Response to a response on my comments about Sam Harris
|November 21, 2013||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
A few days ago I received this comment on an earlier blog post:
Since my response was somewhat long, I thought I’d just make a separate blog entry out of it.
“My studies into psychology and history demonstrate clearly that Hitler was a devout Christian…”
I wonder what sources you used. Were they people hostile to Christianity and eager to believe anything bad about it? Or people who have a secular agenda and want to marginalize Christians as much as possible by painting them as fanatics?
It seems to me that if we want to discuss someone’s alleged Marxism, we should have reference to the teachings of Marx. Similarly, if we want to understand Hitler’s relationship to Christianity, we should refer at some point to the teachings of Christ and of the apostles.
Christ said “Blessed are the merciful . . . blessed are the peacemakers . . . blessed are the meek . . . do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” John said that “God is love, and he that does not have love has not seen God.” I don’t see how someone can reasonably link those to Hitler.
Does anyone believe that Hitler thought there would be a day of judgment, and that if his sins were forgiven by Christ he could go to heaven, but if not he would go to hell? Even to mention Hitler in that context is ridiculous. He never mentioned those things, or many other important doctrines.
Of course, if we define “Christian” as “someone born in Germany,” or “Someone who was baptized as an infant,” or “Someone who mentioned Christ once in a while at long intervals but made not the slightest effort to follow his teachings,” then we can call many people Christians – but if we want to go to heaven something more than that is required, according to the Bible.
As to Hitler’s being a Catholic, he never mentioned the Virgin Mary once in his entire political career. His whole time in office he never participated in a Catholic worship service (he attended a requiem mass for Marshall Pilsudski as I recall). He did not request a priest and have last rites before killing himself (a mortal sin in the Catholic Church I believe). He made a deliberate attempt to systematically destroy the Catholic Church in Poland. When the Pope issued an encyclical (Mit brennender Sorge) directly condemning Naziism Hitler’s response was not “The Holy Father has the power of the keys from Peter and we accept his criticisms.” Every attempt was made to repress the document in Germany.
More could be said along these lines but, to be brief, there is not the slightest indication that the adult Hitler was a practicing Catholic. He was not excommunicated only because of fear. Putting him out of the church would have done huge damage to the Catholic Church in Germany.
Imagine there was a factory manager in the former Soviet Union. He was a card carrying member of the Communist Party, was politically active, had pictures of Marx and Engels on his wall, and would say “I am a Communist” if asked – but, he lived in a deluxe flat and had many perks and privileges while the workers in his factory lived miserable lives in substandard housing with low salaries. Was he really a Communist? That depends on your definition of Communism.
So, what is your definition of a Christian? Just what do you think a Christian is?
About the Catholic Church and the Jews, in its entire history the Church never had a policy of systematically exterminating the entire Jewish nation. It was not concerned with Jewish contamination of racial purity. The secular racial antisemitism that Hitler elaborates on at length in Mein Kampf was vastly different from traditional medieval anti-Judaism.
“Sam Harris may be a little paranoid of Christianity…” I say he is extremely paranoid about it, and his views are based on hatred, ignorance, and fear. He states that religious belief can be a threat to our survival, and what might we not be justified in doing if our survival is at stake? You forgot to mention his chilling quote about sometimes necessary killing, one that even atheists found troubling. And, as I said, atheists have a proven track record of being vicious and brutal killers and persecutors of Christians when they get in power – all for the good of humanity of course.
Sam Harris “may be a little misguided” . . . in my opinion he is a deeply confused man with a false concept of life and of people . . . “but, essentially, he is a Humanist and thus would never consider killing anybody for their beliefs, no matter how dangerous he considers those beliefs.” You trust Sam Harris, I don’t. Hitler and others also had plausible excuses to placate those who were worried about their rhetoric. Some of those people deliberately conceal their radical views until they get in power and the mask comes off.
As to your atheist husband and son, I am not narrow minded – or simple minded – enough to say that “All atheists are the same.” It is for the opponents of religion to resort to that dishonest rhetoric. Osama bin Laden believes in God, theists are dangerous, never mind about the huge differences between different kinds of theists.
“I don’t think New Age atheism is any threat to world peace, if fact their entire aim is at world peace and they believe like the Deli Lama is now teaching, that the only chance for world peace is an entirely Secularist world where all beliefs exist, but no religions dominate.”
Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin also talked about “peace.” People are too easily fooled by nice rhetoric that tells them what they want to hear. Also, a world where all beliefs exist is not a secular world. The secular world that Harris wants is one where everyone thinks basically the way he does. Remaining religious people are so marginalized as to have no say at all, they can believe in God as long as they keep their mouths shut, which was exactly the policy of Chairman Mao and Stalin. Even Hitler allowed people to have religious beliefs only so long as they did not contradict the state.
Plus, you forgot to mention Harris’ statement about the necessity of forcing countries to live up to his hygiene standards. He is perfectly willing to have wars – probably by some central world government – if that is what is needed to provide the safe and sanitized world where he will feel comfortable.
I read Sam Harris as a potential fascist. If people with his ideas ever get power it will be the end of civil liberties for those who do not think in the prescribed fashion. His ideas have a great potential for brutality and killing, as has been proven in the recent past by atheist secular regimes that actively sought to eliminate religion for the good of humanity.
Sam Harris is badly mistaken. It is not people who believe in Christ and sincerely try to follow his teachings that are the greatest threat to the peace and security of the world today. He is also badly mistaken in thinking that his neurological studies can unlock the secrets of the human soul. He has a very shallow conception of life and of people and is not nearly as intelligent as he likes to think that he is.