Is religion a force for good? 30

One of our highly valued contributing readers, Jeanne, writes in a comment:

We may not like the form of “stabilization” that comes from Islam, but it worked to set up the type of community and family life that Mohammed desired. We may not like the “stabilizing” influence of Christianity from a thousand years ago, but it did the same. We may not like the Christianity of today that came from the Reformation, but it was a stabilizing factor of the beginning of our nation and forms the backbone of many communities by supporting the family, the individual and charities, which benefit them each. Judeo-Christian beliefs and values aided by the Enlightenment (or vice-versa) set the tone for the moral populace that was so important to our Constitutional Republic when it was making its mark and requiring such principled and responsible individuals to form a United States loosely held together by the laws of men and not divine-rule royalty or theocratic forces of Rome.

If we did not have such an organized Communist movement that worked on our nation for a century, helping to secularize the populace, we might have found that those who left the Judeo-Christian religion behind were still moral/ethical and responsible individuals disciplined enough to make a Constitutionalist proud, but that is not how it worked out. Instead we have no consequences for unethical behavior, because there is a deplorable lack of guidance for proper parental behavior, no reason to be ashamed of bearing out-of-wedlock children, no stigma to a man abandoning all his fatherly duties, no desire to be responsible, no desire to have allegiance to one’s community or country or to obey the nation’s laws and respect its heritage. And that has not so much come about as people left their church, but because of Progressive influence that has been very well done. Most people need religion to maintain a discipline of responsibility and morality.

We think it is a comment that deserves attention.

This is our review of it:

On Islam and the family: Muslim men can marry as many wives as they can afford to keep. The wives are totally subjected to the will of the husband. He is commanded by the Koran to beat her if he judges her to be disobedient or insubordinate in any way. There is no such thing as rape within marriage – a husband can rape his wife. A husband can divorce a wife by saying three times that he divorces her. For her, divorce is difficult to the point of being almost impossible. She cannot have custody of children past their infancy. A daughter can inherit only half as much as a son. If a woman is raped and four male witnesses did not witness actual penetration, she is not only considered uninjured, she is accused of illicit sexual intercourse which is a capital offense. Execution is by stoning. There is no lower limit to the age at which girls can be married. Little girls can be married to elderly men. Girls as young as five can be and often are raped by their lawful husbands literally to death. That was indeed the type of family life that Muhammad was said to desire. But if that is “stabilization”, then stability is no virtue.

On “Judeo-Christian”: This is a favorite hyphenation in the West of late. But it makes no more sense than would “Christio-Muslim”. (Islam derived some ideas from Christianity but it is a very different creed.) Christianity was a revolution against Judaism. The essential moral point of Jewish religious teaching was the idea of justice. (What those ancient men thought was just doesn’t match in every particular with what we may think is just, and the Jewish God is more a god of revenge than of justice, but the thrust of the doctrine was that guilt must be punished and innocence protected.) Christianity substituted love for justice. The guilty must be forgiven. The sin can be condemned but not the sinner. St. Paul, who is the author of the Christian religion (see the essay listed in our margin under Pages, The Birth and Early History of Christianity) wanted to abandon the Jewish Law altogether, insisting that it had been superseded by the “sacrifice” of “the Christ”. But the Church fathers could not organize an antinomian church so retrieved the entire Jewish bible as a prologue to their own “Testament” for the sake of preserving the moral law – which is to say, the “ten commandments”. They also needed the Jewish Bible for the prophesies of the Messiah, since they held Jesus to be the fulfillment of them. They changed the meaning of “Messiah” from ”King” to “God”, and declared that God was not One – the central tenet of Jewish theology – but Three. So little more than  a few laws, common to all the law codes of the Middle East and probably everywhere, remained of Judaism in Christianity. Christianity with its extreme intolerance even of slight doctrinal differences came down as a long night on Western Europe for a thousand years. Terrible religious wars between Christian factions, and between Christians and Gnostics such as the Cathars, took untold numbers of lives, century after century. What happened to families and the stability of communities while the Papal Inquisition was at work? Or in the civil wars fought over doctrinal differences? Or to the families and communities of the Jews persecuted throughout Christendom? It’s a blood-soaked history. When the Reformation came, the Protestant churches were as intolerant as the Roman Catholic church. The darkness was lifted at last only by the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment was a revolution against all the orthodoxies of all the churches, and broke their power. Western greatness dates from the Enlightenment. Doubt, valued by pre-Christian Greece and Rome, came back from long suppression to challenge the churches’ insistence on unquestioning conformity. The two greatest products of the Enlightenment were Science and the Constitution of the United States of America.

In a nation that made no laws respecting religion, the history of Western religion changed. Old historical religious conflicts were put to rest. In America, millions live peacefully with neighbors of different faiths and none. (But new ideologies have arisen, secular religions, stirring up antagonisms as intense and bitter as did the old.)

It may well be the case now that American church-going families are in general happier and more successful than others. It may well be that the abandonment of traditional religion contributed of late to delinquency, fatherlessness, and disregard of familial, patriotic, and civic responsibility.

But does that mean most people need religion to live responsibly and morally?

Did most people behave more morally and responsibly when they feared divine retribution? Was there in fact less theft, rape, and murder when, through the long Christian centuries,  everybody went to church? And if so, was it a good bargain to have more security for one’s possessions and one’s person at the price of living one’s entire life in terror of eternal hellfire?

In the past, in the long perspective, has religion proved itself to be a force for good?

Is it good now for a civilized educated nation to teach children to believe that a person rules over the universe, continually watching their every thought and deed so as to reward or punish them?

Is it good if the citizens of a free republic believe that a Lord, a King, an invisible Sovereign rules over them?

Is it good to kneel to, worship, suffer for, pray to, an omnipotent, omniscient, unknowable, immortal Tyrant?

Posted under Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion general, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 24, 2019

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Myths of our time 17

This is a list of beliefs – in no particular order – that are very widely and commonly held, but are untrue:  

Sweden is a happy country. Fact: It is a Muslim-infested misery-state, the rape capital of Europe.   

The BBC is a trustworthy, truthful, unbiased source of news. Fact: It is dishonest, it routinely distorts or suppresses news it doesn’t like, is snobbish, deeply and persistently anti-Semitic, and heavily biased to the Left. 

The Jews seized the state of Palestine, sent most of the Palestinians into exile, and oppress those who remained. Fact: There never was, in all history, an independent state of Palestine. The territory is the historic homeland of the Jews. When Arab armies tried to destroy the modern Jewish state, many Arabs fled, intending to return when their side was victorious, but their side was defeated. Israeli authorities tried to persuade Arab residents not to leave. Those who remained are the freest Arabs in the Middle East, with all citizens’ rights. 

Nazism was a right-wing ideology. Fact: Nazism was National Socialism and as distinctly derived from the tradition of the Left as its rival International Socialism.

Che Guevara was a hero. Fact: Che Guevara was a torturer and mass murderer, and a coward.  

The Mahatma Gandhi was a good man who liberated India from the British Raj. Fact: Gandhi was a cruel man who had little if any influence on the British decision to withdraw from India.

Senator Joe McCarthy was an evil witch-hunter of Communists. Fact: McCarthy did his duty in tracking down potential Communist fifth-columnists, propagandists, and traitors during the Cold War.

President Roosevelt was a liberal who saved America from economic disaster. Fact: President Roosevelt was a Communist sympathizer. His policies prolonged the Depression.

President Obama’s period in office was scandal-free. Fact: President Obamas’ period in office was exceptionally full of scandals, some of them the worst examples of corruption and plain treason in US history. 

Islam is a religion of peace. And its name means “peace”. Fact: Islam is a religion of war and conquest. Its name means “submission”.

Carbon dioxide is a poison. Fact: Carbon dioxide is the food of green plants.

Human beings are changing the climate of the planet for the worse. Fact: The climate of the earth is always changing as vast cosmic forces act upon it. Human beings can make very little difference, if any, to the heating and cooling of the planet.

A baby in the womb is not a living human being. Fact: A fetus with a heartbeat is alive, a living human being.

Government exists to care for and provide for the people. Fact: government robs the people, threatens the people, frightens the people. Whatever government does, it does badly. Government must be kept within bounds to properly perform its only essential duty, the defense of liberty, by enforcing the law and preventing invasion.

President Trump is a racist. Fact: He is not and has never been a racist. He has worked all his adult life with people of many races, never discriminating against any of them on racial grounds.

President Trump is an anti-Semite. Fact: He is the most pro-Jewish pro-Israel US president ever.

President Trump oppresses women. Fact: he honors women, promotes them, behaves towards them as heterosexual gentlemen in our culture customarily do (or did).

President Trump is a liar. Fact: He tells the truth. Like every human being, he can be inaccurate with dates, numbers, recollections, but on all important matters he is consistently truthful.    

The Democratic Party protects minorities. Fact: The Democratic Party is the party of slavery, segregation, secession, and the Jim Crow laws. By keeping millions of blacks on welfare, Democrats have kept them from independence, advancement, and prosperity.

Democrats act in the interests of the working class. Fact: Democrats despise the working class.

The US media report the news. Fact: The US media, in the huge majority, are lackeys of the Left.

American universities encourage free thinking, free and open exchange of opinion, the exploration of ideas. Fact: Most American universities are centers of Leftist indoctrination, dogmatic and intolerant.

Western civilization is grounded in “Judeo-Christian” values. Fact: Western civilization as we inherit it derives its values from, and owes its success to, the Enlightenment, which was an intellectual revolution against the oppressive authority of the Christian churches.

The “white patriarchy” has been bad for non-whites and women. Fact: Almost everything we have that sustains our lives and makes them endurable; almost everything we know;  every comfort, every convenience, every freedom that makes it possible for us to pursue happiness, physically, socially, politically, was given to us and the world by white middle-class men. 

That’s just a starter list.

We invite readers to add to it.

Political religions and the politics of religion 1

Robert Spencer is an Eastern Orthodox Christian, so we make allowance for his mistaken belief that our Western civilization is “Judeo-Christian” rather than the product of the Enlightenment.

We quote him because he is expert on the history, texts and teaching of Islam.

Here he talks about Pope Francis appointing himself a defender of that intensely anti-Christian religion:

So the old joke question “Is the Pope Catholic?” is no longer funny. The serious answer is “No.”

The Pope’s opinions derive from various political religions, among them: Marxism, New Leftism, Liberation Theology, and Islam.

Let’s review what the Pope is defending when he defends Islam:

The subjugation of women, including the religion-sanctioned beating of wives, sex slavery, honor killings, and the stoning to death of women and little girls who have been raped

A death sentence for anyone who leaves the faith 

A  death sentence for homosexuals

Intense anti-Semitism; anti-Jew, anti-Christian, anti-Yezidi, anti-polytheist, anti-rival-Muslim-sect terrorism, persecution and enslavement

Routine torture of prisoners and extreme torture to death even of civilians, notably: slow beheading with a knife; stoning; burying alive (of children as well as adults); burning alive; drowning in boiling oil; the amputation of limbs; crucifixion; the throwing to the ground of homosexuals from high places; starvation.

So to defend Islam is to defend oppression, savage cruelty and murder. Judged by contemporary Western criteria, Islam is a deeply immoral religion.

Oppression, cruelty and murder are not, however, against traditional Catholic practice. Catholics can defend the use of torture and murder on the grounds that in the past the Roman Catholic Church needed to have people burnt alive in order to discourage heresy. For hundreds of years the Catholic Church tortured and murdered untold numbers of men, women and children who were guilty of nothing worse than a personal opinion that was not in conformity with Church dogma.

But not now. Now the Pope is virtue-signaling without reference to – and, he must suppose, without taint from – the past.

Now he has decided that capital punishment is “inadmissable”.   

This is a political decision against the teaching of the Roman Catholic religion:

Prior to the changes announced through the Vatican press office Thursday, the Catholic Catechism taught that recourse to the death penalty was not to be “excluded” as a legitimate punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

The Pope probably intended his ruling to have an effect chiefly on the laws of the United States, where capital punishment is still available to judges as a punishment for murder.  

And his decision may be taken notice of in the US.

But it will not make any difference in Islam. On that he relies. If he thought it at all likely to offend those stoners, burners, crucifiers, boilers, buriers, throwers from heights, beheaders and amputators, he would be very unlikely to announce it.

Possessing a fine talent for cognitive dissonance, Francis must be confident that his condemnation of capital punishment will not make his defense of Islam into a bad joke.

Posted under Christianity, Islam, jihad, Judaism, Muslims, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, August 5, 2018

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Rooting out Allah 6

What is the root, hub, core, foundation, or essence – any one of those words will do, no mixing of metaphors – of Islam?

Allah, of course.

Take away Allah and the whole growth, movement, body, edifice, or idea will wither away, stop, die, collapse, or fail.

Allah the War God is no more and no less a cause of Man-made Global Distress (MGD) than is Jehovah the Vengeful or that ludicrous empyrean bureau, the Trinity.

Christians and believing Jews have no valid argument against Islam.

So it is now the most important task of atheists to destroy Islam by destroying Allah, with Reason and laughter.

Trouble is, atheists on the Left have forged an alliance with Islam. They not only refuse to argue with it, they fiercely attack atheists on the Right who dare to say a word against that deeply immoral religion.

Attacks must not deter us.

Criticizing God is our business. Making him a laughing-stock is our pleasure.

 

 

 

(Hat-tip to Don L for the symbolic device)

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Friday, August 3, 2018

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Blackwards to tribalism 4

Those glorious Greeks of old conceived and implemented an Idea that took civilization thousands of thought-miles forward: individuals from any country, any nation, any tribe, could live together under the same rule of law.

What bound them, what commanded their loyalty, would be the Law rather than the Land: the Ius not the Rus – in the language of the grand old Romans who adopted the same idea. 

In the Roman Empire, at first, all the religions of all nations and tribes were tolerated, though tolerance and respect were demanded also for the gods of Rome.

It was a demand that the Judeans, who worshiped one god only, objected to. Their obstinacy on that score did not serve them well.

The Judeans became actively rebellious against Rome, whose protection they had originally invited. The Romans put down the rebellions, finally abolishing the province of Judea entirely. The Judeans turned into the wandering tribe of the Jews.

Before the first of the two great insurrections that ended in the dispersion of the Jews, an energetic Roman citizen of vast ambition came to the Judean capital, Jerusalem, from Tarsus in the Roman province of Cilicia in Asia Minor, and started a movement that was ultimately to destroy and replace the Roman Empire.

He called himself by the Hebrew name Saul (later changing it to Paul). He took the idea of the One  God and mixed it up with mythologies of Roman gods, claiming that the One God had a Son who was killed and rose again from the dead. He named the Son by the Greek name Jesus. His Jesus had been a living person, a Judean who had led a small weak rebellion and was executed for it. His followers maintained that he had “risen in the flesh”, and Saul/Paul was so excited by the tale – enhanced by the claim that the resurrected man was the long hoped-for Jewish Messiah (“Christos” in Greek) – that he invented a new religion. It came to be called Christianity. He moved about the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire from whence he’d come, preaching it; finally taking it to Rome itself, where he died. He won converts. No one knows how many in his lifetime. Some of them reverted to their old polytheism or Judaism, but a fair number remained faithful to the new two-in-one divinity. Some converts composed books about the life of “Christ Jesus” – which Paul himself had not been interested in. The books, and Paul’s letters, eventually provided the mythology of the new religion.Through them the two-in-one divinity became a three-in-one divinity, a “Holy Spirit” being added to God-the-Father and God-the-Son.  The Son was chronicled as being begotten by the Jewish God upon a virgin mother (a concept familiar to the polytheists of classical times).

By this means and that means, the religion spread; through Paul the wandering preacher, the books of the myths, and the appeal that the religion itself had (with its promise of a blissful everlasting afterlife for the obedient faithful, and despite the threat of an eternity of torture for the disobedient unfaithful, the judgment being made by the Triple God alone). It became the Catholic Church, highly organized everywhere, headed and led by the the Church in Rome. More than a hundred years after Paul’s death, a Roman Emperor embraced Paul’s religion, and a few decades later Christianity was imposed on the whole Empire as its the official religion. Gone was the tolerance of earlier years. A few decades more, and Rome itself, weakened by Christianity, fell to the barbarians. The Church slowly took the place of the old order. The Church became the Roman power throughout western Europe. (The Eastern Empire, with the Emperor seated in Constantinople, is another story.)

Paul of Tarsus, though he never knew it, sustained and extended the power of Rome through his invention. But the Great Idea of the Greeks in the days of their glory, and of the Romans in the days of their grandeur, was changed.  Sure, individuals from any country, any nation, any tribe, could live as a “community” under the same rule – but it was the rule of the Roman Catholic Church, and that law was a different kind of law. It was the imposition of dogma: an orthodoxy, a uniformity of belief, essentially intolerant. 

Darkness descended. The Great Idea died.

It rose again after many hundreds of years. It was resurrected as the Idea on which the United States of America was founded.  

For two hundred and twenty-two years the Great Idea has made the United States of America, with a population of individuals deriving from many lands united as one nation under the law, free, prosperous, and powerful. United by Ius not Rus. Geographical origin, ethnicity, physical appearance, religion had no bearing on the rights the law gave all who lived under it. The unifying rule of law insisted on tolerance. By doing so, it guaranteed liberty. 

Now, it seems, that is changing. The Great Idea is under attack in the USA.

Tribes are being formed; some friendly to each other, some inimical to each other. Political cliques and cults, secessionists, states’ governments, defy the federal law. Many prefer to think of themselves as Blacks rather than as Americans, and their enemy as Whites. They actively seek to return to the savage ways of inter-tribal strife. It is atavism. It is a drawing down of darkness as intolerance spreads.

A good description of the disintegration is given by Sultan Knish. He writes (in part) at his website:

The Nation of Islam [NOI] preaches that black people are the master race. It doesn’t just hate white people, Jews and a whole bunch of other folks. It hates them out of a conviction in its own superiority. According to its teachings, “the Blackman is the original man” and lighter skinned people were “devils” created by an evil mad scientist to rule over black people until they are destroyed by UFOs.

It even teaches that monkeys are descended from white people.

Progressive media essays defending Obama, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Danny Davis, Mallory and other black leaders for their Farrakhan links have urged concerned liberals to look at the positive aspects of the Nation of Islam, its love for black people, not the negative, its hatred for white people.

But it is the “positive” that is the problem.

Intersectionality promises to package tribal identity politics into a utopia of social justice. But the essence of tribalism is the superiority of your people and the inferiority of all other groups. …

The clown car of identity politics runs smoothest when it has a common enemy: white people. Coalitions like the Women’s March assemble an array of groups who are united by their hatred of Trump, white people, Israel and root beer. And it works as long as no one lifts up the hood and looks at the engine.

Black nationalism is racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. The Nation of Islam isn’t an exception. From Jeremiah Wright, “Italians… looked down their garlic noses”, to Eldridge Cleaver, “rape was an insurrectionary act” to Amiri Baraka, the ugliest possible supremacist bigotry is its natural state.

“We are all beautiful (except white people, they are full of, and made of s___),” Amiri Baraka wrote. “The fag’s death they gave us on a cross… they give us to worship a dead jew and not ourselves.”

“I got the extermination blues, jew-boys. I got the Hitler syndrome figured… So come for the rent, jewboys,” the Guggenheim fellowship, PEN and American Book Award winner, and former Poet Laureate of New Jersey ranted.

Baraka was one of the country’s most celebrated black nationalist poets and he was a former member of the Nation of Islam. Baraka’s Black Mass circulated the NOI’s racist creation myth.

It was the NOI’s conviction of black superiority and white inferiority that attracted Baraka and so many other black nationalists. The NOI is one of a variety of black supremacist religious groups, from the similarly exotic Moorish and Black Hebrew churches, to NOI splinter groups such as Five-Percent Nation and black nationalist churches like the one attended by the Obamas and presided over by Jeremiah Wright.

But religious black supremacism is only a component of a larger cultural movement that lies at the heart of black nationalism and mingles historical conspiracy theories with racial supremacism.

The comingling of black nationalism with intersectional politics has produced a new generation (often of second-generation radicals) that dresses up its racism not only in the lyricism of the old black nationalism of Wright and Baraka, but in the obtuse academic jargon of intersectionality.

That’s where Tamika Mallory and Ta-Nehisi Coates come from. But political word salads and poetry only conceal what you choose not to pay attention to. And that’s why we’re talking about Louis Farrakhan.

The mass of progressive media articles, essays and explainers deployed to protect the Women’s March can be summed up as, “Stop paying attention.” And what we’re not supposed to be paying attention to is the slow death of liberalism and its substitution by the intolerant tribal extremism of identity politics.

Intersectionality is a lie. Like the Nation of Islam, it’s not just a lie in its negative hateful aspects, but in its promise of a utopia once the “white devils” and their “white privilege” are out of the way.

Groups of identity politics extremists and their white cishet [pronounced “sis-het”, meaning heterosexual and “not transgendered”, ie. normal. – ed.] lefty allies can only be briefly united by the negative, not the positive. The “call-out culture” meant to spread social justice through the movement isn’t just a form of political terror; it fails to reach the innate bigotry of each identity politics group. …

Identity politics movements can’t fight bigotry, because they are naturally bigoted. Instead of actually rejecting bigotry, they project it on a convenient target like Trump, and then pretend that by destroying him, they can cleanse society. The more targets they destroy, the more they need to find to maintain an alliance whose only true unifying principle is a mutual denial of each other’s supremacist bigotries. And so the battle against racism becomes a war against microaggressions and structural white supremacy.

The whole thing is a ticking time bomb. And it keeps going off every few years. When it blows up, lefty activists rush out, as they are doing now, to plead, wheedle and warn that the real enemy is “white supremacy” and everyone needs to stop paying attention to the racist or sexist views of their own allies.

These “rainbow coalitions” of racist radicals don’t fight bigotry; they mobilize bigots for racial wars.

Tamika Mallory praising Farrakhan isn’t shocking. It would be more shocking if she didn’t. It’s hard to find major black figures in politics and the entertainment industry who don’t hang out with him.

Both Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, the first two serious black presidential candidates, did. The Congressional Black Caucus hosted him. London Mayor Sadiq Khan acted as his lawyer. The list of black entertainers is all but endless. Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube (both members), Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Spike Lee, Arsenio Hall, Common, Kanye West, Mos Def, Young Jeezy and Erykah Badu to name a few.

Not every individual who meets up with Farrakhan necessarily shares all his bigoted views, but many find his tribal affirmation of black superiority appealing and they value that more than they do any kind of tolerant society. That’s what Tamika Mallory, in her own awkward way, was trying to tell us.

Black nationalism is a tribal cause. It will always put its people first. The same is true of the rest of the hodgepodge of political identity groups that form up the intersectional chorus. No amount of calling out will change that. That’s why the calling out is mostly directed at safe targets, preferably white.

There is no larger unity at the end of the rainbow. Only smoother versions of Farrakhan. Barack instead of Baraka. Rants about “white devils” and “satanic Jews” filtered through academic jargon.

A movement of bigotries can only divide us. And that’s all identity politics has to offer America. Instead of equal rights in a united nation, we will be members of quarreling tribes. And those tribes, like Farrakhan’s fans, will be incapable of seeing members of other tribes as having the same worth they do. …

The left claims that it’s fighting for equality. What it’s actually fighting for is a tribal society where the notion of equal rights for all is as alien as it is in Iraq, Rwanda and Afghanistan, where democracy means tribal bloc votes and where the despotism of majority rule invariably ends in terror and death.

A safe space for Allah 4

Doctrinally, the relationship between Islam and Christianity is sadomasochistic: Islam wages its holy war in its quest for global dominion, and Christianity kneels and offers its throat. Historically, Christianity has sometimes fought back and won. But it’s been a hundred years now since any part of Islam was defeated by the remnant of European Christendom. Now the shrinking remnant is back on its knees to Islam.

The Lancashire Telegraph announces:

Blackburn Cathedral is to host a seminar which aims to create a safe space to explore common ground and discuss the differences between the Muslim and Christian faiths.

The language tells you immediately that this is the fawning religious Left speaking.

The seminar will take place at Blackburn Cathedral on March 7 as part of a larger nation-wide tour.

The announcement of the seminar comes just weeks after the BBC aired a controversial Panorama documentary questioning the relationships between communities in Blackburn.

Speaking of the documentary at the time, senior Anglican clergy said that the BBC Panorama program White Fright did not paint an accurate picture of Blackburn.

The title tells you immediately that, even though the documentary was on a BBC program, it did actually paint an accurate picture of Blackburn: bullying Muslims, terrified white British natives. 

Saying it “failed to tell the whole story”  the cathedral will now hold the seminar: Jihad of Jesus, an event which aims to create a safe space to stimulate helpful and powerful conversation between faiths.

Mohammed Ali Amla, founder of Christian Muslim Encounters and someone involved with bringing the seminar to Blackburn said: “We want this to be an event where people can come to and learn about communities working together. We have worked hard to create a panel of people who can discuss their thoughts and own experiences with the audience, stimulating frank discussion and rich, important conversation.”

So you know nobody worked hard at all to find people who would dare to express their thoughts and relate their experiences of Islam in Britain. You can already visualize the make-up of the panel, see the hijab and the beard over there, and beside or between them, those familiar indulgent Christian Lefty smiles.

Confirmation of those expectations follows immediately:

One key member of the panel is Dave Andrews, an Australian Christian author and writer of the book: The Jihad of Jesus: The Sacred non-violent Struggle For Justice.

Keen to ensure that a local angle was brought to the seminar, Ali said it was of key importance to make sure figures from the community were also speaking at the event.

The Bishop of Burnley, Philip North and Imam Saleem Seedat will also make up the panel on the night.

Another member of the panel will be Julie Siddiqi, a mentor, consultant and activist with a focus of gender issues, Jewish-Muslim relations and social actions.

“The people who will be joining us to discuss relations between Muslims and Christians on the night all recognize the challenges and differences that we face” said Ali.

Ah! The usual recognizers rounded up. But he “worked hard” to find them?

The announcement of the seminar comes just weeks after the BBC was slammed for claiming that segregation levels had increased in Blackburn over the past years.

Speaking about the documentary, Ali said: “What it didn’t look at is the great work that is happening within communities in Blackburn. It only wanted to depict one picture of the town. This is something we aim to change through our work and the seminar.”

The seminar has been organized in collaboration with Lancashire District of the Methodist Church; Near Neighbours; Churches Together in Lancashire; Blackburn Interfaith Forum; Light Foundation and Lancashire Forum of Faiths.

Upon this foolish enterprise Robert Spencer comments at his website Jihad Watch:

Jihad of Jesus, eh? It’s always the Christians who host these outreach events to Muslims. Never do we see a mosque holding a “Eucharist of Muhammad” or some such event.

Mohammed Ali Amla, founder of Christian [-Muslim] Encounter[s], says: “We want this to be an event that people can come to and learn about communities working together.”

A master of the art of proselytizing with taqqiya [permitted deception] Mohammed Ali Amla must be.

Robert Spencer knows what not to expect:

Great. So there will be an honest discussion of obstacles to working together, won’t there? And a forthright mutual exchange about how those obstacles can be surmounted? Somehow I doubt it. Generally these events simply ignore such unpleasantness, and prey on the ignorance of the general public to preclude unwelcome questions. It is extraordinarily unlikely that there will be any discussion of these Qur’an verses:

Jesus is not the Son of God and belief in the Trinity is wrong: “O People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion or say anything about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and his word which He conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from him. So believe in Allah and his messengers, and do not say “Three” –- Cease! It is better for you. Allah is only one Allah. Far be it from his transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as defender.” — Qur’an 4:171

And:

It is not befitting to Allah that he should beget a son. Glory be to him! When he determines a matter, he only says to it, ‘Be’,  and it is.” — Qur’an 19:35

Jesus was not crucified:

“And because of their saying: We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger, they did not kill him or crucify him, but it seemed to them as if they had. Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except pursuit of a conjecture; they did not kill him for certain.” — Qur’an 4:157

Those who believe in the divinity of Christ are unbelievers:

They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary.” — Qur’an 5:17

Christians have forgotten part of the divine revelations they received:

“From those, too, who call themselves Christians, we took a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so we estranged them, with enmity and hatred between one another, until the day of judgment. And soon will Allah show them what they have done.” — Qur’an 5:14

Those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son are accursed:

“The Jews call Ezra a son of Allah, and the Christians call the Messiah the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; they simply imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” — Qur’an 9:30

Christians who do not accepted Muhammad and the Qur’an are the most vile of created beings:

“Nor did those who were given the Scripture become divided until after there had come to them clear evidence. And they were not commanded anything except to worship Allah, be sincere to him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakat. And that is the correct religion. Indeed,they who disbelieved among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the most vile of created beings.” — Qur’an 98:6

Muslims must fight against and subjugate Christians:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or the last day, and do not forbid what has been forbidden by Allah and his messenger, and do not acknowledge the religion of truth, even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya [the fine Islam imposes on dhimmis] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29

Islam will never accept Christianity. If Christians want to integrate with Muslims, they must give up their religion and take on Islam instead. There is no possible compromise between the two; no running parallel; no tolerance of Christianity by Islam.

The only relations Christians can have with Islam are what Islam offers them: as converts, as dhimmis, or as corpses.

Despite claims to the contrary, Christianity, Judaism and Islam do not worship the same god.

The God of the Jews, Jehovah, is a god of justice, vengeance and reward. He is omnipotent, omniscient, but not essentially or consistently benign. He commands obedience, but lets his followers struggle with him (Israel = Struggle with God).

The Three-in-One divinity of the Christians – the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is merciful and good; commands humility, selflessness, forgiveness, and love.  The god “saves” some sinners – aka human beings – to enjoy eternal bliss after death but, though a god of lovecondemns others to eternal agony. Neither the Trinity itself nor the (inseparable) Father, considered separately, resembles Jehovah of the Jews or Allah of the Muslims.

The god of Islam, Allah (Arabic for “god”), though singular, is in an immutable Duality with his mortal partner, Muhammad. He is good only to those faithful to him and his mortal partner. He commands submission. (Islam= Submission). He also demands relentless slaughter, military conquest, enslavement, the humiliation of unbelievers, and the subjugation of women. Through his mortal partner he positively forbids his followers to identify him with the Christian god: “Do not say ‘Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary’.”  “Do not say  ‘Three’!”

The only thing to be done with Islam is to get rid of it. It is an appalling ideology: supremacist, totalitarian, homophobic, misogynist, anti-Semitic, stubbornly intolerant, habitually murderous, and savagely cruel.

Islam would wither and die fast if it were plucked out by the root, which is Allah. An entirely secular West, in which belief in Jehovah or the Trinity or any god has become obsolete and absurd, could do it with argument and contempt. But the remnant of European Christianity, still hanging about with its smile, is halal meat for Ali, Julie, and the imam.

The proof of a god’s existence from a personal need to believe 16

It is an abiding puzzle to us how highly intelligent, educated, sane adults can believe in a god and an “afterlife”. Dennis Prager is one who does. He writes brilliantly on political subjects, but when it comes to religion, an amazing obtuseness emerges from him.

Here is a video he made, insisting that there must be a “good God” and an”afterlife”, for if there isn’t, the very thought would drive him insane:

His reasoned argument amounts to this: ”There has to be an afterlife because I want there to be an afterlife, because only if there is an afterlife can all that is wrong in this life be made good, all injustices remedied, all unhappiness turned to happiness. There can only be an afterlife if there’s a good god, so a good god must exist.” It’s a circular and really very silly argument: “A good god must exist because there absolutely has to be a put-it-all-right afterlife. Because there absolutely must be a put-it-all-right-afterlife, a good God must exist, therefore God exists.”

It is also incomprehensible to us how physical and mental suffering, injustice, loss, once endured can ever be “put right”. Time reversed, the  event recalled and the action undone? Or just lots of sweet compensation?

Both Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that part of the happiness of the redeemed in Christian heaven would be to contemplate the extreme sufferings of the unredeemed in hell.

Oh, yes! Real peace of mind.

Posted under Christianity, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Thursday, January 11, 2018

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The moral messages of religious myths (4) 6

Do biblical myths convey a “higher”, “transcendent” morality? Do all, some, or any of them possess a validity for all human beings for as long as the human race exists?

To find an answer to those questions, we posted  The moral messages of religious myths (1), (June 29, 2017), in which we discussed the story of Adam and Eve; next The moral messages of religious myths (2), (July 21, 2017), which was about Cain and Abel; and then The moral messages of religious myths (3), (September 24, 2017), about Abraham not sacrificing his son Isaac. 

Now we come to the story of Prince Moses of Egypt and his capricious god.

The story is told in the Book of Exodus. Here’s an outline of it.

The Pharaoh of Egypt decided that the Israelite population was growing too large, so he ordered that every Israelite boy must be killed as soon as he was born.

An Israelite mother tried to save her new-born son by putting him in a papyrus basket coated with tar and pitch and floating it on the edge of the River Nile.

Pharaoh’s daughter found him and brought him up as her own son, a prince of Egypt named Moses.

When Moses was 80 years old, and long since returned to the Israelites, God told  him to lead the Israelites, who were  badly-treated slaves, out of Egypt to a land he would give them.

So Moses demanded of Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” Pharaoh refused.

God then sent a series of ten plagues to afflict the Egyptians, miraculously instigated by Moses’s brother Aaron. He was 83, and carried a magician’s rod which he used to launch the plagues.

The plagues were: water turning into blood (briefly); frogs overrunning the land; lice afflicting the people; wild animals and/or flies threatening or tormenting them; their cattle becoming diseased; the people erupting in boils; heavy hailstorms beating down on them; swarms of locusts devouring their crops; darkness over all the land for three days; and finally, every firstborn Egyptian child being killed by God in one night.

Each time, the plague was represented to Pharaoh by Moses as a punishment to him for not freeing the Israelites.

Some of the plagues so distressed Pharaoh that he thought of granting Moses’s demand. But every time this happened, God “hardened his heart” and he changed his mind. Until the last plague.

It is stipulated in some cases that the Israelites, living apart from the Egyptians  were let off the plague. The hail, for instance, did not fall  where they lived, and their cattle did not fall sick. And on the night God killed the firstborn he “passed over” the dwellings of the Israelites. How did the omniscient Almighty know which were their houses? He had instructed them (presumably through Moses and/or Aaron) to “smear the upper post” of their doors with the blood of a lamb or goat. As they lived apart, God had easily been able to tell their neighborhood and their cattle from those of the Egyptians when visiting earlier plagues upon the land, but in this instance he needed the markers.

This time Pharaoh let the Israelites go.

They did not go over land ,“through the way of the Philistines”, but were  led by Moses straight to the Red Sea. “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.” How “harnessed”, and why, is not explained.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light.”

And then again Pharaoh changed  his mind. He pursued them with all his horses and chariots. And he nearly caught up with them where they were  camped on the shore of the Red Sea, but an angel puts a screen of darkness over them to keep the Egyptians from seeing them.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and it dried up. “The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.”

The Egyptians saw them crossing, and pursued them; “went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

But when the Israelites had safely reached the far shore of the Red Sea, Moses, on God’s orders, “stretched forth his hand over the sea” and “the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them”.

It is hard to see what moral principle can be extracted from the story. Don’t enslave Israelites? Don’t enslave anyone? Don’t needle Jehovah?

The story should not enhance the reputation of the Israelite God. As he had access to Pharaoh’s heart, rather than repeatedly “hardening” it, he could have softened it to useful effect the first time Moses asked for the freeing of the slaves. But of course the sending of the horrifying plagues does much to impress upon the attentive mind the awe-inspiring power of the Ruler of the Universe.

The tellers of the story clearly intended to achieve an impression of shock and awe; but there is no indication that they intended their terrifying tale to carry a moral message in itself. Their aim  was to establish a narrative, starting with a glorification of Moses and the Israelite God, which was fundamental to the Jewish religion: how the LAW which is the essence of Judaism came to be given by God through Moses to the Jewish people.

The Exodus is a preamble to the story of the giving of the Law. The Law was to be for everyday earthly life. There was nothing “higher” or “transcendent” about it. Though it was moral law, to be believed by the faithful as coming from God, it was not a formula for an afterlife of bliss overseen by the Almighty himself, but a set of rules to be administered by men.

Who really authored those rules? No doubt many legislators over many years. The first of them may have been a prince of Egypt named Moses.

One of the more credible theories of Sigmund Freud was that Moses was not an Israelite at all but an Egyptian. His idea (explained in his book Moses and Monotheism) is that the fable of his being born to an Israelite mother and adopted by an Egyptian princess, then returning to “his” people as their liberator and law-giver, was a necessary invention as it simply would not do for him not to have been a Jew. (Which means that the story of Pharaoh ordering all newborn boys to be killed was a whopping slander made up for its expedience. But it must be stressed that the biblical story is not history; it is myth.)

The commonly accepted dating of the giving of the Law to the Israelites by Moses is circa 1250 B.C.E. Freud puts it back into the previous century which allows him to propose that Moses was an adherent of the short-lived religion of the Pharaoh Akhenaton, who reigned for only seventeen years and in that time tried to introduce the worship of One God manifest as the Sun. As soon as he died, the powerful priests of the old polytheistic religion brought it back, and did their best to wipe out every trace of the Akhenaton heresy. In Freud’s account, Moses continued to believe in Akhenaton’s One God, and as the enslaved Israelites also believed in One God – “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” – he adopted them as his people, effected their release from Egypt, and set them on course to becoming a distinct nation bound together by laws of his native land (under Akhenaton?).

For anyone curious about how the Israelites came to be in Egypt, the enormous novel Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann tells a version of the the story magnificently. Joseph, the Israelite sold by his eleven brothers and brought to Egypt as a slave, gets on so well with Akhenaton that he becomes the pharaoh’s right-hand man. After many years, his brothers come to Egypt to buy grain, because drought has brought famine to the land where they live. Joseph conceals his identity at first, but is generous to them. They are gob-smacked when they discover who their benefactor really is. They return whence they came, but eventually they come to live in Egypt. The story does not proceed beyond the life of Joseph. How much historical fact is in it, it is impossible to know.

Posted under Christianity, Judaism by Jillian Becker on Sunday, October 29, 2017

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The moral messages of religious myths (3) 1

Do biblical myths convey a “higher”, “transcendent” morality? Do all, some, or any of them possess a validity for all human beings for as long as the human race exists?

In our post The moral messages of religious myths (1), (June 29, 2017), we discussed the story of Adam and Eve, and in the next of the series, The moral messages of religious myths (2), (July 21, 2017), Cain and Abel.

Now we come to the story of Abraham not sacrificing his son Isaac.  

Here is the story (taking the text of the King James Version of the Bible):

Ninety year old Abraham and his barren old wife Sarah suddenly, miraculously, have a son, to their surprise. They name him Isaac. They’re delighted with him. Then God orders Abraham to kill him as a sacrifice.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

This is the most important myth in Judaism. It is told as a story of obedience; the obedience of the founder of monotheism to his one god. So it is reasonable that it is almost always interpreted as a story of obedience. The obedience is rewarded.

The willingness to sacrifice the beloved son is rewarded. The willingness being there, the deed need not be performed: :

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

So the story has a greater significance: that the god of the Hebrews does not require human sacrifice – only the willingness of men to sacrifice their children. 

Many if not all ancient gods required human sacrifice. But Abraham – or Abram, as he was called at the beginning of his story – led his family or tribe away from the land of the Chaldeans where “The recovery of about 2,000 burials attested to the practice of human sacrifice on a large scale“.

Abram’s tribe removed themselves from a cult of human sacrifice. Abram’s god would not be like the other gods of Mesopotamia. For their One God, animal sacrifice was substituted for human sacrifice  

… until a Greek who had come from Tarsus to Jerusalem, tried to re-introduce human sacrifice into the Jewish religion about two thousand years later. He probably converted to Judaism and gave himself the Hebrew name Saul, which he later changed to the Roman name Paul. He heard that a certain pious Jew, a teacher and preacher with a small but devout following, had been killed by the Romans; nailed to a wooden pole and cross-beam – the usual method of execution they used for rebels. But then, he was told, a miracle had occurred. Although the Jew had certainly died and been put in a tomb, he came to life again three days later, walked about and was recognized by some who knew him. So his followers related. After that, they said, he had gone up to heaven, but would descend again to Judea, and on his second coming lead an insurrection that would succeed in overthrowing Roman rule and make the Jews as prosperous and powerful as they had been in the days of King David and King Solomon.

Paul was so taken with the story of the resurrection that, finding the Jews obstinately refusing to accept his interpretation of it, he built a new religion on it. His version of the story was that the Jew, whom he named with the Greek name Jesus, had sacrificed himself to redeem mankind from the sin that all human beings were stained with because Adam and Eve had tasted the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Jesus, Paul taught, was the divine son of God, who had been born on earth as a man in order to redeem mankind from that original sin by sacrificing himself; by God the Son sacrificing himself to God the Father.

(For more on Paul and his authorship of the Christian religion, go here.)

The Jews could not accept Paul’s version of the story. The essence of their religion was that there was only one god who did not require human sacrifice.

The myth that encapsulates this idea is important to Judaism; and it has a wider significance historically if it is true that the Abrahamic tribe separated itself from the Chaldeans in order to move away from child sacrifice.

In any case, it marks a moral advance in the history of the human race.

Does it have any more meaning or importance than that? Some enduring lesson for all time?

We cannot see that it does.

Posted under Christianity, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, September 24, 2017

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Believing the unbelievable 9

Theodore Dalrymple, a psychiatrist as well as a writer by profession, writes in his book Out Into The Beautiful World*:

Freud was no scientist; he was instead an unscrupulous charlatan, oscillating between wishful thinking and outright lying, a psychopathic manipulator who owed his success not to the truth but to the emptiness of his theories, the founder of a religious sect rather than of a scientific discipline, a man avid for fame and fortune only too aware that he might not achieve them by more conventional means, and an incestuous adulterer to boot. Moreover, his technique, if something as nebulous as psychoanalysis can be called a technique, was of no greater therapeutic value than exorcism, although much more expensive and a great deal less fun – except for those who desired to talk endlessly about themselves and were willing to pay someone else to listen to them or at least pretend to listen to them. …

The question is why theories so arcane, so preposterously speculative, so lacking in evidence in their favor and even in the possibility of there being any such evidence, should for a number of decades have conquered the most scientifically-advanced regions of the world.

This last sentence reminds us of another religion: Christianity.

Let’s  review the story.

As Saul, later Paul, of Tarsus told it, a Jewish man named Jesus in Greek, who was executed by the Roman authorities in the province of Judea, came back to life and rose bodily to the highest heaven where he reigns over the world along with God, his father. They are both God, father and son. Yet although they are two Persons, they are not two gods but the same One God. Paul learnt by intuition that Jesus, knowing he was about to suffer death by crucifixion, had told his twelve close followers at the last meal they had together in Jerusalem, that bread was his body and wine was his blood. Bread and wine, blessed by priests of Paul’s new religion, were to be ritually consumed by his acolytes, thus taking the body and blood of Jesus into their own bodies.

The story was elaborated by others, and while varying in details came broadly to be this:

Jesus was born of a virgin mother. In his maturity (early thirties or late forties) he gathered twelve close followers, preached to multitudes how to be good by being humble, loving and forgiving, bearing no grudges, and returning kindness for unkindness. He performed miracles of healing, brought a dead man back to life, catered miraculously at a wedding (turning water into wine) and at an outdoor religious convention (making a few loaves and fishes stretch to feed five thousand), walked on water, calmed a storm with a command. He was killed by the Romans for leading a seditious conspiracy, but only because the Jews demanded his death (for no crime or sin known to Jewish law or tradition). After three days hanging on a cross (crucifixion being the common Roman punishment for sedition), his dead body was taken down, wrapped in cerements, and entombed in a cave, its entrance being sealed with a boulder. (This despite the usual way the Romans had of disposing of crucified corpses by throwing them on waste ground to be consumed by the vultures.) After another three days, the heavy boulder was found rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, the cerements intact, not unwound nor cut open, but with no corpse in them. An angel was hovering near by. For a short time Jesus was seen walking about in Judea, appearing in the flesh fully clad to many and various witnesses –  though some who had known him well did not at first recognize him. Then he rose bodily to heaven. He was expected to come back to earth again quite soon (which he did not). His virgin mother also after a time rose bodily to heaven, not under her own steam like her son, but lifted there by angels. There is only one God, but he consists (not of two, but) of three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Among the many disagreements between sects that worship this triune god, one is over the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit or “Holy Ghost”: was he emanated by the Father only, or by both the Father and the Son? Another disagreement, wrangled over from the fourth century to the present day, is about whether the Son is of the same divine substance as the Father, or whether their divine substances are only similar. Multitudes have died for strenuously defending the one or the other position.

Once a man who lived at a certain time in human history was believed to be God, awkward questions were bound to arise. Why did the all-powerful lord of the universe let himself suffer on a cross? How could the immortal God die? Why did Jesus on the cross cry out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (quoting Psalm 22:1). The answer to these questions, provided by the arbiters of orthodoxy and considered by them to be perfectly satisfactory, is that Jesus was “both fully divine and fully human”. While to non-believers this may seem to beg the question rather than answer it, believers are satisfied with it.

Besides which, as the son of God, Jesus – according to St. Paul – had to suffer and die on the cross as a human sacrifice to save human beings from their sins; in particular the “original sin” of Adam and Eve who, in disobedience to God’s orders, tasted the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, and so tainted the whole human race which descended from them.

Despite the sacrifice of Jesus to save human beings, they are still not saved from sin and punishment. Christianity invented Hell to which sinners go. Christian authorities resolve this apparent contradiction by saying that Jesus, by sacrificing himself (to Himself), gave human beings the hope of being forgiven for their sins and living eternally in Heaven if they followed his teaching and were good. Yet most mainstream Christian sects maintain that being good won’t cut it; that only the grace of God will get you into Heaven. Catholic Christianity taught this at first, but eventialy came round to conceding that by doing good works you may buy yourself a place up there. Calvinism and Lutheranism make no such concession (your posthumous destiny being decided before you are even born). St. Augustine – one of the most illustrious of Christian saints – believed that most people would be damned to Hell. And St. Thomas Aquinas thought that one of the joys of being in Heaven would be contemplating the suffering of those in Hell.

Why did a creed so arcane, so preposterously unlikely, so confused and frightening, so lacking in evidence in its favor and even the possibility of there being any such evidence, conquer the European mind for twenty centuries?

 

*Out Into The Beautiful World by Theodore Dalrymple, New English Review Press, 2015, Chapter 14.

Posted under Christianity, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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