I have always maintained this. It’s just so refreshing to see non-believers suddenly come to the realisation that Dawkins is evangelical in his desire to convert humanity to atheism like the most rabid hellfire preacher you could think of. He has constantly belittled and derided anyone who has the audacity to state that they believe that even in some tiny way, that there might be something divine behind the universe. He criticises anyone of religious authority who tries to make a statement on morals and behaviour as if they have zero right to do so since they come from a false base in the first place. He ends up just becoming obnoxious in the way he argues, as if only atheists are worthy of his intellect, and everybody else is beneath him. He decries religious bigotry, which does exist, in spades, and religious people can be very in-your-face about their beliefs sometimes. I’ve maybe even been guilty at times myself, if I’m honest. Dawkins is no different; he’s just an atheist bigot! People who are not religious in any way maybe don’t see this. Then again, some have. Here was a very funny gaffe he made:
However, this week, we have had comedians on a live Channel 4 show calling him ‘a dick’ for what he said on Twitter. The same comedians who called the Westboro Baptist Church ‘dicks’ last week (and rightly so!). Dawkins had got into a live debate on his twitter feed with a woman asking about the moral choices facing her should she discover the baby she is carrying has Down’s Syndrome. In the end, he tweeted:
“Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
This provoked outrage, and rightly so. Here is someone who has made it his crusade to disarm the religious ‘moral police’, yet has the nerve to start dictating morals of his own! He has apologised for his comments, to be fair. Yes, he’s not perfect and it would be nice if he realises that himself, the condescending twit! Thankfully people can see now just how annoying and opinionated he really is. I can engage in debate with anyone, but I am sure this man would be the closest I would come to turning an argument into a punch in the face.
He is a tempter to my testimony. Now that he has exposed himself to also be a self-righteous dictator of morals, hopefully he shall fade away like a worn-out celebrity who has been ejected from the Big Brother house, since nobody wishes to hear his intellectual wise-cracking anymore!
Grace be with you.
[14th August, 2014 – this blog was written before the most recent news came out of Iraq (in the Islamic State) of the fleeing Yazidis and Christians on Mount Sinjar. I still stand by my blog since there will still be victims of different religions in the IS, including innocent Muslims, and I am noticing a lot of Christian media seemingly ignoring the Yazidis and reporting this as ‘persecution of Christians’]…
I’ve noticed two things occurring a lot on the internet recently: First, different sites and sources stating that Christians are being persecuted, tortured and executed in places like the ISIS-controlled parts of Syria. Second, different sites and sources pinning blame on all Muslims, or just Islam, for all this trouble. Some even making claims like ‘99% of religious persecution is perpetrated by Muslims’. For me, it’s just ‘the new anti-Semitism’ and is almost ‘in vogue’ in some quarters.
At the outset, let me state where I stand; as a Christian, I see salvation only in one name; no other name has the power or is the medium by which we shall see God. Unlike deceivers like John Hagee, who could deceive ‘even the elect’ into a sort of syncretistic ‘super-religion’ of what I call Judaeo-Christianity, I stand by the very clear words of my own Lord:
Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6)
However, this does not mean that I can find no ground on which I can live with anyone of any other faith, or no faith. In fact, I am commanded to not only live peaceably with everyone (Romans 12:18), but to even love my enemies, and pray for my persecutors (Matthew 5:44). Jesus also gave us a caveat to warn us against stupidity:
‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’ (Matt. 10:16)
With this in mind, I must then seek to establish truth about any claims that I hear, to enable myself and others to discern just who are really perpetrators of wrong, and who are not, whom I can trust, and whom not, and to know how to deal with them. However, this in no way overthrows or supersedes his command to love.
I am also commanded to not let the world shape or infect my mind (Romans 12:2). In our modern world, we can fall into two opposing traps with politics and apply modern attitudes to Biblical truths: At one extreme, we must never let a blind devotion to any ideology to allow us to end up dismissing these truths if they don’t fit into that ideology. At the other end of the scale, indifference or cynicism with politics can lead us to treat anything we hear with a dismissive wave of the hand. Let us get this clear: Jesus did not say ‘love your enemies’ just for a quotable soundbite.
Now dealing with persecution of Christians; yes, there is a lot of it, and it is largely going unreported. For a very good explanation of possible reasons for this, here’s an excellent article. The problem I have with much of what is coming out of Iraq/Syria is that it is largely unverifiable, and much is subject to sensationalism and twisting for various political purposes. In one case I have discussed at length in many places, some have reported that Christians were crucified, yet all news sources that could be found reported that they were Muslims accused of apostasy i.e. they did not hold to the narrow interpretation of Islam that ISIS and their leader, Al Baghdadi, maintain is the only true Islam. More importantly, they were not crucified, but executed, then their bodies hung up on public display – WHY does this even need any misreporting to make it more brutally sensational than it already is?
Misreporting this does various things:
1. We set ourselves up to be knocked down. Once anyone can point out that we have misrepresented something, they become entitled to accuse us of doing it deliberately (whether their accusation is correct or not); deliberate misrepresentation is a fancy term for lying.
2. We distract attention from the real persecution of fellow believers that is going on, and possibly make others think we are crying ‘wolf’ when it needs to be highlighted.
3. We may be seen as partisan in that we only wish to highlight wrongs done ‘to us’ when we should really be defending all victims of persecution. We must learn that most politicians see politics as a game, and they play the ‘them and us’ card all the time. Those of us in Northern Ireland in particular should be wise to this! Let us rise above such pettiness. On the idea (or the prevalent trend) that it’s all coming from Islam, here’s just a few examples to bust that myth:
Atheists – http://tinyurl.com/NorthKoreaPersecution
Christians – http://tinyurl.com/ChristiansPersecuteMuslims
Even ‘pacifist’ Buddhists! – http://tinyurl.com/BuddhistsPersecutingMuslims
This was just a few short Googles worth! Now just think that right away, you could say “those so-called Christians don’t act or speak for me!” then surely you must allow Muslims the same chance to say that about ISIS, Hamas and Al-Qaeda!
Happily, though, it’s not all bad:
And even some Muslims are already standing up to ISIS:
These last examples serve to show the good people on all sides of religious and political divides, who will stand up for truth, peace and justice, for anyone. Shame on us if we do not do the same!
We need to defend those Muslims who are also suffering at the hands of extremists like ISIS, along with Christians and other religious groups, for ‘apostasy’ from the narrow ideology they adhere to. There are many other jihadists, like ISIS, who actually believe that their tiny group are the only true Muslims on Earth (sounds like some Christian denominations I know!), and even fight with other jihad groups within their own country! Adopting this way of acknowledgement and solidarity, we recruit many more to assist in the true fight against terrorism and jihadism, not the political ‘War on Terror’ that our leaders keep banging on about! And by following the command of our Lord Jesus to love them, we reach them with the true gospel in ways far beyond anything we could expect.
Grace be with you.
In editing this blog for more succinctness, I’ve been praying for humility, that my pride in any greater knowledge than anyone else would not be my driving force but that (as I read today) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Eph. 1:17-18). Be enlightened and informed in the truth, brothers and sisters.
Dualism is a concept that there are two distinct and opposite forces or gods in the universe and many ideas have come from it, the most recent being probably that proffered via ‘Star Wars’; the ‘Jedi’ belief in the Force, with its Dark Side. It pervades much thinking and in the course of time has invaded a lot of Christian theology. It can easily do this as we DO believe in good and evil; it hijacks this and utilizes scripture verses like “All things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28), implying that the natural order of things is that good will triumph over evil – many heresies hinge on just one verse of scripture (or as in this case, just a part of it)! We know that we live in a fallen world.
One person influenced by this was Marcion, who appeared in the 2nd century AD. He was a very religious guy, but he allowed his abhorrence of Judaisers (a sentiment first expounded by the Apostle Paul and shared by myself) to lead him into the error of rejecting the whole of the Old Testament in the belief that the Hebrew God was NOT the God of the New Testament, but a lower being or demiurge, characterized by wrath and vengeance, as opposed to our Christian loving God.Where Marcion was stupid was that in his blind hatred of all things Jewish, he failed to really read the scriptures. Had he done so, he would’ve discovered many many references in the Old Testament to the love, forgiveness and mercy of God (I shall not even bother to try to list even some; look up any concordance and see how many there are). He also should have been able to read in Paul’s epistles (the bulk of his own canon) about the wrath of God that exists and is only truly assuaged or turned away by the blood of Christ! (It’s mentioned in at least 8 of the 16 chapters of Romans alone)
The relevant part of his doctrine for us here is how he concluded that the ‘bad’ god is manifested to us through his laws and decrees, while our good God offered a new way of freedom in Christ, through His grace, living without the restrictions of the law, but by conscience and the Holy Spirit. This issue provokes heated debate, largely due to the ongoing influence of Judaisers, who are on the rise again, and consequently is far too complex to go into here. However, if, like Marcion, you have already rejected the God of the Old Testament as a false pretender to the throne of Almighty God, the Father of Jesus Christ, then his law means diddly squat to you.
What has this got to do with Thatcher?, I hear you screaming. Marcion’s ideas took hold of everyday life for him: any hint of law or regulation was a sign of the ways of that terrible god who ruled the Israelites with tyranny. The right way was one of freedom from such things, and society was to be marked by the rejection of laws, and refutation of those bent on imposing them. For him, the natural way of the universe was to allow things to find their own level and not to impose laws made by either human or god.
Fast forward to our century. Dualist ideas have been applied to experiments with the regulating of society and social systems, including the concept of the free market, where the removal or at least reduction of regulations (deregulation) governing market forces should be done to encourage the natural development of the system, which should lead to a healthier and better way economic problems are managed. Says who? The removal of regulations is good? Yeah, when you have a false dualistic view of the universe, it’s good. Does our Bible, Old or New Testament, say any such thing?
The main effect of Thatcherism on the world, largely attested on all sides, was her commitment to the free market. Not her own new idea, but she was the one who managed to make it mainstream, following a small number of experiments, from Pinochet’s Chile onwards, culminating in the disaster that is now Iraq (see “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, for more detail). Her religious devotion to this ‘wonderful truth’ about the free market led her to such statements as “Mr. Pinochet is a good man” and “there are good elements in the Khmer Rouge” – those ‘elements’ believed in the same philosophy. I even found more stuff I didn’t know about her and Cambodia: pretty good article here.
Our current economy is run according to these ideas, and New Labour adopted the same, thus offering no current mainstream alternative. If it has been the way, the only way, we have pursued economic growth, for over 30 years, surely it is safe to say that our current mess is a direct result. Once we, as believers, realise that the application to economics of Marcion’s idea (that laws and regulations are bad), which is exactly what free market ideology is based on, are we surprised that the reign of such heretical thinking has led to this? “Thatcher never referred to Marcion!” you might argue. I don’t know if she did. Probably not. But I am convinced that the insidious thinking borne from that, all those years ago, has filtered down through various patterns of thought and philosophy, and found its modern home in what runs our banks and financial institutions today, and defines our business law. Why not extend the same to everything in society then? Nobody advocates that? Look up the ‘no turning back’ group of politicians who are ultra-Thatcherites. Mmmm, didn’t she say “there is no such thing as society” – how does that square with scripture?
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Let us not allow worldly thinking to overtake our Biblical point of view, no matter how well it is encouched in political buzzwords.
Grace be with you.