Wise words from Ravi Zacharias.
I do not subscribe to the ridiculing of other peoples convictions. I agree with Ravi about the idea, that if people are acting insane, we should not ridicule them, but be sad and help them to overcome their insanity, if we possibly can.
However, Ravi is also wrong. Dawkins is not complementing the society of the Christians, but the secular society. Christianity has been the leading religion for some 1500 years in the western world and only for the two of those centuries people have been able to present any criticism towards Christianity without direct threat of violence. This was the result of the religious wars between Christians, who after generations of horrible slaughter of each other had to come to the conclusion, that there has to be a freedom of religion, and that is when the secular states were born and secular sciences rose and the first outspoken atheists appeared. It was not because of some fundamental ideals in Christianity, that the atheists can be vocal, but because of the evolution of social morals, that first led people to doubt the uniform Catholic church, and later on the concept of a god, or the supernatural. You see our amount of information is ever growing, and as it does the less we have to rely on the guesses of our ignorant ancestors. With better information we have better judgement, and higher morals.
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” Oscar Wilde.
Do you never laugh at the stupidity of people?
I will be the first to admit that there have been historical atrocities committed by Christians, both protetant and cahtolic. This is true, and I admit that up front.
But the distinctions are threefold. First, those Christians committing these atrocities were not following the teachings of their Lord, who said to treat people the way we would want to be treated. So Christians committing atrocities are violating the tenets of the faith, which cannot be said for all religions. Second, the ability to question the popular worldview is not due to “evolution of social morals.” The fact of the matter is that the modern western culture rose within a context of Christianity, which allowed the worldview for it to happen. For example, Buddhism holds that everything we see is an illusion….what sort of illusion is worth studying to see how it works? But if you believe a Creator gave the world natural laws and we have minds that can reason, then we can learn things about how the world operates, questioning why things are the way they are. As Ravi points out in this video, not every culture would allow such investigation. Third, while the atrocities from Christians do exist, the atrocities from those who reject religion entirely vastly outpace any that is tempered by Christian morality. As evidence, I point to the Inquisition, which is often held up as a symbol of those awful, intolerant Christians. Well, throughout the 300 years of the Inquisition, they killed fewer people each year than Texas currently executes each year. And compared to the deaths caused in the name of atheism by Mao and Stalin in the last 100 years….well, you get the idea.
Bottom line: While Christians certainly mess up a bunch, only within a Christian worldview could the social improvements made during the last centuries have been made. They did not occur within other worldviews.
Well, I think it is commendable, that your interpretation of your religion allows us atheists to be vocal. I salute you on that. As I do any religious people who hold modern view of ethics and morals.
However, those Christians committing atrocities were following the teachings of their religion as well as they could. I bet they, or at least good part of them, were as sincere in their faith and commitment to their god as you are. One does not get religious fervour to kill the infidels, or the heretics from other sources, than from your own religion. The real motivator might be the opportunity to steal, rape and murder, but it is the justification for such atrocities, that is drawn from the fundamental understanding of their religion. If there is a god, that allows people to be led astray so terribly as you suggest these people were, then I hold higher morals, because you see, if I could have stopped them and convinced them, that they are wrong, I would have. That is the difference between religions and any other sort of ideologies. In other sorts of ideologies and philosophies, it is just the men who mess up, but in religions gods in their alledged powers are responsible for not taking action against idiocies made in their name. With power comes responsibility and with ultimate power the responsibility is also equal and ultimate. Not acting against evil is condoning evil, unless you are unable to act against evil. But perhaps there are gods and they just are evil. Does might make right?
I only brought up the historical violence of Christianity, because it was the leading reason to secularism in wich we are able to openly represent our different opinions of gods. You and I both. You see the point was that it was not the tolerant nature of Christianity as a religion, but the violent history of Christianity, that led to the situation we find ourselves in. Perhaps the religious violence against the wrong kind of interpretations of Islam in Islamic countries at present will lead to the same necessary conclusion of religious freedom.
My fear is, that we in the western countries, might follow the path of the Islamic cultures, in denying science, because a god can give all the answers. As the ID movement appears to be advocating. The science in Islamic culture was far more advanced, than anything in the west, when our cultures collided the last time during the crusades, and it led them to abandon the research of nature in stead of blind faith in the god. People are like that, when they face crisis that they feel helpless in resolving, they plea help from the supernatural, what ever that means according to their cultural heritage.
The difference between countries where you can be vocal about such issues as atheism is not in what religion they profess, but how authoritarian these countries are. Japan is not a Christian nation, but Richard Dawkins could very well go there and be vocal about his atheism. Same applies to South Korea and a bunch of other countries where Christianity is not the cultural heritance, or leading religion. They just are not authoritarian countries. But authoritarianism usually is derived from some ultimate source of wisdom, be it ideology, or a religion, a dictator, or a demagogue on behalf of a god, who never appears anywhere to deny that the demagogue is representing them.
I just wanted to peel apart this comment you made: “That is the difference between religions and any other sort of ideologies. In other sorts of ideologies and philosophies, it is just the men who mess up, but in religions gods in their alledged powers are responsible for not taking action against idiocies made in their name.”
Is it fair to restate that comment in this way keeping your intentional meaning?:
Christianity like all other religions does not attribute the problems of the world to humanity or hold man accountable for his actions, but to their religious deity who for some reasons chooses not interfere with the problems in the world?
@zanspence. Yes and no. To be fair the Christians do genrally defend their god by refering to the concept of free will of men. Wich they consider is what causes all the evil in the world and, that if their god took action against evil, it would be against the free will. And I can see, that it is a compelling argument.
This is a bit off topic, but if I may, I must protest against such argumentation. First of all, I do not know if any Christian reading this holds this argument, or perhaps I have understood it wrong, so I do not want to be building any straw men here. Feel free to correct me as I know you will.
Secondly, all people have some form of free will. If person A has free will to murder person B it is the ethical responsiblity of the third person C to stop person A, if they can. Correct? Why? It surely is the free will of the person B to continue to live, but if person C does not interfere, even if he/she could, then person C has estimated the free will of the person A more valuable, than that of the person B, correct? Natural ethics, that are based on our ability for compassion (a trait we share with all social animals and most mammals, though ours may in some cases be more advanced or more corrupt) tell us quite clearly, that the hypothetical person A has abused his free will to do harm on person B. Hence, if the person C is (all) capable, then it is his/her ethical and moral responsibility to save person B. Yes? But gods do not interfere with all their alledged powers, do they?
To show “benevolence” an all-creator kind of god would need to create a certain amount of “evil”. Just for comparrison. However, we may very well ask what amount of evil is enough and what kind of benevolence needs to be demonstrated towards the suffering people, before we may call the amount of evil manifest in the world somehow justified? On the other hand, if no particular kind of supernatural benevolence is manifested in reality towards those most in need, are we warranted to accept that such supernatural benefactor even exists? Is it benevolent that you should ask for that help, and what if that aid is not provided even when asked for? Is it more likely that nature is indifferent and humans have just invented all these gods (as they so oten do) to explain such things they did not understand, or that there are actually some divine, invisible forces that require us to worship them, under the threat of violence and suffering?
When these matters are considered is it not more likely that the evil in the world is indeed work of humans, but that no gods seem to interfere or that the gods do not interfere, because they are a) indifferent to our suffering, or b) they do not exist other than in the imaginations of people? During most of history different religions, including Christianity have professed, that their god takes issue in the actions of men and interferes on part of the true believers, or just those whose cause is just and so on. Does it really seem like that is the case? Or is it so that no god can not interfere in human action because the free will of Hitler, Mao, or Stalin might have been influenced? What about the free will of their victims? Was their free will less meaningful? Most of the victims of Mao had not even heard of Jesus, so they must be in hell suffering for all eternity, while Hitler might be in heaven, if he came to ask for forgivenes at the last minute.
To me it seems it is much more likely that it is typical for humans to invent these god ideas to personalize natural phenomenons in order to bargain with them. It seems rather primitive to me that the creator of the universe might be interrested in sacrificing goats to stop such an entity from sending floods, locust, earthquakes, storms or any such ailments to bother those humans who did the ritual.
@humblesmith, I am really sorry, that was off topic, but it was fair to respond to the request by zanspence, yes?
More on topic, what do you think about the comment Ravi makes about the dangers of the road Dawkins has taken? Surely such an intelligent man as Dawkins is well aware of the risk he is under. Any mad religious zealot a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Christian, or perhaps some other nutter might take it upon themselves to murder him. It might be a person acting on behalf of a god (because gods seem to be in desperate need for humans to act on their behalf), it might be a sick person hearing voices, or just a looney who thirsted the publicity. Would the death of Dawkins prove his cause? Would he die a moral death arguing and taking risks for what he truly believes in? Did the early martyred Christians die for their cause, or because they expected to be rewarded in afterlife? Wich would be a higher or nobler way to go? To die for your convictions expecting no reward, or expecting everlasting reward?
My reply disappeared. Why?
Got caught in the spam filter for some reason.
Oh, sorry about being hasty, the same things often happens to comments in my own blog.
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