Ayaan Hirsi Ali renounces reason and grasps faith 433

It is with strong – undiminished – respect for Ayaan Hirsi Ali that I now feel compelled to argue with her.

She is brilliant, courageous, principled. But she has turned from rationality and atheism, where she found intellectual asylum from the cruel and preposterous religion of Islam, back to superstition in the form of the no-longer-cruel but still preposterous religion of Christianity.

She writes (in part – please read it all) under the title Why I Am Now a Christian:

During Islamic study sessions, we shared with the preacher in charge of the session our worries. For instance, what should we do about the friends we loved and felt loyal to but who refused to accept our dawa (invitation to the faith)? In response, we were reminded repeatedly about the clarity of the Prophet’s instructions. We were told in no uncertain terms that we could not be loyal to Allah and Muhammad while also maintaining friendships and loyalty towards the unbelievers. If they explicitly rejected our summons to Islam, we were to hate and curse them.

Here, a special hatred was reserved for one subset of unbeliever: the Jew. We cursed the Jews multiple times a day and expressed horror, disgust and anger at the litany of offences he had allegedly committed. The Jew had betrayed our Prophet. He had occupied the Holy Mosque in Jerusalem. He continued to spread corruption of the heart, mind and soul.

 

 As an atheist, I thought I would lose that fear. I also found an entirely new circle of friends, as different from the preachers of the Muslim Brotherhood as one could imagine. The more time I spent with them — people such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins — the more confident I felt that I had made the right choice. For the atheists were clever. They were also a great deal of fun. 

 So, what changed? Why do I call myself a Christian now?

Part of the answer is global. Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.

 

So far, good. No argument. She goes on:

But we can’t fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that “God is dead!” seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in “the rules-based liberal international order”. The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Leaving aside the question of whether there is something that can be justifiably labeled “the Judeo-Christian tradition” (I do not think there is – for my reasons see here), let’s consider the point she is making.

That legacy consists of an elaborate set of ideas and institutions designed to safeguard human life, freedom and dignity — from the nation state and the rule of law to the institutions of science, health and learning. As Tom Holland has shown in his marvellous book Dominion, all sorts of apparently secular freedoms — of the market, of conscience and of the press — find their roots in Christianity. 

I have not read that work by Tom Holland and I am not now arguing with him.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes he is right that “all sorts of apparently secular freedoms” – she notes in particular “of the market, of conscience and of the press” — “find their roots in Christianity”. It is with her I am arguing, and reasons to reject that claim leap to my mind. Freedom of the market? Doesn’t Christianity deny that rich men can “enter heaven”? Of conscience? Who can count the number of “heretics” put to death in war, on the rack, at the stake for holding opinions that Christians in power objected to? How many who put those opinions in writing before and after there came to be such a thing as “the press”? Christian persecution of its critics came to an end only with the Enlightenment, the European movement that broke the power of the churches and raised reason over irrational faith.

She writes:

To me, this freedom of conscience and speech is perhaps the greatest benefit of Western civilisation. It does not come naturally to man. It is the product of centuries of debate within Jewish and Christian communities. It was these debates that advanced science and reason, diminished cruelty, suppressed superstitions, and built institutions to order and protect life, while guaranteeing freedom to as many people as possible. Unlike Islam, Christianity outgrew its dogmatic stage. It became increasingly clear that Christ’s teaching implied not only a circumscribed role for religion as something separate from politics. It also implied compassion for the sinner and humility for the believer.

No, no, no, no, and no. Freedom of conscience and speech came after centuries of no debate with Jewish and Christian “communities”. It came from thinkers of the Age of Reason. Many of whom were atheists, and all of whom were skeptics. “Free thinkers”. The idea that such freedoms ought to be allowed is the product of rational thinking. The Age of Science was born then. Not when Galileo or Giordano Bruno lived and experienced what the Catholic Church deemed to be a Christian correction – threatened torture and forced confinement for the one, the stake for the other. The Churches’ cruelty diminished because reason and freedom became the mood of a certain time. Superstition was hushed – never suppressed, unfortunately – by reasoned argument, critical examination. Institutions were built to protect freedom despite the dogmatism of the Christian churches – all of them, Catholic and Protestant. Christianity has not “outgrown”, will never “outgrow”, its “dogmatic stage”. “Christ’s teaching” can only be guessed at, and none of the known guesses suggest that it “implied …  a circumscribed role for religion”. Religion was most decidedly not “separate from politics” in the Judea of the first Caesars. As for compassion and humility, Christian sages from St. Paul onward have preached one or both – St. Paul stressed humility – but the history of the religion does not demonstrate the habitual observance of either to any convincing degree.

[A]theism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?

Atheism does not ask that question. It is not a reasonable question. What could the meaning of life, of existence, possibly be? Why does it need meaning? Whose purpose? If no one made the universe and life there can be no purpose in their existence. Human beings make their own purposes. Only if you already believe in a supernatural Creator can you seek an elusive purpose or meaning in all “creation”.

The line often attributed to G.K. Chesterton has turned into a prophecy: “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

I would say, if you can believe in a god, you can believe in anything. The god hypothesis does not stand up to scrutiny.

In this nihilistic vacuum, the challenge before us becomes civilisational. We can’t withstand China, Russia and Iran if we can’t explain to our populations why it matters that we do. We can’t fight woke ideology if we can’t defend the civilisation that it is determined to destroy. And we can’t counter Islamism with purely secular tools. To win the hearts and minds of Muslims here in the West, we have to offer them something more than videos on TikTok.

A nihilistic vacuum? Freedom, reason, science, technology, material abundance, rule of law nihilistic? Free societies, Western civilization a vacuum? Contains no riches, just videos on TikTok? No, its enemies are the vacuum-makers. Sure, abundance will include silly things; freedom is messy, but you have choice. It is true that a great many people only discover how good their Western way of life was when they  have lost it. Nice that their ignorance gets cured, sad that their loss may be irrecoverable.

Woo Muslims away from their superstition by offering them another superstition named Christianity? Convert all the world to Christianity, which “has it all”, and the world will be again as Europe was between the fall of Rome and the rise of Reason? As good? Rather, as dark. As cruel. An erosion of our civilization more certain, more absolute, arguably even more tragic than the horrors she names that threaten us now: “… the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.”

Her diagnosis of what ails our civilization is right enough. Her prescription for curing it is a mistake. Christianity has not been a force for good in history. And what is Christian belief? That a Jewish man who lived in a province of the Roman empire during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius was the Creator of the universe! (John 1:9,10. That [Jesus] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.) How can that be easy, how can it be possible, for an intelligent thinker of our enlightened age to accept? Or the rest of the tale: that he was born of a virgin, performed miracles, came alive again three days after he’d died, and ascended bodily to a material heaven?

And what of Christianity’s moral message? “Resist  not evil” is not helpful advice for us in our present predicament. What of the reason ascribed to his sojourn on earth as a man – to suffer and die for the salvation of mankind? How he came to die an agonizing death by crucifixion – the Roman method of legal execution for crazy daredevils convicted of organizing or attempting insurgency – has a muddled background story and incompatible Christian  explanations. According to the believers, the Jews found him guilty of breaking some suddenly found and quickly forgotten law of their religion and insisted that the Romans execute him. The obliging Romans reluctantly acceded to their demand, so it is the Jews who are cursed forever as deicides. But also that he was born in order to be tortured to death, that it was his mission to sacrifice himself as the means to lift from humankind the original sin of Edenic disobedience (to himself);  so he was inevitably doomed to that extremely painful and prolonged form of  suffering – and a death that was not actually death – by his own decree.

O Ayaan Hirsi Ali, if you can believe all that, you have abandoned not only reason but common sense!

There is no formula for “saving”, let alone transfiguring, the human race. Not a proletarian revolution. Not a global coming to Jesus. It is not faith, not divinity, but doubt – the instrument of vigorous intellectual humility – that promotes and protects tolerance and prosperity; that sustains “human life, freedom and dignity”.

Jillian Becker   November 12, 2023

Update:  Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s husband, Niall Ferguson, has also embraced Christianity.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, November 12, 2023

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Against religion 29

“When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity.

When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”

– Robert M. Pirsig

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“Seeing no reason to believe is sufficient reason not to believe.”

– Karl Popper

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“Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.”

– Eric Hoffer  Reflections on the Human Condition

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“The theory that you should always treat the religious convictions of other people with respect finds no support in the Gospels.”

– Arnold Lunn

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“By one count there are some 700 scientists with respectable academic credentials (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. earth & life scientists) who give credence to creation-science, the general theory that complex life forms did not evolve but appeared ‘abruptly’.”

– Newsweek, June 29, 1987

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“Today, the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles.”

– Dr. James D. Watson, winner of the Nobel prize for his co-discovery of the structure of DNA

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“When I hear them praying extra loud, I always go out and check the lock on the smokehouse.”

– Harry Truman

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“There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing and predatory as it is – in our country particularly, and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree – it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime – the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor His Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilt.”

– Mark Twain  Reflections on Religion

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“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

– Mark Twain

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“George Washington though he belonged to the Episcopal church, never mentioned Christ in any of his writings and he was a deist.”

– Richard Shenkman  I love Paul Revere, whether He Rode or Not

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“Think how great a proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc’d Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security.”

– Benjamin Franklin

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“A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to atheism.”

– Rev. Donald Morgan, theologian

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“Atheism has one doctrine: To Question.

Atheism has one dogma: To Doubt.

The Atheist Bible has but one word and that word is, ‘THINK’.”

– Emmet F. Fields

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“Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.

Think about it, religion has actually convinced people that there’s an INVISIBLE MAN…LIVING IN THE SKY … who watches every thing you do, every minute of every day.

And the invisible man has a list of ten special things that he does not want you to do.

And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever ’til the end of time … but he loves you.”

– George Carlin, Brain Droppings

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“As an historian, I confess to a certain amusement when I hear the Judeo-Christian tradition praised as the source of our present-day concern for human rights. That is, for the valuable idea that all individuals everywhere are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on this earth.

In fact, the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense.

They were notorious not only for acquiescence in poverty, inequality, exploitation, and oppression, but also for enthusiastic justification of slavery, persecution, abandonment of small children, torture, and genocide.

          – Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

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“Why have those countries with a strong Church-State alliance displayed such an eagerness to enforce religious dogmas and eliminate dissent through the power of the state?

Why has Christianity refused, whenever possible, to allow its beliefs to compete in a free marketplace of ideas?

The answer is obvious and revealing.

Christianity is peddling an inferior product, one that cannot withstand critical investigation.

Unable to compete favorably with other theories, it has sought to gain a monopoly through a state franchise, which means: through the use of force.”

– George H. Smith, from Atheism: The Case Against God

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“The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer.

This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization.”

– Robert Anton Wilson, Right Where You Are Sitting Now

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“So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would neither be created nor destroyed… it would simply be.

What place, then, for a creator?”

– Stephen Hawking

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“No theory is too false, no fable too absurd, no superstition too degrading for acceptance when it has become embedded in common belief.

Men will submit themselves to torture and to death, mothers will immolate their children at the bidding of beliefs they thus accept.”

– Henry George

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“Convicts register their religious affiliation when they’re processed into prison.

And about 99.5% of the huge U.S.A. prison population consists of inmates who identified themselves as members of religious denominations.”

– Gene M. Kasmar

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“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God.

It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

– Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

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“The history of intellectual progress is written in the lives of infidels.”

– Robert Green  Ingersoll, The Great Infidels (Most probably America’s greatest orator.)

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“According to the theologians, God prepared this globe expressly for the habitation of his loved children, and yet he filled the forests with ferocious beasts; placed serpents in every path; stuffed the world with earthquakes, and adorned its surface with mountains of flame.

Notwithstanding all this, we are told that the world is perfect; that it was created by a perfect being, and is therefore necessarily perfect.

The next moment, these same persons will tell us that the world was cursed; covered with brambles, thistles and thorns, and that man was doomed to disease and death, simply because our poor, dear mother ate an apple contrary to the command of an arbitrary God.”

– Robert Green Ingersoll, The Gods

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“If you don’t think that logic is a good method for determining what to believe, make an attempt to convince me of that without using logic.”

          – Brett Lemoine

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“The idea that a good God would send people to a burning Hell is utterly damnable to me. The ravings of insanity! Superstition gone to seed!

I don’t want to have anything to do with such a God. No avenging Jewish God, no satanic devil, no fiery hell is of any interest to me.”

– Luther Burbank, address to Science League of San Francisco, Dec. 1924

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“Should one continue to base one’s life on a system of belief that–for all its occasional wisdom and frequent beauty–is demonstrably untrue?”

– Charles Templeton, former right-hand man to Billy Graham, in Farewell to God

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“I’m firmly convinced Michael Carneal is a Christian. He’s a sinner, yes, but not an atheist.”

– Rev. Paul Donner, of the St. Paul Lutheran Church, Paducah, Ky., describing accused mass murderer Michael Carneal, 14, in contrast to early reports.

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“The Christian view that all intercourse outside marriage is immoral was, as we see in the above passages from St. Paul, based upon the view that all sexual intercourse, even within marriage, is regrettable.

A view of this sort, which goes against biological facts, can only be regarded by sane people as a morbid aberration.

The fact that it is embedded in Christian ethics has made Christianity throughout its whole history a force tending towards mental disorders and unwholesome views of life.”

– Bertrand Russell

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“Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people.

For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.”

– Albert Einstein, responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray.

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“If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.”

– Marquis de Lafayette

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“Here and there in the midst of American society you meet with men full of a fanatical and almost wild spiritualism, which hardly exists in Europe.

From time to time strange sects arise which endeavor to strike out extraordinary paths to eternal happiness.

Religious insanity is very common in the United States.”

– Alexis de Tocqueville

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“I fight fire with fire. You shouldn’t treat a crazy religious cult with kid gloves.”

– Ian Plimer, Melbourne University  Professor of  Geology, in reference to legal action challenging the existence of Noah’s Ark

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“The truth is that Christian theology, like every other theology, is not only opposed to the scientific spirit; it is also opposed to all other attempts at rational thinking.

Not by accident does Genesis 3 make the father of knowledge a serpent — slimy, sneaking and abominable.

Since the earliest days the church as an organization has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man.

It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions.

It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was the apologist for the divine right of kings.”

– Henry Louis “H.L.” Mencken

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“Heretics have been hated from the beginning of recorded time; they have been ostracized, exiled, tortured, maimed and butchered; but it has generally proved impossible to smother them; and when it has not, the society that has succeeded has always declined.”

          – Judge Learned Hand

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“Gods are creatures of the human imagination.

Faith in imaginary beings does not prove their existence.

Passionate devotion to a faith does not prove it to be true.”

– Jillian Becker

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“All laws and moral rules are man-made.”

– Jillian Becker

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“Many a belief can survive persecution but not critical examination.”

– Jillian Becker

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“The barbaric religions of primitive worlds hold not a germ of scientific fact, though they claim to explain all.

Yet if one of these savages has all the logical ground for his beliefs taken away, he doesn’t stop believing.

He then calls his mistaken beliefs ‘faith’ because he knows they are right.

And he knows they are right because he has faith.”

– Harry Harrison, said by a character in his novel Deathworld

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“I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.”

 – Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, October 9, 2022

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The superhero God is unjust, untrustworthy, unintelligent 115

But Dennis Prager, like billions of others, think he’s nice, smart, fair, and honest.

Dennis Prager is a perceptive conservative writer, but unfortunately he’s afflicted with religion.

He writes at Townhall:

If no one goes to prison for actor Alec Baldwin’s accidental killing of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, our society will have failed a crucial moral test.

We will be saying human life is not sacred; that it, in effect, is of little or no consequence.

The killing was, we presume, unintentional (though we do not know for sure, as the possibility remains that someone had motive to load the gun with real ammunition). But that does not mean that no one should be held culpable and punished. Society must regard the taking of human life — even when unintentional — as something terrible.

So if you accidentally fall from a height on top of someone and kill that person, you must be punished? How just is that?

If Alec Baldwin did something wrong, but only if he did something wrong, may he be punished. We don’t like him, but that’s irrelevant, and it is not the Alec Baldwin shooting that we are concerned with here. It is Prager’s and God’s morality.

Prager goes on:

I get this principle from the Bible …

Ah, from the Bible! No surprise then.

… which was, until the last century, the source of America’s and the Western world’s moral values.

To the extent that it was, much injustice resulted. Fortunately there were also laws which in many codes, some much older than the Books of Moses, distinguished crime from accident.

This principle is repeated over and over in the Bible’s first five books (the Torah), the source of all biblical laws. This repetition strongly indicates how seriously the Bible takes this issue.

The five books of Moses are full of God’s capricious and often cruel decisions and actions. One of them, Exodus, has its chief hero, God, fiddling with the mind of the Pharaoh of Egypt so that one moment he’s prepared to let Moses lead the Hebrew slaves out of bondage, and the next moment he isn’t. And this happens over and over again. It’s a tease. Promise given, promise broken. It’s only when God has all the Egyptian boy children in Pharaoh’s city killed  – the Angel of Death enabled to distinguish which household with a boy in it must suffer the loss because God gets the Hebrews to mark a sign with animal blood on their front doors so his messenger passes over their dwellings (which were well away and apart form the Egyptians’ anyway) – that Pharaoh lets Moses lead the slaves away. And even then God “hardens his heart” yet again, so he sends enforcers after them to bring them back.

Now don’t say that’s not dishonorable of God! And how about unjust and cruel to the Egyptian parents? On the whole, not great examples of moral behavior, wouldn’t you say? 

And after the Pharaoh chapters, this supreme moral guide, the Torah, gets even sillier.

We could offer many examples of its silliness, but we’ll stick to Dennis Prager’s text for precepts he considers supremely admirable. They are silly enough:

He writes: 

Example one:

Exodus 21:28: “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned …”

The obvious question is: Why would the ox be put to death? It is surely not guilty of murder; oxen have no free will. The reason it is put to death is that the killing of a human being cannot go unpunished.

The Jewish Bible scholar, professor Nahum Sarna, wrote:

The execution of the ox was carried out in the presence, and with the participation, of the entire community (the animal was stoned, not merely killed) — implying the killing of a human being is a source of mass pollution and the proceedings had an expiatory function. The killing of a homicidal beast is ordained in Genesis 9:5-6: “For your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast … Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in His image did God make man.” The sanctity of human life is such as to make bloodshed the consummate offense, one viewed with unspeakable horror. Both man and beast that destroy human life are thereafter tainted by bloodguilt.

You see? Man is made “in God’s image” therefore the ox must be stoned to death. Okay?

Example Two:

Deuteronomy 19:5: “(If) a man goes with his neighbor into a grove to cut wood; and as his hand swings the ax to cut down a tree, the ax-head flies off the handle and strikes the other so that he dies, that man shall flee to one of these cities and live.”

Again, the Bible describes a homicide that is entirely accidental. But the person who accidentally committed the homicide is not free to live a normal life. He cannot go on with life as if nothing happened. While he is not to be executed, he must flee to one of three “cities of refuge” in ancient Israel. There he may not be killed or otherwise hurt by a member of the killed man’s family. But he is not a completely free man.

So there were sanctuary cities even in those days! To be a punishment, they were probably derelict, crime ridden, filthy, with many living on the streets.

Prager continues:

In my Bible commentary, The Rational Bible, I quote Leeor Gottlieb, a professor of Bible at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University: “The Torah is morally ahead of some modern societies, in which people’s lives go on nearly uninterrupted if they killed unintentionally.”

As the Bible explains five verses later:

Thus blood of the innocent will not be shed, bringing bloodguilt upon you in the land that the Lord your God is allotting to you.

Human bloodshed brings bloodguilt upon the land.

A tremendous lot of human blood, the innocent sort included, is shed on that land in the five books. At least as much as anywhere else in the inhabited world. And much has been shed on it in the three thousand years and more that has passed since Moses died. So bloodguilt is upon it. What is God or man going to do about it?  Rationally now: what?

Ah, there is something that can be done to cure bloodguilt when the cause is not a particular known person. A prayer can be said. An incantation. Apparently it does the trick:

Example three:

Deuteronomy 21:1-4 and 7: “If, in the land that the Lord your God is assigning you to possess, someone slain is found lying in the open, the identity of the slayer not being known, your elders and magistrates shall go out and measure the distances from the corpse to the nearby towns … And they shall make this declaration: ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. Absolve, O Lord, Your people Israel whom You redeemed, and do not let guilt for the blood of the innocent remain among Your people Israel.’ And they will be absolved of bloodguilt.”

Unlike the previous instance, in which the (unintentional) killer is known, the killer of the slain man found “in the open” is not known. Nevertheless, the community is still held accountable and must ask for forgiveness for not preventing a homicide.

The message is, they should have known the murder was going to be committed. It was immoral of them not to know.

Prager’s last example is not from the five books. But his attitude to what happens is set by the biblical rules.

Example four:

The final example is not biblical but from my radio show. Many years ago, a woman called to tell me about an ostrich raised on her family’s ostrich farm. One day, this ostrich kicked her father to death.

 I asked the woman what was done to the ostrich. “Nothing,” she replied.

Given my biblical background, I was taken aback.

“So you tell people who visit your farm, ‘This is the ostrich that killed my father’?”

“Yes,” she responded.

In my view, that cheapened her father’s life and death.

So Prager would have had the ostrich killed, not because it was a danger to other people which would be rational, but as condign punishment. Because? Because man is made in God’s image. Because human bloodshed brings blood upon the land. Because of mass pollution, and expiation is required to cleanse it. Ideally, the woman should have summoned her neighbors to help stone the ostrich to death.

And this code of behavior, this ancient prescription for the provision of justice, is, according to the sage Gottlieb and to Prager himself, morally advanced!

The Bible has lots of dramatic, exciting, shocking, amusing, puzzling, frustrating, and satisfying stories in it. (We like the one about God refusing Cain’s offer of vegetables, preferring Abel’s meat.) It also has – at least the so-called “Old Testament” has in the King James translation – lots of very beautiful poetry in Isaiah, Job, Psalms, Daniel, Ecclesiastes … Parts of it are a good read,  and it is essential to a proper education.

But it is not a moral guide.

Posted under Ethics, Judaism, Law by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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The Hamas Charter 89

Here are the main points of the Charter of Hamas.

Hamas is a terrorist organization, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it has the covert support of most Western governments and the overt support of the mainstream media everywhere.

Its Charter, or Covenant, is its manifesto. It can be read in full here.

THE COVENANT OF THE HAMAS – MAIN POINTS

The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, aka the  Hamas, was issued on August 18, 1988.

The following  are  excerpts  from the HAMAS Covenant:

Goals of the HAMAS:

The Islamic  Resistance  Movement  is  a  distinguished  Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and  whose  way  of  life  is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over  every  inch  of Palestine.

(Article 6)

 

On the Destruction of Israel:

Israel will exist and will  continue  to  exist  until  Islam  will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.

(Preamble)

 

The Exclusive Moslem Nature of the Area:

The  land  of  Palestine  is  an  Islamic  Waqf  [Holy   Possession] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part, or  abandon  it  or  any  part  of  it.

(Article 11)

Palestine is an  Islamic  land…  Since  this  is  the  case, the Liberation of Palestine  is  an  individual  duty  for  every  Moslem wherever he may be.

(Article 13)

 

The Call to Jihad:

The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem land,  Jihad  becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews’ usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.

(Article 15)

Ranks will close,  fighters  joining  other  fighters,  and  masses everywhere in the Islamic world will come forward in response to  the call of duty, loudly proclaiming: “Hail to  Jihad!” This  cry  will reach the heavens and will go on being resounded until liberation  is achieved, the invaders vanquished and Allah’s victory  comes  about.

(Article 33)

 

Rejection of a Negotiated Peace Settlement:

Peace  initiatives,   and   so-called   peaceful   solutions  and international conferences are in contradiction to the  principles  of the Islamic Resistance Movement… Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels  as  arbitrators  in  the  lands  of Islam… There is no solution for the Palestinian problem  except  by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.

 (Article 13)

 

Condemnation of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty:

Egypt was, to a great extent, removed from the  circle  of  struggle [against Zionism] through the treacherous Camp David  Agreement. The Zionists are  trying  to  draw  other  Arab  countries  into  similar agreements in order to bring them outside  the  circle  of  struggle. …Leaving the circle of struggle against Zionism  is  high  treason, and cursed be he who perpetrates such an act.

(Article 32)

Anti-Jewish Incitement:

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and  the rocks and trees will cry out, “O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.”

(Article 7)

The enemies have been  scheming  for  a  long  time  …  and  have accumulated huge and influential material wealth. With  their  money, they took control of the world media… With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the globe… They  stood  behind  the French  Revolution,  the  Communist  Revolution  and  most   of   the revolutions we hear about… With  their  money  they  formed  secret organizations – such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions  – which are spreading around the world, in order to  destroy  societies and carry out Zionist interests… They stood behind World War I  ..and formed the League of Nations through which they  could  rule  the world. They were behind World War II, through which  they  made  huge financial gains… There is no war going  on  anywhere  without  them having their finger in it.

(Article 22)

Zionism scheming has no end, and after Palestine,  they  will  covet expansion from the Nile  to  the  Euphrates  River.  When  they  have finished digesting the area on which they have laid their hand,  they will look forward to more expansion. Their scheme has been  laid  out in the’Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

(Article 32)

The HAMAS regards itself the  spearhead  and  the  vanguard  of  the circle of struggle against World Zionism… Islamic groups  all  over the Arab world should also do the same, since they are best  equipped for their future role in the fight against  the  warmongering  Jews.

(Article 32)

Posted under Islam, Israel, jihad, Judaism, media, middle east, Muslims, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 23, 2021

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Religion and atheism argue in the labyrinth of good and evil 77

Dennis Prager is a brilliant advocate for conservatism. We agree with him on political issues.

But he is religious.

He writes, and we comment:

Conservatives often speak of Judeo-Christian values and how the current civil war in the United States and the rest of the West is essentially a battle between those values and the Left, which rejects Judeo-Christian values.

They are right.

But they rarely explain what Judeo-Christian values are. Yet, without an explanation, mentioning Judeo-Christian values is useless.

So, let me do that now.

First, a word about the term. Some Jews and Christians find the term confusing, if not objectionable, since Judaism and Christianity have different theologies. But no one speaks of Judeo-Christian theology, only of Judeo-Christian values.

See our critical discussion of “Judeo-Christian values” here.

Judeo-Christian values are essentially another term for biblical values. Judaism and Christianity are both based on the Old Testament—its God, its Ten Commandments, its admonition to love one’s neighbor as oneself, to love God, to lead a holy life, etc. Christians also believe in the New Testament, but only an opponent of Christianity would argue that the New Testament negates the values of the Old.

Here they are:

1) Objective moral standards come from God. As I have written and spoken about in a PragerU video and elsewhere, if there is no God who declares murder wrong, murder can be subjectively wrong but not objectively wrong. So, while there can certainly be nonbelievers who hold murder, stealing, and other actions wrong, without God, those are opinions, not moral facts. Without the God of the Bible, there are no moral facts.

No. People do not want to be hurt, robbed, or killed. For a society to make laws discouraging people from hurting robbing and killing is common sense, and such laws were made before any religion laid down moral rules as divine injunction

Besides which – and in answer to all following points – no god ever spoke to a human being. All religious moral laws are human-made. 

2) God judges our behavior, and we are therefore accountable to God for our behavior. Outside of a religious worldview, there is no higher being to whom we are morally accountable.

We need no “higher being” to judge us. We are responsible for what we do and bear the consequences of our behavior. As we say in our “Articles of Reason” (see under Pages in our margin), “justice may be elusive, but judgment is inescapable”.  

3) Just as morality derives from God, so do rights. All men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” declares the Declaration of Independence.

If your “rights” are violated, will “God” come to your aid? Rights are granted by man-made law, and justice must be sought in accordance with laws. 

4) The human being is uniquely precious. While the Bible repeatedly forbids cruel behavior to animals … only human beings are created in God’s image.

Presumably he means “God’s moral image”. In theJewish scriptures, God is vengeful and cruel to the innocent (“unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”), puts temptation in the way of his creatures and then punishes them for succumbing to it (Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), capricious (alternately making Pharaoh relent over the release of his Hebrew slaves and then “hardening his heart” again and keeping them, time after time), permits Satan to inflict terrible suffering on human beings to test their faithfulness to him (Job). And in history, the Jewish God allows millions of his “chosen people” to be tortured to death (the Holocaust).  And the Christian God, according to his scriptures, made humankind eternally indebted to him for sacrificing himself for them – for which at the same time, and as a double burden of guilt, they must be held to blame. So – no.  In both the Jewish and Christian bibles, the divinities set no model of good behavior.    

5) The world is based on a divine order, meaning divinely ordained distinctions. Among these divine distinctions are: God and man, man and woman, human and animal, good and evil, and nature and God.

Distinctions – as between man and woman – exist by nature. That God is distinct from nature is true enough. He exists only in human minds as a supernatural being. Humanity made God, not God humanity. There is no reason to believe that nature exists because a supernatural being made it. 

6) Human beings are not basically good. Therefore, the most important moral endeavor is making good people. Religious Jews and Christians understand that the greatest battle in life is with one’s nature. For the opponents of Judeo-Christian values, the greatest moral battle is not with one’s nature; it is with society (specifically, American society).

We agree that “human beings are not basically good”. But we say that self-interest requires their decent behavior and most people understand this. The law helps to make people good. It is fear of others and fear of the law that prompt restraint, not biblical values.  

7) Precisely because we are not basically good, we must not trust our hearts to lead us to proper behavior. The road to hell is paved with good hearts. Feelings make us human, but they cannot direct our lives. This alone divides the Bible-based from those on the left.

It is a false dichotomy, the religious on the one side, “the left” on the other. Millions of Leftists are religious Christians and Jews.   

8) All human beings are created in God’s image. Therefore, race is of no significance. We all emanate from Adam and Eve, whose race is never mentioned. That many religious people held racist views only testifies to the almost infinite ability of people to distort what is good.

This confirms that it is “God’s moral image” that is meant. The various races are characterized by physical differences.    

9) Fear God, not man. Fear of God is a foundation of morality. In the Book of Exodus, Egyptian midwives were ordered by the Pharaoh to kill all newborn Hebrew boys. They disobeyed the divine king of Egypt. Why? Because “the midwives feared God”.  In America today, more people fear the print, electronic and social media than fear God.

We advise a sensible fear of the media. And of kings and other tyrants.

10) Human beings have free will. In the secular world, there is no free will because all human behavior is attributed to genes and environment. Only a religious worldview, which posits the existence of a divine soul—something independent of genes and environment—allows for free will.

Whether we actually have free will or not, we have to live as if we have it, so to all intents and purposes, we have it. It has nothing to do with having “a divine soul”. 

11) Liberty. America was founded on the belief that God wants us to be free. On the Liberty Bell is inscribed just one thing (aside from the name of the company that manufactured the bell). It is a verse from the Bible: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” The current assaults on personal liberty—unprecedented in American history—emanate from those who reject the Bible as their moral guide (including more than a few Jews and Christians who have joined the assault, having been indoctrinated with anti-religious views in high school and college).

We reiterate that millions of Leftists are religious. Belief in the supernatural does not logically bring liberty. Often quite the contrary (examples: the Inquisition’s Spain, Calvin’s Geneva).   

When Judeo-Christian principles are abandoned, evil eventually ensues.

In the name of the Hebrew god in ancient times, and in the name of Christianity for many hundreds of years,  great evil was done – mass slaughter, extreme cruelty, which surely are evils. 

One doesn’t have to be a believer to acknowledge this. Many secular conservatives recognize that the end of religion in the West leads to moral chaos—which is exactly what we are witnessing today and exactly what we witnessed in Europe last century. When Christianity died in Europe, we got Communism, fascism, and Nazism. What will we get in America if Christianity and Judeo-Christian values die.

Communism, fascism, Nazism are also religions, without gods or with them. (Many Nazis worshipped Nordic gods.) 

We are getting evil rule in America by many who say they are Christians. Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi claim to be  “good Catholics”. 

Leftism is a child of Christianity. (See our articles here and here.) 

In conclusion: “Judeo-Christian values” or religious beliefs of any sort are not a cure for America’s calamity.  

Posted under Christianity, Ethics, Judaism, Religion general, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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“Of what use is religion?” 23

It is a tragedy that violent mobs are rampaging through the land laying waste our civilization as they go – and no one is stopping them: not the police, not the states governments, not the federal government – and most stunningly disappointing of all, not the president. Not yet, anyway.

President Trump, why are you are not acting to restore law and order?

At Townhall, the conservative online opinion journal, Derek Hunter writes:

There is a disturbing percentage of our fellow Americans doing whatever the hell they want to do with little or no concern for the law. And the law has little or no concern for itself, at least when it comes to those charged with enforcing it.

Across the country, charges are being dropped against rioters and looters. Why? Many of those people in position to prosecute the guilty have no interest in doing so. Hell, many of them ran on the idea of not prosecuting people. What kind of idiot would vote for a district attorney who promised to let people get away with more? Well, from San Francisco to St. Louis, they did just that.

With police ordered to stand down, or pulling back on their own, the mob has gone off the rails. Why shouldn’t you? If your store is raided, hope you have good insurance. If you’re randomly attacked, hope you fall safely. wouldn’t mind it so much if the piles of human garbage being given a pass stayed within the boundaries of the jurisdictions electing these morons to not enforce the law, but the idiots who do cast those ballots inevitably flee to sane areas, those not overrun by mutants like them, because who wants to live in a place where stealing anything valued at less than $1000 is no big deal?

While they flee what they made, they bring what made it with them – their vote. Spreading like a swarm of brain damaged locusts, they run to better areas, sane areas that enforce laws and soon are electing other morons to recreate what they just fled. An army of Ilhan Omars who fled a hell hole only to come to the United States and try to recreate that hell hole here.

Still more fellow travelers were actually lucky enough to have been born here and yet are so devoid of natural intelligence and critical thinking ability that they seek to destroy it too. Curiously, they also want open borders, which is like encouraging shipwreck victims to swim to their lifeboat, only to blow a hole in the side of it the moment new people get on board. I did mention they are insane, didn’t I?

Less sane are the rest of us, watching this happen and expecting Republicans to stand up to it. Who in Congress is drawing attention to this Democratic Party-embraced lawlessness? President Trump spent as much, if not more, time at his campaign rally Saturday reenacting a garbage story about how he’d walked down a ramp at the West Point commencement speech the previous week than warning the American people about what liberals are doing.

It’s so out of control that at this point you’d almost have to be an idiot to follow the law. … There are no consequences to disobeying the law. Want a new TV, just take it. See someone minding their own business while you’re in a bad mood? Beat the hell of out them. If you’re in a Democrat-controlled are, the police aren’t coming. Why in the world would cops stick their necks out when they’re what gets chopped first whenever Democrats need to save a buck or need a target to demonize in order to boost morale?

With police ordered to stand down, or pulling back on their own, the mob has gone off the rails. Why shouldn’t you? If your store is raided, hope you have good insurance. If you’re randomly attacked, hope you fall safely.

The mob is running the show, laws are for suckers. So why are the rest of us following them?

What are we paying taxes for? Democrats in these mob run areas are not only turning a blind eye to lawlessness, they’re cheering it along. But I bet they’d bring down every bit of the law on us if we didn’t pay property or income taxes. A tax protest would be beyond the pale, but break into a store, steal a TV bigger than your car, or pummel someone for not appreciating it with a brick and you’re a hero exercising your First Amendment rights. Don’t cut a check to Big Brother and you’ll find out just how tolerant the left is, even if you say you’re doing it in the name of “social justice”.

All this might not be a sign of “the end of the world”, but it’s the end of something. The people who produce are paying, the people who don’t are benefiting. The people paying the bills are trampled while the mob is cheered and protected. Democrats cheer, Republicans are either mumbling or silent. No country can survive long with circumstances like that. And no government – local, state, or federal – that allows it to continue deserves to.

Also at Townhall, Dennis Prager, a man of good sense who nevertheless believes in “God” asks now, in this crisis of insurrection, “Of what use is religion?”

America is being taken over by violent mobs; a vast amount of destruction and stealing has taken place (with little police intervention and the apathy of our political leaders). Why aren’t all clergy delivering thundering sermons about the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal”? Does it now come with an asterisk? …

And most ominous by far, for the first time in American history, free speech — the mother of all freedoms — is being widely suppressed, not by the government but by the press, the universities, the high schools, the elementary schools, all the giant internet media, Hollywood and virtually every major business in America. Christians and Jews place repentance at the center of their theologies, yet there is no place for repentance if you did or said one insensitive thing — real or alleged — even if it was 20 or more years ago. Yet all we get from American religious leaders on this matter is … silence.

The freest, least racist, most opportunity-providing country in history — “the last best hope of earth,” in Abraham Lincoln’s words — is smeared as “systemically racist”; all white people are declared “racist”; and the statues of the greatest Americans, including George Washington and even Abraham Lincoln, are toppled and/or defaced. And all we get from most American religious leaders is either agreement or silence.

It leads this religious American to ask the question the anti-religious ask: Of what use is religion?

Take the claim that being “colorblind” is racist.

If you are a religious Jew or Christian — let alone a rabbi, priest or minister — do you believe that? Do you believe that the human ideal is not to be colorblind? Do you believe that the ideal is to see every person, first and foremost, as a member of a race? Is that what you learned at seminary? Is that what you have taught from your pulpit all of your life? …

So, why the silence? Why aren’t all rabbis, priests and pastors telling their congregations and telling America — in tweets, on Facebook, in letters to the editor, on television and radio, in opinion pieces — that there is one race, the human race, and that the only antidote to racism is to deny that race determines our worth, not to affirm its significance?

Does an ideology that affirms the significance of race have an honorable pedigree? Has it ever led to anything good? Isn’t that exactly what Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan advocated?

So, how are we to explain this tragic failure of religious Jews and Christians — and their clergy — to speak up against looting (aka stealing) and for freedom, for America, for Western civilization and for being colorblind? …

What is now apparent is that most Jews and Christians fear the left, fear The New York Times, fear being shunned by “friends” on Facebook and mobbed on Twitter more than they fear God.

That’s what this moment comes down to. Jews and Christians who fail this test will not only lose their freedom, lose the great American hope for mankind and lose the West; they will have also lost their souls.

If the only consequence of this rise of lawlessness and destruction were to be the total disillusionment of Jews and Christians with their religion, their realization at last that neither Jehovah nor Jesus is going to do a thing about the wrecking of our civilization, we would not be unhappy. In fact, we would pause in our lament for the loss of our civilization to exult and jubilate!

But only for a moment. Because disillusionment with religion will not be all. Disillusionment with government by the people, with the rule of law, with the liberty that only the rule of law makes possible – for that, lamentation can not be loud and long enough. Though it will do nothing to save us.

Posted under Anarchy, Christianity, Judaism, Race, Religion general, revolution, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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Religion versus morality 49

We constantly hear the claim of religious believers that all our societal woes, the rise in crime, the careless conception of unwanted children, the disrespect and incivility that characterizes interpersonal relations, derives from the circumstance that the West has become irreligious, has abandoned what is misleadingly called the “Judeo-Christian” tradition. (See for instance here.)

I contend to the contrary that  not only is religion as such fundamentally immoral in that it teaches falsehood as truth; but, in addition, religious dogma is too weak to support values and principles necessary to the survival of our civilization. 

When the Christian nations of Europe taught their morals to the peoples they colonized, they did so in the context of religion. So when, in the course of time, religion was abandoned by many individual members of the proselytized nations – because it is untrue –  the moral teaching went with it. 

Had the Europeans conveyed the lessons of the Enlightenment, had they taught moral behavior on grounds of reason rather than faith, the principles – such as that of ‘enlightened self-interest’ requiring mutual esteem, reciprocated tolerance and honesty – would have continued to make sufficient sense in themselves to remain unaffected by the rise and fall, the popularity and unpopularity, of other ideas.

 

 

Jillian Becker   August 26, 2019

 

Posted under Christianity, Ethics, Europe, Judaism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Monday, August 26, 2019

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Is religion a force for good? 27

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 100

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 195

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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