Read this news report on a Christian website:
Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, with about 2 billion followers all over the world. Islam is the second most popular religion, with over a billion followers. Part of the reason Christianity is larger is because it is older, since it is about 2000 years old, as compared with Islam being only 1400 years old.
Another reason Christianity is more popular is because of its association with imperialism. First, it took over the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, the religion continued as the dominant ideology of the Byzantine Empire, which was a direct offshoot of the Roman one. Later, the Arabs built a vast empire using Islam as their unifying force, challenging the Byzantines. Finally, the Turks, another Islamic power, destroyed the Byzantine Empire.
Then the European powers spread their empires all over the world, taking Christianity with them. Islam remained relatively weak until two things happened to make it more powerful: European imperialism fell apart and oil was discovered in most parts of the Middle East. Suddenly, the Arabs became extremely rich due to their oil revenues, and with that wealth came the ability to spread Islam around the world. But in Europe, Christianity declined as the people became increasingly secular. The tragic events of World War II probably did more to destroy Europeans’ faith than anything else. Today, the USA is the most powerful Christian dominated nation in the world, but it is still secular in its government. And even here, religious influence is slowly declining.
I suspect that within another generation, Islam will surpass Christianity as the most popular world religion, but its power cannot last long, because oil is a nonrenewable resource. And when that oil runs out, the economies of the Middle Eastern states that depend on oil will break down, and so will Islam.
What can freethinkers, atheists, and secular humanists do to overcome this situation? They must do everything possible to end the dependence on oil, and indeed all other fossil fuels, and establish societies based on renewable and sustainable sources of energy such as wind, water, the sun and geothermal sources. Once at least some parts of the world are free from needing resources that are doomed to run out, we will have even less need for religions like Christianity and Islam.
Behold the arrogance of this Christian writer, Dr. Hugh Ross:
This blog is a direct sequel to these earlier ones:
Religious fundamentalism is blasphemy!
One of the great tragedies of the Protestant Reformation, in addition to destroying forever the unity of the Christians in western Europe, was that it enshrined the Bible as the sole source of dogma among Protestants. Now, I will grant that the incredible corruption and tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages made the Reformation both necessary and inevitable, but the way it was done by most Protestants made spiritual tyranny inevitable among them as well. This was because they simply replaced the Catholic papacy and church councils with the Bible itself, or rather, how Protestant leaders read the Bible. Calling the Word of God what is actually your INTERPRETATION of words of men writing in the name of God is stretching things beyond any bounds of logic you can imagine, which is why Christians constantly emphasize faith as their standard.
First, read this blog entry from Pharyngula:
Can you bear yet another poll today? The initial results of this one, before all of you readers get to work and use your magic clicky fingers, is mildly interesting. The readership of Christianity Today consists primarily of scientific illiterates and wishful dreamers, split between people who seriously believe the earth is 6000 years old, those who think the Bible is a science text and are willing to stretch a metaphor, and fuzzy thinkers who want a god to have guided natural processes.
I imagine the readership here can rock their little world.
Young-earth creationism 29%
Old-earth creationism 28%
Theistic evolution 26%
Naturalistic evolution 4%
I don’t know 7%
None of the above 6%
After all the killings and destruction since 1948 in the “Holy Land”, we must do all we can to undo the systematic brainwashing of the American people that has been done for many decades by Christian fundamenalist leaders and propagandists. As far as I’m concerned, they are mass murderers by proxy!
First, they claim that Israel’s founding was a fulfilment of Bible prophecy and thus will lead to the return of Christ and the establishment of God’s kingdom. They must claim this because so many prophecies in the Old Testament referring to Israel were NOT fulfilled in ancient times, therefore, they assume that these prophecies will be fulfilled in modern times with the new state of Israel. But that is nothing but a rationalization.
Second, if you read what Jesus actually said in the Gospels about his return, then certain events were supposed to take place, then he would return while the generation that saw him alive still lived. Indeed, the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70 and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 could be seen as fulfillments of what Jesus said…….but he did NOT return. So why would some Christians still be waiting for his return nearly 2000 years later? And linking his return to the JEWISH state of Israel is absurd, period!
Third, and worst of all, many Christians see what has happened in the Middle East since 1948 as a reenactment of the ancient wars described in the Bible, where many atrocities were also committed. Indeed, the Book of Joshua describes a long campaigne of conquest and genocide that would be compared with what the German Nazis did if it happened today. And that is the main reason most fundamentalist Christians are not bothered by the wrongdoings of Israel because they think, “Such things were done in Biblical times and were said to be God’s will, so why not let them happen again?” That’s a bit like expecting a teenager to wear diapers long after he has outgrown them and been potty trained. This is one reason why I am sometimes so contemptuous of religion: It actually prevents people from growing up spiritually and morally.
And Palestinians, you are not blameless either! You, just as Israel, have murdered far too many innocents in the name of your religion and your nationality. If I had my way, I’d sweep both you AND the Jews off the “Holy Land” and allow that land 100 years of healing before I ever allow any people to live there again. And then only atheists and agnostics, who would treat the land and its history more objectively than any Jew, Christian, and Muslim would.
If you want to see just how stupid the mentality I described just above can get, just go to a library and check out The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, and its several sequels that this despicable fraud wrote in the late 1970s and 1980s. He was using religion to promote hard-line Conservative politics, and for that alone I will spit on him forever!
First, read this news report:
Monks brawl at Christian holy site in Jerusalem
Published: 11/9/08, 12:25 PM EDT
By MATTI FRIEDMAN
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity’s holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus’ tomb. Continue reading
One of the favorite arguments put forth by Christian apologists is that of “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” in reference to Jesus. It was published by C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, and later repeated by Josh McDowell in his works. Basically, it goes like this:
“Jesus claimed to be God. If so, he must have been God incarnate in order to be accepted as a great moral teacher. If he was NOT God incarnate, then he must have been either a liar (evil) or a lunatic (diseased in the mind) and by definition someone who is evil or diseased in the mind cannot be a good moral teacher, so the only logical conclusion is that Jesus must have indeed been God incarnate, and therefore his teachings were infallible and he was by nature superior to any other moral teacher that ever lived.”
This argument is completely bogus! And here’s why:
First, we know NOTHING about Jesus that came directly from him. Everything written about him, including all quotations of his words, are second-hand or third-hand sources. See my earlier blog entry for more details:
Second, it is perfectly possible for someone to teach good morals and yet be a con artist. Indeed, you wouldn’t expect someone to openly proclaim “I am a liar and am immoral, corrupt, and serve evil causes!” You would expect someone to USE issues of morality to attract the well-meaning but gullible followers that the con artist could exploit for his personal gain later.
Third, even most insane people have some elements of lucidity in their characters. There is not an absolute distinction between the insane and those of normal mentality. Mental illness has many different manifestations and degrees of severity.
Fourth, there is an incident recorded in the Gospels of Jesus cursing a fig tree just because it had no figs to give him at the time (and it wasn’t even the season for them) and the tree soon dies: Mark 11:14, 20-23, Matthew 21:19-21. He uses this irrational action as an example of the power of faith. Sounds like insanity to me!
Fifth, the same liar, lunatic, or lord argument could be just as well applied to the founders of every other religion, including those with teachings very different from Christianity. Yet to be a Christian, you must assume that all those other religions are false!
Quite simply, this argument is an appeal to religious and cultural prejudice. It is no more valid than arguments to support astrology, palm-reading, or belief in a flat Earth.
There are four religions in the world that are classed as “Abrahamic”, being descended from the original work of Abraham. Abraham himself left no writings of his own and he may have been only legendary, as much as Greek myths are thought to be. He founded no religion that survives today.
Judaism: Considered to have been founded by Moses. He was credited with writing the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), but this is incorrect; He may have written the laws detailed in the Torah, but not the Torah itself, since his death is recorded at the end of it and it is implied that it was made several centuries after Moses’ time. So the foundation of this religion is uncertain.
Christianity: Considered to have been founded by Jesus, but he himself wrote nothing that we have and the stories and quotations of him are entirely second-hand. In addition, most Christian doctrine was formulated by Paul, who was not even an original desciple of Jesus, but joined the Christians later after being their enemy. Thus the foundation of this religion is highly uncertain.
Islam: Founded by the Prophet Muhammad. He was said to be illiterate, and dictated most of the Quran to various scribes rather than write it directly. It wasn’t until after his death that the Quran was assembled in its final form, and it was not assembled in chronological order.
The Baha’i Faith: Baha’u’llah, the founder of this religion, is said to have written his own books. But he too relied on personal secretaries to do most of this, including Mirza Aqa Jan, who later would be condemned as a “Covenant-breaker” for opposing Abdu’l-Baha, the son and immediate successor of Baha’u’llah.
The credibilility of the Baha’i Faith is dependent on Islam, the credibility of Islam is dependent on Christianity, and the credibility of Christianity is dependent on Judaism. Yet all these religions also claim that the earlier ones were corrupted over time, making the new ones necessary. Does this make sense? What if all four religions were flawed from the beginning, because their means of recording their teachings were flawed? Their founders could have written and edited their writings all by themselves and not allowed others to make unauthorized editions after their time. Thus any possible errors or contradictions in those teachings would have been prevented. Outsiders could have been prevented from polluting the original faith with foreign concepts. Disputes between followers could have been settled without assuming blindly that the leadership was never to be questioned and that others could “agree to disagree” without being treated as traitors.
None of these were done, except by the most liberal branches of these faiths, and thus they have been sources of tyranny and ignorance rather than liberty and enlightenment. And as this essay shows, there is really no reason for ANYONE to be certain that any of them are absolutely true, especially since modern science has completely debunked the creation myth that was said to be the very root of all of them.