Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Here Come The Atheists

I know not all atheists are silly; in fact some of the smartest people I know are smart without acknowledging the helping hand of God on their shoulder.

But when I posted about the CNN special, God's Warriors, and its efforts to equalize Islam, Christianity and Judaism as warriors all, equal opportunity zealots, I was introduced to a few polite but less thoughtful atheists/agnostics, Nathan, Reema and Brian.

Nathan started it off:
You are right about the incompleteness and superficiality of CNN's report, but some of this is due to CNN's production style rather than Amanpour's reporting. Dramatic music, flashy video techniques, interview bites, rapid scene and topic changes. Ordinary TV stupidity. And you are dead wrong in your judgment. This isn't only about terrorism. It's about religiously sanctioned violence. Think George Bush, his crusade, the right-wing Christian support of it, and the 100s of thousands of dead Iraqis--oh, yeah, and the tortured and maimed and raped and homeless ones, too. A little clash of civilizations. And Amanpour also covered Israeli state violence against Palestinian and Lebanese people--also supported by the religious right in Israel and by the Christian and Jewish right in the U.S. "God's Warriors" is about some people believing that God has given them sovereignty over other peoples lives, bodies, freedom, dignity. Islamic warriors tend to do this without the instrument of a state or its army, just because God tells them to. Chrsitians and Jews tend to work through states, the ones God has chosen to do this purifying, this unspeakable work.

Nathan misses the point entirely. We are not fighting a religious war; we are fighting against religious warriors who attacked us. George Bush's "crusade" is for democracy, not for Christianity.

His compassion extends, apparently, only to the dead Iraqis attacked by our very secular military, not to those killed by the fundamentally religious Islamist jihadists. This is anti-Americanism, not anti-religion-ism.

Then Reema:
It seems sad to me that people (so easily I might add) defend their own religion as though there is nothing wrong with it. Cruelty is equally suggested by all three religions in their supposedly HOLY book. When you're going to comment about a religion that you don't know anything about it's probably best to be conservative on your views. In the eyes of Arabs; Muslims and many other people every Jewish "God Warrior" in the occupied lands is a terrorist. I am an Atheist and I'm proud that I have outgrown such superstitious beliefs. But as much as it's stupid to you when Muslims talk about jihad It's stupid among them when Christians talk about Muslimification of Europe or Jews right to the holy lands because it has been said so in the old testament. The root of all three religions are the same and each of them is as dangerous to the science and reasoning as the other one. I suggest you watch Richard Dawkins - The Root of All Evil; Not because it will change your view but because it will give you a new perspective.
The roots of Islam are quite different than those of Judaism and Christianity. It came later, the revelation of one man. He borrowed lightly from the established religions of the time, but built his own framework above them which is fundamentally different -- from the definition of his god on.

Reeba's points about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are interesting, if old. Yes, Israel sees a Biblical right to the land, but beyond that there is a very real-world process of getting it -- of U.N. resolutions, of purchases of land from the people who lived there, of ancient roots to the land that were disrupted by brutes who kicked them out. All that is forgotten.

The Muslimification of Europe is a real demographic issue. In secular Europe it is not seen as a religious issue but a cultural issue, so Reeba's point is off.

Now Brian, the most confused of all:
Thought [God's Warriors] was excellent. I'm sorry, but all 3 religions have been responsible for most of the wars in the world and yes I am saying that as an agnostic and a sceptic of religion, which I consider superstitious, resistant to science, and divisive. I also say it as a European of Catholic upbringing.

The Old Testament is full of wars fought on the basis of religions. The Christians all the way back to Charlemagne fought "Crusades" against first European Pagans (he massacred thousands of Saxon Pagans) and then Muslims and so-called "heretics" like the Cathars in southwestern France. The Catholic Inquisiton burned thousands at the stake for being of the wrong religion or saying the world was round. Galileo was locked up in his home for life for the latter 'offense'. After the Reformation, Catholic and Protestant European countries fought countless wars - up to 13 million may have died in the German Thirty Years War. Catholic and Protestant European countries passed penal laws to oppress their religious minorities. It was not until 1788 that France lifted its persecution of Lutherans and 1791 was when the general toleration for Protestants and Jews stopped. In Ireland, Catholics were denied parliamentary representation by the British until 1829.

You may argue I am going a bit far back in mentioning this. But depending on your viewpoint of issues like the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it could be argued - despite the denials - that these also constitute wars fought in the name of religion. When I hear US politicians constantly citing "God" to justify such wars, I get suspicious of some of their motives. We in the West have to find a way of living in peace with the 1.1 billion people in this world who are Muslims. And with our Christian history on this matter, I think it is a bit rich for us to start giving lectures.
Brian's history, like the history of many anti-religious zealots, is trite and dangerously distorted. In recent history, and probably throughout all history, it was the atheists that did most of the killing. Pol Pot was not a religious man, nor was Adolf Hitler; neither fought religious wars, yet both were responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of souls.

Roosevelt routinely asked for God's help in fighting the Germans, which is a good thing for the president of a nation primarily of Christians to do, but he never posed these prayers as a call to God for victory in a Holy War; he just prayed we would win, and our fighting men would be protected.

If Brian's theory of the religious basis for war were right, he should be able to point to the great atheist nations of the 20th and 21st centuries and show them as beacons of what man can achieve if he is not burdened with a cumbersome God.

He can point to Stalin and the Soviet killing machine, which killed millions of Russian Christians and Central Asian Muslims in the name of the Godless state. He can point to today's North Korean and Chinese deliberately Godless governments that carry out killing on a massive scale in the name of the atheist state.

There are no "Christian wars," and have been none since the Crusades (a defense against Islam's bloody expansion into the Holy Land) and the executions of the various convulsions of the Inquisition era. Northern Ireland's troubles were economic much more than religious.

Today's religious wars brought by the Islmaists against all non-believing societies is an aberration in modern times. If we are to learn from history, it is the atheists and agnostics that the world has to fear.

These commentors appear to have accepted wholeheartedly the teachings of our fiercely secularist, anti-Faith universities. It is a sad thing to see, the spouting of their religiously anti-religious doctrine, just as they got it from the pulpit in the front of their classrooms.

Rather than laugh at us for our faith, I pray they look within and find the emptiness of their faith. There is still time for them to find the Joy that comes from humble surrender to our compassionate God.

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