Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quote of the Day: The Unreformability of Religious Belief

Almost daily we hear Republicans, Christofascists and conservative pundits condemning moderate Muslims for not reining in extremist elements of Islam.  I, make similar demands on what I call "the good Christians"  who are generally silent when it comes to condemning the hate and fear mongering that are the stock in trade among evangelical Christians and the Christofascists.  But as a piece in Civil Commotion underscores, what really reins in extremist religious adherents and the hate and violence they too often inflict on the world is science, knowledge and the values of The Enlightenment.  Here are some on point excerpts:
What civilisation Judaism and Christianity possess came from the outside. They did not reform themselves, which is why calls for a Muslim reformation so spectacularly miss the point. Civilisation came from the battering that religion took from the Enlightenment, from sceptics, scientists, mockers and philosophers, who destroyed their myths and exposed the immorality of their taboos.

Left to its own devices, Christianity in the West would be indistinguishable from Islam in the Middle East.

It was the Enlightenment that tamed religion, not religion that tamed mankind.
 In yet another post that derides a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, Civil Commotion underscores the evil that is perpetrated in the name of religion and "biblical authority."  Here are highlights:
Does Mohler know who was the author of the Pentateuch, or even one of the four canonical gospels, or of Revelation, or of about half of the Pauline epistles? He does not. For all anybody knows, those texts might have been written by the 1st-century analog of a bunch of drunk college boys who just wanted to see what they could get away with. Does he know that virtually no Biblical scholar on earth — outside of the sectarian academy, with its contractual obligation to uphold the company line — believes that the man Moses actually existed, or Abraham, or that the Jews wandered lost in the desert for 40-years, or that the Jews were ever in captivity in Egypt? The truth is that Biblical scholarship has forever destroyed Christian claims of “Biblical authority,” and it is inconceivable to me that Mohler doesn’t know that.

Gays are gratuitously humiliated by Bible-thumping yahoos every single day in this country, and in the African states whose members now contemplate schism they are killed (along with Muslims and every variety of skeptic). We are not talking about the quibbles of stamp collectors; we are talking about something that bears on the actual lives, and deaths, of real people. As I said, Mohler is right that, ultimately, what is in contention is “Biblical authority.” I should add that, with stakes so high and scholarship so overwhelming, it takes a real failure of intelligence or character to uphold a claim so grossly dishonest and self-serving.
The real enemy of mankind is religion and the embrace of ignorance that it applauds, not secularism.  Knowledge, intellect, science, modernity and Enlightenment ideals provide promise in contrast to the hate and division that religion for the most part has brought to mankind for thousands of years.  These truths are worth remembering as we see Republicans increasingly pandering to the purveyors of hate and division who use claimed religious belief as their justification for foul acts and the mistreatment of others. .

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