Friday, August 03, 2007

God vs Science - A Forum

I haven’t heard from Jeremy in a while, so I’m quite worried. Consequently I’ve nothing further to report. However, I did receive some comments from readers in response to statements I made in my last missive to Jeremy, about God, religion, and the bible.

Rather than let these comments, and my replies, languish in obscurity, I thought: Why not make them the subject of my posting for today?

So here they are:

From Obadiah: When you say there’s nothing true in either the old or new testaments of the bible, can I assume this means there’s no God?

To which I replied:

No, Obadiah, you should assume nothing of the sort. If God exists, He does so independently of what the bible says.

From Nehemiah: When you quote Christopher Hitchens saying “religion poisons everything” you seem to me to be quoting it with approval.

If you, like Hitchens, think religion poisons everything, why so?

I said:

Hi Nehemiah – “Religion poisons everything” is Hitchens’ phrase, not mine, but I do agree with it.

I would go further and say that religion is the root of all evil. If there was no religion there would have been no Crusades, no Inquisition, no Holocaust, no massacres between Hindu and Muslims on the Indian sub-continent, no Indian caste-system, no South African Apartheid, no Northern Ireland conflict, no Israel-Palestine conflict, no 9/11, no 7/7, no suicide bombers, no genital mutilation of children and less child abuse………..The list is endless.

Wherever there’s religion, there’s violence, bloodshed, hatred, ignorance, bigotry and intolerance, regardless of the religion.

Think of the words of John Lennon’s wonderful song, “Imagine”:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Note particularly the line in the second verse “…..and no religion too…..”.

In my reply to Nehemiah, when I listed some of the crimes perpetuated in the name of religion, I should have added the subjugation of women, and ethnic cleansing. In the matter of ethnic cleansing, we’ve seen lots in recent years, for instance in the former Yugoslavia, and now in Iraq. But, as Richard Dawkins points out, “ethnic” cleansing should more properly be called “religious” cleansing because the cleansers and the cleansed invariably belong to different antagonistic religious faiths.

From Boaz : You’re always going on about Christians. But it isn’t Christians who are the suicide bombers, and who carried out 9/11 and 7/7. It was Muslims. Why, then, don’t you re-direct your obloquy to Muslims?

I responded thus:

Hi BoazIf I appear to you to be going on about Christians, it’s unintentional. But to the extent I may have, it would be because I was raised a Christian, and so know more about Christianity than about other faiths.

But all religions are dangerous, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other. Spirituality and religion have nothing to do with the other, although spiritual people can be religious, and the other way around. But religious literalism is the very opposite of spirituality.

From what little I know of the Koran, I’ve no reason to think it less fictional than the Hebrew and Christian bibles. As Christopher Hitchens points out, the Koran is fictional even just to the extent that it incorporates material from the Old and New Testaments, which it does.

The extreme militancy of much of Islam today may be because Islam is 700 years younger than its brother religion, Christianity, and much younger still from its parent religion, Judaism. So Islam may be in the extremist stage of its life, where Christianity was, circa 1200 or 1300 AD, when it was harsh and bloodthirsty indeed (think only of the Inquisition).

While today’s suicide bombers are invariably Muslim, it shouldn’t obscure the fact that until less than a handful of years ago, Irish Catholics - Christians all - were planting bombs in Belfast and London.

But militant Christianity is once again flexing its muscles, this time in the US of A. The atmosphere is such that no-one can be elected to any elective office in the US if they don’t say they believe in God and go to church each Sunday.

Fundamentalist Christians who take the bible as literally true, dominate the Republican Party and the Bush Administration. Since rule by the religious is always bellicose, intolerant, oppressive, harsh, corrupt, and doctrinaire, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Bush Administration has turned out this way.

In the middle-east, two of the three monotheistic desert religions, Judaism and Christianity, are facing off against the other one, Islam. Already there are credible rumours of yet another attack in the near future by Christians (Americans) on Muslims (Iranians).

And so it goes…………

A Partial Bibliography:

1. The Pagan Christ – Tom Harpur.

2. The Jesus Mysteries – Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

The above two books show that all of what constitutes the New Testament of the bible was lifted from the various Pagan religions.

3. The Bible Unearthed – Neil Asher Silberman and Israel Finkelstein. This book shows that nearly all the archaeological findings in Israel and its occupied territories tell a story very different from that in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

4. The Inquisition – Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. A brief history of the infamous Inquisition, which, incidentally, still exists - although much watered-down - under the title of The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

5. The End of Faith – Sam Harris, who makes the case that, because of all the potentially world-ending lethal weaponry sloshing around the world, religions are a luxury we can no longer afford, for obvious reasons.

6. God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens. Showing how religion is the cause of all today’s conflicts and bloodshed around the world.

7. The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins. The pre-eminent evolutionary biologist shows that God isn’t necessary to explain who we are and how everything started.

Lest anyone think I’m being one-sided in my reading, I’m currently half-way through The Language of God, by Francis S. Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, who is a believing Christian, and explains why he is. Perhaps I’ll talk about this book in a future posting when I’m finished reading.

Incidentally there are two human genome projects – the US government one, headed by Francis S. Collins; and the privately funded one, headed by the better known and more flamboyant Craig Venter, an avowed atheist.

And now for something completely different:

I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman

Whatever since became of Whistling Jack Smith? I sometimes wonder.