low-carbon-emission utopia ruled by themselves.
To acknowledge and strengthen their brotherhood in the Kingdom of Means-Justifying-Ends, Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis shook hands on April 16, 2016.