Saturday, April 18, 2015

The difference between atheism and religion with respect to violence


 Is that while religions like Christianity offer the answer to the major questions of life, atheism on the other hand is a claim concerning what the answers are not. An atheist who wants to use force to suppress religious belief wouldn’t be doing so to make people accept the true meaning of life, but rather to prevent people from getting a certain kind of wrong answer to those questions. But neither theism nor atheism actually answers those questions, since bare theism also does not tell us who God is or what God expects from us.


Nonetheless, someone could certainly use violence to prevent someone from getting the wrong answer just as easily as one could use it to make sure someone gets the right answer. 




 

64 comments:

John Moore said...

I think it's true that atheism is a kind of "I don't know" position. If you don't know something, you wouldn't use violence against someone who claimed to know - unless that person was doing something outrageous. Atheists don't really fight against religious belief per se, but they just fight against the outrageous reactions some people have to their religious belief.

im-skeptical said...

This little diatribe is yet another attempt to equate atheism with totalitarian communism, albeit without using the word communism. You might protest that we aren't trying to use force make people give up their theism, or that most of us are absolutely supportive of religious freedom, or that we're the minority and we're the ones who get jerked around by their laws. Their reply always goes something like this: "Well, you would use force if you had the chance."

No matter how many times you try to tell them that's not who we are and that's not what we believe, they keep coming back to it over and over again. You can tell them what you believe and what you stand for until you're blue in the face, and it all falls on deaf ears, because they don't care about that. It doesn't fit their narrative, and the last thing they're interested in is truth.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

I think the issue here is mainly one of political, rather than of religious, philosophy. Talk to someone like Ilion, and you'll be told that all state action is basically force, since every law is backed up by at least the threat of force (if you do not comply). Saint Augustine said much the same thing more than a thousand years ago. So unless we're all going to declare ourselves anarchists (and if so, I have some property in Somalia that's available for immediate occupancy), the debate will always and forever be over how much force is appropriate, for what aims, and who gets to decide.

Jezu, ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

Communism is an atheistic philosophy that deputizes the state to bring it into effect. Some forms of Islam deputize the state to bring their form of religiosity into effect within the culture. It is perfectly compatible with either theism or atheism to set the use of force aside.

Communism is a form of "atheism plus". But you can't get a basis for violence from Christianity either, you need some pluses as well.

Whether it concerns religious violence or violence done in the name of an atheistic philosophy, neither atheism nor religion is sufficient. If I were make all atheists out to be communists I would be ignoring a lot of critical factors, but the position that says "Religion leads to violence, and if we got rid of religion, we would get rid of a lot of violence" does the exact same thing.

B. Prokop said...

Speaking of violence, HERE is a video about the role of my own parish church in the Civil War.

Small bragging point here - I was the first to point out to Fr. Matt that we had a stained glass window dedicated to a Confederate officer. I discovered this during some research I had been doing into the nearby Battle of Monocacy.

B. Prokop said...

Although Communism (with an upper case "C") requires atheism as an antecedent belief, atheism in and of itself does not inevitably result in Communism. Proof of this is the existence of Ayn Randian Objectivism - the polar opposite of Communism. Communism and Ayn Randianism are the Sunni And Shia branches of atheism.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

Who is saying that religion leads to violence? You seem to be playing a game of tit-for-tat, but you don't know who the opponent is.

The first thing you need to understand is that people fight for ideologies, not for a simple lack of belief in your ideology. Communism is indeed one of those ideologies, as is Christianity. But please stop trying so hard to link atheism with communism, and don't call it "atheism plus", because that's not what it is. Being an atheist does not make one a communist, and being a communist does not make one an atheist. I saw plenty of Christian communists in Europe.

Another thing you need to understand is that nobody is saying that just because you have an ideology, it results in violence. I know for a fact that there are Christians who are not violent, and I don't go around accusing all Christians of being violent.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, Atheism is not negative except in the sense of contesting that "Christianity" or "Islam" or [insert your religion here] owns the sole copyright on everything that's good, pleasurable, knowledgable, wise and beautiful in life.

Second, atheism was around long before communism, and does not depend on communism, nor on forcing others to become atheists. Yes, communists were atheists, but keep in mind that they founded a politico-religious utopian movement that promised a worker's paradise, and whose new devil or scapegoat became the wealthy owners of land and factories. The promise of paradise and the pointing to a particular devil on which to blame things should sound familiar. At least communism made everyone painfully aware of the fact of class warfare and how it is a very real factor (though not the only one) in history, even to a horrendous extent, which was never really admitted before, even during the Peasant's Revolt in Luther's day. It also made people painfully aware of the way mass movements get out of control, and psychopaths can rise to the top in movements as varied as Christian, Muslim, communist and fascist mass movements--see The True Believer by Eric Hoffer.


Victor Reppert said...

What I am trying to do here is to rebut a kind of argument against religious belief that says it tends to make people more prone to violence than they otherwise would be.

This is the kind of position I am criticizing:

"I think there is a logical path from religion to doing terrible things.... There's a logical path that says, if you really, really, really believe that your God, Allah, whoever it is, wants you to do something--and you'll go to heaven, you'll go to Paradise if you do it--then it's possible for an entirely logical, rational person to do hideous things. I cannot conceive of a logical path that would lead one to say, 'Because I am an atheist, therefore it is rational for me to kill, or murder, or be cruel, or do some horrible thing.' I can easily see that there are plenty of individuals who happen to be atheists, maybe even individuals who have some other philosophy which incidentally happens to be associated with atheism, but there is no logical path. Those young men who bombed in the London subway and the buses, those 19 men who flew planes into various targets in the United States in September of 2001, they were not psychopaths, they were not downtrodden ignorant people; they were well-educated rational people who passionately believed they were right. They thought they were righteous, they thought they were good, by the lights of their religion they were good. The same thing could be said of the hideous things done by the Taliban.... These people believe deeply in what they are doing. And it follows logically, once you grant them the premise of their faith, then the terrible things that they do follow logically. The terrible things that Stalin did, did not follow from his atheism, they followed from something horrible within him.... You will not do terrible deeds because you are an atheist, not for rational reasons; you may well for very rational reasons do terrible things because you are religious. That's what faith is about."

im-skeptical said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

"The terrible things that Stalin did, did not follow from his atheism, they followed from something horrible within him"

Exactly right. Lack of belief in God didn't make Stalin do what he did. It was his ideology. But the existence of a logical path from ideology to violence doesn't imply that there is no other path, either. Stalin might have been a man with an ideology who chose to follow a more humane path toward his goals, just as Gregory IX might have chosen a different path.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

>Second, atheism was around long before communism, and does not depend on communism, nor on forcing others to become atheists.


I see the Gnus are STILL living and dying by the No True Scotsmen defense as well as question begging double standards.

Do you idiots really think the rest of us are dumb enough to believe this self-serving horseshit?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

The problem with the "Defining Atheism Negatively as lack of belief in anything" meme as a sophisticated trick to absolve Atheist Regimes from their genocide crimes while continuing to blame Theists for crimes committed by religious Regimes is it backfires.


https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/jeffrey-taylor-makes-a-dumb-comment/

QUOTE"Jeffrey Taylor, writing for salon.com, offers up a common Gnu talking point:

I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has called for or committed acts of violence against Christians anywhere, at any time.

Well, yeah. Just as I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has done anything good for the world.

If atheism doesn’t get blamed, neither does it get credited.

Motivations don’t arise from non-belief; they arise from beliefs. So we would need to focus on the beliefs of the atheist. And atheists can have LOTS of beliefs. The New Atheist version, for example, believes religion is one of the greatest evils in the world, religious people are dangerous and/or mentally ill, and we need to rid the world of religion.

And I’m aware of atheists who, motivated by their anti-religious beliefs, have committed acts of violence against Christians around the globe.

Of course, not all atheists are New Atheists. There are many atheists who do not exhibit such anti-religious bigotry and it would be unfair to lump them in with the Gnus."END QUOTE

B. Prokop said...

"I see the Gnus are STILL living and dying by the No True Scotsmen defense as well as question begging double standards."

Ben, it's far worse than that. Were it simply a matter of atheists using a logical fallacy in debate, that would be (and is) an annoyance. But far more importantly, their failure to take responsibility for their own history means they learn nothing from these ghastly events. No lesson learned means nothing stopping them from repeating the same mistakes in the future.

If an individual has a problem in his life, say alcoholism, he must first acknowledge that he has a problem before there can be any hope of overcoming it. The same thing applies to societies and nations. Germany's admission of guilt in the Second World War paved the way for that nation's reintegration into the Civilized World.*

The atheists' failure to own up to crimes demonstrably committed by their fellow non-believers and (yes) in the name of their shared non-belief, guarantees that given the chance, they'd do The Same Damned Thing again. Repetitious insistence that "It wasn't us!" only deepens the denial.

* And note that the admission has to come from within. The externally imposed "admission of guilt" for the First World War, part of the Treaty of Versailles, did nothing to prevent a repetition of war crimes in the Second. Thing about the "Truth and Reconciliation Commissions" in South Africa and elsewhere, which have done so much to heal the societies in those countries.

Jezu, ufam tobie!

im-skeptical said...

"If atheism doesn’t get blamed, neither does it get credited."
- Like Ben, Jeffrey Taylor is quite unaware of how correct that comment is. Atheism should not get credit for any good deeds, because it is not a motivating ideology. I agree completely. That is exactly what I have been saying.

"And I’m aware of atheists who, motivated by their anti-religious beliefs, have committed acts of violence against Christians around the globe."
- And who might that be? No other motivation than non-belief? Bullshit.

"their failure to take responsibility for their own history means they learn nothing from these ghastly events."
- I will not take responsibility for some ideology that I don't subscribe to. Nor should I.

Victor Reppert said...

That's fine, so long as I don't have to take responsibility for the acts of Thomas of Torquemada, who was committed to an ideology that I don't subscribe to.

im-skeptical said...

You mean Christianity
?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

Amen Bob!!!!

Son of Ya'Kov said...

>You mean Christianity
?

I so called it......

No Torquemada was Pro Spanish Monarchy more than anything else.

Spain expelled Jews from their Kingdom thinking they would side with Muslim Invaders if it came to it.

Some Jews to avoid expulsion converted to Christianity. OTOH St Philip Neri was active in converting thousands of Muslims and Jews. So it is up in the air how many of these conversions where to stay in the country vs true religious conviction.

Spain was more concerned about politics then the Faith IMHO.

Victor Reppert said...

I-S: Now you're just plain cheating. Stalin was an atheist, you are an atheist, but Stalin believed a lot of things you don't, so atheism is not the issue. I am a Christian, Torquemada was a Christian, but, once again Torquemada believed a lot of things I don't. In particular I buy Lactantius's argument as follows:

"Religion being a matter of the will, it cannot be forced on anyone; in this matter it is better to employ words than blows [verbis melius quam verberibus res agenda est]. Of what use is cruelty? What has the rack to do with piety? Surely there is no connection between truth and violence, between justice and cruelty . . . . It is true that nothing is so important as religion, and one must defend it at any cost [summa vi] . . . It is true that it must be protected, but by dying for it, not by killing others; by long-suffering, not by violence; by faith, not by crime. If you attempt to defend religion with bloodshed and torture, what you do is not defense, but desecration and insult. For nothing is so intrinsically a matter of free will as religion. (Divine Institutes V:20)"

and Torquemada did not.

Hence I can say what you said earlier:

I will not take responsibility for some ideology that I don't subscribe to. Nor should I.

I think you are being just plain dishonest here.

B. Prokop said...

Where's Ilion when we need him? No one's better at calling people out on being Intellectually Dishonest than he is!

O Magnum Mysterium

im-skeptical said...

"Stalin was an atheist, you are an atheist, but Stalin believed a lot of things you don't, so atheism is not the issue. I am a Christian, Torquemada was a Christian, but, once again Torquemada believed a lot of things I don't."

No, Victor. You're being dishonest. Stalin was a communist, and I'm not. Stalin did what he did fro communism, not for atheism. You can lie about it all day long, but you are still just lying. Torquemada was a Christian, and he did what he did for Christianity. Please feel free to dissociate yourself from his ideology, but I have no need to dissociate myself from communism or Stalinism or anything he did, because I have never professed that ideology. And your never-ending efforts to make me out to be a Stalinist are nothing more than lies.

im-skeptical said...

Just to put a point on it, Victor, you don't believe in unicorns. Stalin didn't didn't believe in unicorns. Does that mean you share some common ground? Would you call it a-unicornism plus? No. What separates you is the ideologies that you actually profess. Two different ideologies, that are completely different. And I have as much in common with Stalin as you do.

Victor Reppert said...

Atheism was an essential component of Stalin's communism. You can be a communist of some sort and not be an atheist, but you can't accept Stalin's version of it without being one.

im-skeptical said...

"You can be a communist of some sort and not be an atheist, but you can't accept Stalin's version of it without being one."

Wrong. You absolutely can be a communist and a Cristian.

Victor Reppert said...

The Party under Stalin did not allow Party members to practice Christianity.

im-skeptical said...

So? There are still Christian communists. They incorporate Marxist ideas, but not the atheism.

oozzielionel said...

The way IM (and others) describe atheism as lack of belief in gods, it is very close to having no descriptive value at all. It says nothing about a person's position on anything. It is even non-committal on the topic of a divine being(s).

im-skeptical said...

"The way IM (and others) describe atheism as lack of belief in gods, it is very close to having no descriptive value at all. It says nothing about a person's position on anything. It is even non-committal on the topic of a divine being(s)."

You are starting to get the picture. Atheism doesn't imply any ideology, and the only one it precludes is theism.

oozzielionel said...

, and the only one it precludes is theism

I thought I had it, now I don't. The "only one" of what?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

Stalin was a Marxist. Marx taught Atheism and dialectical materialism.

Skepo is on drugs.

That there are Christians who don't believe in the ownership of private property and in communal ownership (an equivocal definition of Communism or Socialism) is not relevant.

The USSR was an Atheist State.

Skepo is on some serious drugs here.

I have the usual questions for him. What kind of drugs and where can I score some?

It must be some potent shit.

im-skeptical said...

Your church prohibits you from using your brain. It's the best drug of all.

Victor Reppert said...

The ideology on behalf of which Stalin committed his numerous crimes against humanity was an atheistic version of Marxist communism. That there are religiously compatible versions of it is beside the point. I am convinced that had the Soviet leaders been Christian communists, there would have been no party purges, because they would have believed that they would someday have to account to God for such murderous conduct.

im-skeptical said...

What's beside the point is that the Soviet communists were atheist. They were COMMUNISTS.

im-skeptical said...

"I am convinced that had the Soviet leaders been Christian communists, there would have been no party purges, because they would have believed that they would someday have to account to God for such murderous conduct."

I am convinced that they would have found a way to justify their atrocities, just like the inquisitors, just like the witch hunters, just like the (Christian - don't deny it)Nazis.


Son of Ya'Kov said...

> am convinced that they would have found a way to justify their atrocities, just like the inquisitors,

15 million Russans killed and 11 million Ukrainians starved to death in an artificial famine over a few decades.

About 3,000 to 5,000 people put to death by the Spanish Inquisition over a 200 year period of time.

That is quite a difference.

>just like the witch hunters, just like the (Christian - don't deny it)Nazis.

Well post Reformation witch burning spiked in Germany to about 100,000. Prior to that most witch had been spared since they could go to confession.

The Nazis where not Christian. The where Darwinian Deists. Jesus was an Aryan Superman and symbol not the Jewish Messiah God Incarnate.

weak sause..

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"You're being dishonest. Stalin was a communist, and I'm not. Stalin did what he did fro communism, not for atheism. You can lie about it all day long, but you are still just lying."

I do not know if you have noticed but you are addressing the host of this blog, the owner of the house, so one would think a little more respect was in order. Victor is unfailingly gracious and civil, and one of the few here that stoops to address you in an intellectually even manner (because of some Christian scruple, I would surmise), and yet you have no qualms in piling abuse on him. Have you no shame? This is just a rhetorical question, of course you do not. Ideas have consequences and yours are particularly morally deleterious. At any rate, if you really do believe that Victor is "dishonest" and "lying" then why don't you make good on the semi-promise you made a while ago and get lost?

im-skeptical said...

grodrigues,

You can't deny that I have patiently tried to explain the difference between atheism and communism over and over again. But do they listen? I have tried to explain what makes certain groups of people violent, but do they listen? Do they ever want to discuss the real issue at hand? Are they even slightly interested in understanding the truth? Not from what I can see. As long as people keep trying to equate atheism with communist totalitarians and pin their atrocities on atheism in general, I will continue to call them out as liars, because that is exactly what they are.

So here's a piece of advice for you, grodrigues: as long as you have nothing to offer to the discussion, why don't you keep your hypocritical, abusive commentary to yourself.

Papalinton said...

grodrigues, lying and dishonesty must be challenged at source wherever and whenever that may be.

Unfortunately, Dr Reppert has forgone the intellectual rigour of his PhD training and now largely resorts to tabloid journalism for his opinionated pieces.

I too am an atheist but I am also a dyed-in-the-wool believer in democracy. There is no causal link between communism and atheism. Just as there is no causal link between christianity and democracy.

Therefore it is disingenuous to the point of slander to brand an atheist = a communist.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

You are in denial. Not only was Nazi Germany a Christian nation, but much of its senior leadership were Catholics who remained in good standing with the church throughout their entire lives. Their hatred of Jews was a direct consequence of the long-standing Christian animosity toward Jews.

Hitler makes numerous references to "the almighty" in his writings. The Wehrmacht bore the slogan "Gott mit uns" on their uniforms. It is true that there were a few ideological leaders in the Nazi party (not Hitler) who tried to move Germany to a more Teutonic worldview, their efforts largely failed, and Nazi Germany remained a predominantly Christian nation.

http://www.catholicarrogance.org/Catholic/NaziLeadership.html
http://life.time.com/history/nazi-christmas-photos-of-hitler-and-other-celebrants-at-the-holidays/#1

B. Prokop said...

"Therefore it is disingenuous to the point of slander to brand an atheist = a communist."

No, Linton. What is disingenuous to the point of slander is to charge that anyone on this site has said that they do equal each other (other than perhaps due to occasional sloppy language). How many times have I gone out of my way to insist that atheism does not equal communism? I have gone so far as to repeatedly bring up the example of Ayn Rand and her virulently anticommunist Objectivist philosophy as a case in point, just to ensure that no one could (fairly) accuse me of making such an equation.

What I have insisted upon (and will continue to do so, because it's true) is that atheism is a necessary prerequisite for Capital "C" Communism (i.e., the Soviet variety). You cannot be a Communist Party member without being (at least officially) an atheist first.

And yes, there have been such things a lower case ("c") communists throughout history. But other than an accidental similarity in labeling, they share no other common features. The undeniable existence of genuine Christian communitarian sects (such as the Doukhobors) is irrelevant to any discussion of Soviet-style Communism.

And no, this is not a case of No True Scotsman. It is rather a case of two entirely separate, unrelated groups of people rather awkwardly sharing the same adjective.

But far, far more important that this being a issue of nomenclature, the real crux of the matter is the deadly connection between abandonment of God and the consequent opening of the door to Real World horrors that, unfortunately (due to recent history) are not at all beyond imagination. The sickening carnage of the French Revolution, the murderous Bolshevik reign of terror over nearly a third of the world, the Maoist slaughter of tens of millions of people during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian Killing Fields, the tragedy of the Vietnamese Boat People, and the ongoing living death that is North Korea... all would have never happened without the persons responsible for these crimes, the worst in world history, first being atheists. This is undeniable.

Servant of God Dorothy Day, Pray for us!

B. Prokop said...

And my comment above in this conversation, from April 20, 9:20 AM, is worth re-reading alongside the one I just posted.

im-skeptical said...

"The sickening carnage of the French Revolution, the murderous Bolshevik reign of terror over nearly a third of the world, the Maoist slaughter of tens of millions of people during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian Killing Fields, the tragedy of the Vietnamese Boat People, and the ongoing living death that is North Korea... all would have never happened without the persons responsible for these crimes, the worst in world history, first being atheists."

Bob, you're the biggest liar of them all.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't think atheists appreciate the force of the doctrine of eternal accountability in restraining evil. Unless there is eternal accountability, either of the Hindu karma-birth-rebirth kind, or accountability before a monotheistic God, if we get away with it on earth, we get away with it period.

im-skeptical said...

Forgive me, Victor, but I don't think you appreciate how morally bankrupt your theism is. You think you have to be restrained in order to keep from committing all manner of atrocities. On the other hand, I know that I am responsible for my own behavior. I have natural morality. You have someone holding a gun to your head, and if it weren't for that, you would feel free to do anything. How sad is that view of morality.

Sure, there have been atheists who lacked a moral sense. But do you honestly believe that it's only atheists? Do you think, as Bob does, that you have to be an atheist to commit atrocities? Get real.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

>You are in denial. Not only was Nazi Germany a Christian nation,

It was only a Christian nation based on your equivocal understanding of Christianity and Theism. If granted the same equivocal understanding of Atheism then we must say the USSR was an Atheist Nation. You think that like Sandra Burnhart on a Saturday night you can have it both ways. Well maybe she can but you can’t.

>but much of its senior leadership were Catholics who remained in good standing with the church throughout their entire lives. Their hatred of Jews was a direct consequence of the long-standing Christian animosity toward Jews.

You got that from THE DEPUTY or Cromwell or your latest issue of Chick Comics? What about that anti-Semitic Atheist leadership in Russia? Oh right somehow they are No True Atheist. Plueez!


>Hitler makes numerous references to "the almighty" in his writings. The Wehrmacht bore the slogan "Gott mit uns" on their uniforms. It is true that there were a few ideological leaders in the Nazi party (not Hitler) who tried to move Germany to a more Teutonic worldview, their efforts largely failed, and Nazi Germany remained a predominantly Christian nation.

Because we all know Hitler was a person of high integrity (as well as a genocidal monster) he would NEVER play to the crowd by pretending to believe something for political purposes. It is interesting how you Gnus implicitly trust in his honesty...

Ironically you can find your pictures over at Chick Comics as well. Perhaps for your next feat you will criticize the State of Israel by quoting the PROTOCALS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION?


Skepo you are living proof of the maximum if you believe in nothing you will fall for anything.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"You can't deny that I have patiently tried to explain the difference between atheism and communism over and over again."

Everyone here knows the difference, no one has equated the two, it is you who does not understand what is being argued.

At any rate I have no wish to argue with you. I know it is pointless, but here goes for the second and last time: (1) Victor is the *owner* of the blog, you are his *guest* here. I do not know from what trollish swamp you have emerged, but in civilized societies one does not barge in other people's homes and abuse their owners (2) everyone else here -- say me, or Ben or Bob -- is fair game, and piling abuse on any of us is part of the give and take. I never implied otherwise. But Victor has been nothing but civil and courteous, and might I add, with the patience of a Saint for you, so he simply does not deserve such a treatment (3) and if we grant that he does deserve it, that is, he is "dishonest" and a "liar", do you really think that arguing it solves anything? Even someone as you cannot fail to see that arguing with "dishonest" people and "liars" is a waste of time -- or maybe you are just this morally obtuse? Just pack your things and leave. You made such a promise a while go (and the Heavens rejoiced), if I remember right because of the abusive behavior of some commenters (me? Crude? I forgot the exact details, and it does not matter anyway, though the irony is certainly telling) and yet here you are. What do you expect to accomplish? Even Bob no longer wastes his time with you. I for one, expect this exhortation to the least decency on your part to bear no fruit, so, and in keeping with my own advice, I will fall silent.

B. Prokop said...

grodrigues,

Sirach the Sage:

"Do not argue with a fool, nor heap wood on his fire" (Ecclesiasticus 8:3)

From The City of God, Book II, by St. Augustine:

Even after the plain truth has been thoroughly demonstrated, so far as a person is capable of doing, the confirmed skeptic will insist on maintaining belief in his own irrational notions. This is due to either a great blindness, which renders him incapable of seeing what is plainly set before him, or on account of an opinionative obstinacy, which prevents him from acknowledging the truth of what he does see. Thence arises the woeful necessity of going to ridiculous lengths to expound yet more fully on what we have already made perfectly clear, in hopes that we might get through to those who close their minds to reason.

And yet how shall we ever profit from our discussions, or what bounds can be set to our discourse, if we forever fall to the temptation of replying to those who reply to us? We must acknowledge that those who are so hardened by the habit of contradiction will never yield, but would rather reply out of stubbornness, even when they recognize their own error.

From The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (slightly edited for context):

"If there is a real [intellect] - even the least trace of one still there inside [all the nonsense], it can be brought to life again. If there's one wee spark under all those ashes, we'll blow till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there's nothing but ashes we'll not go blowing the in our own eyes forever."

Christ:

"Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you." (Matthew 7:6)

Jezu ufam tobie!

B. Prokop said...

Typo:

The Lewis quote should have ended, "we'll not go blowing them in our own eyes forever."

them, not the

Papalinton said...

Bob: "You cannot be a Communist Party member without being (at least officially) an atheist first."

Apparently that wasn't a proscription for Vladimir Putin, one of the ruling apparatchiks in the KGB. One can only assume he lied about his Christianity so that he could cowardly secure a comfy job, no?

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

Putin converted to Orthodoxy subsequent to the fall of the Soviet Union. I'm actually giving him the benefit of the doubt, and believe there's a good chance his faith is genuine, and not just some show for the cameras. He does not appear to be faking it (at least, not to me - I've watched his press conferences).

Prophecy is a dangerous business (just look how bad you are at it, Linton, when you foresee a bright atheist future when all the trend lines point toward the near extinction of atheism in this century), but I suspect Putin's image in the West will improve over time. He is foolishly squandering some very good opportunities to move Russia away from an extraction economy, but I have great sympathy for his irredentist tendencies. I think Russia was robbed of territories rightfully belonging to it in 1991 (to include the Crimea, parts of Eastern Ukraine, Northern Kazakhstan, and a few other bits and bobs here and there). But on the other hand, to gain the moral high ground, it ought to also return East Prussia to Germany and the Kuriles to Japan.

Jezu ufam tobie!

im-skeptical said...

Now I've heard it all. Because Putin has abandoned his Soviet -sponsored atheism and now claims to be a Christian, Bob thinks he's a really nice guy. Nevermind the fact that he's a ruthless dictator trying to rebuild the former empire of the Soviets, who has no qualms about murdering his political opponents and imprisoning anyone who speaks out against him. He's a Christian, and that makes him OK in the eyes of Bob.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

Excellent article HERE on anti-theist violence against believers, both in the 20th Century and ongoing today - with no comparable violence in the other direction.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Dan Gillson said...

Dr Reppert,

"Nonetheless, someone could certainly use violence to prevent someone from getting the wrong answer just as easily as one could use it to make sure someone gets the right answer. ... What's the difference? Either way WrongThink is being suppressed through violence.

Papalinton said...

Bob, when Communism fell over Christians poured out the woodwork where they had been cowering for decades.

The historical evidence for the callowness and opportunistic nature of Christianity is powerfully illustrated with the rise and fall of Communism in Russia. Russia was overwhelmingly a Christian nation, as were most of the satellite countries that were subsumed into the Soviet Union. Apart from those Christian martyrs who did exercise their conscience against Communism, the overwhelming majority of Christians morphed into publicly declared communists, even President Putin, who represented the archetypal soviet Communist and political policeman in the top echelons of the dreaded KGB.

When it finally dawned that Communism was a failed experiment and fell over in the 1990s, ardent Communists effortlessly segued back into Christianity. Changing from one totalitarian mindset to another is as effortless as changing a pair of underpants. The Russian population in 2010 was 142,905,200. 76% are professed Christians, that is, there are 108,607,952 christians in Russia. Those numbers don't appear overnight, as if by some magic, some divine fiat. There was no mass conversion to Christianity after the fall of Communism, least of all, Putin. Christians were deeply and inextricably embedded into the communist paradigm. One with any respect for history reasonably asks the question: Where were all those 108,600,000 Christians for the past 80 years when they should, could have exercised their power for good?

No Bob, you have not made the case. The historical narrative that best, more evidentially and truthfully reflects what occurred is that after Communism quite properly dissolved, Christians cockroached out of the communist woodwork in droves where they had been hiding their debilitated and fragile collective Christian belief and conscience for all those years. The real narrative here is that Christian conscience is pretty much a rubber ducky, an opportunistic mooch.

How ironic it is, within a decade of the fall of Communism, with Christianity now very much in the ascendancy in the Kremlin and the Russian psyche, with Putin sporting an ever-so conspicuous crucifix against his bare macho chest, that Russia looms once more a very real, clear and present danger to humanity with its chest-thumping belligerence, nationalistic pride, all aided and abetted by Patriarch Kirril of the Russian Orthodox Church. Today we have a Christian Russia rather than a Communist Russia threatening the peace and stability of the world. Today we are witnessing a Russia retrogressively reverting back to the old times when Christianity carnally engaged with the Tsars of old.

The one salient lesson out of this historical narrative is that Christians are not capable of learning the lessons of the past. Their modus operandi is to return to the past. When will Christians learn that Christianity is not a force for good? It is by its very nature recklessly ambivalent and prevaricating, ever exploitatively inveigling its presence into positions of influence and people's lives without warrant or due deserve.

Religion may not alway be responsible for global violence, but it sure as hell is as useless as a toothless tiger in preventing it, and we are currently witnessing a fully implicated Patriarch Kirril and the Russian Church supporting Putin's aggression against Ukraine and the world.
Again, if religion cannot restrain evil, then it cannot claim effective power for good. How many fingers has humanity to burn before this' revelation' is eventually realised? [borrowing a concept from the christian lexicon].

Bob, you can bury your head in Catholic apologetical sand up to the neck all you want but that does not make you a truth seeker.

B. Prokop said...

Wow. That's quite a comment there, Linton.

when Communism fell over Christians poured out [of] the woodwork where they had been cowering

I have no disagreement with you that faithful Christians felt the understandable need to lie low under atheistic Communism, but why the need for disparaging language, basically comparing persecuted people to rats or insects (out of the woodwork)? Would you characterize Jews who resisted deportation to the death camps as “cowering in the woodwork? Would you say that of Anne Frank? Would you use the word “cockroach” (quoting you here, no misconstrual involved!) to describe her?

Apart from those Christian martyrs who did exercise their conscience against Communism

That’s right. Martyrdom is a grace, not granted to everyone. If you are genuinely interested in the subject (which I suspect you are not), I would urge you to learn more about Saint Maxmilian Kolbe, and learn what it takes to be a true martyr for the faith. Might I suggest watching the movie by Leonardo Defilippis, Maxmilian, Saint of Auschwitz?

I simply can’t bring myself to criticize in the least those who hid themselves under persecution, as you seem to find it so easy to do. It would take almost superhuman heroism to stand up in from of ISIS, for instance, and proclaim the Faith. Most people under severe persecution do indeed “go to ground”, praying for an eventual end to the terror. And how much worse for those whose actions might not only result in their own deaths, but in hardship, misery, or worse to their families and loved ones. So don’t be so quick to condemn. After all, aren’t you atheists the ones who so often complain about always having to conceal your non-belief in society, for fear of facing disapproval?

Those numbers don't appear overnight, as if by some magic, some divine fiat. There was no mass conversion to Christianity

Now you’re just trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, you characterize Christian faith as “fragile” (and not just here, but on many, many other postings), but you simultaneously acknowledge that people are able to retain their supposedly “fragile” faith throughout generations of the severest persecution imaginable – and somehow manage to make that out to be a negative as well. So which is it, Linton? You can’t maintain both!

As for Putin, don’t get me wrong. I think he’s a Bad Man, and quite wrong for Russia at this time. That poor country seems to be cursed to have the worst leaders possible. The Tsars were callous jerks – truly deserving of the appellation “Enemies of the People”. Lenin and Stalin were far worse. Yeltsin was a drunken buffoon, and Putin is a gangster. But is his conversion to Orthodoxy genuine? I honestly think so. What really convinced me was when he ordered a military aircraft to overfly the Black Sea carrying one of the most venerated images in all Russia, the icon of the Holy Mother of Vladimir, at the start of the Crimean crisis. That was no act put on for show – no one witnessed it, and it was not widely publicized. No, he ordered it done because he believed it would work.

The one salient lesson out of this historical narrative is that Christians are not capable of learning the lessons of the past.

Again, no. See my comments HERE, at April20th, 9:20 AM. No need to repeat myself.

that does not make you a truth seeker

No argument there. I never said I was a “truth seeker” – I consider myself a “truth proclaimer”. One doesn’t forever go on seeking for something that one has already found. Only the biggest fool in the world would continue looking for his lost keys, once he already had them in his hand.

And one last point – I wouldn’t be comfortable with saying “I found the Truth”. I’d rather say that He found me. Because Truth is not a thing, it’s a person (“I am the Truth.”), and it is He that is seeking for us.

Jezu ufam tobie!

im-skeptical said...

"I simply can’t bring myself to criticize in the least those who hid themselves under persecution, as you seem to find it so easy to do. It would take almost superhuman heroism to stand up in from of ISIS, for instance, and proclaim the Faith. Most people under severe persecution do indeed “go to ground”, praying for an eventual end to the terror. And how much worse for those whose actions might not only result in their own deaths, but in hardship, misery, or worse to their families and loved ones. So don’t be so quick to condemn. After all, aren’t you atheists the ones who so often complain about always having to conceal your non-belief in society, for fear of facing disapproval?"

What about Putin? Do you think he was a faithful Christian who was forced to hide his faith under under Soviet persecution, or was he like millions of other Soviet citizens who fully embraced communism and publicly professed atheism while privately retaining their Christian faith? And let's not forget that many of these latter-day Christians would still be happy to return to the "glory days" of the former Soviet empire.

Why don't you face the truth, Bob? Communism is an economic system that is not inherently atheistic. The conflict is political. The early leaders of modern communism had reasons for wanting to eliminate Christianity as a political force that would be a threat to their ability to control the populace. But communism as an economic ideology is not inherently antithetical to Christianity as a religious ideology. This fact is borne out by the existence of millions of Russian people who are Christians, as well as by Christian communists outside of Russia, such as Diane Drufenbrock.


B. Prokop said...

One more point, that would have made my previous posting too long.

I've written before that I am sympathetic to Russian irredentism (which I am). That may have caused some confusion. Three points need to be made:

1. (To repeat myself), Russia was basically robbed during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Several large swaths of territory that in a just world would have stayed with Russia during the break-up ended up in one or another of the breakaway states. Such territories include the Crimea, parts of Eastern Ukraine, much of northern Kazakhstan, and the whole of Byelorussia (Belarus).

2. I sympathize with other irredentist movements around the world - not just with Russia's. I think a good case can be made for the irredentist claims of Finland (Eastern Karellia), Armenia (Nagorn-Karabakh), Serbia (multiple places), Germany (the Kaliningrad Oblast), Japan (Kurile Islands), Poland (Eastern Galicia), and Hungary (parts of Transylvania).

3. This in no way suggests, implies, means, or indicates that I support in the least using violent means to settle these issues. One possible just way to solve such border disputes is by local plebiscite, administered and overseen by impartial observers. And even that, all by itself, would sometimes not be either sufficient or appropriate.

In any case, Putin's decision to resort to force as a first resort was wrong in so many ways. And it was also just plain stupid.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Papalinton said...

You'll note, not one mention of Kirril and the Church in bed with Bob's Bad Man, Putin. Is this just an oversight? No, it is wilful obscurantism.

The parasitism of Christianity knows no ethical or moral boundary other than self-preservation.

B. Prokop said...

"You'll note, not one mention of..."

Huh? My comment wasn't long enough as it is? It took two posting to fit it all in!

Sheesh!

im-skeptical said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

"My comment wasn't long enough as it is?"

It also wandered completely off the topic of discussion. At least Papalinton knows what we're talking about.