Richard Dawkins : Right about Islam and Science, Wrong about Christianity

richard-dawkinsBy Tim Heydon.

The Contribution of Islam to Western Civilisation has been ‘Huge?’

Richard Dawkins, the monomaniacal Atheist, has as is usually the case, got himself into hot water with and described as a ‘bigot’ by the usual suspects for stating  an obvious truth about Islam,  in this case that Islam has contributed virtually nothing of importance to Scientific endeavour  in seven centuries.  As has already been pointed out, when Dawkins or others of his ilk and those who wish to traduce Western Civilisation disparage Christianity, there is no such outrage.

It is one of the more comical aspects of the ignorance of Dawkins and those like him about  Christianity that without the latter, the modern science and ‘progress’  they treat  like a substitute religion would not exist.  Indeed, without Christianity modernity,  indeed  Western Civilisation itself, would not exist.

Dawkins’ ‘crime’ in the eyes of the Cultural Marxist Establishment is that he is even handed in his campaign against religion. That Establishment however, whilst itself  on the whole anti-religion, is  profoundly biased against Christianity because it has indeed shaped the West. At the same time, it tries to deny that it has done so.  The so –called ‘Enlightenment’, they say, is what defines the West.  Anti-Christian, anti- West bias manifests itself in the routine denigration of  the achievements of the Christian West.  It smears its role in history  whilst talking up those of Islam. For example, the Crusades are routinely depicted as pure Christian / Western  aggression, whilst the fact that they followed three centuries of aggressive  Islamic expansionism across previously Christian lands is not mentioned.

This article explores the actual contributions of Islam to Western Civilisation and so to the world and throws  the failure of Islam into relief by contrasting it with the glittering achievement of Christianity and the West.

Charles Murray and Human Accomplishment

What has the contribution of Islam to Science and to the modern world in general actually been?

In his book, ‘Human Accomplishment’  Charles Murray, co-author of ‘The Bell Curve,’ has identified those individuals in history who have been engaged in ‘the pursuit of excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950’ and have contributed the most, not just to Western Civilisation but to the World.

 Murray’s Empirical Approach

In order to do this, Murray adopts the refreshingly direct, empirical methods of a political scientist which minimise the tendencies to  bias or undue emphasis evident in other approaches.  He bases his assessment of human accomplishment on those individuals who have appeared in major reference books and studies, world –wide. These works can be used, first, to identify those people who are worthy of study, and second, to calibrate their eminence. Murray does not include every single individual who is mentioned in all the reference books. That would include the merely excellent as opposed to the indispensable.  He has a cut-off point of 50%: anyone who is mentioned in at least 50% of his qualified sources is designated a significant figure, and enters his samples for analysis.

Significant Figures in the Major Branches of Learning

Murray deals with such matters as whether importance equals excellence in scientific accomplishment and the question of taste in the judgement of excellence in Art.  He heads off, in persuasive fashion, the anticipated accusations of various ‘isms’; ‘ Eurocentrism,’ ‘Sexism,’ ‘Racism’ ‘Chauvinism’ and ‘Elitism,’  by, for example, pointing out that Japanese studies give much the same results as his own. The result of all this is a series of lists, graphs ands bar-charts depicting the most influential figures in the various major branches of learning:-

Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, Medicine, Technology, Combined Sciences, Chinese Philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Western Philosophy, Western Music, Chinese Painting, Japanese Art, Western Art, Arabic Literature, Chinese Literature, Indian Literature, Japanese Literature, Western Literature.

Murray lists 4002 significant figures in these lists, that is, individuals of whatever ethnicity/cultural background who are significant in world terms. Of these, just 568 or 14% are not Western, and 82, or a tiny 2% are Arabic/Moslem.

Significant Events in the History of Science

Murray also presents a list of significant events in the history of science since about 500 BC by combining events in nine chronologies such as that by Bernard Grun, ‘The Timetables of History.’  In astronomy there are 57 such events. Only one, the Chinese description of sunspots in 165 BC, is not Western.  There are two significant events ascribed to the Arabs / Islam in Chemistry among the 70 listed; Jabir ibn Hayyan’s preparation of acetic acid in AD 750, and the first production of concentrated alcohol by the distillation of wine in  AD 900. There is no Arab / Moslem or non-Western contribution to the 47 significant events in the Earth Sciences, none in the 147 of Physics, none in the 64 of biology and none in the 68 of medicine.

Who did What?

In mathematics, of the 102 central events, three are connected to Persia but are not necessarily Islamic. For example, Omar Khyayyam who was the first to solve some cubic equations, was hostile to Islam.  Taking into account Chinese and Indian contributions, only six central events in total are not Western.  The Chinese figure in the early history of technology: they are responsible for 9 of the 119 central events. The rest, apart from the first known use of glass blowing in the Levant in 245 BC and of parchment in Asia Minor in 200 BC are Western.

European White Males : Responsible for the  Overwhelming Majority of Human Accomplishments in the Arts, Literature, Sciences and Technology

Murray points out that whether measured in terms of people or events, 97% of accomplishment in the scientific inventories occurred in Europe and North  America.  Speaking as an American, and delivering an uppercut to militant feminism – and others who for ideological reasons prefer to talk down their achievements, Murray comes to the conclusion that ‘not only does Europe dominate the narrative of human accomplishment, so does the minority that has become known in recent years as ‘white males.’’ So we can conclude from Murray’s analysis that the influence of Islam on Western culture has not been significant, while the influence of the West on the world has been overwhelming.

Islam’s Contribution is more than the Sum of its Parts?

But, (it will be argued by  Cultural Marxists  and other progressives of every stamp in the cultural and political elites, led by the anti-British, anti  West  BBC, Murray’s approach only describes the influence of Islamic individuals up to the recent past.  It does not describe how Islam has collectively influenced the West in history as a religion and a culture. Wasn’t there a time (it will be said), when Islam, flushed with the confidence and conquest of the new faith, went through a period known as its ‘Golden Age’, when the aggregate of individual contributions (even if separately these were in Murray’s terms merely excellent rather than significant) together and because of the circumstances – the so-called European ‘Dark Ages,’ were indeed of the highest significance to the development of the West?

The Islamic Golden Age …….

Well, there was a period when  civilisation in Islamic lands flourished, and  It should be acknowledged that the West does owe something to Islam for helping to pass on Greek learning and for adding to it.  But this contribution has been greatly  overvalued . The recent scholarship of the French medievalist  Sylvain Gouguenheim ( “Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel: Les racines grecques de l’Europe Chrétienne(2008)   comprehensively demolishes the idea that the ‘Dark Ages’ were devoid of Greek learning and that what li acquired it owed to Islam. Gougenheim shows that Greek authors were translated directly into Latin for the benefit of later Western thinkers like Aquinas by a monk  in the St Michel monastery 50 years before Arab versions appeared in Spain.

Murray  however  is generous. He writes, ‘For a few centuries at the turn of the first millennium Islam presided over a burst of exuberant scientific and philosophical enquiry. It began with the translation of the Greek and Roman manuscripts which had lain forgotten for centuries. It then went beyond translation, producing a large body of original work in mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, optics and philosophy, among other fields.’

……….….Was not so Golden

The Islamic ‘Golden Age,’ says Serge Trifkovic, a scholar who is hostile to Islam (The Sword of the Prophet’) was ‘golden’ only on its own terms.’ that is, in comparison with the rest of Islamic history. But ‘no self-respecting Western Islamophile would ever admit to this.’ Trifkovic goes on, ‘Whatever flourished, it was not by reason of Islam, it was in spite of Islam… In Islam’s Golden Age’ there was a lot of speculation and very little application; and for a thousand years, even speculation has stopped.’  While ‘a number of medieval thinkers and scientists  living under Islamic rule, by no means all of them Muslims either nominally or substantially,…contributed in making Aristotle known to the Christian Europe …they merely transmitted what they had received from Christian sources and moreover the Aristotle who finally gained recognition in Christian Europe was not the Arabian Aristotle but the Greek Aristotle, who came to Western Europe by way of Constantinople, largely by Byzantine Greeks fleeing the (Muslim) Ottoman onslaught.’

The Views of a New Labour ex- Minister

Further, in their book ‘The Suicide of the West’, Richard Koch and Chris Smith (the erstwhile New Labour Culture Minister), whilst acknowledging the beauty of Islamic cities like Granada with the exquisite courts, pools and paradisical gardens of the Alhambra and their roles as centres of learning, quote the ‘devout’ scholar Caesar E Farah, ‘ The early Muslim  thinkers took up philosophy where the Greeks  left Aristotle the Muslim thinkers found the great guide..Muslim philosophy .. in subsequent centuries merely chose to continue in this vein rather than to innovate.’

Philippe Nemo  and ‘What is the West?’

And Philippe Nemo, Professor of Philosophy and the History of Ideas at the ESCP-EAP European School of Management and a leader in this field tells us (‘What is the West?’) that the West’s debt to Islam is not great, at least with regard to values. He writes that, ‘Undeniably, Islamic philosophy received stimulating nourishment from Greek philosophy, but its interest was more for metaphysics and mysticism, neither of which in my view played a very important part in the shaping of modern Western values.’

The Dark Ages were not so Dark after all. The unmatched Glory of the Book of Kells.

Nor were the Dark Ages from which Islam is claimed to have rescued the West as dark as they have been painted.  In his ‘Civilisation’ TV series, Lord Clarke pointed out that there is nothing in Islamic Art to compare with the glories of illustration and adornment in the Irish  ‘Book of Kells’ (c. 800 AD). Rodney

Rodney Stark, at the time Professor of Social Sciences and Comparative Religion at the University of Washington, pointed out (‘For the Glory of God’) that while Europe’s leading scholars were not well versed in Plato and Aristotle, they were not barbarians.

Christian Europe rejected Slavery.  Islam embraced it

He tells us that for example, during the ‘Dark Ages’, Europeans rejected Slavery, which  in the circumstances of the time meant universally.  Feudal Serfs were not slaves: they had rights and we have records of their being asserted against the Lords. This could not occur to Islam, since Mohammed, the ‘perfect man’ and model for Moslems himself captured, owned, bought and sold, slaves.

The ‘Dark Ages’ – A Great Era of Invention

‘Machinery was developed and put into use on a scale no civilisation has previously known’, says Stark . One such invention was the proper harnessing of horses where a rigid, well-padded collar puts the weight on a horse’s shoulders rather than the neck, enabling a horse to pull as much as an ox and twice as fast,  greatly increasing   productivity. The harnessing of horses in teams enabled them to pull great loads.

Inventive Europeans also improved the Inventions of Others

‘Dark Age’ Europeans also developed iron shoes for horses, effective  watermills, camshafts, mechanical clocks, the compass and so on .  Many of these were original inventions, but what  was remarkable was the way in which Europeans realised the full potential of inventions even when they were imported.  Gunpowder, for example, first seen in Europe in 1300 or so was Chinese, but where the Chinese for a long period used it for only fireworks and as an incendiary, the Europeans immediately saw  its application in gunnery.  By 1325 guns existed all over Europe.  Another example is the compass, invented simultaneously in China and Europe. Where the Chinese merely floated a magnetic needle on fluid, and used it mainly for  purposes of magic, the Europeans added a card and sight which enabled them not only to identify North,  but their precise heading. This, along with numerous other innovations such as the rear-mounted ship’s rudder, greatly assisted the great European era of sea-borne discoveries.

European Inventiveness saved us from Islam

European inventiveness saved Europe from Islam in the end.  In 732, Charles Martel led a Frankish army in the battle of Tours (or Poitiers) which decisively defeated the Moslem Saracens. His army was better armed and armoured than any the Greeks or Romans had fielded.  The lightly armed Saracens could only dent the chain-mailed Frankish infantry square and were put to the rout with ‘the first ever appearance on a major battlefield of knights in full armour’ made the more formidable with stirrups, and the Norman saddle with its very high pommel and curved cantle. These inventions enabled the knight to brace against the shock when his lance struck home  and to withstand it.

The Islamic ‘Golden Age’ withered because of the West?…..

Why did the intellectual activity of the Islamic ‘Golden age’ wither? The knee-jerk reaction of  the BBC and the rest of the political class who are extremely embarrassed by the overwhelming success and influence of the West because it denies their  fatuous, nihilistic ideas of ‘equality,’ is, yes, to blame the West.  Ignoring the fact that following the example of Mohammed, Islam expanded from the first by aggression and conquest, the glorious Islamic civilisation was, they say, brought to decline by the oppression of the West whose aggressiveness stultified it.  But this idea, like much else in leftist thought, is pure ignorant, biased fantasy.

……No, because it was not Islamic

While explanations for the decline of Arts and Learning in Islam differ, the core of them is the faith itself.  Like Christianity, Islam had access to Greek learning, but it was unable because of its nature to make full use of it in the way the West did. The Turkish Historian Aydin Sayili (The Causes of the Decline in Scientific Work   in Islam) says that Islam was unable to reconcile itself with  the Greek philosophical heritage in the way that Christianity achieved.

Islam looked upon that heritage with suspicion from the beginning.  Robert Spencer (Islam Unveiled) acknowledges the debt of the West to the philosophers Averroes, Avicenna and others, but remarks that Avicenna’s views according to the Historian of Philosophy Wilhelm Windelband, were ‘regarded with jealous eyes by Mohammedan orthodoxy and the scientific movement experienced such violent persecutions in the tenth century that it took refuge in the secret league of ‘Pure Brothers’’. Avicenna himself was also persecuted.

Death for those who cast doubt on the Tenets of Mohammed’s Revelation

When the Islamic religious reaction set in, articulated by Al Gazali’s ‘Incoherence of the Philosophers’ in which he recommends death for those who argue against the tenets of Islamic theology, it was directed primarily against Greek philosophy, not science, but the linkage was strong, and science was dragged down as well. H. Floris Cohen says of Islamic science (The Scientific Revolution), ‘the root cause of  (Islam’s) decline is to be found in the faith and in the ability of its orthodox upholders to stifle once-flowering science.’

To Islamic Scholar G E von Grunebaum (Islam: Essays in the Nature and Growth of a Cultural Tradition), Islam, unlike Christianity, was never able to accept that scientific research was a means of glorifying God.  ‘Islamic’ achievements occurred in periods and in places where  orthodox Islam was relaxed. The misgivings of the scientific elites that their researches were impious  led them to acquiesce in Islamic objections.  Again, Phillippe Nemo  says that ‘ the scientific  tradition never took firm  hold on Islamic societies. The reason must be sought in religion and the strong grip it has on the muslim mind and muslim presentations of the world.’

Islamic Literalism Closed off Islam

Islam took the view of philosophy and science that it did because of the  literalism demanded of its adherents. The Qur’an is claimed to be the literal word of God as dictated to Mohammed. The second verse of Surah 2 declares,

2:2 ‘This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah’.

There could be no doubting the Qur’an. Everything worth knowing, it was, and is thought, is to be found in it. As noted above, the period of the flourishing of Islam occurred after a period of huge Islamic territorial gains which brought together learning from a wide variety of non-Islamic sources, including that of the Greeks. It also allowed or forced a temporary relaxation of Islamic attitudes.  When this vast area ruled by Islam, stretching from the Atlantic to China began to consolidate to Islam, there was a reversion to the explicit dictates of the religion and the arts and learning withered. Thus, the so –called ‘Golden Age’ of Islam was the product, not of Islam, but of its absence. Islam’s only real contribution was its aggressive expansionism which has characterised it since Mohammed.

The absence of any significant Islamic contribution to the Civilisation of the West is underlined by the actual  contribution of Christianity, without which indeed there would be no Western Civilisation, at least as we know it.

Unlike Allah in Islam, Jesus wrote nothing.  His message as to who he was lies in the story of his life including his teachings and his ministry, not in anything he wrote.

The Christian Scriptures are not the writings of Jesus but an anthology of his remembered sayings and doings. St Paul was the first to state what this meant when he said, ‘For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesy is imperfect.’

So from the first, the church fathers were forced to mull over the implications of the Scriptures, as indeed the writers of the Gospels themselves had done, about who  Jesus was  in the light of his Resurrection.

Christianity’s First great Gift to Western Civilisation: Faith in Reason.

This led to a theology of inference and deduction – of Reason.  ‘While the other world religions emphasised mystery, from the first, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth. Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy. But the more important fact is that Greek philosophy had little impact on Greek religions. These remained typical mystery cults. Similar assumptions concerning the fundamental inexplicability of the gods and the intellectual superiority of introspection dominated all the other world religions. But from early days, the church fathers taught that reason was the supreme gift from God and the means to progressively increase their understanding of scripture and revelation….. Encouraged by the Scholastics and embodied in the great medieval universities founded by the Church, faith  in the power of reason infused Western culture..’

– Rodney  Stark, ‘The Victory of Reason’

The Christian Belief in the Rationality of a Personal God and the Goodness of his Creation led to Modern Science in Europe

The Christian faith in reason, coupled with the natural abilities of the peoples of the West, has led to many intellectual undertakings, not least the rise of Science.  ‘It is indisputable that modern science emerged in the seventeenth century in Western Europe and nowhere else ‘ – Edward Grant 1996:168.

Why was this?

‘My answer to this question is as brief as it is unoriginal: Christianity depicted God as a rational , responsive dependable and omnipotent being and the universe as his personal creation, thus having a rational, lawful and stable structure, awaiting human comprehension’. Stark, ‘For the Glory of God’ 2003:147.

Alfred North Whitehead, co-author with Bertrand Russell of Principia Mathematica said in a Harvard Lowell lecture in 1922 that shocked Western Intellectuals that the modern scientific method arose in Europe

because of the widespread faith in the possibility of science…..derivative from  medieval theology….To search into Nature could only result in the vindication of the faith in rationality.’

Whitehead grasped that Christian theology was essential to the rise of modern science in the West, just as surely as non-Christian theologies had stifled the scientific quest elsewhere. As he explained,

‘The greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement was  the inexpugnable belief that… there is a secret, a secret which can be revealed. How has this conviction been so vividly implanted in the European mind? …it must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality  of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered: the search into nature could only result in the vindication of the faith in rationality.’

Further, Non- conformist Christian attitudes in Britain to manual labour as a noble calling from God in contrast to the disdain for it elsewhere by educated people greatly assisted the transformation of science into hands-on technology. Christian attitudes to money and to freedom provided the capital without which the Industrial Revolution would have been impossible.

Christianity’s Second Great Gift to Western Civilisation: The Assumption of Progress

After faith in reason, which Stark calls ‘the most significant feature of Western civilisation,’ a second great gift of Christianity to the West is its assumption of progress, which Stark says ‘may be the most critical difference between Christianity and all other Religions.

For Islam, the World is in Decline, not Progressing

With exception of Judaism and Christianity, all religions and systems of belief have held the world to be subject to eternally recurring cycles  or to a state of sameness. The Greeks thought of the world as at a point in a cycle where it was in decline from a long ago Golden Age. Mohammed is reported to have said, ‘The best generation is my generation, then the one that follows that, then the ones that follow that.’

In contrast Judaism and Christianity conceived of history as culminating in the Millennium. However the Jewish idea of history stresses not progress, but procession, while the idea of progress is profoundly and uniquely manifest in Christianity. That we think of progress at all shows the extent of the influence of Christianity  upon us.

Without the idea of progress, it is hard to see how it can be encouraged or perhaps even exist in any fundamental way beyond  the outcomes of mere accident.  Further, the Christian commitment to rationality made progress possible, and not only spiritual progress through an increasing knowledge of God either. St Augustine celebrated not only theological progress but earthly, material Progress too.

Christianity’s Third Great Gift: Individualism

A third great gift of Christianity to the West was the rise of individualism.

Individuals have of course, always thought about themselves and had their hopes, their fears and everything else that goes to make up an individual. What Christianity gave is the Western sense of individualism, based on the concept that an individual has free will to make choices, including moral choices.

Educated Greeks and Romans were not unfamiliar with the concept of free will but freedom of the will is uniquely fundamental to the Christian faith.

Yes, some Protestant sects accepted predestination – that God has foreordained what we do- but for the most part,  in Christianity every person is responsible for his or her own soul.  St Augustine stressed again and again that while God knows what we freely decide to do, he does not interfere. It is up to the individual freely to accept  or reject Jesus’  injunction to ‘Go and sin no  more.’

‘InshAllah’.  The Christian idea of the Freedom of the Will is Incompatible with Islamic Fatalism

Freedom of the will is a concept which is incompatible with fatalism of the kind to be found in Islam, where everything, including whether or not an individual sins and is doomed to hell or to paradise, or is afflicted, is decreed by God in advance. This fatalism is a source of the dreadful inertia to be found in Islamic societies.

On the other hand, the Christian faith in progress through reason towards the better world of the Kingdom of God activated by love for one’s fellows as equally loved by God, underlies the uniquely Christian activism evident in the social and political spheres. This has been responsible for innumerable social and political advances now taken for granted. These include Western Democracy itself, based on respect for individuals and their freedom of conscience. It has been responsible for the fast disappearing particular flavour of social interaction in Britain and elsewhere in the West, where love of neighbour and forgiveness are ideals which have been prized, though often forgotten or ignored.

Allah is Loveless

Despite Qur’anic statements to the contrary, this book makes it clear that Allah is effectively loveless. There is little that is genuinely ‘compassionate’ or ‘merciful’ about Allah ‘the compassionate, the merciful’ as he is depicted in the Qur’an.

Summing  up the development of Western Civilisation

Western Civilisation may be summarised making use of the scheme adopted by Philippe Nemo  in his ‘What is the West ?, ie  an evolutionary unfolding based on its key historical periods or elements:-

1)  The ancient Greek invention of the Polis – the City as a sovereign political entity; liberty under the rule of law, critical enquiry, education. Islam of course could contribute nothing to this.

2) The Roman invention of law, private property, the individual, humanism. Again, Islam could contribute nothing to this.

3) The revolution of the Bible in ethics and its founding role in the idea of History and  Progress.  Islam’s contribution was of course again nil.

4) The achievement of the Middle Ages in synthesising Greece, Rome and Christianity. Scholars in areas ruled by Islam had a role, but not a unique or essential one, in transmitting Classical Learning to the West. While it developed some individual points of philosophical, scientific and mathematical advance it added very little that was fundamentally innovative. Further as has been shown, it was not Islam which was responsible for the ‘Golden Age’ in territories ruled by Islam, but its absence.

5) The great revolutions fostering liberal democracy which liberated the domains of  science, politics and economics, allowing the West gradually to achieve the unrivalled development which gave birth to modernity.  These achievements were of and belong to the West and to nobody else.

Islam has contributed nothing of Real Significance to the West except its Aggression

As we can see from the above, with one exception Islam has contributed little of real significance to the evolution of the  West and  therefore of the world.

That exception is the aggressive expansionism which is inherent in this Religion.  Islam’s role as the perpetual aggressor and rival of the West has helped the West to define itself. Like other civilisations which are supposed to ‘enrich us’, Islam has otherwise contributed little of real importance because it had and has little to contribute that is worth having in the cause of human  flourishing.

What we can learn from Islam

Is there anything at all that the West can learn from Islam? Yes, there is. While Islam is advancing on all fronts including in Europe, the heartland of its ancient rival and enemy, Western Civilisation is in plain decline. The lesson is that Islam’s focus on the spiritual gives it a determination not just to survive but to overcome and dominate – it believes in itself, notwithstanding its utter failure socially, politically, economically, intellectually and artistically.

Stripping the West of its spiritual Core

The West seems set to disappear as a civilisation, notwithstanding its incredible success. Essentially this is because it has lost faith in itself and this in turn is because it has lost faith in its Religion. The very success of Christianity in bringing material blessings to the West has at least for the foreseeable future encouraged a materialist attitude which has stripped it of its spiritual foundation.  Western  intellectuals who worship in the cult of equality are  embarrasses by the success of the West and seek to deny and undermine it.

Secular Extreme Liberalism: Cancerous Cells

Now the great gifts of Christianity from which Christianity has been removed;  Faith in Reason, the idea of Progress in History and Individualism, are called Liberalism. Unrestrained by religion and tradition, these are  in the process of destroying Western Civilisation. It is disintegrating before our eyes like a once vital body whose organs are being eaten away by once healthy but now cancerous cells.

A Materialist Nightmare

Unrestrained Reason and Individualism in the service of ‘Progress’ are producing a materialist nightmare, denying people the sanctity and dignity of their humanness and their special dignity as being loved by God as his children.

This dehumanising is evidenced by for example in the drive for the legalising of  euthanasia,  by the way abortion on demand  is encouraged; by the use of humans as raw material for the genetics industry and in the destruction of the communities and nations in which individuals feel rooted, comfortable and at home.

The Way to Totalitarianism

That way lies totalitarianism and human beings as expendable slaves of the state. Unfettered individualism has transmuted into deep self – centredness, helping to produce sordid amorality and social  alienation whose moral and spiritual vacuity is ‘filled’ by a nauseating, showy, shallow sentimentalism which outsources real compassion  to the state and to charities, and  by guzzling consumption.

T S Eliot and what makes a Culture / Civilisation

The dazzling rise of the West under the influence of Christianity, and its decline as its grip has been loosened, points to a highly significant truth  seen by T S Eliot (Notes Towards the Definition of a Culture), who  linked a Culture (or Civilisation) with its religion. Eliot said, ‘No Culture can appear or develop except in relation to a religion… One cannot be preserved without the other’. For that reason, he added, secularism and ‘cosmopolitanism’ are doomed to failure.

Jurgen Habermas, the leftist guru, stunned an audience quite recently when he said;

Christianity and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights and democracy, the benchmark of Western Civilisation. To this day we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is Post-Modern chatter’.

Let us pray that Islam is not our Future

There has never been an exclusively secular civilisation of any significance, not excluding Confucian China, since Confucianism  is the working out in moral terms of ancestor worship. Nor can there be one worthy of the name. So what religion or spiritual course will the civilisation of Britain and the West be based on in the future?

Let us fervently hope (and pray) that, notwithstanding the deep stupidity, ignorance and treachery of our self-hating rulers and people like Dawkins, it is not as it promises to be, Islam.


(Tim Heydon is the holder of a First Degree in Humanities and Social Science, and Post – Graduate degrees in  Religion / Philosophy and  Theology).

38 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins : Right about Islam and Science, Wrong about Christianity

  1. Progress was made by Europe and the West in spite of Christianity, not because of it. Was does Galilieo owe to Christianity?

    1. This hoary old debating point is often brought up. it misses the point that Christianity provided the motive and the means to understand nature. Galileo was and remained a committed Roman Catholic, notwithstanding his contretemps with the then Pope..

  2. Oh, Mr. Heydon,

    Yet another example of the assertion that it is “comical” for scientists to disparage Christianity when scientific thought has some of its origins in certain strands of Christian theology.

    The assertion is an example of the genetic fallacy: that if B is worthy and A has given rise to B then A too must be worthy.

    The absurdity of this line of reasoning should be clear to you from the following statement:

    Alchemy gave rise to modern chemistry, yet alchemy is still garbage.

    (Or maybe you think I am unduly disparaging of alchemy).

    It is your use of this fallacy that is, I would suggest, “comical”.

    1. Unlike alchemy in your example,, Christianity is not garbage.

      Christianity gave rise to modern science because nature was thought of as the creation of a loving God whose creation was good and because of

      1) The Christian faith in reason, (from where Western Civilisation has got its own faith in it) . (Note ‘faith’ , incidentally).
      2) The idea that nature must be comprehensible (since God is rational)
      3) The further idea that nature should be explored (As a way to understanding God).

      Modern science is based on faith in reason and on the ideas that nature can be understood and should be explored. When Dawkins mocks Christianity , he is mocking the foundations of science. There is nothing illogical whatever about pointing this out..

      There are other comical aspects of Dawkins attitudes. For example, he says that he is a cultural Christian . Clearly his moral judgements are based in Christianity. Yet he makes them when he has no right to as an atheist.
      If one is an atheist, there is no moral right or wrong, good or evil. There is only one’s personal preference which one has no right to try to impose on others, since their preferences must be as valid as yours in a cosmos which is meaningless..
      But Dawkins is forever making pronouncements about the rightness or wrongness of one or other aspect of Christianity.. He said for example that bringing up one’s child as a Christian amounts to ‘child abuse’ and that this is more permanent and harmful than sex abuse., He is using Christian morality to denounce Christianity. If this isn’t comical, what is?

  3. Unfortunately religion is more likely to divide rather than unite and Christianity, from its inception, is no exception.I have to agree with Mr Smith on Christianity: the miracle is that the West survived in spite of genocidal Christian doctrines like the equality of man, which, naturally, promote miscegenation. Having survived Christianity, the West, however, is unlikely to survive its current incarnation Liberalism.

  4. grateful and rather surprised that anyone has read this article, which has a difficult subject and is very long as these things go. My thanks to those who have taken the trouble.

    There is an entirely understandable tendency to look back on the millennia of achievement of Western Civilisation and to imagine that these achievements were somehow inevitable. This is the fatal error made by so-called ‘progressives’ in particular.
    Those who think this must explain why it was the Christian West which progressed in the way it did and not any other civilisation. .Not the ancient Greeks who gave us critical enquiry, not the Roman who were tutored by the Greeks, not Islam which had Greek learning, not the Chinese, whose society (to begin with) was as sophisticated as Greece or Rome and whose people were -are -at least as intelligent; not the Hindus who like the rest had sophisticated alchemies..
    This article attempts to explain why this was so, whilst the same time sinking the claims of Islam.
    As for the idea that Christianity is in alliance with the debased politically correct version of ‘equality’, no it isn’t, although some elements of it might be. Christianity claims to be the truth, and so opposes Cultural Marxism, which says that all, everything and everyone are equal because there is no truth.
    Unlike Cultural Marxism, Christianity accepts difference. It merely states that all are equal in the sense that all are equally loved by God.
    Jesus was a jew who lived as a Jew among jews, whilst giving a message of universal brotherhood..
    Following his example, Christians may combine the particular with the universal by wanting to live in their own country as he did,, amongst their own people as he did, in their own way, as he did, provided they bear no hatred for others and treat them decently. .

  5. The Romans did a lot better under Mithraism and other religions than under Christianity. Christianity held Europe back for centuries in the Dark Ages. Your belief that you have solved a multitude of historical and political mysteries by asserting that we have Christianity to thank for everything is a bit ridiculous.

    The upshot of it all is that religion has no place in politics.

    1. My answer to that is in the post just above this one, and of course, at some length in the article itself.

      Religion has no place in politics? Of course it has. Politics is about morality, and without religion there is no morality.
      There is just a system of ethics which people take less and less notice of if they can get away with it, as we are seeing more and more all around us.

    2. Couldn’t agree more with you Adam.
      If one should wish to sow dissention among a new political party, then introducing the subject of religion is probably the best way to do it.
      The whole argument rests on the presumption that the good things that happened would not have happened in absence of (that) religion.
      Pity the poor Chinese then, who established a rather successful nation, long before ours. What would they have achieved had they had the blessings of a ridiculous book of filched horror stories, assembled by psychopaths?
      How many years of how many lifetimes were expended in useless praying and study of these childish and vile stories, which could instead have been devoted to learning?
      How many lives sacrificed to a god who is not there, or if it is, then it’s clearly the God Moloch?
      If we, as a race have arrived at the position where our self identity is dependent on a heap of Jewish lies and fairy stories,(as the Muslims do) then it’s about time we gave up and accepted our place as mere ‘Goyim’-cattle, at the disposal of our godlike, Jew, master.

  6. The Celts and Germanic tribes were of originally of Pagan and non-religious in nature, largely peacefully and creative. Under such groups Kings (Germanic and Celts) and Queens (Celts) were elected by their peers and fully accountable. When the Christian leaders took control of the Roman Empire, from the military emperor’s the Roman Empire fell. The first Germanic tribe to fully embrace Christianity were the Franks, thereafter they removed democracy with leadership positions favouring rule by sons etc and started a feudal system. The dark ages as they are known (this can be debated) in Europe were often harsh as a result of tribal conflicts and as a result of a period where tribes converted from Paganism to Christianity and the period of transformation that surrounded this process.

    Concepts such as freedom, creativity, democracy, morality, identity and sovereignty pre-date Christian Europe. Also Christianity is an Abrahamic faith like Judaism and Islam. Jesus is incorporated into the Islamic faith. One can’t appose Islam by promoting Christianity; one can only appose Islam and carry weight in the UK by promoting a non-faith agenda. The UK is more akin to the Netherlands than France, which has a strong Catholic tradition, we no longer have that and haven’t for centuries. The Church of England is basically governed by which ever political party is in power, all the key positions are appointed by political parties/appointees in the House of Lords.

    Many on the right in the UK are non-religious I don’t see a market for a Christian right party. Also for me one doesn’t have to be religious to have a sense of morality. I also accept biological, ethnic and cultural differences, why because of empirical science based reasoning, not because of what a holy book states. People of who need faith do so, as they need a body and group who can back them up, they need a sense of belonging and a set ideology. One particular example of this is the rise of Islam is the prison system.

    Nationalism needs people who are free and truly independently minded, people who are mentally strong and whom based their views on empirical and scientific evidence. Christianity isn’t even the original and indigenous faith in the UK anyway. 1500-2000 year ago people of our Islands faced the same problem with Christianity that we now face with Islam. Christianity wasn’t always as tolerant as it is now; just a few hundred years ago there was a far smaller gap between the Christian and Islamic worlds. The gap was created when Islam refused to embrace technology, science and new arts.

    One has to look at the amount of religious buildings in the UK (of all faiths) and clearly they have been built for political reasons and as a way of a particular group of people stamping their culture and faith on the rest of the local area. People don’t need religious buildings to be religious; for example Muslims prey when they get up and before the go to sleep like many faiths and they don’t do it in a Mosque. Ultimately faiths of all kinds are like political parties, they seek to control populations and implement their agendas, but unlike political parties they are far less accountable and harder to remove.

    1. Farming isn’t indigenous to Britain, having originated in the Middle East. I see no possibility of it being dumped for that reason.

      This article is about why Science and indeed the modern world developed in the Christian West rather than in Islam. The reasons for it go back to the origins of the respective faiths, not just ‘a few hundred years ago’., as the article makes clear.

      I should have thought it obvious that there is a vast difference between a view of God as one who preaches forgiveness and love and who desires to be loved and a view of God as a remote and capricious tyrant who demands submission and preaches war and / or hostility against those who don’t submit. Certainly, the civilisations produced by these respective faiths are plainly very different.

      If Christians haven’t lived up to the demands of their faith historically, what on earth makes people suppose they will perform any better under some ideology or other?

      The fact that some people do think this is the triumph of hope over common sense reality about what people are really like. The reality is that they would perform infinitely worse.

    2. Do you suppose that if Christianity were strong in this country as it once was, that Islam would have been allowed to enter Britain in the numbers we have seen?

      I don’t think so, any more than large numbers of westerners would be allowed to settle in Saud Arabia or Iran or any other moslem country in large numbers. .Christianity was a bulwark against mass immigration. It is because it has weakened that mass immigration of moslems and others has been allowed to happen.
      religion is part of the glue that binds a people together That’s why the left, who know this, are so keen to drive it out of public life.

      You are right, one doesn’t have to have a religion to have sense of morality. But whose? And for how long ?

      Nietzsche said that without Christianity, the morality of the West has no foundation and would disappear. It is like the smile on the face of the Cheshire cat It is the last thing to fade, but fade it will.
      He also said that there would be an attempt to invent a morality in substitution for Christianity. That morality is surely Political Correctness. But that morality too would fade.

      Then what? According to Nietzsche, the 20th Century would see ‘wars such as have never been seen’, but that the 21st Century would be even worse , with ‘bands of brothers at each others throats. I think we can see that on the horizon.
      You have got to hand it to Nietzsche. He has been remarkably accurate so far..

  7. Mr Heydon, for someone who criticizes my comment for making assumptions, you make a few yourself: there is no proof that Jesus existed; there is no proof that God exists.
    Of course one cannot prove that we would have been better without Christianity but consideration of its history (inter alia, the persecution of Christian heretics; the witch hunts; the espousal of slavery; the persecution of pagans) would surely turn the stomach of all but the most callous cynic.

    1. Without Christianity we would still be worshipping power as the Romans did. If you had all the power, you were the Emperor. if you had none you were a slave and legally hardly existed.
      We are actually returning to that attitude today… Our worship of celebrity is the worship of power.

  8. Mr Heydon

    You seem to be one of those people who use a great deal of words but say little.
    I read your article with increasing incredulity. It is fill of assertions from beginning to end.

    You make statements which have no basis in fact and others which are plain nonsense. For example you say the fact that Galileo had a “contretemps” with the Pope but that did not stop him being a Roman Catholic. Of course it didn`t, what was he supposed to say?

    As you have never met Galileo you can have no idea what he really thought.He might have been raving a raving Hindu for all you know.

    Galileo had already been shown the instruments of torture, which is a way of saying “toe the line or else”. If he had claimed to be anything but a good obedient Catholic he would have met a very grisly end.(What a nice God). I do not blame him for backing down but the truth is, he was right. Or do you think the Sun goes round the Earth and is flat held up by four elephants on the back of a giant tortoise?

    That makes about as much sense as the the overlong garbage you have written above.

    It is just possible that Galileo was an atheist. When asked by a friend who had looked through a his telescope where God was, Galileo is quoted as saying “In Man or nowhere”. Sounds a a bit like Dawkins to me.

    All Galileo did was challenge a long held view held the church of his time.This was based on rational oberservation. It had no bearing on belief in God or Christianity and of course he was rightin what he postulated. If men like Galileo had been free to pursue their research instead of being tied down by a gang of terrified theists, we might have gone to the stars by now.

    The truth is, Dawkins is absolutely right as regards theism and has provided rational evidence for all he has said.

    Islam on the other hand is something I would not even dignify with the title of a religion. It is little better than a Satanic cult, full of hate and in love with death. There is a strong case for ruling it as a hate crime.

  9. Mr Magoo, this article isn’t about whether Jesus or God exists. It ‘s about the legacy of Christ, myth or otherwise.

    That said, that legacy, ie Western Civilisation, is quite remarkable for someone who never existed.
    As it happens, the New Testament accounts have come through the most intense scholarly scrutiny of any historical documents with their historical veracity pretty much intact.
    With regard to your point about heresy, witch hunts, slavery etc, yes there have been blots on the record of Christianity as practiced. But it must be realised that these practices and many more besides now thought of as barbaric were accepted as normal since time immemorial before the advent to Christianity. Such practices are judged by Christian moral standards.
    Heresy isn’t restricted to religion as commonly understood. For example, every one on this site is a heretic according to the Cult of Equality in the Church of Political Correctness, We all know what heresy is all about from personal experience, don’t we? .

    As; for witch hunts, as CS Lewis pointed out, to link this to Christianity is a category error. Belief in witches has nothing to do with Christianity.
    Then there is slavery, which is practiced widely in the world today under different names, such as debt bonding. Whatever the attitudes of certain Christians to black slavery, it should never be forgotten that it was Christians who led the
    fight against the slave trade and then slavery.

  10. Mr Heydon, your claim that ‘without religion there is no morality’ is false. If you need a book written by desert tribes thousands of years ago to show you the difference between right and wrong then you have my sympathy. What’s the morality of burning witches? I base my morality on my humanity and rational thought.

  11. Every religion is a concept created by man, with the relevant god depicted within ethnic parameters; for the express purpose of uniting/controlling the population.
    As an atheist I sincerely hope the BDP is able to rise above this medieval nonsense.

  12. Who knows what may have happened without Christianity here in Europe. I don’t believe that Christianity was responsible for science though, it has begrudgingly allowed science and argued with findings again and again. Poor Charles Darwin held back the publication of his Origin of Species for many years in fear of the backlash from Christian moral outrage. Galileo was placed under house arrest for simply daring to say that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe, and that the earth revolved around the sun. It could be argued that religion itself is a force for repression and Christianity has only been less repressive in the last few hundred years as it has largely declined in importance to Europeans in their day to day lives. Remember there was a time, not so long ago, that Christians murdered each other simply because of minor differences of belief. Hardly a loving and open minded religion by my standards. We are far better off without religions as we don’t need them to know what is right and wrong, that is absolute and utter nonsense. Islam is more dangerous that Christianity, that is certain. It is intolerant and despises anything that isn’t of itself. Christians were once just as hateful and Christianity has murdered many thousands throughout Europe. It spread by the sword, just as Islam did. Both are needless and not native to our shores. We cannot change history, and we will never know what things would have looked like now if Christianity hadn’t spread, but I am largely in agreement with Dawkins, even though he seems to be a liberal.

    1. If I am allowed the courtesy of replying to you, I would refer you to the words of the Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon (born 1214 AD), who was a scholar at Oxford (A Christian foundation) and who is generally credited with first advocating experimental science. He said;
      ‘The strongest arguments prove nothing so long as the conclusions are not verified by experience. Experimental science is the queen of sciences and the goal of all speculation.’

      There were certainly occasions when modern science turned up results which were at variance with the then understanding of the church. That does not take away for the fact that the whole enterprise of modern science derived from Christian theology, and that without Christianity there would have been no Galileo and no Darwin for the Church, or some elements of it, to dispute with .
      As Alfred North Whitehead pointed out, Christianity was a necessary although not a sufficient cause for the rise of science in the West. Those who think that the rise of modern science was ‘unstoppable’, it seems to me, have either not read my article, or have not understood the argument in it. They certainly have not given any argument to back up their assertion..
      As for the suggestion that Christianity has been repressive; it is extremely unrealistic to suppose that in two millennia there would have been no periods when Christians fell from their own high standards. Of course there were. The Christian movement is a human movement and humans will make mistakes. Show me a movement which hasn’t but also show me a movement that has been a greater force for good..

      Those people who think that we would have got on much better without Christianity or religion are progressives. They believe in the liberal doctrine of the natural goodness of humanity. Christians don’t They are much more realistic. They believe in the human capacity for evil as well.

      I ought to say that as pointed out in the article, the natural abilities of Western people wera also a cause of the rise of modern science in the West. I can’t see science ever having arisen in say Africa, Christian or not. Christianity provided the motive and the means for the rise of science. Western people provided the ability to make use of them.

      1. As I have said previously, who knows what may have happened without Christianity in Britain for the last two centuries. Nobody can say what kind of civilisation we would now be living in. The idea that Christianity gave rise to science is rather fatuous, as science had to be justified in Christian terms in order to make it acceptable to those who were, and many it seems still are, intolerant of that which does not concur with there own religious prejudices. So I cannot agree that without Christianity science would not have arisen in the west. I believe that science has been allowed by Christianity though. I therefore see no proof that modern science has its roots in Christian theology. This seems to be your own theory.

        You made a ridiculous statement that “all those who think we would have got on much better without Christianity or religion are progressives”. I am not and never have been a progressive, and neither are many other nationalists who do not share your religious beliefs. Also, I do not believe in the liberal doctrine of the natural goodness of humanity, nor do I believe in any such thing as evil. If you read what I had written properly you would have noted that I used the words “right and wrong”, not “good and evil”. I do not believe that there is any such thing as “good” or “evil”. These are simply measures that human beings put on events or actions. Neither do I believe that there is a God or his opposite number, the devil. Put simply, the difference between right and wrong can be seen as that which is beneficial to society or that which is detrimental. This does not mean accepting liberal doctrines. They are based on the same nonsense as your own assumptions of good and evil as measured by those who hold certain views, i.e. the equality of all humanity, which most Christians seem to believe in. I suppose you are a right wing Christian like many of those in the USA. That is not my version of nationalism in any shape or form, but appears to me to be a kind of patriotic conservatism based on quasi Victorian values. Nationalism is much much more than that.

  13. Mr Franklin, you might have noticed that I have been careful to back up what I have said with reference to respected scholars.. Alfred North Whitehead, for example, is probably the most significant American Philosopher of the 20th Century
    If you read what I have written with incredulity, take it up with them.

  14. If you think Whitehead was the most significant American Scholar of the 20th century you really are in trouble. Firstly he was English not American and secondly he died in 1947 (before I and I suspect you were born!). So are you writing off the last 53 years of the 20th century?

    I would have thought you would have offered us Hartshorne who died fairly recently and claimed to have offered up definitive proof of the existence of God. And guess what, he was an American! I will not bore readers with a number of others I could name.

    So I am a bit puzzled about who I am supposed to take it up with as Whitehead is dead and I understand that trying to raise the dead is a mortal sin.

    You suggest that without Christianity there would have been no Galileo or Darwin.. This is laughable. If there had been no Christianity there would have been something else and there is no reason that this “alternative reality” religion might not have allowed scientific enquiry to progress much further than “Mother Church” ever did..

    Spare a thought for poor Gordiano Bruno. He was a devout Christian, a friar and an astronomer. However this did not save him from being burned at the stake for suggesting the sun was a star and there might be other planets beyond our Solar System (1300 discovered so far). This was no “mistake” on the part of the Church but deliberate policy.

    In those days we had thousands in Europe being put to the flames in the “Auto da Fe” such as the strange but harmless Cathars. This was on the direct orders of the Pope who was and still claims to be infallible. Now we have the Archbishop of Canterbury telling us that opposition to the marriage of homosexuals should be a hate crime! What sort of Christianity is that?

    You talk about the New Testament being being the subject of intense scrutiny by scholars. Have you tried reading the Book of Revelation recently? These are the ravings of of an embittered old man who was either suffering from dementia or schizophrenia (or both) in his cave on a Greek Island. He did not even write it himself.This was left to a young scribe. We will never know what he actually said. However if it is the the word of God, I would suggest that the Almighty needs to seek help for his mental state..

    Finally, as a devout Atheist, I object to being called a “progressive”. I am a British Nationalist and I will be until my dying day. And I would suggest you get some different books Mr Heydon and try and straighten out some of irrational thinking you have been offering us. Surely you must realise by now that there is no God at work here, just man with all his fallibility..

  15. From your account of Christianity, I saith unto you, it would appear to be invulnerable to whatever criticism one may speaketh against it. For by reinterpreting what constitutes Christianity ye can evade any possible criticism thereof. Behold, Christianity, as a unified religion, does not exist! And lo, like unto the multitude, there are in truth many Christianities i.e. numerous incompatible Christian denominations, as heresy begat heresy. Verily, one cannot engage meaningfully with such theological chaos! Thus spaketh Magoo.

  16. Mr Franklin, I Have already answered your remarks about Galileo (and so Bruno) and so forth earlier and don’t propose to repeat myself.

    As to your remarks about the New Testament, yes I have read Revelation recently. On a personal note, my own thesis on the Person of Jesus in Twentieth Century Thought was very well received indeed in academic circles.. A real understanding of Revelation and the Gospels as a whole needs close attention and scholarship.

    About Whitehead; you are right, he was born in England and did much of his work here. However, he did his work on Process Philosophy, which was surely his crowning achievement and on which rests his reputation, in his final years in the USA, which is why I described him as American. Your point is in any case a red herring since what is at issue is his stature as a philosopher .Such is his brilliance that it has been equated with that of Kant.

  17. Someone once said “Utopia can only be achieved over a sea of blood .
    Christianity, Islam, even Buddism did this. As Adam Smith rightly points out Gallileo owes nothing to Christianity and its priesthood.
    The trouble today is even atheists have a priesthood. Stalin, Pol Pot, and now Mr Dawkings . The only constant in all of this is the sea of blood us proles get conscripted into becoming to support another priesthood dream. If there is a God he separated the races for good reason .If no god exists then nature did the same. Modern convenience, just another utopian dream

  18. @ Tim Heydon
    He describes the Christian God as a loving god. Tell that to all those who suffer appalling deaths before their time from disease. pestilence and wars. Usually at the instigation of the priesthood. Even the church of Rome insists on no contraception in lands where infant mortality is common.
    Nah, that god who demands he be worshipped at every opportunity, on pain of being destroyed in a fiery pit.( Yes destroyed Hell is not eternal according to the scriptures ) seems pretty unloving to me .And can only be described as the priesthood making it all up ,so as to keep on the top of a pile. For what else is it all possibly about . other than, We are all equal but I’m more equal than thou, is .

  19. I did Kant a dis service in my previous remarks.. Even though he was writing in the 18th century he was light years ahead in thought than either Mr Whitehead or Mr Heydon. There is no way Whitehead can be compared with a mental giant for his age such as Kant.

    His views on God were complex but they seem to boil down to the remark attributed to Galileo “God is in man or nowhere”. He seemed to take the view that a belief in God was necessary in order for society to exist. As someone else said “If there is no God, it will be necessary to invent one”.

    For centuries God, gods or rulers who claimed they were gods were necessary in order to provide a moral authority for political power. Hence for centuries we had “The Divine Right of Kings”.

    Man is often is often described as a “social animal”. All advanced life forms form some sort of social order. Man being the most advanced, forms the most advanced social systems, starting with the family and ending with the state and now it seems the superstate.

    I suspect that if Kant were alive today, with the benefit of the advance of knowledge you would find him sitting on the same table as Richard Dawkins.

    As regards Dawkins, I agree with his views about God and Islam. However as a nationalist I disagree profoundly with some of his social views.

    1. Kant’s philosophy actually was intended to define the place of religion in an era of science, That would have included Dawkins. Kant thought that his moral sense was a proof of the existence of the Divine, a position also taken by C S Lewis.

      This again though is a red herring, since it strays from the points at issue,

      I mentioned my own studies into the historical Jesus because you seem to think you know more than I do about the subject of the historicity of the Gospels, which is possible but in view of what you have said in your posts , unlikely.

      1. Sorry I couldn`t let that one go.

        The operative word used by Mr Heydon is “was” when he should be directing his attention at the ” is”. Hence there is no red herring as he claims, just a wilful refusal to acknowledge the real world and a wilful desire to cling to the past. You can`t just call everything you disagree with a red herring. That would mean virtually the whole of reality is a red herring.

        This was the error made by our forebears, who clung to centuries old beliefs rather than do some hard work and get on with some science. He mentions CS Lewis, who was writing quite a few years ago based on what he knew at the time. I wonder where he would stand today? Unfortunately we cannot ask him but there are plenty we can and Dawkins would be a good start. He could then move on A J Ayer, Simone de Beauvoir, Jeremy Bentham, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill and so on. The list is endless.

        It would not matter whether I knew absolutely nothing about the Gospels, as there is no God anyway. It follows that it is all garbage, apart from those areas which are of interest to (genuine) historians rather than those just trying to prove their prejudices.

        I can remember standing on the spot in Ephesus where St Paul is recorded as telling the Ephesians that they would have to give up making their models of the various ancient gods as this was inimical to Christianity. As this was the main industry in Ephesus, this was not a good idea I think. He only just escaped with his life. Not a word in the Letter to Epehesians about that one!

        As Mr Heydon needs to get up to speed on the realities of existence, might I suggest he begin with “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins. This book is suitable for anyone starting out into seeing the wonder of nature as it really exists. He could progress from there.

        1. I listened to Dawkins confronting a senior cleric in a discussion of religious belief and was very disappointed.

          I heard very little from Dawkins that I couldn’t have heard 40 years ago.

          Dawkins seems to think he is some kind of new phenomenon. He is actually simply the latest in a line of similar individuals.

          Dawkins has assumed the mantle previously worn by ‘The world’s most notorious Atheist’, the late philosopher Antony Flew, as he is described on the jacket of his book,’There is a God’, written after his conversion to atheism.

          By the way, it does matter what is in the Gospels, because the truth of them means the truth of the existence of God. And they are indeed pretty reliable as historical records. Indeed, The Gospels are more reliable as historical documents than just about any other in ancient history.

          So, if you know that Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, you know even more surely that Christ was crucified and was subsequently seen as living by many witnesses.

          1. Dawkins is not claiming to be anything, he is just telling it like it is. If you have heard him, you have heard him demolish one theist argument after another.

            Again we get yet another baseless assertion that “The Gospels are true”. Apart from their possible value as a historical source, there is no evidence of this.. I notice you seem to turn your back on Dawkins and the other philosophers I mentioned. You seem to be stuck in this tunnel vision based on an outdated religion invented by a lot of ignorant old men, not dissimilar to the Moslems.

            As to poor JC and his crucifixion. I have no particular reason to doubt this person existed and suffered this fate as did the thousands of others. Crucifixion was a quite normal punishment in the Roman Empire. It was used as a warning – behave yourself or this will happen to you!

            For whatever reason a group of Messianic Jews decided he was their “Messiah” (which the Jews do not accept to this day and I thought they would have some authority in the matter). and formed a sect which eventually became the Christians. It was a sect among many which eventually got lucky. If the course of events had been different we would have been worshipping something else (or hopefully nothing at all) and someone like you would be telling us whatever it was was all true, just as the Moslems try to now.

            As you do not seem to care about poor Bruno, please spare a thought for poor Hypathea of Alexandria who was (a) a scientist and mathematician inching her way to modern cosmology (b) a woman (c) refused to convert to Christianity and was stripped naked and stoned to death by early Christians for her refusal to convert and recant her scientific work. Nothing about that in your Gospels.

            You have much in common with the Moslems, a refusal to move on. It does`not really matter because mankind moves on whatever you say and your beloved gospels and all the other religious rubbish will be consigned to their proper place to some dusty shelf at the back of the library of history.

  20. Mt Franklin, it is a bit much to write off without reading them (as I suspect) libraries of books by some of the best minds our civilisation has produced which confirm the essential historicity of the story of Jesus, but to set you off on the road to Damascus (as it were) may I recommend in recent scholarship ‘The Historical Reliability of the Gospels’ by Craig Blomberg.
    Then there is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham and also Bauckham’s Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, The: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John , not to mention the very important The Aims of Jesus by Ben F Meyer and also the numerous writings of Tom Wright,.lately Bishop of Durham, such as The Victory of the Cross.

    As to the undoubted wrongs of the Church and people in the name of the Church in history, these could be put into perspective by remembering the 20 millions dead at the hands of Adolph, the 60 million unnecessary deaths in the Soviet Union, the 90 millions dead under Mao the untold millions dead elsewhere under atheistical regimes and of course, not forgetting the terror of whole populations these regimes inspired.

  21. According to ‘The Revelation of St John the Divine’ (chapter 8) when the seventh seal is opened the angels with seven trumpets shall sound. What ‘The Apocalypse’ fails to mention, and what is truly louder than any blast from the angels, is the sound of Mr Heydon blowing his own trumpet. Omitting such an ominous note surely reveals that taking Christianity seriously is like the parable of the man who pisseth against the wind. This is the word of the Bored.

    1. That’s a little harsh, Mr Magoo. I am in a minority of one, more or less in this debate and if I don’t ‘blow my own trumpet’ as you put it, no one else will.

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