I had some idea about the history of Christianity before joining A N. I had heard of the crusades, inquisitions and the witch hunt but I had no idea that these things were driving people to atheism and that the atheists strongly hated bible, Jesus and Christianity. Although I am an atheist, I did not and do not feel any hate for religion and god. I always read that Jesus was peace loving and that was my impression of him. After joining AN, I noticed the strong dislikes of the atheists and that set me thinking.
The Crusades were religiously sanctioned military campaigns, about 1000 years after Christ. The First Crusade was launched with the approval of Pope Urban II to help the Byzantine emperor, with the latent purpose of restoring Christian control of the Holy Land of Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Thirty five years before this, Pope Alexander II had given his blessing to Christians to start wars against the Muslims by granting a papal standard and an indulgence to those who were killed in the war. A crusader received a cross from the hands of the pope or his delegate, and was considered a "soldier of the Church". The crusaders were assured of remission of sin and were told that by retaking Jerusalem they would go straight to heaven after death.
Muslims were the other part of these wars and were no less brutal than the Christians. Both religions were interested in Jerusalem and in prosylytisation and the target for prosylytisation for each of them were the Jews. This created a serious conflict of interests. In reality, both the Christians and the Muslims were two mobs of savages, who were further intoxicated by religion. They would have anyway fought each other for historical or political reasons even if there was no mention of any violence in the Bible. The religious establishments of both the religions also played a great part by instigating their respective followers. If Islam had not come into existence, there would not have been any conflict of interests and no crusades. The same thing can be said of Christianity also.
The Muslims held Jerusalem at the start and even after the crusades ended 200 years after and their sentiments were almost a mirror image of those of the Christians.
The Inquisitions started in early 13th century and continued till the last half of 19th century. Pope John XXII had authorized the Inquisition to prosecute sorcerers in 1320.
Belief in witch-craft existed since ancient times and it was always hated by ordinary people. It is said that in Rome, in the year 331 BC, 170 women were executed as witches. In 184 BC, about 2,000 people were executed for witchcraft and in 182-180 BC another 3,000 were executed for witchcraft. Biblical thoughts about witches were only the result of this age old belief.
So, these atrocious incidents started about 1100 years after Jesus and continued for about 800 years after that. Now the question that comes to my mind is ‘who should be blamed for these barbaric incidents? God, Bible, Jesus or the savages of the time?’ To get an answer, I ask myself: ‘why do we despise that kind of human behavior today? Has god advised us better? Has a new prophet arrived? The answer to these all question is “NO!” Time and experience has helped us to mature our thoughts. The barbarians of that time did not have this advantage. They have given it to us at their cost! I therefore look up on these stories as a part of cultural evolution of human beings, and nothing else. I can not blame god for this, the poor chap never existed and was a human invention, I do not blame the bible because it is also created by humans, who apparently were also savages. So, whom do you blame for cultural evolution? Whom do we blame because apes were our ancestors?
Jesus never took to the sword. He accepted a barbaric death peacefully. Eleven of his disciples also accepted death in his name and in peace and even St. Peter’s wife was executed. This tells me that it was not only Christians and the Muslims that were savages, but others that were there before them too were so.
Thinking further, I realize that the Christian mob started repenting and reforming and not the other mob. The Christians realized that combining religious and political power together was the worst ill. So eventually they discovered the idea of secularism. Yes, they were Christians even then. It is they, who, against all bigoted opposition developed modern science. It is they that evolved the modern liberal thought and gave it to the world (including India). Had science and technology not evolved, a far larger proportion of the population of the world would be dying hungry. All these thoughts had created such strong respect for Christianity in my mind, that I used to frequently say that since I do not believe in religion, I stay as I am, or else I would have become a Christian.
Now, the question I would like my atheist friends, “Is it necessary to hate or denigrate something to acquire a new thought or a new vision?” I do not feel good when one atheist sees Christ in a very ugly place and when another says that Christianity is f****d! MIND YOU, I AM STILL AN ATHEIST!
Please correct if and where I may be wrong. I have placed my views in a very rational way and expect you to do the same.
Madhukar, I think we have unintentionally answered your original question. When I say good things to you about Buddhism, it pushes your buttons. But Christianity is far enough away from you, emotionally, that you can discuss it more calmly.
The cases are exactly reversed with most Westerners - we have strong opinions about Christianity but a detached, maybe idealized, view of that Eastern stuff.
As rational as we all try to be, we are also emotional beings and things sneak up on us. Sound fair?
What you say is possible but truly, there is some difference. I was not born as a buddhist but as a hindu. I have already forgotten hinduism. Secondly, saying somethings about buddhism has not 'pushed my buttons'. What did it was a belief in the purely phylosophical and psycological idea of meditation. I am saying that we should forget past and look forward and that is what I am doing myself. I do not want to discuss any belief of the past. An occasional reference to past is quite possible and acceptable.
As rational as we all try to be, we are also emotional beings and things sneak up on us. Sound fair?
Yes, this is fair because we all are human beings, but please also see my above defense.
Is that what you would tell people with post traumatic stress syndrome? Gert over it it's in the past?
Madhukar, interesting that you spoke about looking forward instead of back. When I was in graduate school I had so much confusion because I was rethinking what I had learned as a child, thinking about new options that I questioned ... would I replace one tyrant with another? or is there a way to recognize a healthy new way to think.
I went to our college president who often gave us symposia that rang true to me. I told him my story of family violence and the dysfunctions that I internalized and wanted to replace with functional thinking. He told me that when we mature we come to the time when we realize the learnings of the past are not working. They are like driving a car down a steep mountain road with a rushing river just off the road and instead of steering the car looking out the windshield we look in the rear view mirror.
He advised, start thinking in the future tense. What do I want for my children in the future and how am I going to accomplish that. Think of present problems and conflicts and imagine a preferred future. Then do what is necessary to make it happen.
A great piece of advice for a very confused, afraid mother of three young children. No more, "what would Mom do? or grandma? or my aunts?"
Andrew, good insight.
Part of my question is how do I/we as atheist or whatever non-believer one professes express a sense of wonder without getting into the language of religion. Watching my descendants mature fills me with wonder, as does knowing the sun will rise (oops, the Earth rotates) each day, just as expected, that I have conscienceness with a mind that thinks, observes, solves problems, loves, hates ... All of these full of wonder aspects of existence.
Religion offers pomp and circumstance, beautiful music and art, a sense of community and all these exist without religion or a creator, or a prime mover.
It is the sense of and expression of and community I miss. The good news, all of these exist and can be built.
There are many words I would use to describe Sam Harris, coward< is not one of them.
"There are many words I would use to describe Sam Harris, coward< is not one of them."
You are very right. I do not know whether you are in discussuion and/or disagreement with him, but it is cowardly to call names in either case.
There is a story of a brave maratha warrier. Once when he was being shaved by his barber, he was annoyed with the barber for causing a small cut on his face. The barber thought that this was cowardice. Now, should the warrior come down to the level of the barber. No, he should not.
I do not understand if your reply was meant for this discussion, but since it is there I have answered it.
It was in your reply that atheists are so courageous they do not need to mediate. Sam Harris does meditate. Describing someone is not the same as name calling.
I did not know that Sam Harris practices meditation. I still do not know in what way he does it and why he believes in it, so I can't comment. I know it well that the practice of meditation is an original hindu practice and I do not believe in any religious practices.
MADHUKAR, your entire post is a non-starter, sorry. Your every word hinges on the existence of a peaceful prophet by the name of Jesus. Archeologically, anthropologically, there is no evidence of Jesus, nor of anything else in the bibles. I do not think such a dude ever existed. You look at Christians and Muslims, without observing that both these religions are offshoots of the Jewish religion, and they off shooted for a reason... they were fed up of being oppressed by their previous religion... Sound familiar??
Anyway, one cannot hate whom does not exist, but one can certainly hate all the social consequences of those imaginary beings and the people who adulate them.
My pet peeve with such conversations is the political "incorrectness" of being pissed off. Atheists often make the mistake of assuming everything is 'supposed' to be "good". But "good" and "bad" don't exist in the absolute, in our lives, we simply experience more happy, less happy, more sad, less sad. All emotions and sensations need to balance out in the end. In a perfect world, someone obsessed with happiness would be no more healthy than someone obsessed with anger. Both sentiments are needed. Hardship makes humans grow, without hardship, humans remain infants for their entire lives... and this is what Humanism strives at... removing all things "bad" from the human existence.
I declare: Bad is the new good!
You are absolutely correct to point out the premise on which my discussion is based. For some two thousand years the world has believed and most still believe that Jesus was a historical figure. Being a scientific minded person, I am quite unable to acccept a fact unless it is totallly proved. If I do so, then there would no difference betweeen me and the blind faithfuls. My mind simply shudders with the idea of accepting something because simply it has been said by atheists.
I really hate when atheists behave as if they are not the intellectuals they are expected to be. Many seem to think it fashionable to wholly reject and hate anything that does not suit their belief. Are atheists at least wholly united on the subject of historicity or otherwise of Jesus ? If those who want to suggest that Jesus did not exist can not produce enough proof to convince those who would want to believe them, then how can I believe them? I do not come from a culture where Jesus matters or mattered, so first convince all other atheists of your viewpoint.
This matter has also been well debated before.
I'd accept Jesus historicity if reliable evidence were available. It is not. So discussing that individual as real... is a matter of religiosity. IMO, I don't think you are so scientifically minded as you think you are. You seem to only "shudder" at what atheists say... you use religious language when demanding proof of non-existence of Jesus, just like religious people ask for proof of non existence of gods... It's a NON scientific question. Ask instead what is the evidence "for" those concepts... No evidence of gods, shabby opinions on possible existence of Jesus... without reliable evidence. You want to live in delusion... go ahead. I have often had the impression from your various comments here that you aren't really the atheist you claim to be... Go have some fun... Watch Sita sings the Blues, a film by Nina Paley. Gods' emissaries are concepts just as ridiculous as gods themselves.
Atheists who 'believe' in Jesus historicity are a very small minority... most of us require stronger evidence to substantiate validity of characters of such mythological proportions.