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, you correctly state “I am quite unable to accept a fact unless it is totally proved … My mind simply shudders with the idea of accepting something because simply it has been said by atheists.”
I don’t know how it was for others, but for me, I was in such chaos and turmoil, I was grasping for anything to save my life and sanity. The usual experimentation revealed many dead ends, but with time, thought, discussion, comparisons I settled in nicely to awareness there is no god/s. There is no god to guide me, no dogma to tell me the way, no litany that fits my situation. I was out to sea with no boat or paddle, just bobbing along among the sharks.
Madhukar wrote: “I really hate when atheists behave as if they are not the intellectuals they are expected to be.”
Yes, you understandably describe your “hate” for those who scramble around in the darkness, not knowing if there is a foundation under one or a lighthouse to lead. The Christian “light” is a tempting lifesaver until revealed to be a inadequate.
Yes, blind faith in the face of conflict, chaos, insecurity, instability, and lack of safety is an easy grab. The more difficult but healthier option is to understand human nature and history that is not full of false tales of peace and justice and tells a reality of exploitation and manipulation.
Madukar said: “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.”
One cannot convince others if they haven’t convinced themselves. We are new to this notion of no god in the USA. So much of our history and culture proclaimed god to be true, and any hint of discussion of god being absent was quickly squelched. We are just babies, taking baby steps, but we are headed in the right direction. … warts and all.
Thankfully, we have people like you who are able and willing to walk the talk with us.
What can I say? I am speechless, or rather wordless! This is very valuable to me. No thanks are enough.