Terrible essay on religion or lack of it

There are terrible essays, then there is this by J Maren. He says in an interview with a Ferguson, he (Ferguson) said atheism is a religious faith that he was brought up in. He went on to say it is as much a faith as Christianity or Islam. And finished by making the observation that

atheism, particularly in its militant forms, is really a very dangerous metaphysical framework for a society

And at this point, I have questions. Creeds such as Christianity or Islam have books, or tenets of beliefs, they often have founders and a lot of other requirements. Now what could be the similarities between atheism and Islam or Judaism? How, in its militant form, whatever that means, is it a danger to society? Do they kill believers?

What else had Ferguson to say?

I know I can’t achieve religious faith,” he went on, “but I do think we should go to church. We don’t have, I don’t think, an evolved ethical system. I don’t buy the idea that evolution alone gets us to be moral. It can modify behavior, but there’s just too much evidence that in the raw, when the constraints of civilization fall away, we behave in the most savage way to one another. I’m a big believer that with the inherited wisdom of a two-millennia old religion, we’ve got a pretty good framework to work with.

This is interesting. For thousands of years, our loving and merciful father forgot about his creation. Left men without a religion. Without morals and remembered to send this information much later and topped it up with a suicide or is it a deicide.

If Maren is right, we must believe that before Christianity there was no forgiveness. Maren tells us, in part

What we do know is that he thought Christianity was in many ways the soul of Western civilization, and that the uniquely Christian concept of forgiveness was utterly indispensable to its survival.

I don’t know about you, but I know I am have not

My fear is that the Church is not doing what so many of us on the outside want it to do, which is preaching its gospel, asserting its truths and its claims

wanted the church to do anything except that believers keep their faith private.

Maren then tells of an interview with D MUrray who

believes that Christianity is essential because secularists have been thus far totally incapable of creating an ethic of equality that matches the concept that all human beings are created in the image of God

Which is interesting from where I stand. It appears there has been a difference between belief and practice. But the less said about this the better. Reminds me of when Haitians revolted following the French declaration of Freedom, Liberty and Fraternity, there were locked in a revolt with the French for 12 years until the defeat of Napoleon’s army.

In his conclusion, Maren writes that the west and Christianity are tied at the hip. The west will not long survive without Christianity. The sooner you all start joining the church nearest to you, the longer the western civilization will last. It is all up to you.

Or maybe I am wrong.

Things I never learned in Sunday School

By Nan Yielding

First, thanks Nan for the free copy. It is an interesting and easy read. I think a revised edition is due especially because I think you have in the intervening period learnt something that maybe was not available at the time of first publication.

This book is not a polemic against religion or an apologia. Maybe we could say it is an argument against taking someone as an authority without good reason. In this respect, I think Nan makes her point clearly throughout the book.

That said, I have a few issues with the book.

On the pentatauch, she alludes to Moses writing the first five books. First comment is that the existence of Moses is highly doubtful but that’s a story for later. On the authorship of the first five books, research that I have read point to a multiple group of writers. My preface to the African Bible( used by the Catholic Church) is explicit that while it is commonly believed Moses wrote those books, this is no longer tenable.

On Jesus, Nan writes in a manner that shows she is convinced of at least two things; he existed and had a message of love that he taught. The interesting question here is which Jesus. And having read several researches on Jesus life, I would ask with Ark, which Jesus? Nan writes we are certain Jesus died but this is putting the cart before the horse.

What can be said of the resurrection? She points out the various contradictions in the narratives telling of this special event. And I don’t think much needed to be added. Maybe we can say with Mangassarian that if he went to the sky it is best to live him there.

She writes a lot on Paul which is understandable because of his influence in Christian teaching. The first question is Paul who? Does the author of Acts know Paul? And while her conclusion is correct that without the Pauline literature, we would likely end up with a different religion today. She takes it for granted that Paul was. And I would think, as the theme of the book is not taking things on authority, a little bit of rigour would not be asking for too much.

Her exposition on the devil is quite illuminating. But in that chapter she says we are certain a supreme being exists? But does it really? Are we certain about this? What is the nature of this being & though in the final chapter she makes the argument that resembles that of Aviciena( via negativa) that maybe we can’t begin to name or even describe this being, this gives us no light on whether we should assume such a being exists.

I am not convinced the argument about the Roman empire persecution of Christians hold against scrutiny. I will have to dust my books & update this criticism but her position is not tenable.

I am African and it is a pet peeve of mine when I find African deities or religions referred to as tribal gods. This is following Hegel where everyone else has national gods or just religions but the African, no. His is a tribal god. I know it is not Nan’s fault here that most literature sees Africans only through the lens of tribe.

I think on matters where there is doubt, to express certainties must surely take away from the value of the work. To claim a supreme being/ god certainly exists is to stretch credulity a little far. My other general comment that covers the whole work is on miracles. The bible which is the source document for Christian belief is said to be a miracle- that is, it is not of natural production but involves the action of god(s) in unknown ways- is in need of defence.

While reading the book, a thought occurred to me concerning monotheism. Is it a belief in the existence of only one god or the belief in & worship of only one god While not negating the existence of other gods? The israelites are told not that other gods don’t exist, just that they should worship a specific god. Or as Nietzsche put it, the other gods laughed themselves to death when one of them said I am on the only god. Am I missing something?

Happy Sunday everyone. And thanks again Nan for the book.

thank god i am not a believer

because if I did and wrote something like this, I should be accused of blasphemy. The juicy part that caught my eye is

People in Hell exist. I think this is the most tragic, but also the most tragically beautiful part. Going back to Point 3: all things that exist only exist because God loves them into existence and holds them in existence through His love. Thus, the fact that people in Hell don’t just “disappear into oblivion” is because God is constantly saying to each one of those souls, “I love you, exist in my love. I love you, exist in my love.” Every single soul in Hell is as loved by God as souls in Heaven, Earth, and Purgatory. But, as Point 4 notes: Hell is a prison that is locked from the inside. 

God loves you enough to keep you in hell but not to forgive you and send you to stay in heaven with him. I don’t know what understanding of love this is, but it is the kind I am sure I don’t want. I think this is hat happens when one is committed to a position that is indefensible. You try gymnastics to make it sound reasonable but it doesn’t work.

God loves, even in hell, it just will not get you out.

The so called protestants

But what is happening in the camp of the so-called Protestants, led by a German peasant by the name Martin Luther, stormed out of the universal church? The camp? When the fellow, holding the arm of his nun wife called Maria, shouted, ‘I will not repent, I will not recant. Here I stand !’ the chorus from the so-called camp was deafening. All manner of ‘leader’ repeated the defiant war-song, now not addressed to the Vatican, but against Luther himself, and against each other. And it has continued to the present day. There is not one but numerous camps. It may be there is not one person in the world today who knows exactly how many they are, whatever their differences or similarities.

Artist the Ruler by Okot p’Bitek

This observation by p’Bitek leaves me amused all the time I think of it. Everyday there is a schism in a christian church somewhere. They often claim a difference in doctrine or disagreement on management but mostly it is about the cookie jar, not that one, but the other one and a million reasons excuses in between. What is always important is to justify the need to start a new church.

So my friends, what are you protesting?

I watched a really silly movie

In fact, I am not sure one can say it is a bad nor a good movie. It just is. But it is relevant for some of the discussions we have on this blog and elsewhere. In the recent post by Nan, Barry did mention that god has been defined by Lord Geering and maybe a few others as a metaphor representing some of our highest ideas.

This brings us to the movie. It is on Netflix and the tittle is Saladin. I found out this was the deliverer of Jerusalem from the crusaders in the 12th Century. Men were going to their deaths to fight over a piece of earth. And they still do, to this date.

One thing I can say for the script writers and the directors is they know how to revenge. In the whole act, the Arabs are referred to by the Europeans as barbarians and savages but in their actions, the Arabs come out on top. They are just, innovative and their leader Saladin is a man for lack of a better word, we will say is an just principled and generous man.

It is 3 hours long. And while it is the conversation that is riveting, it is in Arabic so you can’t let play in the background while you do some important thing like spoonfeeding a cat that has refused to eat.

Humanity doesn’t seem to have improved. We still kill one another for a piece of earth, or for believing incorrectly when these beliefs have no demonstrated truth/ facts to support them.

Without the devil

As the fourth and silent member of the trinity, churches, mosques and most likely synagogues would have closed. We must, if we look at the narratives presented to us, take it that the devil has equal power with the god head.

Many a Christian believe themselves monotheistic while they believe in a multitude of gods; god the father, the son, the holy ghost, the devil, Mary mother of god and a multitude of angels and saints.

The priests believe in magic. They persecute magicians only because they think they have commerce with the devil.

The miracles of Jesus do not provide definitive proof of his power. The good book says even the antichrist will do the same but doesn’t tell how we can separate the two.

Nowhere in the bible is to be found a defence of freedom of thought.

There was never a just war. Only defensive wars.

How faiths spread

But how do you think, then, that my religion became established? Like all the rest. A man of strong imagination made himself followed by some persons of week imagination. The flock increased; fanaticism commences, fraud achieves. A powerful man comes; he sees a crowd, ready bridled and with a bit in its teeth; he mounts and leads it.

Voltaire

Questions

Happy Monday everyone.

Those who read this blog religiously have, I am sure, read the questions of Zapata. I am not going to re-post them here. No, the questions we have are more interesting, but before the questions something we might all agree with.

Everything for which we love and venerate the man Jesus becomes a bitter and absurd mockery when attributed to the Lord Christ

James Thomson, Satires and Profanities

Now the questions

  1. he went about doing good; if God, why did he not do all good at once?
  2. he cured many sick; if god why did he not give the whole world health?
  3. he associated with publicans and sinners; if god, why did he make publicans and sinners at all?
  4. he preached the kingdom of heaven; if god, why did he not bring the kingdom with him and make all mankind fit for it?
  5. he loved the poor, he taught the ignorant; if god, why did he let any remain poor and ignorant?
  6. he died for love of mankind; if god, why did he not restore mankind to himself without dying? and what great thing was it to seem to die for three days?
  7. he sent apostles to preach salvation to all men; if god, why did he not reveal it at once to all men, and so reveal it that doubt had been impossible?
  8. he lived an example of holiness to us all; if god, how can our humanity imitate deity
  9. why did he ever let the world get evil?

I hope to hear your responses and have a great week everyone.

On justice

I must say first that if you have time, pick this book by Robert A Heinlein and you will not fail to find something totally hilarious. In some place he writes

…justice is not a divine concept, it is a human illusion. The very basis of the judeo-christian code is injustice, the scapegoat system. The scapegoat sacrifice runs all through the old testament, then it reaches its height in the new testament with the notion of the martyred redeemer. How can justice possibly be served by loading your sins on another? Whether it be a lamb having its throat cut ritually or a messiah nailed to a cross and “dying for your sins”. Somebody should tell all of Yawheh’s followers, jews and Christians, that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Job, a comedy of justice