CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Destroying the Foundations of the West

Dec 14, 2008

The Judeo-Christian worldview was essential for the rise of the West. Without it the world would be a radically different place today. Most of the features that we now enjoy about the West – such as freedom, democracy, limited government, education and the universities, the rule of law, the rise of progress and science, human rights and separation of church and state – would largely be absent or greatly diminished if it were not for the rise of Christianity.

Yet the West appears to be hell-bent on denying, eradicating or undermining these very foundations. Examples are legion. Let me just mention the most recent. In Victoria the school system has agreed to allow atheists to teach religious education classes, telling primary school kids that there is no evidence that God exists.

Never mind the glaring contradiction here: atheists have long denied that atheism is in fact a religion, or even a worldview, yet here we have atheism being taught in religious education classes. So which one is it? But the real issue is, by attacking Christianity in particular and theism in general, they are undermining the very ground on which they stand.

That is, the main reason why they have the freedoms to engage in atheistic proselytising is because of the Judeo-Christian heritage of the West. Freedom to believe in various religions – or no religion – is one benefit of Christianity. So too is the freedom to attend different types of schools, to hold to contrary views, and to enjoy freedom of conscience. All these benefits flow in large measure from the very Christianity which these atheists so deeply deplore.

The Judeo-Christian foundation of the West

So great is the contribution of the Judeo-Christian worldview to the establishment and development of the West that whole volumes have been penned documenting the evidence. I cannot here provide this detailed mass of evidence. But I can provide some summary statements from experts who have examined the question.

While numerous older authorities could here be cited, let me just offer a few modern ones. A few representative quotes will have to suffice. Sociologist Rodney Stark has written extensively on these themes. For example, in his 2005 volume, The Victory of Reason, he says: “The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians.” He goes on to say this:

“To sum up: the rise of the West was based on four primary victories of reason. The first was the development of faith in progress within Christian theology. The second victory was the way that faith in progress translated into technical and organizational innovations, many of them fostered by monastic estates. The third was that, thanks to Christian theology, reason informed both political philosophy and practice to the extent that responsive states, sustaining a substantial degree of personal freedom, appeared in medieval Europe. The final victory involved the application of reason to commerce, resulting in the development of capitalism within the safe havens provided by responsive states. These were the victories by which the West was won.”

Dinesh D’Souza, offers a similar appraisal in his 2007 book, What’s So Great About Christianity. He says quite forthrightly, “Western civilization was built by Christianity.” If the West gives up Christianity, he says, “it will also endanger the egalitarian values that Christianity brought into the world. The end of Christianity also means the systematic erosion of values like equal dignity and equal rights that both religious and secular people cherish.”

Indeed, the contributions of Christianity are so many and so great, that to strip the West of its religious heart and soul would leave it empty: “Christianity is responsible for the way our society is organized and for the way we currently live. So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar, our holidays, and our moral and cultural priorities that historian J. M. Roberts writes in The Triumph of the West, ‘We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again’.”

Alvin Schmidt also documents the overwhelming effect of Christianity on the West in his 2001 volume, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization. In it he offers substantial documentation and voluminous evidence of the unique and lasting contributions which the Christian worldview has made to the world. He writes, “On the basis of the historical evidence, I am fully persuaded that had Jesus Christ never walked the dusty paths of ancient Palestine, suffered, died, and risen from the dead, and never assembled around him a small group of disciples who spread out into the pagan world, the West would not have attained its high level of civilization, giving it the many human benefits it enjoys today. One only needs to look to sectors of the world where Christianity has had little or no presence to see the remarkable differences.”

And in over 400 pages he shows just what those differences are. Likewise, James Kennedy has written much the same. In 1994 he authored a volume entitled What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? In it he argued that despite its humble origins, “the church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement or force in history.”

He examines numerous areas where Christianity has been a force for good, including education, government, the economy, the workplace, health care, art, architecture and culture. The contributions have been both extensive and invaluable.

English historian and philosopher Jonathan Hill asked in 2005, What Has Christianity Ever Done For Us? He concludes his study with these words: “Christianity has influenced the modern world in a huge number of ways. Sometimes it has done so as the dominant ideology. Literacy and education in the West, for example, owe a great debt to the Christian rule of people such as Justinian and Charlemagne. But sometimes it has done so from a position of relative weakness….”

Many other scholars and experts could be cited here. Suffice it to say that the West as we know it would not exist if it were not for the powerful and beneficial influences of the Judeo-Christian worldview. Robert Royal offers as a general summation these words: “Any attempt to understand the human past and future that neglects religion is doomed to failure, particularly in a civilization like the West that came into existence as the result of several religious currents” (The God That Did Not Fail, 2006).

Yes but…

Critics will immediately complain that this is a narrow view of history, and that other components helped to form the West. Quite right. I do not for a moment deny that other streams flowed into the mighty river of Western civilisation. The tributaries of ancient Greece and Rome would be among them.

But even these contributing factors need to be kept in perspective. As D’Souza notes, “Christianity formed a kind of foundation pillar of Western Civilization. Actually, the West was built on two pillars: Athens and Jerusalem. By Athens I mean classical civilization, the civilization of Greece and pre-Christian Rome. By Jerusalem I mean Judaism and Christianity. Of these two, Jerusalem is more important. The Athens we know and love is not Athens as it really was, but rather Athens as seen through the eyes of Jerusalem.”

What does he mean by that? Much of what we ascribe to the ancients is not quite as rosy as we make it out to be. For example, we speak of democracy and human rights arising in ancient Greece and Rome. Well, yes and no. Despite the ideal, human rights were the domain of a few. Women and children had very few rights. Slaves had few rights as well, and slaves may have comprised the majority of inhabitants of ancient Roman society.

Indeed, as Rodney Stark documents in his 2003 work, For the Glory of God, Greece and Rome were slave societies, and slavery was widely accepted in all ancient societies. It was not until Christianity came along that abolition movements arose and slavery was seen as incompatible with human dignity and freedom. And those concepts arose from the Judeo-Christian beliefs that we are all image bearers of God, and that Christ died to save all people, not just a few.

But what about the Enlightenment? Yes, that too was a contributing factor, but that also must be seen in context. As Robert Royal remarks, “The Enlightenment itself in many ways can be understood only as an extension and development of certain religious values present in the West, and could never have occurred without them.”

Certainly, for example, there were two major streams that influenced the founding fathers of America: Christianity and the Enlightenment. But it seems Christianity was the major stream. Indeed, most of the founding fathers were committed Christians, with only a minority being deists.

But all such qualification and distinctions can only be hinted at here. Full documentation must be pursued elsewhere. The point is that a number of factors gave rise to Western civilisation. But Christianity was the primary and paramount factor.

Summary

To speak about the tremendous achievements and accomplishments of Christianity is of course not to deny that damage has been done in the name of this faith. There have been some negative aspects indeed. But on the whole, the Christian faith has been a tremendous source of good in the world, and the West would be unrecognisable today without it.

Which is why the vehemence and antagonism of the atheists against religion in general and Christianity in particular is so bizarre. Their hatred of religion and Christianity is both irrational and unfounded. But doubtless the advance of atheistic missionary work will go unchecked. And as they seek to more and more eradicate or isolate the influence of Christianity, they will of course be cutting off the very branch upon which they are sitting.

So let them seek to eradicate the faith from the public arena. It will only result in them – and everyone else – suffering accordingly. As T. S. Eliot warned in 1948: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great-grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it.”

[1789 words]

27 Responses to Destroying the Foundations of the West

  • I am reading “Under the Influence”, and it is truly amazing to see what has come out of Christianity. Do you realize that every time you sing “Advance Australia Fair” you are singing a style of music that was developed in the Church? At a rugby league game, listen to the words of the NZ national anthem – God preserve New Zealand – and see how Godly the theme is. This style of song was developed as an anthem of praise to the Father in church. No wonder they are so uplifting. Jazz came out of the Church. I personally find that Father God is a never-ending stream of creativity that flows unceasingly – we are all wise to tap into it for our good and for the good of all mankind (or is that person-kind?) And I was saved out of the hippie scene in 1974. And all the wonderful scientific breakthroughs that we daily enjoy the benefits of – while the de-constuctionists and historical revisionists tell us that the Church fought against science (slightly true), they forget to mention that almost to a man and woman, that the early breakthrough discoveries came through devout Christians. This of course, shouldn’t surprise us, as He is the Creator of life on earth. Long live the truth. Jesus is the Truth.

    Ian Brearley

  • Valuable bit of research, thanks Bill. Those books on the impact of rational faith on our culture need to join the pile of half-eaten ones by my bed. All the hullaballoo last year about Pope Benedict’s comments about Islam centred on the psychological fact that our faith has be consistent with Reason (i.e. the Mind of God) whereas Islam can go ‘against reason’ (e.g. kill the innocent) and still claim to be consistent with the wil of God. And atheists can cut reason to any shape that suits the elite – as per the Abolition of Man. I hope your draft is the basis of an article of yours for Quadrant one day.

    Merry Christmas, Bill – and I wonder what the atheists will propose as an alternative to that feast? A bit hard to celebrate the Sun’s longest day again, given that heat is a bit on the nose these days.

    David van Gend

  • There’s a couple of ways to look at this development where the secular humanists are going to be teaching their beliefs in public schools under the guise of RE.

    On the one hand, there is good in this development since for years many Christian apologists have been trying to get the church to see that secular humanism is indeed just another religion and should be considered/treated as such. Now that secular humanism will be taught in RE classes it becomes even more obvious that this is the case.

    On the other hand, secular humanism already dominates public education anyway with it being the worldview which colours the whole curriculum and is even able to dictate to the Christian RE providers what they can and can’t say. (You can’t say anything in an RE class that challenges the sacred cows of secular humanism such as evolution and the alleged billion years age of the earth/universe.) So with secular humanism being taught during 99% of the time in public schools, why should it also be taught in the tiny space allocated to RE and available to teach even an emasculated form of Christianity?

    The religion of secular humanism is covertly taught through public schools, so this more overt form of teaching it might do some good if it serves to wake up more Christian parents to just how hostile public schools are to Christian beliefs.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Bill,
    I would suggest that what we are seeing from the anti-theist high-priests and their cohorts in the media is not just a revision of history but a marginalization of any ‘religious’ view (other than their own, that is). So, in effect, what we are seeing is a modern day equivalent of excommunication. It may be more refined than what was done in the past, but the effect is equally powerful in silencing the voices of any critics.

    I have a 1971, 3-volume edition of Webster’s Dictionary and recently had cause to look up the word ‘marginalize’ and was surprised, given the frequency with which it is bandied around today, to find it was not even in the dictionary. However, although it is a new weapon, it is becoming an extremely powerful one in the anti-theists’ attack on Christianity and, ultimately, God.

    The T.S. Eliot quote is interesting because if the church doesn’t stand up and arrest this trend, it’s not a massive step to move from treating an opponent’s opinion as being ‘marginal’ to it being ‘dangerous’ and eventually demonizing it. At that point, the ‘refinement’ in how ‘religious views’ are handled may stop and although it will be given a new, acceptable and even ‘tolerant’ title, we could well see the start of a new Inquisition.

    Roger Birch

  • Good article Bill. It’s a sad state of affairs. However, I don’t think that just pointing out that Christianity has been good for the west will ultimately get people to embrace it again. People need to be convinced that Christianity is the truth.

    It seems to me that the thinking behind eradicating Christianity from the marketplace is this:
    1. Now we know that the Bible is not true because science has shown that the world was not created by God in six-days. Rather it all evolved. So did religion.
    2. Therefore Christianity, like all the other religions, is a pre-scientific explanation that no serious modern westerner–including Christian theologians and academics–takes seriously today.
    3. Therefore all religions should treated equally and preferably, all should be kept out of the marketplace.

    One of the keys, in my view, for Chrisitianity to reclaim its position, is to start defending the Bible as truth–right from the very first verse and exposing evolution over millions of years. It seems to me that the atheists understand the significance of this issue which is why they (the atheists) are mobilizing Christian clergy to embrace evolution. It’s an atheist strategy to destroy the foundations of biblical Christianity.

    See the clergy letter project.

    Tas Walker

  • Bill, thanks for this summary of so many books other than those mentioned in this article which you have read; moreover, thanks for your analysis.
    Stan Fishley

  • Atheists don’t hate religion or religious superstitions. I know that’s a popular belief among theists. Some atheists are anti-religion, because they are morally repulsed by child-raping priests, Islamic fundamentalists killing innocents in the name of Allah, and Christian fundamentalists trying to get creation myths taught in schools instead of science. But to think that atheists hate religion is just plain wrong.

    Sorry to disturb your beliefs.

    Michael Neville

  • Humanism, as I see it, takes the good elements traditionally credited to the Judeo-Christian god and acknowledges that they are instead the result of human social evolution, rather than divine intervention.

    To me It seems much more empowering for us, as a species, to have attained the capacity for love and compassion and dignity through experience than to have had it handed to us on a platter by a patronising deity in exchange for worship and submission.

    Give humanity the credit it deserves.

    Jim Gibson

  • Thanks Jim

    Your first sentence is mostly right. Yes humanism does indeed take good elements. Humanism is basically living on the borrowed spiritual capital of Christianity. It cannot produce the goods itself. Where do we get morality, concern for humanity, and other non-material goods from a materialist worldview which thinks we are just rearranged pond scum?

    How in the world do such non-material things like “love and compassion and dignity” even come about in a reductionistic material world made up only of selfish genes? Dawkins is much more honest here when he admits, “if the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies… are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

    It is only because we all live in God’s moral universe, and are all made in God’s image, that we can even have any concern for humanity. Thus all the concerns and virtues of humanism are simply derivative from the God they claim does not exist.

    And which bits of humanity do you want me to give credit for? The Holocaust? Stalin’s purges? Pol Pot’s slaughters? If you instead have in mind something like Handel’s Messiah, hospitals, or the Red Cross, I remind you of the Christian origins of all three. And when goodness turns up in non-believers it is only because of God’s common grace.

    So I am happy to give credit where credit is due. The goodness we see is ultimately due to a good God who has made us to bear his image. The evil we see is due to our own bad choices when we turn our backs on God and pretend that we instead are the centre of the universe.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Michael

    You must be reading different books than I am reading, and talking to different atheists than I am talking to. One cannot read Dawkins or Harris or Hitchins without being impressed by the amount of hatred, venom and antagonism to religion and belief they all have. And the hate-filled comments I get from atheists on a regular basis of course cannot be printed on these pages.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • A Chinese lady lived with us. She wouldn’t take gifts or kindnesses from us because she said that in her culture they have a phrase that you will owe someone for a 1000 years if they do you a favour. It struck me then how common grace or kindness is rooted, not so much in our shared humanity or our Aussie view of mateship, but rather our Christian cultural heritage. Forms of “Love your neighbour for no return” may have been secularised, but the roots of such thinking are birthed firmly in the teachings of the Bible.

    Julian Holdsworth

  • As Bill said to Jim Gibson above, “Humanism is basically living on the borrowed spiritual capital of Christianity. It cannot produce the goods itself.” Furthermore, Secular Humanism (SH) could not even have arisen without there first being a Christian host. SH is like a parasite on the Christian host and one that cannot even live on other worldview hosts like Islam (because Islam won’t tolerate it). Like parasites in the biological world, SH doesn’t even realise it can’t live apart from the host, and if it kills the host then it will die also.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • This article reminds me of a quote of G.K Chesterton
    “Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

    Regarding the Victorian decision to state in R.E classes that there is no evidence for God (if I’m understanding the situation correctly) – I thought the very purpose of these classes is not to “impose” religious views but rather to examine the objective evidence and allow students to make up their own mind regarding what’s true and false.

    Best regards
    Frane Trpimir Kešina

  • Of course, when misotheists talk about removing “religion” from schools, they really mean removing Christianity. They don’t mind pushing their own religion of atheism, or Islamic schools.

    About Christianity and science, see also God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by Dr James Hannam, who has recently completed his Ph.D. on the History of Science at the University of Cambridge. First chapter is online.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Michael,

    Sorry to disturb your beliefs, but the atheists do, often, hate Christianity in particular. The kind of examples you give are in fact used as justifications-after-the-fact, not as the prior reason for the disdain. Admit it, you want Christianity in a box of your liking, but are probably not prepared to subject your set of beliefs to any reasonable level of questioning.

    And you use the phrase “morally repulsed”! How curious…

    Then, of course, you’ve got loads of evidence to support your preposterous myth that life came from non-life by elements just doing their thing, do you?

    Cue Sound Effects, crickets chirping…

    Mark Rabich

  • Michael,
    I can accept your statement that atheists don’t hate religions because they actually have their own, one which is enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights! In the UN’s various changes to the original UDHR, not believing in God is accepted as a valid religious belief, i.e. the UN accepts atheism as a religion.

    Equally, I can accept that atheists don’t hate religious superstitions because again, they have their own – it’s called evolution!

    I can also accept your position that there is no God – although I do not accept it is right. Unfortunately, many atheists tend not to be so accommodating to theists. For example, for you to define words such as ‘science’ simply to suit your own religious views, and specifically exclude those of others (especially Christians), does not actually validate your position – it merely means you are living in even greater deception. As an atheist, you cannot prove a universal negative and so you can never disprove God but are happy to propagate your own myths at the expense of others as if yours are fact.

    I also find your appeal to morals fascinating because in your religion, they too ‘evolve’ so what is right today is potentially not tomorrow, or vice versa. It’s always easy to have cheap shots at “child-raping priests” but can I not equally have the same shot at “atheistic, child-molesting teachers” since there is a constant stream of those happening right now in the humanistic system your religion has created.

    So, sorry to disturb your beliefs also.

    Roger Birch

  • Michael,

    It is quite disturbing that you are able to make such a broad assumption across so many religions.

    Yes, there are some people in religions who perform acts that everyone deems wrong. By making the statement you just made you assume that no one else who share the same belief are disgusted about what some people do, let alone do something about it. How wrong you are.

    I am a Catholic student and I feel that religious teachings in school are pivotal to developing a mature set of values and morals. To assume that we are not taught science astounds me, to think that we take the bible word for word is absurd. It provides a great basis for personal morals and ethics.

    So many atheists treat people (like myself) like we are fools, yet they themselves are the real fools for thinking that.

    I seriously hope you review your outlook on religion, for one who follows and defends one so passionately.

    Hew Sandison

  • Bill, you mention this:

    :And which bits of humanity do you want me to give credit for? The Holocaust? Stalin’s purges? Pol Pot’s slaughters? If you instead have in mind something like Handel’s Messiah, hospitals, or the Red Cross, I remind you of the Christian origins of all three. And when goodness turns up in non-believers it is only because of God’s common grace.”

    So which part of the bible do you believe in? Do you also agree with the psychological torment of Issac? Do you agree with god ordering the destruction of entire cities and tribes? Do you agree with god ordering the Noah’s flood?

    Until you can defend that 100% of the bible is morally good, it will be difficult for you to convince atheists to believe that your views are the way to go.

    Tzu-yen Wang

  • Thanks Tzu-yen

    Actually I believe in all of the Bible. Unlike you, I have no problem with Isaac. Indeed, you seem far more concerned about him that he was himself. He went on to be a great patriarch in the Biblical storyline, with no psychological scarring whatsoever. And given that you don’t even believe in the Bible anyway, I am puzzled at your crocodile tears here.

    As to God’s judgment on mankind during the days of Noah and Canaan, I have no problems with this as well. God is the author of both life and death, and of course we are all going to die someday anyway. But when the wickedness and evil of men becomes so great, then a perfect, holy and just God has every right to bring the death sentence we all have upon ourselves up a bit earlier.

    Given that the Canaanites were up to their ears in such abominable practices as infant sacrifice to appease their false fertility gods, it was a good thing that God stepped in and intervened. To allow such evil to continue unchecked would have been a very unloving thing indeed.

    Of course God usually does not so intervene, and we can all be thankful for his rich mercy, forbearance and grace. We all deserve judgment, but God is patient and kind toward us, hoping that we all will repent and turn to him (2 Peter 3:3-10, eg.)

    And if you were really concerned about the judgment of God, then the first thing you should do is acknowledge your own sin and selfishness, and that you indeed deserve God’s just punishment, just as we all do. But God in his deep love for us allowed his only son to die a horrible death on our behalf, so that we could avoid our just deserts, and be reconciled to the Father through the Son. That is the real story of God: a God of matchless love, grace and mercy who does not want anyone to perish, but wants all to come back to a love relationship with him.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Tzu-yen
    Like most atheists and others who attack the Bible without really knowing or understanding what it says, you completely miss the point when you suggest that Bill – or anyone – should prove the Bible is 100% morally good. The Bible, unlike many holy texts, gives both good AND bad examples of life. So, for example, David having Bathsheba’s husband killed is not an example of how to live, but the Bible provides timeless, underpinning rules which show David’s actions were wrong. Furthermore, these rules do not morph into something else simply because some vocal lobby group wants them changed.

    The biblical picture of humanity is that it is in a sinful, fallen state. This is not to say that everyone who calls themselves a Christian is sinless and does nothing morally wrong. Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is a Christian and many others fail to have even an elementary understanding of the Bible as is often evident from so-called Christians in the replies to this site. Also, even genuine Christians are not totally immune to sin.

    However, the reality is that as Christian morality is replaced by the humanistic, atheistic amorality, then we do see an increase in perversion, death and suffering. You cite 3 examples that Bill quoted, but add to this the even greater slaughter of the unborn, the attack on the family through distorted views on just what constitutes a ‘family’ and it is even more difficult for YOU to convince ME that God’s ways are NOT moral.

    In any society, whatever is deemed against the law is punished by a set of statutes determined by those in charge. I might deem it ‘morally wrong’ to get a speeding fine for going 1km/hour more than some arbitrary number set by a government trying to raise money, but whether I agree with it or not, I have to pay. Furthermore, there is no such thing as ‘grace’ in such a punishment – unless, of course, you have connections in high places meaning that justice is not really justice in such a society.

    You may not agree with the punishment that God has handed out on occasions, but you should realize that such punishments are not for breaking the speed limit by a trivial amount, they are for deliberate, on-going and extremely serious breaches of the moral code. If God is the creator of mankind as He so claims, then as ‘head of state’ surely He has that right! However, I would suggest that rather than complaining about His injustice, you should be grateful to Him that He doesn’t – yet – dispense the judgment and punishment that you deserve every time you sin. You are being extended an extraordinary amount of grace, and time, something no atheistic, secular government would do.

    Roger Birch

  • Hi Michael Neville:

    You said, ‘Atheists don’t hate religion or religious superstitions.’

    I can believe that. Why would you if you think that religion is just superstition, and a lot of religion is.

    However, Christianity is not a religious superstition. It is the truth. It is a fact. It’s scientific. The scientific evidence continues to accumulate to show that this world was created (the design in living cells, your living cells, for example). Atheist Antony Flew is a good example of one who has been persuaded by the scientific evidence that God created.

    So, that puts a different complexion on things. What do you think about that? Are you happy to accept live with the claim that the God of the Bible is the one true God and that every living person is accountable to Him? Or does that cause you a bit of a worry?

    Tas Walker

  • Interesting take on the situation, Bill.

    “Given that the Canaanites were up to their ears in such abominable practices as infant sacrifice to appease their false fertility gods, it was a good thing that God stepped in and intervened. To allow such evil to continue unchecked would have been a very unloving thing indeed.”

    So his “solution” to child sacrifice was to… kill everyone, INCLUDING the children? Seems a little counterproductive to me.

    And for that matter, why didn’t he stop the Holocaust? Why was Hitler’s free will so much more important than the free will of his six million plus victims?

    Winston Jen

  • Thanks Winston

    Sometimes a cancer can become so bad and so pervasive, that radical surgery must be undertaken to remove completely the threat to the person. God is in a far better position than you or I to decide if such radical surgery in required in both individuals and nations.

    And the Old Testament makes it clear that God was quite patient and forbearing with the Canaanites. He even said 400 years before they were judged that their wickedness had not yet become complete (Genesis 15:16). But there comes a time when evil is so full and absolute that a holy and good God must act.

    We must also be clear on a few things: who in fact slaughtered the Jews and unleashed WWII? Hitler and the Nazis. They were responsible, not God. And God usually works through people. Thus the Allies were part of his means to put an end to the Nazi regime. And given that Hitler was mainly basing his genocide on a Darwinian and atheistic worldview, it seems you should be the last person to complain about all this.

    And your understanding of evil and the way to deal with it is fuzzy at best. Let’s suppose we follow up on your train of thought, and demand of God that he put an end to all evil on planet earth at midnight. The question is, will you be around at 12:01am? No you will not. No one will be. As Solzhenitsyn rightly observed, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being”.

    We are all evil, compared to a pure, righteous and holy God. We are all self-centred and sinful. So I would not be so quick to urge God to immediately deal with evil. Be thankful instead for his overwhelming mercy, grace and patience with all of us.

    But the real issue is really none of the above. It is this: on what basis do you even complain about good and evil, right and wrong? In your worldview crap just happens. There is no rhyme or reason to it whatsoever, and nothing will or can be done about it. Morality makes no sense at all in a purely material and purposeless world.

    But the good news is God has decisively acted against evil. Out of his extreme love for us, he has made a way for us rebels to lay down our arms and get back into a love relationship with him. And it cost him far more than you will ever realise. He had to sacrifice his only son to make this reconciliation possible.

    So God has taken the most radical step possible to put an end to evil. And one day, when he comes to judge all mankind, evil will finally come to a complete end. But atheism gives us absolutely nothing either by way of understanding and explaining evil – as well as good – or by providing any comfort and hope that one day evil will be judged and goodness rewarded.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hang on bill,

    “Given that the Canaanites were up to their ears in such abominable practices as infant sacrifice to appease their false fertility gods, it was a good thing that God stepped in and intervened. To allow such evil to continue unchecked would have been a very unloving thing indeed”

    In my previous discussion with yuo and members of the bord on morality, you mentioned that there are transcendent moral codes. You pointed out that killing is ALWAYS wrong.

    Now let’s say the god you believe in has the right to kill, since he/she is the author of life and dead. But he had to command the Hebrews (or was it Jews, pardon me) to wipe out entire tribes. So in this case, you still believe that the killngs were right.

    It is the precise double standard, that once you have god on your side everything is justified. This is a danger to this world?and one of the many reasons that I do not believe in your theistic view.

    and as to Issac. Sure be became a great person. So has many mentally ill people, so has many disabled people. The point is that you actually believe that holdig a knife to a child tied on a stick is right.

    Tzu-yen Wang

  • Thanks Tzu-yen

    Sorry, but I have never – to you or anyone else here – ever said that “killing is ALWAYS wrong”. Never. That is because there is justified killing. What is always wrong is unjustified killing, i.e, murder. But killing is morally legitimate in a number of areas, as in the death penalty, self-defence and just wars. I have written all this up elsewhere, as for example, here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/09/11/is-it-ever-right-to-kill/

    So there are no double standards here on my part whatsoever. Simply poor reading skills on your part I am afraid.

    And as I have mentioned before, it is a bit rich for atheists to be talking about morality at all. According to the atheist worldview, we are here by accident; there is no purpose or telos to life; we are simply a collection of selfish genes; and we die that is the end of the matter. How in the world do you get morality out of that? So your concerns about right and wrong seem a bit misplaced in a dead-end worldview such as that.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Ok, so you actually believe that killing can be right. And you also believe ther death penalty is just. So let me ask you exactly what is your critera for deciding if someone should be executed? do you reliy on your own the of god or the legal system?

    If you rely on the latter, I would like to point out how the criteria for what crime deserves death has changed over time. Also, how criminals have been investigated has changed over time. So, people are executed for different reasons and with different levels of evidence.

    If you believe that the word of god told you that someone can be executed, then i should hope you have no opinion in the legal system.

    To say again and again that atheists have no right to talk about morality is just arrogant. I can easily discuss what people should and shouldn’t do. I can easily possess such ideas without a god. systems of society that believe in different gods (ones that you believe are lies) also have similar morals. this is no illustration of the universal permeance of god at all.

    I just don’t claim 100% morality and truth. I can never tell someone to do with 100% certainty. That would be, again, arrogant.

    Tzu-yen Wang

  • Thanks Tzu-yen

    I am not aware of any civilised society that does not sanction certain legitimate forms of killing. Most people are glad Hitler was killed. Most people are glad when terrorists are killed before they can murder innocent women and children, etc.

    As I said, not all killing is murder. Murder is always wrong while killing is not always wrong. But the really odd thing is for you to be getting all bent out of shape over killing. After all, you are the one who has told us there is nothing wrong with abortion, which is among the worst forms of killing – it is in fact murder (the unjustified and immoral taking of innocent human life). You appear to have a very peculiar moral system, to say the least.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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