Bill Maher, atheist, explains to Charlie Rose, also apparently an atheist, how Islam is even worse than other religions.
(Hat-tip our Facebook commenter Tedd Allen)
A selection of video-recorded statements by Christopher Hitchens on religion.
He is blunt and accurate, and entertaining as he always was (which we appreciated, even when – on political issues – we disagreed with him).
(Hat-tip to our reader Marnee)
A writer by the name of Enza Ferreri has written an article against Reason. She probably doesn’t see that that is what she’s done. But that is what she’s done. She writes:
It’s all very simple. We can’t fight Islam in the West without fighting the enablers of Islam in the West, namely the Leftists.
So far, so good.
And, since the Left has many different and separate aspects, we have to fight against each one of them. Secularism, environmentalism, global warming alarmism, homosexualism, militant feminism, sexual relativism, multiculturalism, anti-Christianity, Islamophilia, post-nationalism, internationalism are just as important targets to attack as Marxist economics, the expropriation of the capitalist class (or, in its modern reincarnation, redistribution of wealth), and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The words we have put in bold mark the issues we dispute with Enza Ferreri.
We don’t know what “homosexualism” is, or “sexual relativism”.
We consider sexual choices to be private matters (unless they involve children). They are certainly not dangerous threats to the survival of the West.
But while we agree with the author on her other “targets”, we emphatically disagree with her when it comes to secularism and anti-Christianity.
Secularism is not the same as Leftism. Between the founding of the United States of America and the dawning in the 1960s of this Leftist age, there was a very long stretch of secularism, liberty, and prosperity.
But in those times and those countries where a church (in the widest sense) has been the ruling power, there has always been tyranny. What greater tyranny can there be than the imposition of an orthodoxy on every mind?
Communism and Nazism also impose orthodoxy, and punish dissent as cruelly as a theocracy. That is one of the reasons why we class these ideologies as religions. Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China were not secular states; they were orthodoxies, as tyrannous as the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, or the newly declared Islamic State now.
The secular state, and only the secular state, is a free state. Secularism is freedom. Freedom is only possible in the secular state.
In a free, secular society, people are free to be Christians. But people are equally free to criticize Christianity.
Neglecting any of these fronts is like fighting a war leaving a battleground to the enemy, like fighting on the Western front and leaving totally undefended the Eastern one.
Secularism and atheism are certainly the first lines of important wars.
So she contends that the prime enemy in her war is freedom. That being so, she has no case to make against Islam or Marxism.
For all that she seems to be speaking for tolerance (being against Islamophilia) and reason (being against environmentalism, global warming alarmism, “militant feminism”); and against Islam (aka multiculturalism) and Marxism (redistribution etc.), she is actually speaking for her own choice of intolerant, irrational, orthodox tyranny.
A secularist West will always lose to Islam, because it will have enough compassion, tolerance and self-restraint from violence that are the remnants of its Christian heritage, but it will have lost the ideals, the passion and certainty of fighting for a just cause that were once part of Christianity and have disappeared with its erosion.
Her assumptions are arrogant to an extreme. Compassion, tolerance and self-restraint from violence are not the legacies of “a Christian heritage” but of enlightened reason.
It is pointless to try and fight one irrational belief, such as Islam or Marxism, by setting up another irrational belief, such as Christianity, in opposition to it. There is no better reason to believe in the Trinity than in Allah or the inevitability of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Two quotes here serve as epigrams. Robert Spencer wrote in his great work Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t: “People who are ashamed of their own culture will not defend it.” And Dennis Prager said during one of his radio broadcasts, “Only good religion can counter bad religion.”
We admire much that Robert Spencer and Denis Prager write. And we think Spencer makes a point here worth thinking about. But to Prager’s assertion we say, nonsense!
Some people claim that there won’t be a religious revival in Europe because we are past believing in God. That this is not true can be seen by the high – and increasing – number of Westerners who convert to Islam. Many of them give as a reason for their conversion the need for absolutes, boundaries and well-defined status. A journalist writing for The Spectator on this subject explained why she is Catholic:
But above all, I like the moral certainties. I don’t mind the dogma one bit. I would rather dogma and impossible ideals than confusion and compromise. In that sense, I do identify with those who choose Islam over the way of no faith, or a seemingly uncertain faith, like the woolly old C of E.
Confusion and compromise is inescapable. How can dogma – which is to say being incurably wrong – and “impossible ideals” be better than admitting the truth of scio nescio: I know that I do not know? It is as if the culture on which such persons as the quoted Catholic and the author of the article have been raised was never affected by Socratean doubt, the Enlightenment, the assumption of ignorance upon which all true science proceeds.
William Kilpatrick, in Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West – a book I thoroughly recommend reading -, writes: Brian Young’s friends said he was troubled by the decadence of Western society. David Courtrailler’s lawyer said, “For David, Islam ordered his life.” These are the sorts of reasons ordinary converts to Islam give. A common refrain from converts is that Islam provides a complete plan for life in contrast to the ruleless and clueless life offered by secular society. As Mary Fallot, a young French convert, explains, “Islam demands a closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it’s easier because it is explicit. I was looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points.” If you look at the convert testimonials on Muslim websites, they echo this refrain: Islam brings “peace”, “order”, “discipline”, and a way of life that Christianity and other religions fail to offer.
Islam brings peace! He – and she – can say that with a straight face? While IS (ISIS, ISIL) is rampaging through Syria and Iraq mass-slaughtering, impaling, crucifying, decapitating, raping, enslaving; while Hamas is firing thousands of rockets into Israel; while civil war rages in Syria; while Yezidis, Kurds, Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, other Muslims are being daily killed and constantly persecuted by Muslims?
Astonishing that some women crave the “order” and “discipline” of subjugation; when the “discipline” is exerted by enslavement, beatings, whippings, stonings, legal discrimination.
Human beings will never be past the need for believing in something bigger than themselves, because that need is part of the human mind.
Where are there human beings who do not know that natural forces are “bigger than themselves”? Who among us does not know that we are mortal?
She continues in the same vein. We’ll not irritate our readers with all of it. She is a true believer. And what she believes is that Christianity is good and true.
We will skip to what she quotes as wisdom from a Catholic primate:
A clear direction was given by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy. As early as 30 September 2000, before 9/11, when very few in the West even thought of worrying about Islam, he delivered a very forward-looking speech, which included this premonition:
… Either Europe will become Christian again or it will become Muslim. What I see without future is the “culture of nothing”, of freedom without limits and without content, of skepticism boasted as intellectual achievement, which seems to be the attitude largely dominant among European peoples, all more or less rich of means and poor of truths. This “culture of nothingness” (sustained by hedonism and libertarian insatiability) will not be able to withstand the ideological onslaught of Islam, which will not be missing: only the rediscovery of the Christian event as the only salvation for man – and therefore only a strong resurrection of the ancient soul of Europe – will offer a different outcome to this inevitable confrontation.
The culture of reason is not a “culture of nothing”. It is a culture of rational humility; of admitting ignorance and trying to find the truth, even if one can never be certain one has found it. Skepticism is the only engine of discovery.
“Freedom without limits”? Freedom of action always has a limit. In a free society, everyone’s freedom is limited by everyone else’s under the rule of law. But indeed the freedom of the mind has no limits, nor should it have any.
Notice the snide swipe at riches and “hedonism”. Do you think that he, as a cardinal, pigs it in some hovel?
By “truths” he means the patent absurdities of Christian theological belief.
“Libertarian insatiability”. What the heck does that mean?
If the Western culture of reason, secularism, liberty, skepticism, science, cannot withstand the onslaught of Islam, it will be because that culture has been abandoned by people like Enza Ferreri.
She goes on to blame shrinking birthrates on secularism. Then she ends with this:
Militant atheists à la Richard Dawkins have not really given enough thought to the long-term consequences of their ideas, which we are beginning to see.
And of which we are reminded whenever, for example, we read in the news of doctors and missionaries who die of Ebola while assisting affected patients for Christian charities. Not many atheist charities are involved in that work.
How many cures for diseases have been found by scientists among whom atheists are in a huge majority? The medical researchers who eliminated smallpox; those who found how to detect the beginnings of cancer and treat it before it becomes lethal, and how to restore wholeness to lepers and replace a faulty heart or kidney …. the list could run on for hours … cure more people than all the martyrdom-seeking self-righteous preachy Christians out to save their imaginary souls by “assisting affected patients” have ever done or could do in a thousand years.
As a reminder to readers who have a strong stomach of what happened when the Christian Churches provided “order” and “discipline” to Europe and wherever else they could reach, we recommend The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual by Jonathan Kirsch, and our own post Calvin: a chapter in the terrible history of Christianity by Jillian Becker, April 25, 2010. (Put the title in our search slot.)
Nothing IS (ISIS, ISIL) is doing now in the name of Islam is worse in type or degree than what those Christians did in the name of Christianity.
The world needs saving from religion.
Sam Harris is an atheist. We like a lot of what he writes and says. Just recently one of our readers sent us this statement of his, which we acknowledge, sadly, to be most probably true:
For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way.
We have watched videos of him lecturing. We have read some articles of his. And all with appreciation. So when we were sent his new book for review, we expected to like it.
Do we like it?
To read Jillian Becker’s review of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, click on its title in our margin, under Pages.
This video, published in February 2013, is a film of a debate held by the Cambridge Union on the proposition: “This House believes religion has no place in the twenty-first century”. (Organized religion only is meant.)
It is over an hour and a half long. Is it worth watching?
We think it’s worth hearing what Richard Dawkins has to say in support of the motion. And also for what another eloquent atheist says – Douglas Murray, who surprisingly opposes it, but for quite different reasons from those of the other two opponents. They are a pair of downright villains: the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who campaigned for sharia to be introduced into Britain; and his friend Tariq Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhood. You’ll only get an earful of pious poppycock from each of them.
There is no argument over theology. No one mentions the wars of religion raging in the Middle East.
We came to one certain conclusion: religion may linger on a while yet, but Oh, it will be dull!
Yezidis are being enslaved and killed by faithful followers of Muhammad. Those who can, flee.
Imagine seeking refuge in the battlefield which is Syria! These people did, having nowhere else to go. Then they had to flee from Syria, and again having no choice, are returning to Iraq. Many die on the way.
For the convenience of our readers, we repeat our post on this religious group, founded in the 11th century and now facing extinction in Iraq at the hands of the savage Islamic State (IS). (Many reports of them in the Western media confuse them with the Mandeans, another minority religious group living in Iraq – south of Baghdad – otherwise known as Sabeans; one of the religions, along with Christianity and Judaism, recognized by Islam as “people of the book”, who may be spared death or conversion if they submit to Islam and pay the jizya tribute to their Muslim overlords. Put “Mandeans” into our search slot to know more about them.)
The Yezidis worship The Peacock Angel, Malak Taus. He’s identified by Muslims and Christians with Shaitan/Satan, so the Yezidis are held to be devil-worshipers. They are ethnic Kurds, most of them settled in Mosul, Iraq. There are some in Iran, Kurdistan, Armenia, and the Caucuses. In all, it’s estimated, there are about half a million of them. Their cult is in part an offshoot of Sufism, with various accretions. They build small temples, shrines with conical white spires, and they keep sacred snakes. They practice circumcision. The colour blue is repulsive to them, and the eating of lettuce is forbidden. They have an hereditary priesthood under a High Priest, and sacred books.
There is no need, they believe, to worship the Supreme God, because he is all good and so will never do you harm. The Peacock Angel, on the other hand, must be propitiated. He is capable of doing harm or good, and so must be won over to doing you good. Eventually he will be reconciled with the Supreme God, and that eventuality could come about at any moment.
In their cosmogony, the Supreme God created the world, which is watched over by 7 lesser divinities or “mysteries”, chief among whom is the Peacock Angel, Malak Taus. God created him first, out of his own light, and ordered him never to bow to other beings. Then God created the other six angels, and ordered them to make Adam out of the dust of the earth. God took the inanimate body of Adam and breathed life into him, and instructed the angels to bow down to him. Of course Malak Taus did not bow. “I cannot submit to him because,” he reminded God, “I am made of your own light, while he is made of dust.” This pleased God who then appointed him his vicar on earth. As its ruler, Malak Taus visits the earth on the first Wednesday of Nisan (March/April – roughly the same time as Easter), which is the Yezidi New Year’s Day, and the anniversary of the day on which God made the Peacock Angel. On that day they feast, make music, dance, and decorate eggs.
God made the earth by first making a pearl, which remained very small for some forty thousand years, and was then expanded and reworked into its present state. From time to time the 7 angels are incarnated in human form and dwell among the living on earth. Their main annual festival is a week-long pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi, their founder, who they say was the incarnation of one of the 7 angels. The tomb is at Lalish, north of Mosul.
All Yezidis are descended directly from Adam, not through Eve. At first the sexual roles of Adam and Eve were not fixed. Each produced a seed which was was sealed in a jar. Eve’s seed bred creepy-crawly things, but Adam’s developed into a boy-child who grew up, married a houri, and fathered the Yezidis.
As Adam’s seed, they are different from all other peoples. They permit marriage only within the sect, and members of each caste of their social and religious hierarchy can only marry among themselves.
They pray five times a day facing the sun. Their holy day is Wednesday, but their day of rest is Saturday.
In 2007, al-Qaeda suicide bombers drove oil tankers into two Yezidi communities near Mosul which they exploded, killing more than 500 and injuring about 1,000 more. This sent thousands of Yezidis to the Syrian border to seek asylum.
When the city of Sinjar was recently taken by the Sunni Muslims of IS, the Yezidis fled to Mount Sinjar. Their choice was to die of hunger and thirst on the mountain, or be slaughtered by the IS.
It has been reported that the IS offered them another choice – between conversion to Islam or death. That is not likely to be true. The Muslims call them “devil worshipers” and consider them fit only for death.
Many have already died from starvation and lack of water. Some parents threw their children off the mountain to save them from such a death.
Today US military aircraft dropped packages of food and water to them. Will they continue to do so? For how long?
This sect – numbering in all fewer than 100,000 – is almost certainly now doomed to extinction. (Though there are a few Yezidi communities in Europe, North America and Australia, amounting altogether to a few thousand, which might continue for a while yet.)
Whatever would the human race do without the blessings of religion?
As the current wars of religion rage on, the mainstream media are chiefly reporting the war in Gaza. They put much stress on the number of Palestinian deaths – information they get only from Hamas, which has every reason to claim as many deaths as possible. Hamas’s tactic is to provoke attack and then show the wounds – the deaths of the women and children it uses as shields – and cry loudly until “the world” rescues them from defeat.
Is “the world” really concerned about the deaths of civilians in the Middle East? Or only concerned when they die because Israel strikes back at the Arab enemy after years of rocket attacks?
Is “the world” moved by Arab deaths if Israel can’t be blamed for them? Not so much. Shall we say Muslim deaths then? Also not so much.
What about Christian deaths at the hands of Muslims? The oppression and intense persecution of Christians? Christians being stripped of all they possess and expelled from lands their ancestors have lived in as Christians since the second century C.E? Hardly at all.
No outcry about their treatment from Christian America? No. Not a word from those Presbyterians who have lately evinced so much interest in boycotting Israel? No.
The Pope? He’s praying for their persecution to end. No persecutor named. If he was expecting a quick response from his God now that Omniscient attention has been drawn to the issue, is he disappointed?
The Archbishop of Canterbury? No – the Anglican clergy likes Islamic sharia law and helped introduce it into Britain.
What about the UN? You must be joking! The UN is an agency of the Arab states.
David Singer writes at Canada Free Press:
The Syrian civil war has claimed 170,000 lives in three years; this past weekend’s death toll in Syria was greater than what took place in Gaza. By some accounts, the past week may have been the deadliest in the conflict’s grim history. Meanwhile, the extremist insurgents of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), have continued their ravages over a swath of territory stretching from eastern Syria to the environs of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital; the spike in violence in Iraq has led to more than 5,500 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year.” …
The newly-declared Islamic State (IS) – which includes Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city – already exceeds the area of Great Britain. …
Christians were given 24 hours to leave Mosul or convert to Islam and pay a tax – or die.
Nuri Kino – reported on Fox News – confirms the tragic situation in Syria and identifies those engaged in persecuting these ancient Christian communities:
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, also has been nearly emptied of Assyrians, Armenians and other non-Muslims …
The prideful tone in which the perpetrators speak whenever I have interviewed them — both Al Qaeda and IS — is equally shocking. These are mostly disgruntled young men who were teetering on the edges of society in their own homelands, often in European suburbs, and now believe they have the power to do whatever they want in the name of Islam. They can claim any house in IS-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria as their own, and tell the owners to either leave or risk being killed. They can take any woman as their wife …
At least 700, 000 non-Muslims — Christians, Mandeans, Yezidis and others — have left Iraq by now. No one knows how many have left Syria.
Nina Shea reports in Fox News:
ISIS has set out to erase every Christian trace. All 30 churches were seized and their crosses stripped away. Some have been permanently turned into mosques. One is the Mar (Saint) Ephraim Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, newly outfitted with loudspeakers that now call Muslims to prayer. The 4th century Mar Behnam, a Syriac Catholic monastery outside Mosul, was captured and its monks expelled, leaving behind a library of early Christian manuscripts and wall inscriptions by 13th-century Mongol pilgrims. Christian and Shiite gravesites, deemed idolatrous by ISIS, are being deliberately blown up and destroyed, including on July 24, the tomb of the 8th-century B.C. Old Testament Prophet Jonah, and the Muslim shrine that enclosed it.
Patrick Coburn does not mince his words in The Independent:
It is the greatest mass flight of Christians in the Middle East since the Armenian massacres and the expulsion of Christians from Turkey during and after the First World War.
Yet the media show little interest in exposing the decimation and dispersal of the Christian communities in Syria and Iraq.
And here’s Mark Steyn:
Baghdad used to be 40% Jewish. Tripoli used to be 40% Jewish. And the Jews were all chased out there. And now it’s the turn of the Christians. … ISIS are effectively doing every day what the European media and American campuses accuse Israel of doing. Everyone thinks Israel is slavering with blood and wants to eliminate every last Muslim in Gaza. No, they don’t. They just want to live with them. The difference is ISIS actually wants Iraq cleansed of Christians in the way it was cleansed of Jews, just as the Muslim Brotherhood wants Egypt cleansed of Coptic Christians the way it was cleansed of Jews.
But still the West, Christian by tradition if not in belief or observance, shows little concern.
This can be seen not only in the dearth of comment from governments and churches, but also among the people who seek their information and spread their opinions on the “social media”.
David Singer adds this statistic to his article:
Google reports on the Israel-Gaza war outnumber reports on the ISIS-Christian conflict by about 20:1.
A protest against religion like no other.
No need for our commentary – Hopsin says it all in his powerful performance.
Hat-tip our Facebook commenter Jon Hopkins. After recommending it strongly, Jon adds that he doesn’t think Hopsin has “turned against religion altogether”.
This video takes little more than 50 minutes to watch, not the hour and more indicated on it.
It’s well worth the time.
We agree with almost everything Christopher Hitchens says here about religion. (We do not share all his tastes or opinions. He never quite escaped from the Left, though he edged further and further Right in his last years.)
(Hat-tip Andrew M)