I had some idea about the history of Christianity before joining A N. I had heard of the crusades, inquisitions and the witch hunt but I had no idea that these things were driving people to atheism and that the atheists strongly hated bible, Jesus and Christianity. Although I am an atheist, I did not and do not feel any hate for religion and god. I always read that Jesus was peace loving and that was my impression of him. After joining AN, I noticed the strong dislikes of the atheists and that set me thinking.
The Crusades were religiously sanctioned military campaigns, about 1000 years after Christ. The First Crusade was launched with the approval of Pope Urban II to help the Byzantine emperor, with the latent purpose of restoring Christian control of the Holy Land of Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Thirty five years before this, Pope Alexander II had given his blessing to Christians to start wars against the Muslims by granting a papal standard and an indulgence to those who were killed in the war. A crusader received a cross from the hands of the pope or his delegate, and was considered a "soldier of the Church". The crusaders were assured of remission of sin and were told that by retaking Jerusalem they would go straight to heaven after death.
Muslims were the other part of these wars and were no less brutal than the Christians. Both religions were interested in Jerusalem and in prosylytisation and the target for prosylytisation for each of them were the Jews. This created a serious conflict of interests. In reality, both the Christians and the Muslims were two mobs of savages, who were further intoxicated by religion. They would have anyway fought each other for historical or political reasons even if there was no mention of any violence in the Bible. The religious establishments of both the religions also played a great part by instigating their respective followers. If Islam had not come into existence, there would not have been any conflict of interests and no crusades. The same thing can be said of Christianity also.
The Muslims held Jerusalem at the start and even after the crusades ended 200 years after and their sentiments were almost a mirror image of those of the Christians.
The Inquisitions started in early 13th century and continued till the last half of 19th century. Pope John XXII had authorized the Inquisition to prosecute sorcerers in 1320.
Belief in witch-craft existed since ancient times and it was always hated by ordinary people. It is said that in Rome, in the year 331 BC, 170 women were executed as witches. In 184 BC, about 2,000 people were executed for witchcraft and in 182-180 BC another 3,000 were executed for witchcraft. Biblical thoughts about witches were only the result of this age old belief.
So, these atrocious incidents started about 1100 years after Jesus and continued for about 800 years after that. Now the question that comes to my mind is ‘who should be blamed for these barbaric incidents? God, Bible, Jesus or the savages of the time?’ To get an answer, I ask myself: ‘why do we despise that kind of human behavior today? Has god advised us better? Has a new prophet arrived? The answer to these all question is “NO!” Time and experience has helped us to mature our thoughts. The barbarians of that time did not have this advantage. They have given it to us at their cost! I therefore look up on these stories as a part of cultural evolution of human beings, and nothing else. I can not blame god for this, the poor chap never existed and was a human invention, I do not blame the bible because it is also created by humans, who apparently were also savages. So, whom do you blame for cultural evolution? Whom do we blame because apes were our ancestors?
Jesus never took to the sword. He accepted a barbaric death peacefully. Eleven of his disciples also accepted death in his name and in peace and even St. Peter’s wife was executed. This tells me that it was not only Christians and the Muslims that were savages, but others that were there before them too were so.
Thinking further, I realize that the Christian mob started repenting and reforming and not the other mob. The Christians realized that combining religious and political power together was the worst ill. So eventually they discovered the idea of secularism. Yes, they were Christians even then. It is they, who, against all bigoted opposition developed modern science. It is they that evolved the modern liberal thought and gave it to the world (including India). Had science and technology not evolved, a far larger proportion of the population of the world would be dying hungry. All these thoughts had created such strong respect for Christianity in my mind, that I used to frequently say that since I do not believe in religion, I stay as I am, or else I would have become a Christian.
Now, the question I would like my atheist friends, “Is it necessary to hate or denigrate something to acquire a new thought or a new vision?” I do not feel good when one atheist sees Christ in a very ugly place and when another says that Christianity is f****d! MIND YOU, I AM STILL AN ATHEIST!
Please correct if and where I may be wrong. I have placed my views in a very rational way and expect you to do the same.
No, I hear you. I have those same negativities to deal with too, but I'm almost 50 years old and everything is OK now. I also appreciate what you say about Humanism. I feel like I'm already involved in making the world a better place through my various activities: outreach through my Astronomy club (showing people the stars), hosting foreign exchange students, and atheism (spreading the word "It's OK to be an Atheist), and more. It isn't that I'm floating around routeless. It's just that in my other groups that organize around some hobby, I notice that the others around me have very similar interests in general. Here the group is very broad. I guess I was hoping to stumble into a group of instant soulmates, but its not about that. It's more like finding a group of fellow economists, lol . . . It's like, yeah, I'm an economist, you're an economist. Economics is really important, I agree. Now where can I go to get inspired?
" I feel like I'm already involved in making the world a better place through my various activities: outreach through my Astronomy club (showing people the stars),"
I am delighted to read the above in your reply. I think atheists are rationalists of a higher order. We can think and discuss how science can help us demolish blind faith, we shoild discuss how we can spread this knowlwdgw among people. I know that the faithfuls are not rational, but as a civilised people we know that only persistant efotrs on similar lines can bring some results in the long time. Propagating rationalism, secularism and then atheism is today's need. My appeal is that let us forget the savagery of the past and see how we can do something constructive, as you are doing.
I wish there was a like button. :)
Responding to Scott Bidstrup, because the reply thread got exhausted.
Scott, I feel the same way about Native American land claims as I do about Palestinian ones. Humans are humans, and we need to coexist in peace. You, personally, probably don't have any claim to the land here, but the native Paiutes and Washoe ARE here, have land, and much government support, such as health care, and educational programs that the rest of us don't have. Their children go to the same schools, and they are present in the community in general, and have the right to vote. They are free to practice their culture and native religion. The state government has built them free housing in Wadsworth, which is the non-urban part of their land, and they have tax-free businesses on the urban part of their land. I don't think our government is being unfair to them in any way. The courts even ruled in their favor when they wanted to prohibit rock-climbing on one of their monuments near Lake Tahoe. I know this because I have talked to them, and don't hear any complaint. I never go a day without being grateful that I live in a country where I can be me, and they can be themselves. But I think both they and I acknowledge that the world changes, and our biggest need as humanity is to live together in peace.