This is not primarily a religious site, but as the origins debate has always and everywhere involved religious considerations, I cannot avoid the issue even if I wanted to., This series of essays is essentially criticism of the Darwin hypothesis on its
own supposed terms, those of demonstrable, testable science, reason and logic. It seems to me that for materialists to accuse
religious believers of 'blind faith' and demanding laboratory evidence
of God (what would that be I wonder?) shows a narrowness of thought and lack of imagination
which is surprising in a Darwinist, since Darwin was always 'imagining' and 'believing' and 'having no difficulty in supposing'
all sorts of things he had not seen and could not prove (see his
'Origin' passage on the eye, the vertebrate lung 'I can hardly doubt that the vertebrate lung is descended from the swim bladder of an extinct fish of which we know nothing' and other difficulties with the theory to
demonstrate this). If there is any entity ANYTHING LIKE the God of the
Bible, is He going to jump into a test tube so you can dissect Him,
bounce gamma rays off Him, and then if evidence is forthcoming, write a
report noting 'Oh yeah, God.'
and then file it away beteeen Giraffe and Gonzo journalism? The
evidence, if any, could not be like that. That is a straw god.
I attempt to offer the open minded enquirer a very brief and imperfect overview of religion from my Protestant Biblical Christian viewpoint and ask the question 'if laboratory evidence is no good for proving or disproving the Divine, how else could we reasonably expect to discover whether God is there and if so has spoken to us?'. It is always possible to give offence and/or be accused of error and bias, I'll have to live with that, but this is an honest attempt to give an overview beyond the cliches and suggest some lines of enquiry. Very obviously, I am writing from one particular (some would say peculiar) Christian's viewpoint, others can and do write from their viewpoint.
It is impossible to avoid the subject of God altogether when talking origins, and I would be criticised for doing so. Certainly Dawkins et al often seem to be more concerned with religious belief than fossils, genetics or biochemistry (see Dawkins' God). This is a logical debating strategy from their point of view as it is much easier to find examples of badly behaved or muddled religious believers than it is for them to explain the lack of the large numbers of intermediate kinds which Darwin predicted in the fossil record but which have not been found, the overwhelmingly 'near neutral' and deleterious nature of mutations which falsifies Darwin's prediction of continuous improvement by gradual changes, the DNA check and repair mechanisms which apart from their irreducibly complex nature (DNA can't survive without them yet they cannot have preceded the DNA which codes for their proteins) would have stopped any supposed evolutionary progress by 'correcting' even positive mutations (if any occurred). Dawkinists and Hitchenites often prefer to talk about 'the Inquisition'(*) rather than the irreducibly complicated nature of biochemical systems which do not work unless many complicated interlocking parts are all perfect. In view of their inability to answer these science questions, it's much easier to cry 'God!' and refer, for example, to allegedly (*) religious strife in Northern Ireland or pose a childish question like 'Who made God?'
The whole subject of God is too big for this site, this is a rough overview which aims to address some of the most common misconceptions and clichés, I have added some links to other sites where the issues are considered in more depth. The information is out there, the thing is to open your mind: as Jesus said 'seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you, ask and you will receive.'
During the whole of human history, in all times and places, men
and women have accepted that there is a 'Great Maker' who created all
things and to whom our spirits go after our bodies die. Men have
considered the world of nature, themselves, the cosmos, and have
reasonably concluded, as the apostle Paul wrote in the first chapter of his letter
to the Romans, that the existence of the things which can be seen-their beauty, complexity, functionality-
speaks to us of a Great Maker, who can be known if we wish to know him.
The story has been told in many different ways, combining wonder at
nature, supernatural explanations of phenomena like wind, lightning,
earthquake, birth, memory, consciousness, the motion of the sun, etc with storytelling, moral sense,
and wisdom for everyday life and sustainable community living.
All religions also have an element of social engineering, rules to make civilised life possible. This makes perfect sense. For example, thieving makes civilised life impossible, since nobody will work, save or build if their achievements and gains are just stolen from them (will somebody PLEASE tell Gordon Brown...), so tell a religious story about the gods which discourages thieving. Similarly, marital breakdown and sexually chaotic behaviour is (as we can so easily see) very damaging to society and individuals, and especially children, so why not give society stability and good moral sense and use religion to suport faithful marriage. And so on. All religions recognise that men and women are capable of doing bad things, otherwise known as SIN. Sin is a vitally important subject, but considered a big taboo to discuss these days. A lot of the blame for that can be stuck to Darwin, Marx and Freud, but I digress.
And man made gods in his own image....
Some of the polytheistic religions (for example the Greek, Roman, Hindu, Maori, Norse and various other mythologies with their fascinating characters like Hercules, Poseidon, Zeus, Mercury, Loki, Maui, Vishnu, Krishna etc) are very obviously examples of 'man making gods in his own image'. For our purpose here, we can take it as read that, fascinating as the polytheistic storytelling religions are, and regardless of whether they contain useful wisdom and/or provided social cohesion or other arguable benefits, they can be dismissed as realistic candidates as objectively accurate pictures of any supposed Great Maker. Kali, Thor, Theseus, Atlas, Odin and the rest of them may make great legends, and obviously inspired Christian writers C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien and many others in their storytelling-I couldn't get enough of the Greek myths as a youngster- but as contenders for 'real' Gods, are non starters.
So for the sake of argument let us confine ourselves to the monotheistic religions.
One God-but which one?
As different monotheistic religions contradict each other, they can't all be true, even if they all have something to say to their adherents which helps them 'get though this thing called life'. For an example of religious disagreement, if, as Christians believe, Jesus of Nazareth was the only begotten son of God, existed as God from all eternity, born of a virgin, fulfilled the ancient Jewish prophecies about the Saviour, turned water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, fulfilled the law of Moses, revealed the one true God, died on the cross for our sins, was raised from the dead on the third day, ascended to heaven, is seated at the right hand of The Father, and is coming again in power and glory at the close of the age to judge the living and the dead, then Mohammed, founder of the Muslim religion (who denied the aforementioned) must have been one of the false prophets whom Jesus warned his disciples would come 'to lead many astray'. And there are parts of the world where you can be killed for saying that. Includinhg Holland, apparently. One has to be very careful criticising Islam-witness the recent Mohammed cartoon riots and 'to hell with free speech-behead those who insult Islam' placards on the streets of London.
Islam and Christianity have some points in common, but
fundamentally contradict each other so cannot both be literally true.
This is true for other monotheistic religions such as Judaism and Sikhism, neither of which poses the threat to Western Civilistion that Islam does, but which are equally incompatible in their core beliefs. The logical proposition is that the world's religions monotheistic religions cannot all be objectively true. Does this necessarily mean that none of them is true? Logically, no. It is theoretically possible that one religion could be true and the others false, or at least grave misunderstandings. For those who are perfectly happy with a cliché like 'all religion is mumbo jumbo', the issue is settled, but for the open minded person who isn't convinced that matter and energy are all that exist or that consciousness is no more than an illusion produced by a couple of billion accidentally evolved neuronal connections in the human brain, can we investigate the possibility of one religion being true, and if so how?
How do we investigate God?
Is it possible to think about the idea of a Great Maker God
in an objective manner, maybe even reach some tentative conclusions based on evidence? This is a question to which there is no slick and simple answer, but it IS a rational question and can be addressed rationally. For those conditioned into believing the evolution is
science, creation is religion' cliché and it's implied
dichotomy of religion (false) versus science (true), the answer is
simple-we cannot investigate God in a science lab, therefore we cannot
investigate him at all, therefore there is no God, full stop, debate
over before it begins. If we begin by saying 'show me God in a test tube and then I'll
believe', we are following a 'heads I win, tails you lose'; strategy by
framing the question in such a way that only one answer is possible,
because the Great Maker, if any, is not going to jump into your test
tube. And this is before we even get on to the issue of our intellectual and moral natures being flawed as they are, to the extend that we deny evidence we don't like.
In fact, God has given us enough evidence, not least the evidence of fulfilled prophecy, but has also given us free will about how hard we look for evidence and what we do with it when we find it. Former atheist and journalist Lee Strobel has written several excellent and widely available books including 'The Case for Christ', 'The Case for Faith' and 'The Case for a Creator' which I heartily commend to the seeker of evidence for the Christian faith being true. I digress......
We cannot investigate the proposition of a Great Maker spirit who made the cosmos and all that is in it, including the laws of nature, by insisting that he subject himself to those laws at our command.
IDC (Intelligent Design/Creationist) proponents are often told that because God cannot be investigated, he must be dismissed, leaving the field open only to materialistic/naturalistic possibilities. In short, defining science in a way that axiomatically excludes the possibility of the supernatural, even if evidence points to it. But this is illogical and denies free enquiry. Proper investigation cannot begin by arbitrarily excluding all possibilities except the one we favour. If we are to propose the possibility of a personal yet infinite Supreme Being who created all things including sub atomic particles, energy, information, electricity, gravity, and all the other laws, known and unknown, by which the universe operates, then we would not reasonably expect to be able to ask this being to kindly keep still while we slice a few bits off to put in a reagent dish or under a microscope so that we could make some pronouncements about God and then file him away in a museum. If this being exists at all he is HUGE and we can't expect to be able to investigate him as we would a hedgehog or a sample of aluminium ore.
The question, should you be bold enough to ask it, is 'Since we cannot investigate God by scientific means, has he revealed himself by other means, and perhaps by means which would make the necessary evidence to support a reasonable faith available to all, including those of limited intelligence and educational opportunity??'
Do people change their beliefs on the basis of evidence, including evidence they don't like?
I believe that true science does not conflict with true religion. I believe in the concepts of true truth, real reality, the scientific method, and changing your mind when you are proved wrong. I assert that I will abandon my Christian beliefs if I am convinced to do so by good enough evidence. But it costs me nothing to say this, because if I am viscerally determined to cling to my version of Christianity come what may, I can always deny the validity of 'your' evidence or its interpretation, and appeal to 'my' evidence and say it is better, and piss over your 'so-called evidence' (like Napoleon in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' pissing over Snowdrop's plans for a windmill.). And you can do the same from your point of view, whatever it may be.
It's like saying that I love my mother-its the right thing to say and if I didn't love her, I'd probably be ashamed to say so and might tell a lie, even to myself. I am hardly likely to say that I hate my mother or hold on to my belief even if proved wrong, so it's a cheap assertion to make.
How could I prove to you that I am really open minded and willing to change? And what evidence would convince me? Or you?
Richard Dawkins, interviewed in the British Medical Journal on
3rd June 2006, said the same thing, speaking as he often does of his passion for truth and denying that he is a fundamentalist- but how do I know if he means it? He may believe it but what if he has deceived himself?
How could Dawkins convince me that he will NOT cling to his atheistic
and Darwinistic beliefs 'in the teeth of the evidence' because
that is what he is comfortable believing? So we hold opposing views and
each say that the evidence supports us but that we would change if we
saw new evidence that proved our former views wrong. Where is the
unbiased and reliable judge who can adjudicate and decide which of us
We can't both be right. Theoretically we could both be WRONG, but who can tell? It doesn't matter how much evidence you study if your mind is irrevocably made up, no amount of evidence will make you change your mind. Readers must have seen examples of this, I certainly have and not just in the creation/evolution, God/atheism debates.
This takes us to the heart of why the debate usually gets nasty. Each side has to assert that the other side is holding on to a false belief and being either ignorant, dishonest or unintelligent with the evidence. We all have the same evidence available to us, (actually, that's debatable-certainly the evidence against evolution is largely suppressed while the instruments of the British state force the asserted evidence for evolution upon children from the youngest age) different views occur as we interpret the evidence and decide what to do with it according to our cultural conditioning and mindset, and indeed our gut feelings, even friendships and career prospects.
How do we investigate 'the God hypothesis'? If God exists, and
wants to have a relationship with each of us, and is as concerned with
the poor, the dim and the poorly educated as he is with the rich, clever and
famous, then is it likely that he would reveal himself by means which were only available to the very
clever or otherwise privileged? There is a moral as well as an intelectual component to faith in Christ. You will have to abandom your sins, including your sexual and economic sins, if you conclude that Jesus is God's Son and decide to follow Him. Jesus and Paul made it clear that God opposes
the proud but gives grace to the humble. He said 'Knock and the door
will be opened to you, seek and you shall find'. . I commend earnest seekers after
truth who are willing to investigate the possibility that Christianity
might be true to read the words of Jesus in the four Gospels for
themselves and reach their own conclusions. For further discussion
click here and go to links for several Christian sites
Beyond the above brief and personal outline, there are several specific 'God' issues that must be addressed since Dawkins is always bringing them up (easier I suppose than explaining how 'The Accident' made proteins without information, templates, enzymes or the necessary complement of pure laevo amino acids).
1) 'God told me to kill you' Yes we know about the genocide in the Old Testament and it is very disturbing. According to the Torah, God had a specific purpose which, given mankind's rebellion and sin and it's inevitable consequences, was for the redemption of the whole of mankind through a Saviour who would come out of a specific nation, Israel. To fulfill this cosmic purposes, God had to create a space, close to the geographical centre of the world, where this particular nation, the Jews could live. This was done by conquest and, yes, on a very few occasions, genocide. Even though the Bible tells us that the people God cleared out to make way for the nation of Israel were exceptionally wicked and deserved to be wiped out, this is still extremely disturbing. But then so is the entire history of the human race, to this day. The Christian New Testament absolutely forbids killing in the name of God. It is far more accurate to represent Christians as saying 'God told me to love you' . The briefest internet search on key words Christian + charity will supply overwhelming evidence that many people behave better towards others because of Christ's teaching and example than they might have done if guided by sentiment alone.
2) Why is there suffering? In a short, ugly word, sin.
The Bible says that when
God made everything, it was all very good, but then man sinned
by disobeying God, seeking to become like God but on man's terms. This
ruined everything. You may not like this (I don't like it either) but since when did our like or dislike of a fact render it inadmissable evidence?!?. A
great part of the suffering in the world is either primarily caused or
fails to be relieved by men's present day wrongful behaviour. Just listen to the news. I hate the suffering and wish it would all go away, I do what I can to make at least some of it go away. Obedient Christians do what they can to
prevent or relieve suffering, and they do a lot, but the world has gone very badly wrong due to sin
and that is the reality. If as some suggest God were to 'end all the
suffering', consider what this would involve.
Drunkenness and drug addiction cause immense suffering, from the murders done by the drug barons and their slaves to the children and old ladies who get mugged by addicts to fund their habit, and the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for rehab and prisons, to say nothing of the sorrow endured by the families of addicts and the addicts themselves. How would God 'end the suffering' caused by drug abuse? By sending an angelic hit squad to kill all the dealers? By re-engineering men's minds so they couldn't experience chemical pleasures?
Again, men go to war, always have. Suffering, destruction and waste of resources results and the best scientific and technological minds are working on missile systems and tanks rather than medicines, vaccines, agriculture and water engineering projects. The most recent widely reported war, as I write, was betwen Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. Last I heard, the causes were variously blamed as global geopolitics, oil, US and Russian imperialism, the US arms trade, Georgian nationalism, armed gangs of robbers, ancestral hatreds and several leaders including Vladimir Putin (who as an old KGB man I suppose is an atheist although I don't know) who wanted to send a message. Now in what way did religion contribute to that war, and how would God have stopped it other than over-riding human thought and fredom to act?
Again, men and women behave sexually in ways
that God has specifically forbidden. Result-marital breakdown,
abandoned and aborted children (and the mental suffering of their mothers, and the dysfunctional behaviour of their fathers who have been taught that they have no sexual responsibility), poverty, mental ill health, and the
AIDS epidemic, all caused by human sin in the world today-never mind
original sin and the curse.
In each of these cases, what would God have to do the 'end the suffering'. That's right, take away our autonomy and free will. Deny us the possibility of choice. Remove our humanity, possibly our consciousness itself.
If a man fires a gun at an innocent victim, an all-powerful., all knowing God could send an angel to turn the gun into jelly or the bullet into a butterfly. But the basic problem is the mind that told the hand to point the gun and pull the trigger, so it makes more sense to alter the gunman's brain so he could not even imagine the possibility of a gun. We would then no longer be human, perhaps not even sentient.
What the Christian God says He wants is for us to choose to love him and one another freely, willingly sacrificing our own selfish desires for the good of others and the love of God. This possibility cannot logically exist unless the possibility of choosing our own autonomy over obedience to God also exists.
Given the appalling results of sin, you might argue that it
would have been better for God not to have created humans with free
In fact, God thought so too.
Genesis chapter 5 verses 5,6 reads
This is absolutely terrible, appalling, unthinkable, but that doesn't mean it can't be true.
Bible believing Christians believe that (a) the suffering is primarily humankind's fault, not God's, and, (b) God has done something about it, in fact the most that could be done at the deepest level and the highest cost, by sending Jesus, 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world'.
3) Religion causes war Regrettably, men have
always gone to war against other men, for a whole range of reasons. The
apostle James wrote that wars were essentially caused by covetousness,
in other words, wanting to take something from someone else. One of Tom
Clancy's fictional characters says that 'War is armed robbery writ
large.'. There are many causes for wars (see comments re Georgia above)-nationalism, militarism,
racism, pride, offended feelings, a sense of being threatened,
competition for resources (very Darwinian) and, yes, religions. But it is
simplistic, unfair, prejudiced and ignorant to say that religious belief alone is a major cause of war.
What part did religion of any kind play in the great wars of the
twentieth century? The worst religious-inspired bloodletting I know of in the 20th century was the genocide of a million or so Armenian Christians by Turkish Muslims-a historical fact which is officially suppresed in Turkey to this day even as they hope to enter the European Union. The worst religious bloodletting in recent years was Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims killing each other in Iraq. There are Hindus killing Christians in Orrissa state, India in August 2008, plus extremist Muslims killing member of other faiths, frankly wherever they can (go Google). Check the facts-not all religions are the same, as we would expect if the words of Jesus were true (which they are). He told his followers 'blessed are the peacemakers' and of false prophets 'By their works you shall know them'.
But what about the atheistic communist regimes of the 20th century led by mass murderers like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot? Does their atheism count as a religion? Not to atheists-they just say 'these men's bad deeds were nothing to do with their atheism'. Ah, how quick we all are to excuse ourselves and our beliefs while we judge others!?! As Jesus said' take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck of dust out of your neighbour's eye'.
Pol Pot, the Paris-educated atheistic dictator of Cambodia, is thought to have killed over 2 million, more people than all the Crusades, Inquisitions and anti-Jewish Pogroms in history put together, even if we count all those deaths as caused by religion itself rather than bad men using religion to pursue secular power. Stalin and Mao, who each killed far more that Pol Pot, were committed atheists and had atheistic evolution AT THE HEART of their world view. Hitler certainly hated Christianity and although he was more of a Pagan than an atheist, had absorbed many of Darwin's ideas about race, struggle and survival of the fittest. Anyone who doubts this or doesn't like it can read Richard Weikart's book 'From Darwin to Hitler'. Weikart is a professor of European history in California and gives hundreds of German and English references to prove his case that Hitler and the Nazis were thoroughgoing Darwinists to the core. For Dawkins to simply baldly deny (as he has, on TV) that Hitler was a Darwinist proved that he hasn't examined the evidence in Weikart's scholarly book, either because he is ignorant of it (which would be surprising since it is such a significant charge against the heart of his teritory and has been on YouTube and elsewhere on the web) or because he doesn't like the direction the evidence points in.
Of course, perhaps Darwin's most profound idea was that the universe was without a Creator, therefore without a Cosmic Judge who would reward or punish according to what we had done, good or bad. Removal of the belief in an 'afterlife' and therefore the fear of being judged removes a possible motivator to desist from war. So to blame Christianity for being a major, even unique, cause or wars or to asset that causing religious wars is a central characteristic of Christianity (men without religion don't fight each other? What is the state religion of North Korea again? Oh yes, atheism) is lazy and ignorant at best, at worst a downright lie.
How would we test the hypothesis that the Christian religion (I am not here to defend any other) has prevented wars? It's teachings certainly ought to if men followed them. Tony Blair styles himself a Christian, whether out of sincerity, self deception or a desire to win the Christian vote, I do not know, but he took us into an unjust war, which is inconsistent with true Christian faith. It is usually forgotten that the Catholic, Anglican and Evangelelical Christian leaders of Britain came together to urge him in the name of Jesus not to join with George Bush in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. If only he had listened to them! (PS, What an interesting thought, if Britain had been a theocracy we would not have invaded Iraq!!!)
Incidentally, one of the least reported effects of the Bush/Blair led invasion of Iraq has been the severe persecution of Iraqi Christians by Iraqi Muslims. Many thousands have been butchered by their Muslim neighbours as the local police stood by and watched. Some 2 million have been forced into exile. Iraq has been all but totally ethnically cleansed of its indiginous Christians. Why don't we hear more about this in our media? Talk about inconvenient truths. Of course, the fact that Blair and Bush were seen as Christians and the invasion as a 'crusade' has made things immeasurably more difficult. I can't help that, the truth is still out there for those who are prepared to explore beyond what the mainstream feeds you.
If more people followed the actual teachings of Jesus, we would have fewer wars, if all men followed them we would have NONE, so the charge that Christianity is a cause of war is unfair and untrue-it's a popular cliche and a cheap smear tactic which does not survive objective investigation.
Of course you can explain looking after your own family and tribe
in evolutionary 'selfish gene' terms, but this doesn't explain
disinterested love towards those you may never meet and who can do nothing
for you in return. It was Jesus who said that His followers ought to do good to
those who could not return the favour so they would have a reward in
heaven, even to do good to those who hate them. I believe this and as a result (I know I'm not supposed to say this) give money by monthly direct debit and a;lso to one off disaster appeals to
third world development charities and famine and disaster relief which
I could otherwise spend on guitars or holidays. And I love guitars and holidays. And fillet steak and wine.Why do I and others
who share my Christian religion do this? Because we believe in Jesus and
want to go to heaven. And we VERY MUCH do not want to go to Hell.
The teaching of Jesus is counter intuitive and the opposite of 'selfish gene' evolutionary thought. Many people in countries with a Christian heritage who are not themselves comitted Christians see the rightness of these teachings and tend to follow them by example even if not convinced of Christ's deity. Or at least they expect others to follow them. As true Christianity declines in Britain, and as I edit this in December 2010 things are worse than they were when I wrote it in 2007, there is less of a 'herd effect' and all kinds of behaviour tend to depart further from the New Testament 'norm'. Just read any paper or listen to the radio. Our nation is progressively discovering how much better life was when more people followed Christian ethical values.
Nobody must be allowed to get away with saying that 'religion is the root of all evil' without answering the following points
a) Which religion are they referring to? They are NOT all the
same. Islam in particular was stained with blood since Mohammed first led a conquering army whose leaders he rewarded with loot and captured slaves. 'By their fruits you shall know them'. Check the history-the Christians' symbol is the cross on which Jesus voluntarily lay down His life for our sins, Islam's symbol is the sword Mohammed used to kill those who stood in his way. Think about and do some research before you lump both faiths together.
b) What about the atheistic regimes of the 20th century? They caused wars, repression and killed many tens of MILLIONS of people, within living memory.
c) And what about the good that most religions (not just Christianity, although especially Christianity) explicitly motivate and instructs people to do?
d) Not to mention the evildoing that true religion warns people against, like theft, murder, lies, cheating on their wife or taking revenge? How any men have been restrained from taking revenge for a real or imagined insult because Jesus specifically forbade it? Me, for one, many times. I am by nature an easily offended and vengeful bastard and I affirm that several people are in better shape than they otherwise would be but for the restraining effect of Christ's words and example on me. I know He's watching so I restrain my anger and repent of my hate, beating my breast knowing myself to be a sinner in need of both Law and Grace.
e) Try doing an internet search on the key words Christian +charity and see how many hits you get.
If Dawkins and his associates and acolytes can be so lacking in objectivity and balance and so
crudely wide of the mark on the issue of Christianity being a cause of harm, then why should we rely on what they say about supposed scientific proofs?
(*) The deplorable troubles in Northern Ireland certainly include a Catholic versus Protestant religious element, but have many other ingredients. The roots of the troubles go back hundreds of years and relate to the unjust invasion and occupation of Ireland by British armies, stealing land and dispossessing the indigenous peoples. This is resented to this day, the hatreds and blood feuds include a religious element but are essential tribal, nationalistic, economic and fed by memories of foreign invasion and theft of land and other injustices.
It is worthy of note that with a tiny number of exceptions (for example Roman Catholic priests running arms for the IRA) the clergy of both sides have consistently opposed violence, and very likely played a large role in diminishing the extent and duration of the troubles. Jesus Christ said we must forgive our enemies and pray for those who hate us, so anyone committing an act of sectarian hatred in the name of Jesus is denying the faith and will have to answer to God. Catholic and Protestant clergy both teach this. MORE genuine Christianity would have averted or shortened the troubles. Thankfully the situation in Ireland is much better now than it was, not least due to the tireless efforts of Christians from both sides of the sectarian divide working for peace.
(**) when opponents of Christianity refer to 'The Inquisition' it is generally supposed they mean the Spanish Inquisition. This was an unpleasant affair, but only managed to kill about 3,000 people across Europe during its 200 years, and most of them probably 'had it coming' for political rather than purely faith reasons. That's no excuse, but the atheist Pol Pot killed 3,000 people EVERY DAY on average during his 2 year reign of terror. I would rather have been a dissenter under the Spanish inquisition than the Pot Pot inquisition. Why do the opponents of Christianity prefer to talk about 3000 deaths that occurred several centuries ago during the Spanish Inquisition rather than the tens of millions of deaths due to atheist Inquisitions which happened during living memory?
Although Christians are rarely blameless as
we do not always live up to the standards of the Founder of our
faith, the truth of the matter usually looks better than the
cliché. The point of this essay is that in the context of debating evolution
and science, evolutionists will often throw in unexamined assertions such as the ones I discuss above as distractions to change the subject away from
science to religion. This is not reasonable, its a debating trick. If we explore the realities behind the slanders, Christians can give a decent answer and put atheism on the defensive, but the really big issue is- are we being honest and objective about how we arrive at and defend our beliefs, and how our beliefs (whatever they are) motivates our behaviour?
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