Evil Religion?

A Salon article about the evils of religion – the usual sophomoric yammering, but this passage caught my eye:

…The Second World War is no better, perhaps in respects far worse, although more complex. Two thousand years of anti-Semitism by the Catholic Church and four hundred years by Protestants had to have an effect and be a causal factor in the persecution and killing of the Jews…

And yet, for all that 2,000 years of Catholicism and 400 years of Protestantism, no one had quite got around to lining up the Jews and massacring them until none were left. I hate to break it to you, atheists, but the only sort of person who could build an Auschwitz is someone alienated from God. You see, while Hitler was, indeed, baptized a Catholic, the best historical analysis of his life indicates that he probably stopped going to Mass shortly after he was confirmed at the age of 15 – and that he only did the confirmation to please his mother. Hitler turned 15 in 1904. He started oppressing Jews 29 years later – that is a bit of water under the bridge. During that 29 year period, Hitler became convinced of a lot of very stupid things, all of which were in direct contravention of Christian dogma. To some how say that the Christian dogma he rejected was the foundation for his un-Christian beliefs and actions is absurd.

The reason progressives, atheists and the like are often on about how Christian anti-Semitism was the precursor to the Final Solution is because they dare not face the truth: Hitler was a product of the Enlightenment. The whole concept of tearing down religious dogma and setting in its place an appeal to science and the complete autonomy of the individual in determining morality is the bedrock of modern thought. But what if the science being appealed to is nonsense? And what if the autonomous individual decides that something horrific is morally licit? Where does the progressive atheist turn to for redress? No where. He’s rejected the only thing which can keep things on an even keel: religious Authority.

I can hear atheists getting mad – Hitler believed nonsense such as Social Darwinism and in eugenics. Yeah? So, what? When Hitler was developing, those ideas were Settled Science. They were rejected by the Church, but no progressive back then paid any mind to what the Church had to say. In fact, in my view, the only reason things like eugenics have gone by the wayside is because of Hitler – when he tore the lid off and showed what can be done by a man who rejects all religious authority, the result was so clearly bad that people had to change their tune, at least to some extent. Here in the 21st century we are getting back on the eugenics bandwagon with some advanced thinkers holding that we should kill “defective” children after they are born.

To get away from Hitler on this – Lenin and Stalin were also people who rejected religious dogma and were determined to act upon science. Seriously, folks: when Lenin and Stalin were butchering people in great, big, bloody batches they were convinced that rock-solid, indisputable science demanded it. And plenty of people agreed with them – and I’m not talking just about communists, I’m talking about supposedly wise and kind progressives in the rest of the world. To be sure, such people weren’t writing articles saying that poor peasants should be sent to slave labor camps to be worked to death – but they were writing articles saying that poor peasants were backwards and needed to be brought into the modern world. Can’t just leave them alone – and don’t appeal to some worn out, religious dogma about the sanctity of human life. We’re building a new society here, folks! Sure, its sad that some have to suffer – but think of the benefits future generations will reap! Talk like that was common on the left while Stalin was murdering 2 to 7 million people in Ukraine (for comparison – in the 300 odd years of the Inquisition, about 400 people were done in…Stalin murdered those Ukrainians in just a few years; some how or another, those who reject religious dogma seem capable of killing far more people, far more quickly, then even the wost religious bigot who ever lived).

Anti-religious folks are often on about how bad Christians are. I plead guilty. Here I am, a baptized Catholic who goes to Mass and confession on a regular basis and I’m often greedy, mean, dishonest and foolish. That’s me with the lid on – the lid of Catholic dogma. I can only shudder about how I’d be without it. And that’s the thing – Christian people aren’t perfect they are just, on average, better than they’d be without Christianity riding herd over them. Another thing our non-religious brothers like to say is that they are fine and decent people without religion. Well, you might not be as good as you think you are. You see, if I’m in good health and have sufficient wealth and no one is irritating me at the moment and I then say a kind word to someone, then I really haven’t exemplified moral excellence. In fact, I’ve done nothing of note, at all: there was nothing else I could possibly do in such circumstances. But if I’m ill and poor and I’m being very much irritated by my brother and I say something nasty – what, then? Well, a lot of people would excuse that in themselves. Trouble is, there’s still no excuse for it. My job, as a fellow human being, is to be kind to everyone – no matter how lousy they are – even when I’m in the very worst condition. Unless you are doing that, you really aren’t being all that swell a person. I’ve a long history of interacting atheists and progressive types who reject religious dogma: I have not found among such people a lot of love of fellow man. In fact, I often find a cross, bitter person who can’t put up with any opposition. This is not to say I’ve never found such a person who wasn’t nice – I’m just saying that I haven’t found that such people are paragons of virtue. Meanwhile, more times than I can count a Christian has done me a good turn simply because Christ commanded that it be done. You can take your chances on the atheist is having a good day, or you can work on the assumption that the Christian can be called to his duty. I take the latter as more likely.

My main point here is that without an absolute, indisputable standard of right and wrong, things will be messed up very badly. And an absolute standard requires belief in God. The crucial things must be either right or wrong because God says so – if you try to work it out any other way then no matter how well you construct your argument, it is as flimsy as straw in a hurricane. No one has to agree to it – and anyone is free to construct a different argument to justify whatever it is they want to do. I say we must not massacre people – and I say that because God has forbidden us to murder; that God uniquely created each of us for a purpose and it is not for us to decide when a person shall die. An atheist can say we must not massacre people – and another atheist can say, “why not?”, and the first atheist really has nothing to say. The second atheist can get his Science out (with charts, graphs, computer models and a consensus that 90% of scientists agree) and say that human beings are destroying the earth and we need two billion less people in order to have a sustainable environment and so two billion people have to die so the other five billion can live. What’s the argument against it? There is none – except to say that killing two billion people is wrong and must not be allowed; but that is an appeal to supernatural morality.

Errors there will be. People will get things wrong. For instance, many of our Muslim brothers are getting things wrong. ISIS is especially getting it wrong – but only a Christian, Jew or a Muslim who has got it right can really oppose what they are doing. What is the atheist argument against ISIS? That because ISIS does it in the name of religion that they have got it wrong? Suppose ISIS started saying they were chopping off people’s heads in order to reduce population pressure on the environment in the Middle East? Once again, only an appeal to God’s law allows us to firmly and without equivocation say that ISIS is wrong and must be stopped – and as we see, those most convinced of the existence of God and His laws are most firm in desiring ISIS be destroyed. Our more progressive, non-believing people are less convinced that there’s anything to be done – more likely to find excuses for their actions rather than craft plans to get them to stop.

Our progressives and atheists will keep working for the day when religion is no more. They will lawsuit and regulate and insult in the hopes that on one, fine morning in the future no one wakes up and says a prayer for the day. The trouble is, if they ever get to that happy event, they’ll find that some people have come up with rather interesting ideas, and they’ll have no defense against them.

Fight or Die

In light of the cowardly way we ran and hid in Boston when two terrorists were loose; given the reaction of the British crowd to a soldier being massacred by two Muslims in Britain; as we watch the Swedes endure day after day of Islamist youth on a rampage, I’ve come to a conclusion.  It was neatly solidified when Walter Russell Mead quoted In Flanders Fields in his Memorial Day column:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Mead correctly points out that the poem does not call for us to feel sorry for the dead, but to carry on their fight.  Mead was more of a mind to remind us not to just pity, but to remember and to honor what the dead fought for.  For me, its a slightly different take.  As a person who had read libraries of history with a definite concentration on military matters, I remember all of the men of our civilization who have fought.  To me, any man who took up arms in his nation’s cause and who did his duty honorably and nobly is worthy of my respect and remembrance – and my best efforts to see that what is right and good in our civilization is defended.  Of course those who died for my nation hold pride of place in my heart and mind, but I spare a thought, from time to time, for those British who died for King and Country; those Russian who bled for their Tsar; those Kaisertreu Hapsburg soldiers who faced hopeless odds at Sadowa.  All of them stood forth and did their duty as men, as Christians and as citizens of our common civilization.

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Happy Easter!

He is risen, indeed:

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened. – Luke 24:1-12

Habemus Papam Franciscum

I am delighted with the new Pope – seems a solid, bell-ringer of a priest sort of man; someone who is determined that Catholics from highest to lowest will get down and dirty and do the work of the Lord for the least among us.  Of course, some people were surprised to find that the new Pope is, well, Catholic – saw shocked-sounding headlines pointing out that Francis is opposed to abortion and gay marriage.  Tomorrow’s shocking news:  he believes in the Trinity and that Jesus suffered, died and was buried and on the third day rose again.

Liberals can find some comfort in the fact that Francis doesn’t exactly have a love affair with capitalism – though they’ll be less pleased to find that, apparently, he condemns it as “neo-liberalism”.  But on the whole, Francis’ clear adherence to Truth is going to be a stumbling block for liberals.  So much the worse for them.

I have some hopes for the new Pope, which I won’t give word to now:  better to just see what he does and comment on it on a case by case basis.  Fortunately, the government of the Church is not my office so its not up to me to figure out how to carry out God’s will while shepherding 1.2 billion people.

Discuss this and any other issues of religious nature.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a good New Year.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
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The God in the Cave

This is quoted from G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.

This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; who still drive their cattle into such holes and caverns at night. It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravanserai had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passersby, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God also was a CaveMan, and, had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously colored upon the wall of the world ; but the pictures that he made had come to life.

A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded. It is at least like a jest in this; that it is something which the scientific critic cannot see. He laboriously explains the difficulty which we have always defiantly and almost derisively exaggerated; and mildly condemns as improbable something that we have almost madly exalted as incredible; as something that would be much too good to be true, except that it is true. When that contrast between the cosmic creation and the little local infancy has been repeated, reiterated, underlined, emphasized, exulted in, sung, shouted, roared, not to say howled, in a hundred thousand hymns, carols, rhymes, rituals pictures, poems, and popular sermons, it may be suggested that we hardly need a higher critic to draw our attention to something a little odd about it; especially one of the sort that seems to take a long time to see a joke, even his own joke. But about this contrast and combination of ideas one thing may be said here, because it is relevant to the whole thesis of this book. The sort of modern critic of whom I speak is generally much impressed with the importance of education in life and the importance of psychology in education. That sort of man is never tired of telling us that first impressions fix character by the law of causation; and he will become quite nervous if a child’s visual sense is poisoned by the wrong colors on a golliwog or his nervous system prematurely shaken by a cacophonous rattle. Yet he will think us very narrow-minded, if we say that this is exactly why there really is a difference between being brought up as a Christian and being brought up as a Jew or a Moslem or an atheist. T he difference is that every Catholic child has learned from pictures, and even every Protestant child from stones, this incredible combination of contrasted ideas as one of the very first impressions on his mind. It is not merely a theological difference. It is a psychological difference which can outlast any theologies It really is, as that sort of scientist loves to say about anything, incurable. Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether be likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savor of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God. But the two ideas are not naturally or necessarily combined. They would not be necessarily combined for an ancient Greek or a Chinaman, even for Aristotle or Confucius. It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten. It has been created in our minds by Christmas because we are Christians; because we are psychological Christians even when we are not theological ones. In other words, this combination of ideas has emphatically, in the much disputed phrase, altered human nature. There is really a difference between the man who knows it and the man who does not. It may not be a difference of moral worth, for the Moslem or the Jew might be worthier according to his lights; but it is a plain fact about the crossing of two particular lights, the conjunction of two stars in our particular horoscope. Omnipotence and impotence, or divinity and infancy, do definitely make a sort of epigram which a million repetitions cannot turn into a platitude. It is not unreasonable to call it unique.

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How Old is the World?

Turns out, they don’t just ask that of GOPers whom the Democrats have commanded the MSM to destroy – seems that our President was once upon a time asked the question.  From Instapundit:

Q: Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?

A: What I’ve said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know.

Which is actually a pretty good answer – a bit better than Rubio’s which also wasn’t too bad.  Of course, we don’t know if President Obama has “evolved” on this issue or decided it was above his paygrade.  We’ll need a follow up question – which I’m sure the MSMers will ask at his next press conference in 2015 or so.

The proper answer is, of course, “as old as it is, I suppose” because no one really knows.  You see, the main trouble with pre-historic events is that they are, well, pre-historic.  What happened wasn’t written down in contemporary documents and so we can’t review the material and come to a conclusion about what happened.  We can make some surmises from what we can analyze in the here and now, but we can’t know how it all came about.  One of the troubles we have in studying the distant past is that there is so little evidence for us to go on – and so, all too often, the scientists studying it grasp on to whatever scrap of evidence they can find and run entirely too far with it (this is especially true of paleontologists and their tiny collection of bones).  So much of what happened in the past has entirely vanished – there are a lot of wild guesses about what our primitive ancestors did, for instance, but I find no real profit in looking in to the matter – we’ll never really know.  I’m just grateful that, apparently quite early on, one of them figured out how to make beer.

The fundamental problem with evolution as it is expressed these days it not in the concept that a positive thing called an ape slowly turned in to a positive thing called a man – that is something which no theology can have the slightest problem with.  The error comes in when a proponent of evolution insists that it was all blind, random chance – first off, the chances of it happening are so vastly small as to be nearly zero:  it is a greater miracle that we exist by blind chance than the miracle that we exist because the Word called us in to existence.  Secondly, if it was all blind chance then everything is merely the result of a prior cause; there is no free will and thus no actual thought…including the thought that we evolved.  You see, if all results are merely the blind working out of forces beyond anyone’s control (as they must be if there is no Creator) then there is no validity to the thought that we evolved by blind chance:  the random atoms in your brain just happened to be worked in to a position where your mind spits out the “it all evolved blindly” thought; but a slight alternation in the atoms a billion years ago and you’d have spit out the thought that we all grew out of a rock in the garden – and neither thought is worth commenting on because each are equally meaningless.   The thoroughgoing evolutionist cuts his own intellectual throat.

To me it is just plain as a pikestaff that God created the universe and ordered it towards a certain end.  I really don’t grasp how anyone can think differently – one thing happening can be ascribed to random chance but the tens of billions of things which must have happened to result in my typing on a computer in 2012 makes me highly suspicious that there is an Author to the play I am acting in.  I don’t know if this Author spoke everything in to existence in 6 days or if he decided to go about it through 6 billion years – and to me the whole debate is rather academic.  At the end of it all we are, indeed, here and have to do the things we must do.  The only thing which irks me in this debate is the insistence upon some that in our public life we subscribe to an asinine theory saying that there can be no God in the process of life.  That is just to shut down a massive area of intellectual inquiry – it is a closing of the mind and made doubly irritating because the people who are shutting their minds say they are doing it in the name of openness.