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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Paternal Uncertainty in a Godless Society

Paternal uncertainty's classic case: white couple with black baby

When I work until late at night, just about the only TV programme left to watch afterwards is often The Jeremy Kyle Show. At first I watched it for its comic value, as dysfunctional couples and families shout at each other over non-existing problems before turning to the namesake presenter of the show for guidance and, more importantly, to solve their real problems with DNA paternity and lie detector tests.

But then I realised that this broadcast is much more useful than an average comedy show. It has exposed at least two things.

The first is how in the lives of the people appearing in Kyles' studio - who are British reprentatives of what American sociologist Charles Murray and others call the "underclass" - Christianity has totally disappeared.

The underclass is a new social class, it is no longer the working class. It is not characterised by its economic status so much as by its behaviour, mores and ethos.

It has a disproportionately high illegitimacy rate, school drop-out rate, unemployment rate and crime rate. It is anti-social in its outlook, attitudes, rules and codes.

In the US the underclass is disproportionately black - which is why the American version of the JK Show has mostly black guests - but in Britain it is mainly formed by indigenous Britons.

The complete abandonment of Christian values and principles, particularly those of self-discipline in every area of life - ranging from what psychologists today call "anger management", and was once the fight against the sin of wrath, to sexual self-restraint -, seems more than a mere coincidence in the type of problems that Kyle guests face.

The second thing that this TV show evidences is how in today's society the pendulum has gone too far in favouring women over men, in many different fields but specifically here in the case of paternity issues.

Gerd Gigerenzer's book on risk and its statistical aspects, Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty (Amazon USA), (Amazon UK), explains how human males are exceptional in the animal kingdom in being expected to contribute to the rearing of a child without certainty of fatherhood. Paternity uncertainty coupled with parental responsibility is a very heavy burden that society forces men to bear:
Why is there wife battering all around the world? And why do many more men than women kill their partners? Although there are many contributing variables, such as alcoholism, the classic explanation is paternal uncertainty. Unlike in the majority of mammalian species, in which males contribute nothing to the upbringing of their offspring, in the human species males and females cooperate in providing parental care. Fathers face a problem that mothers do not, and which according to evolutionary theory is so serious that most mammalian fathers opt out of paternal investment entirely. This problem is cuckoldry. That is, a man has to accept some degree of uncertainty about whether he actually is the father of his children. A woman, in contrast, can be certain that she is the mother of her children (barring an accidental exchange of babies in the hospital). Paternal uncertainty can be reduced by many means, one of which is for a man to control his partner physically to ensure that she is not consorting with other men. According to this argument, the cost of male parental investment brings with it male sexual jealousy, which leads men to use methods ranging from vigilance to violence to controlling sexual access to their mates.

How certain should human fathers be about their paternity? Probably not as certain as is conceivably possible since the mid-1980s, when DNA fingerprinting became available as a highly reliable method for paternity testing. Using DNA fingerprinting, researchers found that 5 to 10 percent of children in Western countries who had been studied have a different biological father from the one they thought they had. [Emphases added]
Or, as the Romans put it in their lapidary, succinct way: Mater semper certa est, pater numquam (the mother is always certain, the father never).

At least since the advent of feminism, it's always been considered sexist (in the direction of misogyny) to stigmatise female adulterous and promiscuous behaviours in a way that male corresponding behaviours are not.

In fact, in light of the serious repercussions on paternal uncertainty, what is sexist (in the direction of misandry) is not to stigmatise women more than men for sexually promiscuous habits.

It has to be noted that Gerd Gigerenzer is not a political writer. He is a psychology academic, former Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago and currently director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition (ABC) at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

The book from which I quoted deals with statistics, calculation and assessment of risk in human and medical sciences. It is a scientific work, with hardly any political implication.

His political views on this matter are unlikely to be similar to mine, i.e. right-wing or anti-feminist, firstly because he would by now have been sacked from his academic position, secondly because his work is highly recommended by openly Leftist, Guardian columnist and author of Bad Science (Amazon USA), (Amazon UK), Ben Goldacre, and thirdly because the application of DNA paternity tests that he mostly advocates is for catching fathers trying to avoid their responsibilities.

He writes, for instance:
Before DNA testing, court proceedings were often colored by the public humiliation of unmarried mothers...

DNA testing has helped to dispense with the humiliating [for the mother] character that court hearings had in the past. Now that DNA evidence for paternity exists, courts rarely subject mothers to cross-examinations about their sex lives...

My point is that the mere possibility of DNA fingerprinting can be sufficient to end denial, to spare the mother an inquisition into her sex life, and to oblige the father to pay child support.
I don't see anything wrong with public humiliation and stigma for unmarried mothers. It's because Western societies have abandoned this stigma that illegitimacy rates have been steadily rising in all EU countries, North America and Australia.

In 2009, 41% of children born in the US were illegitimate, from 5% a half century ago. As for the European Union:
In 2011, 39.5% of all births in the 27 EU countries were extramarital. In that year, births outside marriage represented a majority in Iceland (65.0%), Estonia (59.7%), Slovenia (56.8%), Bulgaria (56.1%), France (55.8%), Norway (55.0%), Sweden (54.3%), and Belgium (50%). The proportion of extramarital births is also approaching half in Denmark (49%), the United Kingdom (47.3%) and the Netherlands (45.3%)...

In the EU, the average percentage of extramarital births has risen steadily in recent years, from 27.4% in 2000 to 39.5% in 2011.
In the UK most children will be born out of wedlock by 2016.

While people were too concerned about sexual liberation and women's rights, children and society at large were paying the price. I cannot cover in this post all the consequences of fatherlessness - and they are all negative -, although I will in future articles.

But I'll say that the price is astronomical in terms of children's psychological wellbeing, children's poverty, crime levels, antisocial behavior, unemployment, and finally the welfare state bills for taxpayers.

Also, observe the double standard. Whereas hormonal and other biological factors are often utilised in women's favour, as excuses even for murders allegedly due to Pre-Menstrual Tension (PMT) or postpartum psychosis, similar factors are never employed to excuse men in cases of rape, for example, or, as in this case, paternity uncertainty is never recognised as an intense stressor for a man and used to justify his jealous, controlling or violent behaviour.

Men are expected to provide for and in other ways contribute to a child's upbringing, no questions asked.

Not many consider this immense factor of stress for men, in the same way as in public discourse it's very rare for someone to examine things from a man's perspective. It is politically incorrect. It's only from a woman's viewpoint that we are supposed to look at everything.

Whereas oceans of ink and light years of film have been devoted to all the various problems associated with the woman's role in reproduction, hardly anybody has paid even the scantest attention to those related to the man's role.

Photo by toledo clubber (Creative Commons CC BY-ND 2.0).

Friday, 22 November 2013

Question Time: the NHS Is still in Chaos

Question Time presenter David Dimbleby

Have you seen Question Time on BBC1 tonight? Among the panelists was Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

They talked about the NHS (National Health Service), welfare, pensions, youth unemployment, housing crisis. If you haven’t seen it you can watch it on BBC iPlayer online.

Interesting points have been:
  • the idea of forcing owners to sell or develop property on unused land seems popular (although some people would probably forcibly impose developing, which seems to me communist-style; the idea of a tax on unused land or brownfield sites to make owners sell or develop is better).
  • the average age of people buying a property these days is 38 years (apparently higher than in the past), which many find too high. I disagree: probably the average age was too low before. It’s not necessary for everyone to own a house, as it’s not necessary for everyone to go to university: these are wrong ideas of equality and set the wrong targets to achieve for many people.
  • nothing very interesting was said about the NHS, reflecting the fact that they haven’t got a clue about how to solve its problems. However, despite what I had read about the drop in number of nurses, an audience member said that their number is probably the same, only their job names have changed from “sister” to “manager”. Another attendee correctly observed that hospitals in the news like the Mid-Staffordshire hospitals - where, in the 3 years from 2005 to 2008, between 400 and 1,200 more patients died than would have been expected - have neglected their patients because they were more worried about meeting government targets than about sick people in their care. This is true, and confirms my idea that it is not the function and within the nature of the state to manage the health care of a country.
  • nobody obviously mentioned immigration. The term was pronounced once by a woman who was discussing a different subject and didn’t actually talk about immigration at all, but using the “i” word once was enough for the audience to boo her.
  • about youth unemployment, an elderly gentleman made the observation that he bought his first property at 33, and he could do so because he was prepared to move to where the jobs were. I believe that his point is valid, the welfare state has made unemployed people unwilling to move with the jobs.
  • the government’s proposals of making people below 25 not eligible for benefits were covered, obviously disliked by the Lefties and the young in both panel and audience. There was also talk of removal of certain entitlements like free bus passes from pensioners.

Photo by eye dropper (Creative Commons CC BY-ND 2.0).

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Christianity and Animal Welfare

Milan, Santa Maria delle Grazie: Leonardo, The Last Supper

After Support for Christianity Should Not Alienate People, How Christian Charity Developed Western Ethics, Hospitals, Schools and Slavery, Colonialism and Christianity, I've arrived at the fourth (not the last) instalment of my replies to common contemporary criticisms of Christianity.

The issue of how animals are considered is of particular ethical importance so, if I really believed that Christianity debases the moral status of animals, I would not support it.

About the issue of treatment of animals, my reader Tony says:
I cannot see how you, as a vegan, can support the Bible: the treatment of animals in the Bible is appalling, and I say this even though I am not vegan. Burnt offerings of animals is a fundamental aspect of worship in the Old Testament, God is pleased with the smell of burning animal flesh, cutting animals in half is considered 'good' in the eyes of Yahweh, e.g. Exodus 29:16-18 "16 Slaughter it and take the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides. 17 Cut the ram into pieces and wash the inner parts and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. 18 Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire." It's wrong and primitive Enza.
Here Tony makes the same mistake I've already briefly discussed before: confusing and conflating the Old Testament into Christian doctrines.

This is especially true regarding the subject on which he dwells, offerings of animals, since these two religions, Judaism and Christianity, are on it entirely different, so much so that we cannot even talk of a Judaeo-Christian tradition. There are two distinct traditions, going in opposite directions. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then it is highly significant that the Old Testament and the New on animal sacrifices have led to antithetical practices.

Judaism here presents, alas, similarities with Islam. Modern ritual slaughter to produce kosher meat in the former and halal meat in the latter is closely related to animal sacrifice.

That is why Rabbi David Wolpe felt the need to write an article In Defense of Animal Sacrifice, fortunately rebuked by the people who commented on it. His arguments are falsely against animal cruelty, in that he doesn't take into any consideration that the stunning of animals before slaughter, which Jewish ritual slaughter does not do, is a humane way to spare them at least some of the agony and anguish.

Christianity, on the other hand, is and has always been one of the very few religions and cultures not to standardly practice animal sacrifices.

Here again, Christianity has produced momentous cultural consequences. Christians claimed that, since Jesus had shed his own blood and offered a perfect sacrifice, there was no more need of animal sacrifice, because the door was now open to access God. In ancient times - and still today in many non-Western cultures -, people believed that the death of a sacrificial (in some cases human) animal was necessary in order to approach God or the gods. After Jesus' sacrifice, Christians rejected animal sacrifices, and this has created in the Christian West a culture averse to them.

As with slavery, the fact that the New Testament does not explicitly condemns the practice of animal sacrifice is much less important - in terms of the effects and the way of thinking that it has generated - than the entirety of its message.

It is so strange how Eastern religions are always praised for their consideration, even reverence, for animals, when Hinduism carries out animal sacrifices on a vast scale. What has been dubbed "the world's goriest mass killing of animals" is a Hindu festival involving the sacrifice of 250,000 animals in the village of Bariyapur, in Nepal.

If we - or some of us - don't associate the ending of animal sacrifices with Christianity, in the other parts of the globe they do:
The practice [of ritual slaughter of animals] is now far less universal than it was once, and in Christian countries it is generally looked upon as one of the basest expressions of primitive superstition. There is, for instance, hardly a book written to defend the “civilizing” role of the white man in India, which does not give publicity to that gruesome side of Hindu religion, through some bloodcurdling description of the sacrifices regularly performed in the temple of the goddess Kali, at Kalighat, Calcutta.
This, once more, gives away where these constant attacks on Christianity originate: from the politically correct, the multiculturalists of today, heirs to the communists of yesterday, who only blame whatever is connected with the Western world for the speck in its eye and never dream of noticing, let alone criticising, the log in the eye of the rest of the world.

I wish that our atheist friends realised that, every time they attack Christianity, they attack the West, our culture, our world, our countries.

Going back to Tony's Biblical quotations, the Old Testament (the several canonical editions of which are largely based on the Tanakh, the "Hebrew Bible") is a collection of Jewish texts, and Judaism is a different religion from Christianity.

The Old Testament pre-dates the birth of Jesus Christ. How can what's written in it be attributed to the teachings of a man who was not alive when it was composed?

In addition, what matters is not so much counting the references to not harming animals in the New Testament, even less in the Old Testament, but looking at the meaning of the whole message.

The animal welfare and rights movements were born out of the compassion that Christianity has inspired throughout its vast influence on Western thought.

Does Tony really think it’s a coincidence that the animal rights movement only started and developed in the part of the world which is historically Christian, the West?

In the moral philosopher Peter Singer's theory of the “expanding circle”, which I think is correct, the moral development of a society goes through stages: first people allow into the sphere of moral consideration only close relatives, then clans, then tribes, then populations, then nations, then the same ethnic group, then the whole human species, and then – and this is the phase which we are entering now in the West – all sentient beings.

Expanding the circle to include all humans was done in the deepest sense, in the most effective and lasting way by Jesus Christ, at a time when that was unthinkable for most people.

Still today, the moral equality of all men is not embraced in every part of the world.

Islam, for example, does not consider all the human species as equal. Islam condones racism, against blacks for instance, and slavery, which still exists in the Muslim world. For Mohammedanism non-Muslims do not have equal status with Muslims, the community of believers, called the “Ummah”. Non-Muslims are not treated with equal consideration and respect as Muslims, nor do they have equal political rights in Islamic countries.

Hinduism incorporates the caste system, a form of inequality which is part of the religion.

It's very difficult, if not impossible, for a culture that has not fully accepted human rights and the equality of all men to develop the idea of animals' moral equality and rights.

That's why only the West, thanks to Christianity, has been able to do so.

In short, there is no comparison.

Without our Christian roots animals would have been in much greater trouble, as well as humans.

To be continued.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Muslim Persecution of Christians and the Vatican

Vatican City. Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel: the Creation of Adam

The Vatican has done more to counter the Islamic threat than people think.

If we in the West now know that Syrian "rebels" are in their majority bloody jihadists and not innocent victims of Assad, it is due to the Vatican news-gathering agencies in the region. At first the Western media were totally biased and were unquestioningly transmitting the propaganda they received from local reporters on the rebels' side as bona fide news. It was the Vatican agencies that eventually managed to correct this bias.

And the Syrian case is just an example. The Vatican is one of the major sources of information about the persecution of Christians all over the world, by Muslims - which represents the overwhelming majority of cases - and non-Muslims like communists. It is also the force that helps these Christians most in practical ways.

We have to understand how the Vatican works, there are things that it cannot do because of its special role. For example, the Pope cannot openly condemn Muslim violence because that would only result in an increase in retaliatory violence against Christians: that is intrinsically connected to his role as the highest Christian authority on earth.

Photo by Sebastian Bergmann (Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0).

What Is Natural, and Is It Better?

Splendid Sea Sunset

The word “natural” is treated in a way peculiar in the extreme. This perhaps reflects our confused ideas about nature, or perhaps darker, more sinister misconceptions are at work.

There is a strange dichotomy between the positive connotation of “natural” in one realm (that encompassing health, food, medicine, environmental management, and the like) and the negative connotation of “natural” in another realm (social and political organization).

If you use the adjective “natural” in conjunction with objects of the first group, eg natural remedies, natural substances, natural environment, it is almost invariably taken as a virtue, a good qualitative appreciation.

If, on the other hand, you use “natural” in discussions of the second group of subjects, for example regarding differences between sexes, sexual orientation or a thorny question such as war, its use is at best controversial, and at worst considered a threat against the march of progress.

In expressions like "natural foods" or "natural medicines", "natural" is taken to mean, among other things, "good" and "not harmful". In the case of remedies or drugs of natural source, the idea is that they shouldn't have the nasty side effects of other drugs.

In fact, there have been cases of harmful side effects of so-called natural and herbal remedies, much the same as the risk exists with all medicines.

And, if you think about it, there's no reason why it should be otherwise. Poisonous mushrooms are natural, and so is snakes' venom.

The idea that substances occcurring naturally should necessarily be good is a fantasy, but a widespread one. “Nature knows best” is the dogmatic slogan in this field of thought.

But, when we discuss sexual roles, the natural, biologically determined forces moulding the behaviours of men and women are treated as demonic entities to be fought tooth and nail. Something similar applies to many explanations of social facts, events and behaviour in terms of nature, including class differences, race differences, sexual orientation, violence, war.

In all these areas “we know better” than nature, we can improve on it, or this is the received wisdom.

We don’t know whether our view of social organization is indeed better than a more natural one. Of course, the dispute is often about what is natural, but frequently that simply shifts the question, because the sort of people who have utopias and are certain about what the best society would be are also people who defy the most compelling scientific data and reject the most overwhelming empirical evidence when these don’t conform with their own pet theories.

I think that both attitudes are wrong, or rather that this dichotomic attitude, which expresses itself in the two faces of the same coin, is wrong. There should not be an a priori value judgement about nature and what is natural, in either direction.

Each situation where we compare something “natural” with something artificial, or created by human individuals and societies, should be considered according to the particular circumstances of the case and judged accordingly.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Slavery, Colonialism and Christianity

Museum of London Docklands: portrait of William Wilberforce, whose Christian faith prompted him to successfully campaign against slavery

My analysis of my reader Tony's attacks on Christianity, after Support for Christianity Should Not Alienate People and How Christian Charity Developed Western Ethics, Hospitals, Schools, continues. On the subject of slavery he writes:
The Bible actually condones slavery Enza. I can send you verse after verse from the Old Testament where God tells his people how to treat slaves, how they should be sold etc. Never once does the OT teach that slavery is wrong. In the New Testament neither Jesus nor Paul call for slavery to be abolished. On the contrary they provide teaching on how to treat slaves. The Bible was used as justification for slavery in the early colonies of America. Furthermore slavery was spread around the world as Christian Western powers built their Empires. One Pope, Nicholas V, actually issued a papal bull in 1452 authorising slavery of captured Muslims.
Here we find again the problem that I briefly mentioned in a previous article: Tony's failure to recognise the break between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Christian part of the Bible is the New Testament.

Although we can talk of a Judaeo-Christian tradition, we cannot talk of a Judaeo-Christian religion. These are two separate and different religions.

St Paul compared the condition of the world (including the Old Testament) before the advent of the religion of Jesus to a child-like, immature state.

Christ said: “The law and the prophets were until John [the Baptist]: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached” (Luke 16:16).

In addition, just about everything that Tony says about slavery comes to nothing for one simple reason: you cannot discuss a historical subject abstracting it from a historical context.

When we talk about slavery, we may forget that we are looking with modern eyes at an institution that has been part of human history in virtually all cultures.

No culture on the globe has ever questioned the morality of slavery, no culture has ever effectively abolished it. Only in relatively recent times this has been done - and it was Christians who did it.

If Tony, and all of us, reject slavery it is because we were born in the Christian West, regardless of whether we consider ourselves Christian individually or not. Or, as the great Oriana Fallaci, who was among the first to alert the West to the dangers of Islam after 9/11 and who called herself a "Christian atheist", said: "We are all Christian".

Very early the Church baptised slaves and treated them as human beings equal to all others in dignity. They were allowed to marry, be ordained, and some became saints.

St. Isidore of Seville (born about 560 AD) said: "God has made no difference between the soul of the slave and that of the freedman."

His teaching has its roots in St. Paul's First Epistle to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:10), which condemns slave traders and places them among the sinful and lawbreakers, and Epistle to Philemon. In the latter, Paul writes that he is returning fugitive slave Onesimus to his master Philemon, but he urges Philemon to regard Onesimus as a beloved brother.

Historian Rodney Stark writes in The Victory of Reason:
Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. [Emphasis added]
This was during the "Dark Ages".

Later, when the Spanish Conquistadores were enslaving South American Indians and importing African black slaves, their main adversary was the Catholic bishop and missionary Bartolomé de Las Casas, "Protector of the Indians", who devoted 50 years of his life actively fighting slavery and the abuse of native populations.

His efforts led to a greater focus on the ethics of colonialism and to many improvements in the legal status of indigenous peoples, including a 1542 Spanish law prohibiting the enslavement of Indians. Las Casas is considered as one of the first advocates for universal human rights.

In 1537 Pope Paul III issued the papal bull Sublimus Dei against the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the continent of America, who were non-Christian. A papal bull is a document of rare importance and significance, formal and profoundly authoritative. Sublimus Dei shows in an exceptionally meaningful way the Christian approach to slavery as early as in the Renaissance:
We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.
Yes, slavery persisted, and sometimes received ecclesiastical permission. Yes, supporters of slavery before the American Civil War used the Bible as justification for it. But abolitionists could easily point out that slavery was against the whole Christian message of love for your brother and neighbour like for yourself and equality of all men before God.

If we are too attached to and fixated on the letter of the Scriptures, we risk losing the most important part, their spirit, the whole picture, namely the message that Jesus conveyed with all His entire life, His words and His actions.

He was not a slave owner, like Muhammad 600 years after Him.

So, anti-slavery views were present in Christian thought and practice since the 6th century AD.

Modern abolitionism, the anti-slavery movement, started in Britain in 1787 with the foundation of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The people behind it were Christians, including William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, who wrote:
We cannot suppose therefore that God has made an order of beings, with such mental qualities and powers, for the sole purpose of being used as beasts, or instruments of labour.
The strong, prolonged opposition to slavery that followed - a unique example in the whole history of mankind - was a formidable effort, with nothing to gain and everything to lose economically by ending this enormously profitable business. Only an exceptional moral force could have achieved it: and that force was the profound Christian conviction of the abolitionist leaders that slavery was wrong.

There were ecclesiastical figures supporting slavery, as there were in every other category of people. But, with rare exceptions, only devout, committed Christians - priests, monks, Christian laymen - opposed slavery. Atheist, secular, non-Christian opposition was unheard of for generations.

If we used the same yardstick employed by anti-Christians, we should say: what have atheists done to condemn or resist slavery when it was difficult to do so, when it was not yet politically correct and orthodox to be abolitionist?

American abolition crusader William Lloyd Garrison declared:
Abolitionism, what is it? Liberty. What is liberty? Abolitionism. What are they both? Politically, one is the Declaration of Independence; religiously, the other is the Golden Rule of our Savior. [Emphasis added]
When Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 and then slavery in 1834, it had to fight against African tribal leaders who wanted to continue their profitable trade in African slaves. These chieftains were also virulently hostile to Christian missionaries because of their opposition to slavery, and not due to their desire to convert.

The current, politically correct orthodoxy about slavery that Tony espouses demonstrates for the umpteenth time how the enemies of Christianity and the enemies of the West use - not coincidentally - similar, false arguments to attack both, showing once again how the fate of the West is intrinsecally tied to that of Christianity.

Not only were black Africans and Arab Muslims deeply involved in slave trafficking - and in Islam slavery is still practised today -, but whites were also enslaved by Muslims in great  numbers. But, while we never cease to hear about the nasty, racist whites making slaves, we never start hearing about other ethnic and religious groups doing the same, including to whites.

In the same way as Christianity is wrongly and unjustly castigated for slavery - when only Christians abolished it permanently -, so the West is uniquely berated for it. If you hear or read "liberal" thinkers, commentators and all the vast numbers of people that they managed to brainwash, you must be forvigen for thinking that slavery, as well as colonialism, are wicked Western, white, European, Christian inventions. All other populations of the earth are just the innocent victims, and they never harmed a hair on anybody's head.

What has been used to whip white Westerners has been used to whip Christians.

Look at what Westerners and Christians have in common and see if it can be a coincidence: they are both disproportionately attacked for two phenomena - slavery and harmful colonialism - that have existed throughout history and geographical locations, and they are both those who in fact saw the immorality of them and put an end to them.

Rather than going through the long history of how Western colonialism is not what it has been portrayed, of how it was often economically disadvantageous for the European powers involved but on many occasions motivated by the desire to help underdeveloped populations - aim that was often achieved -, I'll point you below to well-researched posts on the subject.

The Islamic world never abolished slavery, and still practises it today.

And remember that it was the European imperial powers which put an end to both the frequent raids and piracy by Muslims that for centuries tormented the Southern European coasts, and to the payment of the extortionate jizya tax demanded from the subjugated Christians living in Muslim lands.

The latter was for those unfortunate brothers and sisters a short-lived respite until multiculturalism, producing Islamophilia on one hand and anti-Christianity on the other, strengthened the Muslim world.

To be continued.

Further reading on slavery, European colonialism and Islam:

Photo by Elliott Brown (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0).

Sunday, 17 November 2013

How Christian Charity Developed Western Ethics, Hospitals, Schools

Peaceful garden still maintained by the monks of the St. Paul Monastery, Italy

This is my second article in reply to Tony, who wrote to me with critical observations on my speech What is Uniquely Good about Western Civilisation Derives from Christianity. The first article is Support for Christianity Should Not Alienate People.

My reply is in several parts because he covers many issues, although sometimes using too simplistic arguments compared to the attention they would deserve.

The problem I have in answering him is that in the space of a couple of emails he enumerates many things which he finds wrong about Christianity, each of which would require a book (and in fact they have books entirely devoted to them) to be addressed in full, or at least a short essay.

Furthermore, he mixes and confuses several different layers: criticisms of Christianity, of the Old Testament - which is the non-Christian part of the Bible -, and of the Church. They are three very distinct things, and putting them together only serves to entangle the issue, especially since he seems to believe that all of them are to be blamed on Christianity.

Add to all this that his minestrone contains both true and untrue ingredients - everything these days is thrown at Christianity but the kitchen sink, to remain in the culinary metaphor -, and you can see my predicament in giving a proper, and not superficial, answer.

I'm devoting so much attention to Tony's comments because they represent several of today's standard objections to the Christian message.

I'll do my best, but sometimes, for more in-depth analysis than is desirable on a blog post, I'll have to refer him - and other readers - to great books published on the matter or to other articles I've written that can complemement this.

Tony says:
I agree with you that many wonderful things have come from people professing to be Christians. Public schools and hospitals in Britain are one example. However there is no reason to believe these would not have come about without religion.
How it is possible to deny the role played by Christianity in all those advancements which were clearly derived from the application of Christian precepts and values, and also have a historical connection with the spreading of Christianity, I don't know.

Nevertheless, to address this issue, let's proceed in an empirical fashion, the way a scientist would. Let's focus on one microcosm, one very specific and easily circumscribed case in which - due to the reduced number of variables affecting it - it is fairly simple to observe the influence that Christianity had on pre-Christian ethics and behaviour.

Let's take a look, for example, at how Christianity changed the Roman treatment of gladiators. This is how an atheist, one of the most influential moral philosophers of our time, Peter Singer, who is no friend of Christianity, treats the subject in his book Animal Liberation (Amazon UK) (Amazon USA) (pages 190-192, The New York Review of Books, second edition):.

First he quotes from W. E. H. Lecky's History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne:
The simple combat became at last insipid, and every variety of atrocity was devised to stimulate the flagging interest... Nor was any form of human suffering wanting.... Ten thousand men fought during the games of Trajan. Nero illumined his gardens during the night by Christians burning in their pitchy shirts. Under Domitian, an army of feeble dwarfs was compelled to fight.
Then Singer remarks:
It is against this background that the impact of Christianity must be assessed...

In its application to human beings, the new doctrine was in many ways progressive, and led to an enormous expansion of the limited moral sphere of the Romans...

On this basis the outcome of the interaction of Christian and Roman attitudes is not difficult to guess. It can be seen most clearly by looking at what happened to the Roman games after the conversion of the empire to Christianity.

Christian teaching was implacably opposed to gladiatorial combats. The gladiator who survived by killing his opponent was regarded as a murderer. Mere attendance at these combats made the Christian liable to excommunication, and by the end of the fourth century combats between human beings had been suppressed altogether.[Emphases added]
And the Romans were the most advanced civilisation at the time, with a sophisticated system of law and highly developed morals.

What people often don't take sufficiently into account is that ethics is like everything else, philosophical thought - of which it is part -, science, technology, crafts, economy, military, art, music, culture, political and social institutions: it progresses (or at least it may) through human history. We don't blame the Romans for not having thought of inventing the computer, and we shouldn't blame them for holding ethical views which seem backward now but were ahead of their time.

Just to make a comparison with another ancient population, Thomas Sowell writes in Conquests And Cultures: An International History:
For about one-fifth of its recorded history, Britain was a conquered country, a province of the Roman Empire - and one of the more backward provinces at that. Men from other provinces ruled over Britain, but Britons did not rule other provinces. One measure of the backwardness of pre-Roman Britain was the ease with which it was conquered by greatly outnumbered Roman soldiers and held in subjugation, despite a massive and desperate uprising in 61 A.D. The Romans were simply far better equipped and far better organized. In many other ways as well, the Romans represented a much more advanced civilization than existed in Britain at that point in history. Indeed, after the Romans withdrew from Britain four centuries later, the Britons began to retrogress, and in many respects it was centuries after that before Britain regained the economic, social, or cultural levels it had reached as a province of the Roman Empire.

...There was little inkling of such historic potential [of Britain] in the land and people that Julius Caesar encountered in a raiding expedition on the British coast in 55 B.C. Indeed, not a single Briton's name had entered the pages of history before that time.
We all know what great civilised nation Britain became later, but we are now considering ancient times.

What about public schools and hospitals, the specific cases mentioned by Tony?

The influence of Christianity on their institutions is direct, easily traceable and with plenty of evidence to support it.

But first let's see what Tony writes just after the extract from his emails that I've quoted above:
The societal benefits that you describe as coming from Christianity came after the Reformation, when the power and influence of Christianity was greatly reduced, and the Church was put in its place. Prior to the Reformation, society was undermined by superstition, religious persecution and backwardness, there was very little in the way of social or scientific development for hundreds of years, which is why it's called The Dark Ages.
A thing is to be immediately noted here. The decadence in learning from the classical era experienced during the Medieval period has several historical causes. One of them is that, when you reach a peak in human achievement, this is eventually followed by a stasis, another is that the fall of the Roman Empire created a profound crisis in Western Europe.

To attribute this decline in total or in part to Christianity or the influence of the Church may be fashionable, but is unsupported.

The opposite is true: it is thanks to the Church that those ages were not darker.

It's odd how there is an increasing emphasis on the role played by the Islamic world in the preservation of classical antiquity's enormous cultural and intellectual treasures, but we hardly ever hear about the vital role of Church scholars and missionaries in preserving classical knowledge.

Church scholars were the only ones in Western Europe who preserved Greek and Roman texts in their libraries and scriptoriums in the Middle Ages. Even to this day the Church is, as has always been, a source of continuity linking contemporary Western culture to its classical roots.

But here, as in many other cases, the Western modern anti-Christian movement has given a great helping hand to Islam, whose apologists profess its unique role in the preservation of classical treasures while Christianity's right similar claims have been silenced by the West's repudiation of its historical religion's value.

The name "Dark Ages" for a certain period of European history, i.e. the early Middle Ages, has nothing to do with the negative role of the Church, as Tony portrays, but with what happened when the invading Germanic hoardes moved into the civilised Roman world and nearly destroyed its ancient culture, leaving almost no formal education for children. Rome's elaborate school system disappeared.

During the chaos that followed the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Church remained the only institution capable of supporting intellectual culture. Virtually nobody in Western Europe could read or write outside of monasteries, which became the centre for developing literacy.

Even Left-leaning Wikipedia has to recognise this:
The cultural influence of the Church has been vast. Church scholars preserved literacy in Western Europe following the Fall of Rome. During the Middle Ages, the Church rose to replace the Roman Empire as the unifying force in Europe. The cathedrals of that age remain among the most iconic feats of architecture produced by Western civilization. Many of Europe's universities were also founded by the church at that time.
And even after Western Europe found an order again, the Church continued to be a driving force in education, in schools associated with its monasteries, churches and cathedrals. Cathedral schools were centres of advanced education, and often developed into the Medieval universities which were the source of many European later achievements.

Recognising its unique role in learning, practically all men of intellect joined the Church in the Middle Ages, which is why Latin, the church's language, was for many centuries, as late as into the 18th and 19th centuries, the language of scholarship and erudition, science included.

Significant works of all subjects were written in Latin: Vesalius, Galileo, Descartes, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Torricelli, Kepler, Havers - and these are only a tiny number - wrote in Latin.

Newton wrote his scientific masterpiece Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in Latin. For Newton, God was part of his mechanics. Newton believed that his concept of absolute space protected the idea of God as the divine substance that expresses its own infinity in the double infinity of absolute space and time. He described God as:
“a powerful ever-living agent, who being in all places, is more able by his will to move the bodies within his boundless uniform sensorium, and thereby to form and reform the parts of the universe, than we are by our will to move the parts of our own bodies.”
The Church has always been a major source of schooling and medical care, and nobody in his sane mind can deny its prominent role in either. The evidence for that is too overwhelming even for the most lunatic atheist.

The people who dispensed these services were clearly inspired by Christianity:
As discipleship was important for the first believers (and those to follow), early formal education arose from Christian catechetical schools. Unique to Christian education was the teaching of both sexes.

Also a Christian distinctive, individuals from all social and ethnic groups were included. There was no bias based on ethnicity or class.
And for health care:
Consider also the issue of health care. Prior to Christianity, the Greeks and Romans had little or no interest in the poor, the sick and the dying. But the early Christians, following the example of their master, ministered to the needs of the whole person. During the first three centuries of the church they could only care for the sick where they found them, as believers were then a persecuted people. Once the persecutions subsided, however, the institutionalisation of health care began in earnest.

For example, the first ecumenical council at Nicea in 325 directed bishops to establish hospices in every city that had a cathedral. The first hospital was built by St Basil in Caesarea in 369. By the Middle Ages hospitals covered all of Europe and even beyond. In fact, “Christian hospitals were the world’s first voluntary charitable institutions”.
The website of London's Science Museum has no doubt that Christian beliefs were the cause of the development of hospitals and not a coincidental occurrence:
Christian hospices first developed in the East in the late 300s. Some, like those founded by the Order of St John, appeared along routes of pilgrimage and offered shelter to religious travellers throughout Europe and the Middle East. The idea of religious charity lay at the heart of the medieval and early modern hospital. Medicine and morality were closely tied. This was evident in the location of beds, which was often determined by the location of an altar. Medical care was usually delivered by monks and [n]uns.

...The Christian practice of charity in Europe was based on the relationship between Christ and the pauper. The emphasis in hospital was therefore on care rather than cure, and the common denominator of patients was poverty, not illness. The original religious nature of early hospitals is still alive, most often in their names. Notable examples include the Hôtel Dieu in Paris, originally established in the 800s, and St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, which was founded in the 1100s and still exists today.
Not just hospitals, but medicine itself was developed by Christianity in the Middle Ages:
Guided by the principles of Christian charity and compassion, as well as by the biblical examples of helping the troubled and healing the sick, the clergy, besides the studying of medical sciences, soon turned to practical work and proceeded to treat the sick, establishing first hospitals within monasteries, initially accepting and treating monks and monastery servants, but subsequently admitting many ill laymen.
Tony says: all these positive developments could have occurred without Christianity. This expresses both the groundless and meaningless assertion that the same things might have happend through different causes - which can be said just about any historical phenomenon, including the bad things attributed to Christianity -, and a strange way of thinking, namely the belief that Western principles and institutions developed in a sort of a vacuum.

Besides, there is no evidence for that claim. Even today, Christians outperform atheists in terms of charity, when it comes to giving money to charitable organisations as well as dedicating their lives to charitable causes.

Repeated studies over time have shown, for example, that the US more Christian states give a greater percentage of their income to charities than the more secular ones.

Christians are also better neighbours, and a Forbes study found that Christian charities are more reliable than others, ranking highest in terms of using donor money towards charitable projects and services, rather than putting it in their pockets.

Four out of the five charities that received a perfect rating in both fundraising efficiency and charitable commitment are Christian organizations.

Tim Mettey, of Matthew 25: Ministries, one of the top-rated charitable organisations, said: "We have to be less than 2 percent on overhead. We thrive on being so efficient.”

The association’s mission statement is based on Matthew 25:34-40, which calls for the hungry to be fed, the homeless to be sheltered and medicine for the ill.

Mettey explained that the group’s success depends on support from the Christian community, adding: "[W]e have 22,000 volunteers because of our message. Without volunteers none of this would be possible," Mettey said.

The report on this Forbes study in Christianity Today concluded:
Faith-based organizations have the added benefit of turning to the Bible to remind themselves of motivation and direction.
All this, therefore, confirms that Christian teachings not only highly correlate with but also produce charity, generosity and selfless behaviour in aid of other people.

To be continued.

Photo by Anthony Majanlahti (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0).

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Islamic Dog Hatred & Animal Rights Activists’ Silence

First published on FrontPage Magazine.

By Enza Ferreri

[Note: in the above video two German Shepherd dogs are attacked and pelted with bricks by Muslims in a street of Casablanca, Morocco.]

In the UK a Muslim taxi driver recently refused to give a lift to a disabled woman's dog, alleging that it broke the rules of Ramadan. Despite the fact that by law no taxi driver can refuse to carry a disabled passenger or assistance animal unless he is medically exempt, the man has not lost his taxi licence and has not been fired. The owner of the taxi firm said he would respect the driver's religious beliefs.

This is not the first time and won’t be the last that Islamic and Western attitudes to dogs conflict.

There have been many cases, both in Europe and North America, of Muslim taxi and bus drivers refusing to let dogs in – even guide dogs for the blind –, of police not letting dogs near Muslim suspects or prisoners, of Muslim prison inmates being given new clothes and bedding after police sniffer dogs search their cells, of dogs being banned from touching copies of the Quran and other Islamic items in prison cells, of sniffer dogs trained to spot terrorists at train stations no longer allowed to come into contact with Muslim passengers and fitted with leather bootees to cover their paws when searching mosques and Muslim homes, of blind or disabled people accompanied by dogs facing Muslim hostility in hospitals, supermarkets and from Muslim bus passengers or turned away from restaurants, of Western citizens being handcuffed and threatened with arrest for walking leashed and well-behaved dogs close to Muslim rallies: the list could go on.

Pronouncements about dogs are not in the Quran but are numerous in the various hadiths, collections of traditions containing sayings and deeds of the prophet Muhammad which form the basis of Islamic law.

Dogs for Muslims are "impure", “unclean” and “evil”. For example, the Muslim website Islam Q&A says:
It is not permissible for a Muslim to keep a dog, unless he needs this dog for hunting, guarding livestock or guarding crops…

With regard to keeping dogs, this is haraam [forbidden by God] and is in fact a major sin, because the one who keeps a dog, except those for which an exception has been made, will have two qiraats [a measure of rewards for good actions] deducted from his reward every day.

It is by the wisdom of Allaah that like calls to like and evil calls to evil. It is said that the kaafirs, Jews, Christians and communists in the east and the west all keep dogs, Allaah forbid. Each one takes his dog with him and cleans it every day with soap and other cleansing agents. But even if he were to clean it with the water of all the seas in the world and all the soap in the world, it would never become pure! Because its impurity is inherent, and inherent impurity cannot be cleansed except by destroying it and erasing it altogether.
Another Islamic site, Albalagh, explains:
Jibra'eel (Álayhi Salaam) said that we, the group of Angels do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or pictures. (Sahih Muslim Hadith no.3928)

In the light of these Ahaadith and other narrations it is not permissible to keep dogs as pets. The household is deprived of the Mercy of Allah Taãla.
While this is from Islamic Concern:
Religious traditions hold that if a dog - or woman - passes in front of you as you prepare to pray, it pollutes your purity and negates your prayer. Dogs are permissible as watchdogs or for other utilitarian purposes but not simply for companionship. Abou El Fadl says this zealous adherence to doctrine led one religious authority to advise a Muslim that his pet dog was evil and should be driven away by cutting off its food and water.
Hasan Küçük, a city councillor for the Islam Democrats in The Hague, the Netherland’s third city, even proposed that the city banned all dogs, promptly rebuked by Paul ter Linden, the councillor for Geert Wilders’ PVV party, who told him: “In this country pet ownership is legal. Whoever disagrees with this should move to another country.”

What is interesting is the reaction – or rather lack thereof – of the animal rights movement, too afraid, if it means touching Islamic sensitivities, to speak up even for animals.

The Dutch Party for the Animals started the controversy by proposing to make The Hague more dog friendly, meeting the strong opposition of Küçük, who in response called for dog ownership in The Hague to be criminalized.

The Dutch Party for the Animals, with 2 of the 150 seats in Holland’s House of Representatives, 1 of the 75 seats in the Senate and other 20 seats in provincial and local councils, is the most successful party of its kind in the world. If you search “Islam” on its site, you find the word only in reference to Geert Wilders or his PVV party, to castigate them for “unnecessarily” upsetting Muslims.

“Halal”, “Muslim” and “Islam” do not appear at all on the site of its British equivalent, the Animal Welfare Party (AWP), that describes itself as “The UK Political Party for People, Animals and the Environment” but is all these things, we should add, only when it does not offend Muslims.

Even considering only the two areas of halal and treatment of dogs, there is plenty to keep a true political party or association for animal rights well occupied with the problems and threats that Islam generates for creatures. But clearly this does not happen.

A Google search I made on the Animal Welfare Party’s website in 2010 did return a result for “Islam”. The site’s only reference to Islam was on a page, which has now been removed, commenting on the outcome of the Dutch general election held in June that year.

The AWP people were “obviously shocked by the PVV victory” but congratulated the voters because they showed to be
fed up with Christian politcs [sic] which only focused on protection of short-term human interests ahead of nature and the environment.

A coalition will be difficult, and fingers crossed it won’t be a coalition of VVD (right wing liberals), PVV (anti-islam party for freedom) and CDA (Christian Democrats) but rather a centrist (with Green Left) coalition.
It appeared that for the AWP (which was then called “Animals Count”), being anti-Islam was a no-no, but being anti-Christianity was perfectly kosher.

They were more shocked by the victory of the “anti-islam party for freedom” (which is not its name, anyway, its English translation being “Party for Freedom”) than by the way Muslims treat animals in Holland.

The problem here is that both the UK and the Dutch animal parties have a problem in deciding - or maybe have already wrongly decided - who their enemies and allies are.

It all depends on what their goals are.

If their goal is political correctness, their friends are the Muslims (including Hasan Küçük, the Turkish-Dutch representative on The Hague city council calling for a ban on all the city's dogs) and their enemies are the PVV.

If their goal is improving the animals' condition, then the exact reverse is the case: not only Küçük opposed the Party for the Animals' proposal to make The Hague more dog friendly by calling instead for the dogs' extermination (I wonder how else he could have banned them) or at least removal from their homes and human companions, but Paul ter Linden of the PVV told him what the Animals’ Party should have told him: here in Holland we love dogs and, if you don’t like it, leave.

He was the only one who defended the dogs, the only one who had the courage to stand up to the Muslims without fear of being called "Islamophobe".

In substance, the Dutch self-proclaimed Party for the Animals supports the enemies of animals and attacks the protectors of animals.

I think that we'll see more and more of these cases, in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Then we'll see where the "animal defenders" will really stand, if they consider their Leftist ideology more important than the animals' well-being or not.

Just in the same way as European police, social services, school teachers and even parents are prepared to throw children under the bus, so animal rights people are ready to sacrifice animals: not being considered racist or Islamophobic is more important for all of them.

That this is the case is obvious from the way groups for animal welfare are – and want to remain - blissfully ignorant of what Islam is, the threat that its growth poses to the West and in particular the danger that Islamization represents for animals.

There’s hardly any point in fighting for the advancement in the status of animals in law and public conscience when in a few decades our countries will regress to being dominated by a 7th-century cult replete with superstitions about black dogs and whose “religious” festivals are celebrated by slaughtering millions of fully-conscious animals in front of children who will quickly learn how to use a butcher’s knife.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Milton Friedman, Bad Laws and Tax Evasion

In this video, entitled "Incentives for Immoral Behavior", the American economist Professor Milton Friedman explains how there are fundamentally two types of law: those that are regarded as moral and just by the vast majority of people, and those which are not.

The former group of laws are generally obeyed because they speak to the inner moral sense of the population, the latter have a high rate of violations.

Obviously, the greater the number of laws and regulations, the higher the number of them that will be considered as superfluous and will not carry moral value among the citizens, and in turn the more numerous the laws that will be broken.

This generates a psychological and social climate of lawlessness, which is clearly bad for society.

For a long time now I've thought that laws are like medicines: they both almost invariably have side effects, unwanted consequences. Therefore, they should be used extremely sparingly, only as the last resort.

Unfortunately, left unchecked, governments have a tendency to create an enormous amount of unnecessary laws and regulations, that just complicate life, make it more expensive, and often contradict each other so new laws have to be passed to solve those contradictions or to solve the problems produced by the previous laws.

Very interesting, for the current political environment of Britain and in fact all the West, is Friedman's reference in the video to how people who wouldn't steal a penny from another person have no moral qualms about finding ways to evade tax, which is illegal.

It's relevant to the current climate because in the UK tax evasion has recently increased, and Prime Minister David Cameron, for one, has been chastising this practice, while the press has brought to public attention cases involving corporations and entertainment famous figures ("celebs") alike.

The rise in tax evasion is undoubtedly due to the profligate, dissipated and frankly cretin way in which successive British governments, particularly during the interminably long 13 years of the previous Labour tenure, have squandered taxpayers' money to create the third highest national debt in the world.

The vast disillusion with the welfare state - by far the main culprit of this waste - in which taxpayers, namely its donors and funders, have lost any trust, is clearly largely responsible for the tax evasion hike. Knowing how the welfare system of benefits is easily exploited and is replete with fraud cases must provide a huge inspiration and incentive for fiddling with tax returns.

Basically, the law-makers should not pass laws and impose taxes that appeal to themselves for ideological - like redistribution of wealth - or other reasons, but have no or little resonance with the people they are supposed to represent.

To give citizens, as Milton put it, "incentives for immoral behavior", specifically for law-breaking, should be avoided because, once people start thinking of themselves in those terms, psychologically it has a domino effect and contributes to the spreading of an attitude of mistrust and eventually corruption.

As the US economist says, the endemic corruption in the British civil service was eliminated by getting rid of the laws that were giving rise to bribes.

Hat tip to Erwin

Support for Christianity Should Not Alienate People

Derbyshire village church

This article is the first part of a reply to the comments on my speech What is Uniquely Good about Western Civilisation Derives from Christianity. Most of them have been positive, in agreement with what I said.

This is something we should take more notice of. Militant atheists and anti-Christian people are very vocal, but they only represent a minority of ordinary people's views.

Very few persons have disagreed with my speech. One commenter, though, has sent me observations that, as well as highly critical of the position I take there - even to the point of suggesting that my party Liberty GB, which upholds Christian values and principles, would lose supporters because of this stance -, are detailed enough to warrant a complex answer in more than one part. Here is the first. I’ll call the commenter by his Christian name, Tony.

Some of Tony’s comments remind me of a trial in which, reversing the traditional legal procedure, the defendant is a priori considered guilty until proven innocent, and what is applied to him is a strange, contradictory criterion according to which everything that stands in his favour is discounted as pure chance while whatever stands against him is taken as undisputed evidence of his evil nature.

This is an example of the former:
I agree with you that many wonderful things have come from people professing to be Christians. Public schools and hospitals in Britain are one example. However there is no reason to believe these would not have come about without religion.
In other words, that people professing to be Christian and acting according to the teachings of Jesus and to Christian beliefs and morals created something good is not due to Christianity.

And, immediately after the above, comes an instance of the latter:
The societal benefits that you describe as coming from Christianity came after the Reformation, when the power and influence of Christianity was greatly reduced, and the Church was put in its place. Prior to the Reformation, society was undermined by superstition, religious persecution and backwardness, there was very little in the way of social or scientific development for hundreds of years, which is why it's called The Dark Ages.
Putting aside for a moment the question of the historical accuracy of this description, the double-standard message is very clear: everything good that was done by Christians is not due to Christianity, but everything bad that that was done by Christians is.

Such a position of total enmity and hatred (for once this overused term is justified) for Christianity, which only a few decades ago would have been considered not only offensive but, even more importantly, as absurd as coming from another planet – maybe the planet of Islam -, is perfectly understandable today.

We have to realise that the Left, with its typically 20th century’s creation of Cultural Marxism, has been in power in all Western countries since the end of the Second World War, both when it has been and when it hasn’t been in government.

The power of the Left is ideological, is its grip on every means of spreading ideas and indoctrinating people, in short is cultural. Every other political force now has to confront the theories of the Left which, in the views of the majority, stand on the moral and political high ground – although this can easily be shown as a myth. That communists killed around a hundred million people should act as a simple inspiration for doubting that myth, but apparently communism has remained largely unscathed in Western minds, weirdly disconnected from its effects.

I wonder why. Possibly for the same reason as Christianity is so wildly vilified? Because of socio-communist propaganda dominating schools, universities, media, entertainment?

Hate for Christianity has been mirroring and running parallel to hate for the West, and has led to the historical revisionism, misinformation, ignorance, distortions and propaganda that neo-Marxism has successfully spread in the last 50-60 years. This will be treated in the second part of my article, which will deal with slavery, a classic case of falsification of history and doctrine that has created the myths of the evils of both Christianity and the West.

I know about it beacuse I was a victim of this indoctrination too, and years ago I may have agreed with what Tony writes.

That loathing of Christianity is real can be seen from this comment to my post "From Atheist to Agnostic":
My family is quite devout (or as devout as the CoE permits), and I was bullied a bit for it in school.
Tony says:
To associate Liberty GB with Christianity will alienate a lot of people (myself included). You might also be linked in peoples' minds (and then dismissed) to the Christian fundamentalist movement / religion Right in the USA. This would bring a lot of negative baggage.
That every time someone defends Christianity he (in this case, she) risks being classified as a fundamentalist is very similar to the risk that an individual opposed to uncontrolled immigration to the West or aware of the dangers of Islam will be called racist or Islamophobic.

Both these types of accusations derive from a similar kind of profound misunderstanding.

And also, as American scholar of Islamic culture Raymond Ibrahim wrote in a personal note to me:
[W]hatever the shortcomings of the Christian right in America, vis-a-vis Europe, they certainly have a better approach to Islam, whereas secular-centered Europe is exactly where it is, and going to get worse, because they reject the idea of any connection to Christianity.
Ibrahim expressed my speech's main point as follows:
Christianity, as with all religions, has two aspects, the spiritual (personal) and the cultural (societal): in our context, one need not discuss or even promote the former, but rather it is the latter that needs to make a comeback - the legacy, heritage, etc., that the West can rally behind, give it a core, a sense of collective identity, and of course a moral grounding.
You can find this position represented in a comment to my speech from another person:
I am an Atheist but I believe that a free , strong , democratic society can only exist in the West by following Christian ethics or as in Israel , Jewish ethics ( after all Israel is the only democratic country in the middle east .)
And this is the point: how is it that people who extoll so much the importance of science, as atheists generally do, take so little notice of empirical evidence, which is a foundational element of the scientific method?

If all religions were the same, and in particular if they were equally bad, how is it that they have produced cultures so far apart from each other, with profoundly, extremely different outcomes for the well-being of the corresponding populations? Correlation is not causation, granted, but what broadly divides the West from the Islamic world, and both from the rest, is indeed religion, with all the ideas that it generates.

Only the West, which has always been Christian, has reached peak achievements in all human fields, bringing with it countries that understood its success and imitated it. Those who deny the importance of Christianity should provide an explanation for this phenomenon.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

What is Uniquely Good about Western Civilisation Derives from Christianity


My name is Enza Ferreri. I'm a blogger, journalist and the Press Officer of the Liberty GB party.

This video is for everybody, but it's mostly for the people in the counter-jihad movement, and among them, the atheists and agnostics. We know much more – and I include myself – about Islam than we know about Christianity.

Now, I've been an atheist almost all my life. I've become an agnostic less than a year ago, when I realised that the reason why many people, many atheists, are opposed to the belief in God – the reason they'll give is that there is not enough evidence for the belief in God – could also be an argument against atheism. Because when you say there's no Creator, ... when you don't explain the origin of the universe by means of a Creator, you are automatically subscribing to the alternative view which is that everything happened by chance, that the universe came about by accident, and that has got less evidence ... than the belief in God.

Now this introduction is just to make you understand who I am, where I'm coming from, but has nothing to do with what I'm going to say next.

Let's put the belief in God aside. Okay, we all know that we have a problem with Islam. But we should understand, for instance, that the EDL [English Defence League] has failed – has got many problems – exactly because it starts from only that viewpoint. It's just a spontaneous reaction against Islam, but without a grasp of the problem and a better ground to understand it and to face it. Islam is not the problem, Islam is a symptom of a disease, and the disease is cultural Marxism.

Now the West wouldn't have any problem with Islam if the West were strong within. It's a bit like the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire, yes, was destroyed by the barbarians from outside, but more than anything was destroyed by its own weakness inside, the divisions, the political divisions within it. And the same, something similar, applies to the West and Islam, in the same way as Rome versus the barbarians.

Our superiority, the West's superiority and greater strength is such that Islam wouldn't trouble us at all if we didn't have these divisions within the West, Western civilisation, which are caused by Cultural Marxism, which is the reincarnation of Marxism in the twentieth century.

Antonio Gramsci, who founded the Italian Communist Party in 1921, formulated the theory of cultural hegemony, which says that before being able to change, to make a change politically, to have a political revolution, we need to change the culture. And that is done by changing the consciousness of the people, a total change in and control of the culture, so that new, emerging, dominant ideas would lead to the political revolution and give rise to new generations with different ideas.

That has been done by the Left successfully. After Gramsci there was the Frankfurt School later on, and since then the Left has applied this idea of cultural hegemony and has with it control of the media, and the education system, has done exactly that and has won the war so far.

Now we must do the same, we must use the same means. How? The great Oriana Fallaci, who was one of the first, one of the pioneers to open the eyes of the West to the dangers of Islam, was herself an atheist. But she called herself a Christian atheist.

This is an important distinction because we want to distinguish between Christian theology and the belief in God – to which we may or may not subscribe – [and] Christianity as civilisational foundation for the West and for our countries. And that is non-negotiable. We need Christianity, we can't do without it because this is what the West was built on.

We are ourselves the victims of decades of leftist propaganda, so it's understandable that many of us have actually embraced them, believed in them. But there are many [myths in what they say]: first of all, that all religions are the same. This is absurd. If you want to think scientifically and look at empirical evidence, where are Christian terrorists? Let's look around ourselves, there aren't any.

But there are so many Muslim terrorists, and not only that, all over the world violence is initiated mostly by Islam. No other religion really, but certainly not Christianity.

And another thing: we have to explain to ourselves why only the Christian part of the world has made such enormous progress, to which the other parts of the world don't even come close. There must be some explanation, why is it? The only thing that distinguishes the West from the rest is Christianity.

Christianity is not what some atheists – I'm not talking about all atheists of course, there are atheists like Oriana Fallaci, like me, or agnostics, who don't believe in that – but some atheists propagate the wrong ideas about Christianity, and they have led us to believe some things that Christianity is not.

Christianity is a very complex, rational doctrine developed through centuries of Patristic and Scholastic philosophy incorporating Aristotle and his logic. If all religions were the same, how is it that Aristotle could never be reconciled with Islam?

Now let's think about the Crusades as well. Most people in the counter-jihad movement, will know by now, hopefully, that there's been a huge historical distortion of what the Crusades were about – by the Left, by Cultural Marxism.

They were not, as they have been portrayed, a war of aggression, but they were actually the opposite, they were belated wars of defence against the encroachments of Islam, which was about to conquer Europe. We have to thank the Crusades if we are now not all Muslims or minorities in Islamic countries – which is a fate worse than death, you just have to look at what happens all around the world.

So in same way as the Crusades have been, the history of the crusades has been distorted and manipulated by the Left, in education and in the media – if you look at the Hollywood films that have been made about the Crusades, they are all totally distorted –, the same can happen about other parts of Christian history.

Now, I'm not going through all the history of Christianity because we haven't got enough time for this short video, but we've got to look at the things that Christianity has contributed to the West, which are important throughout Western history, including now.

Christianity is deeply ingrained in many of the things that we believe in today. Many of our institutions, values, principles and practices. And here they are, for instance:

All men are equal. This is a distinctive Christian belief, not to be found in any other religion or doctrine, especially at the time of Jesus Christ, it was a very, very revolutionary belief; and without bias of race or class.

The freedom and rights of the individual. For Christianity man has free will and he is in the image of God. This is in stark contrast to the autocratic societies of the non-Christian world, past and present. Without freedom, without this kind of freedom, there are no other freedoms, political, economic or religious.

Human rights derive from the Christian concept of natural rights.

The dignity of manual labour, that Christianity has introduced; it didn't exist in other cultures. Remember that Jesus's father was a carpenter, and most of the people he recruited were either fishermen or other labourers.

Christianity has been the inspiration of great art, music and literature.

Then, the abolition of slavery. Only Christianity has abolished slavery. It still exists in Islam, it's never been abolished by Islam, whereas Christianity abolished it twice: at the time of the Roman Empire first, when Christianity became the [future] religion of the Roman Empire; and in nineteenth century America – it was Christians who abolished slavery in nineteenth century America.

Then, Jesus banned animal sacrifices.

Then, the banning of gladiator fights, which derived from pagan Rome.

Christianity in ethics. Christian ethics is the best ethics, even today. There is nothing that has been able to replace it. Utilitarianism, which is a non-Christian – actually non-religious – ethics founded by Jeremy Bentham in the nineteenth century, is not a good system of ethics. It basically accepts the principle that the end justifies the means.

Christian ethics is still the best ethics, founded on love and charity. In fact, you can see that the people who help now and have helped the Third World – who have gone there and helped it – the vast majority of them are Christians.

Before Christianity and in other parts of the world ... there's never been an interest for the poor, the sick and the dying. Christianity introduced historically the institutionalisation of healthcare.

Then, the birth of science. Science in the modern sense of the word was born with the beginning of the modern era in Europe, after the Renaissance. ... Science is a system, a systematic application of a method of enquiry to nature, and a different outlook on the natural world.

It's been possible because Christian scientists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries – and philosophers of science as well – because they were Christian they believed that because the Christian God is a person like us, He has ordered the universe in a way that we can understand. For science it is essential that there is an orderly universe, that you can discover the laws of nature.

We think this is obvious now, we take it for granted, but it's not an obvious concept at all, that the universe must be ordered and not chaotic. In fact the Chinese, for instance, at the time couldn't believe in that. That's why science [didn't] develop in China for instance.

If you read a book, why do you think you can understand it? Because you know that you speak the same language as the author, or think, have a mind that is similar to that of the author. Galileo spoke of the book of nature being written by God in mathematical language and he said we – scientists – can understand it because we have a mind similar to that of God, we are built in his own image. So this was all essential for the birth of science, and Christianity was crucial in it.

No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation or movement has changed the world for the better as Christianity has done. Are we going to throw all this away? How do we know that all these great things that Christianity has given us will survive without it?

As individuals we can be atheist or agnostic, but can we as a society be?

Is it a coincidence that Islam is representing a mortal threat to the West for the first time in centuries just when our society doesn't seem to believe in anything any more?

All the enemies of the West have always been enemies of Christianity. Is that a coincidence?

To resist the ideological onslaught of Islam, we must know who we are. This culture of nothing, of nothingness, prevailing in the West has helped Islam, and will continue to be an obstacle to our resistance to it.

Not all atheists but those of them who oppose Christianity and the Church don't realise that they are fighting against the strongest inspiration and the most effective defence of Western civilisation and its values of rationality and freedom. And they might realise that when it's too late.