Monday, February 19, 2007

Christianity was the most murderous of the Western religions

Christians are the most murderous people on Earth in history, we all know. Yes, Hitler was a Christian, Genghis Khan was a Christian, so were Son of Sam and Osama bin Laden. Everybody knows it. One of the many reasons I'm no Christian is because I'm afraid the congregants will kill me just for the sake of fun or moral outrage of some kind or something, or you know, like something? 'Cause we all know how murderous Christians are, right?

Now if you don't believe that, then you must be some kind of dummy, not a philosopher like Ed Kent, a guy who actually knows stuff 'cause he read some books and is, like, smart, you know? And even if he writes incoherent assertions as if he has made a pointful statement, we should, like, dig it or something 'cause he, like, knows stuff. Like, WOW. Go for it, Ken.

Killing in the Name of Jesus?

This post was written by Ed Kent on 18 January, 2007 (05:19) | All News
[I had the good fortune to have spent 3 years studying theology between undergraduate and graduate years of training in philosophy. The experience taught me any number of things that most who claim to be religious believers simply do not know:

1) The prophetic tradition of the Hebrew bible again and again warned religious believers (Israel) against using Yahweh as an excuse for doing evil things. Read the prophets for yourself. Few do and most only get an occasional line or so used as the basis of a sermon. The Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) is the focus of attention for Jewish scholars.

2) Jesus of Nazareth was not calling for people to march off to war. That perversion entered into Christianity when it was coopted by Roman values — legalism and war as a means of imperial outreach. See St. Paul and particularly his Letter to the Romans for hate stuff directed against Jews, gays, women and a call for sycophantic obedience to any and all political authorities — no matter how brutal and corrupt.

3) Christianity was the most murderous of the Western religions — always marching off to war against Muslims and other Christians who disagreed with their particular slant, launching yet another pogrom against the Jews culminating in Hitler's Nazi Christian church Holocaust directed against Jews, gays, those with disabilities, et al.

Having really read the texts and followed the history in detail, I took a deep breath, saw that I could not join the cast of preachers claiming divine authority for their expostulations, and got back to philosophy. There I had the benefit of knowing the sources from which some of our unexamined philosophic value systems derived in the long standing theological tradition. Supererogatory acts are not necessarily not duties just because the Christian theologians divided off duties and saintly self-sacrifice. Our right wing Christian evangelicals and comparable sect religions ( e.g. the Mormons) are hung up on this distinction and opposed, therefore, to proper state provisions for the basic human needs — food, affordable education, universal medical care, adequate education for all.

I don't necessarily believe that it is irrational to believe in a benign divinity hiding out beyond the skin and shell of things, but with all the horrors of the world I have serious doubts about the odds of this claim. It would be nice, were it true, but what you see is probably what you've got. Make the best of it while you can! Ed Kent]


I think Ed Kent is likely a typical educated Western post-modernist liberal. I think Ed Kent's opinion is likely typical of roughly half the population of America today.

I'm no Christian but I do read the Bible on occasion. At this time in my life I should have earned the luxury of time to study Milton. It's not to be. For relief I read Psalms.

Psalms 6:

2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

Psalms 89:

46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?
48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

Psalms 101:

1 I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.

Granted I'm not deeply studied in Christian theology. Still, I feel that I'm cheated when I read commentary from those experts who criticise Christianity as above. I'm willing to say there is no need to study some things, such as the options of the Melians. Sometimes study is a fatal thing. Sometimes study is the only hope of salvation. When Milton quotes Satan in Paradise Lost we can learn from this dubious battle, from such study in revenge.

105: What though the field be lost?
106 All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
107 And study of revenge, immortal hate,
108 And courage never to submit or yield:
109 And what is else not to be overcome?
110 That Glory never shall his wrath or might
111 Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
112 With suppliant knee, and deifie his power,
113 Who from the terrour of this Arm so late
114 Doubted his Empire, that were low indeed,
115 That were an ignominy and shame beneath
116 This downfall; since by Fate the strength of Gods
117 And this Empyreal substance cannot fail,
118 Since through experience of this great event
119 In Arms not worse, in foresight much advanc't,
120 We may with more successful hope resolve
121 To wage by force or guile eternal Warr
122 Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
123 Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
124 Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav'n.

I don't know obvious things, seemingly, like the problem people have with the Melian Dialogue. I miss the point of Ed Kent's deep study of Christian theology. I miss the sympathy some many have for Milton's Satan. Thucyidides presents lucid studies in politics, and Milton equally lessons in morality. Between the two I draw conclusions: that I'm a fascist.

Too bad for me that I'm not a clever thinker like Ed Kent and the other half of America and the modern Western population.
Christians are the most murderous people on Earth in history. Oh well. Since I seem to have some time,

I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.


truepeers said...

Well, this one settles it Dag. Having heard you rant against the needle exchange, I know you are a fascist Christian, whatever you say, cause you're "hung up" on that distinction between what the state owes the people and what the junky people owe their potential sainthood. Stick it in and have done with it! Free food for everyone, you fascist!

Here's a paper that well situates the Ed Kents of the world

dag said...

"Berdyaev characterizes the Russian Atheism-Nihilism of the 1860s and 70s as "ascetism without grace"; it is, he writes, "ascetism not in the name of God, but in the name of the future welfare of mankind, in the name of perfect society."(86) Yet in the game of political and metaphysical resentment, new contenders for the role of vanguard inevitably reject the prevailing doctrinal vehemence as not vehement enough. Berdyaev offers the Marxist-Communist appeal that superseded Atheism-Nihilism in Russia as a case in point. Marxism, although like Atheism-Nihilism "it comes from Feuerbach," lacks any shred of the "humanitarian element"(87) still visible in Atheism-Nihilism. As Berdyaev sees it: "It was not in the name of man that Marx raised the standard of revolt, but in the name of the mightiness of a new deity, the social collectivity. He is not so much moved by pity for the suffering humiliated proletariat . . . as by the idea of the coming might and power of the proletariat, the future messiah destined to organize an earthly empire."(88)"

This is going to take a while to read through properly, but it is fine reading so far. It's not up to the high standards of the Ed Kents of the Left but I think I can read it with some satisfaction regardless, I being a mean guy who hates people. I especially hate poor people. I mean, what good are they? Have you ever tried to borrow money from them? Ha. They never have any when you need a loan. Gag.

Charles Henry said...

I don't necessarily believe that it is irrational to believe in a benign divinity hiding out beyond the skin and shell of things, but with all the horrors of the world I have serious doubts about the odds of this claim.

I recognize this argument for the denial of a divine being, it being the main argument I myself used to make about faith. If there's a God, why so much evil in the world?

Parenting, and teaching in general, give us a clue about why a divine being could allow so much evil; if we're trying to teach a child about an important life lesson, we don't always do so by protecting them from encountering any suffering whatsoever, from the consequences of their actions... we need them to sometimes learn things the Hard Way.
Sometimes kids need to learn from their mistakes, through tough love; who could argue with that?

From there, it's not hard to extrapolate the principle that all this awful suffering can serve a purpose in the long run, if we're civilized enough to learn from it. As individuals it's cruelly unfair, that some individuals' lives are visited by such horror. As an ongoing wave, generation adding to generation, building on all that has come before, it is still not "fun" but it does end up being helpful, by our choosing to learn from this awful experience.

It still doesn't "prove" there's a divine being, of course, but the existence of suffering hardly proves that there cannot be. If philosophy students such as your mr Kent were also parents (or teachers of children rather than of just other adults) I think this principle would be clearer to them than it tends to be.