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The atheists who came in from the cold
Townhall.com ^ | November 19, 2007 | Dinesh D'Souza

Posted on 11/19/2007 6:06:14 AM PST by Kaslin

Imagine if one of the world's leading Christians--say C.S. Lewis a generation ago, or Billy Graham now--were to reject his religious beliefs and become a atheist. It would be big news! The New York Times would be all over it, for sure, and the question would be why a man who has devoted his life to God would now turn against Him? In sum, the focus would be on what were the reasons for the conversion and on what's so bad about Christianity.

Contrast this with the New York Times' approach to the conversion of philosopher Anthony Flew. Flew has been, for the past half-century, the world's leading advocate of atheism. His works such as Theology and Falsification and The Presumption of Atheism were considered classics of theist thought. No one has so relentlessly espoused the atheist cause, and no one has been more anthologized and eulogized by the atheist community. Other twentieth-century philosophers, such as Martin Heidegger and Bertrand Russell, were unbelievers but they did not make atheism central to their philosophical work as did Flew. Flew's atheism long precedes that of latecomers like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens.

Now, in his early eighties, Flew has rejected atheism and said he believes that God exists. He does not espouse the Christian God, but calls himself a Deist. He says he has a lifelong commitment to following the evidence where it leads, and that new advances in the sciences have shown him that materialism and Darwinism simply cannot account for the world as it is and life as it is. Examining the fine-tuning of the universe and the mind-boggling complexity of the cell (a compexity that evolution presumes but cannot explain), Flew now believes that the design of the universe requires a designer. He gives his reasons in a new book There Is a God which is co-authored with Roy Abraham Varghese.

In the book, Flew uses simple analogies to expose atheist illogic. For instance, leading atheists seek to prove that the mind is no more than the brain. If the brain is destroyed, they say, we can't use our minds. Therefore there is nothing to minds excerpt circuits and neurons. Flew gives the example of a child raised on a remote island who finds a satellite phone. Voices come out of the machine. The child recognizes these voices as human and is thrilled by the discovery that she has found a way to interact with other humans. Perhaps there is life outside the island!

Then the elders of the tribe (if I may embellish Flew's account, let's call them Big Chief Dawkins, Grand Pooh Bah Dennett, and Witch Doctor Pinker) scorn the child and say, "Look, when we damage the instrument, the voices stop. So they're obviously nothing more than sounds produced by the unique combination of metals and circuit boards. Forget about learning about other humans. From all the evidence we have, we are the only living creatures on earth. So go back to making sandcastles." Who are the real dummies here?

When a major figure like Flew switches sides, the New York TImes goes into mafia-style intellectual hit mode. They selected Mark Oppenheimer of Yale, who visited Flew in England and wrote a long article in the November 4, 2007 New York Times Magazine suggesting that Flew converted because he is, well, senile. The basic idea is that Flew has lost his mind and can't remember anything, and when Christian apologists like Varghese were nice to him Flew basically surrendered to them and let them write his book.

The only evidence that Flew has lost his mind is that he's 84 years old. A man of 84 naturally loses some of his memory, especially for names, but this does not mean he has lost his marbles. Flew's own writings of the past few years are all entirely coherent and employ sophisticated philosophical vocabulary. While Flew seems to have asked his collaborator Varghese to write a draft of his life story, it was Flew who reviewed and approved the final contents. There is nothing in the Times' article that shows Flew to be incapable of a reasoned change of mind and heart.

I realize that atheists--including those at the New York Times--are embarassed at having to surrender one of their most stalwart champions to theism. Maybe they too should consider following the evidence where it leads? Too closed-minded to consider Flew's arguments, these fellows would much rather belittle the intellectual capacity of the man they once revered. Hell hath no fury like an atheist scorned.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: anthonyflew; atheism; dineshdsouza; epiphany; flew
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1 posted on 11/19/2007 6:06:16 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Well this should be fun.


2 posted on 11/19/2007 6:11:27 AM PST by Boiler Plate ("Message received, is message sent" Claire Cooper)
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To: Kaslin
He does not espouse the Christian God, but calls himself a Deist.

I don't see, myself, that he has improved his spiritual condition by much.

3 posted on 11/19/2007 6:12:17 AM PST by chesley (Where's the omelet? -- Orwell)
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To: Kaslin

atheists are the most intolerant among religious peoples.

I’ve also noticed that if they didn’t have Christianity to be against, they wouldn’t exist.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge movement that gets its morning engine revved at the prospect of going out that day to tackle the problems of buddha.

our atheists could be just as fairly labeled adherents to the religion of anti-christianity.


4 posted on 11/19/2007 6:13:28 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: Kaslin
It seems as people get closer to death - they think more of God. Wonder what he will do to “undo” the 60 years of damage he ha inflicted on those that believe in God...(especially Christians).
5 posted on 11/19/2007 6:14:19 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: xzins

Exactly. When atheists have the chutzpah to go after Islam with the fervor with which they attack Christianity, maybe I’ll have some respect for them.

This should be interesting. I’m going to run out and buy this book, just for the ammo.


6 posted on 11/19/2007 6:19:48 AM PST by Buggman (HebrewRoot.com - Baruch haBa b'Shem ADONAI!)
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To: 2banana
Wonder what he will do to “undo” the 60 years of damage he ha inflicted on those that believe in God...

What damage? God is still here :)

7 posted on 11/19/2007 6:19:58 AM PST by pnh102
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To: Kaslin

“..the New York TImes goes into mafia-style intellectual hit mode.”

That’s the best line of the article, and pretty much sums up the Times and atheism.


8 posted on 11/19/2007 6:26:19 AM PST by Rinnwald ( Master of Triple-tap Double-action-fu)
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To: pnh102

So true. The real threat to Christanity aren’t atheist, its people who call themselves Christians but don’t live like it.


9 posted on 11/19/2007 6:29:06 AM PST by fungoking
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To: Kaslin

Amen! I takes a simple mind to believe in nothing. It takes an ample mind to admit being wrong.

Now, if Jesus can just get through to him, he will have many stories to tell, forever.


10 posted on 11/19/2007 6:31:15 AM PST by wizr (I ain't perfect, but Jesus loves me anyway. You, too!)
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To: fungoking

There IS no threat to Christianity. Never was. Never will be.


11 posted on 11/19/2007 6:31:20 AM PST by Matchett-PI (Algore - there's not a more priggish, sanctimonious moral scold of a church lady anywhere.)
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To: 2banana

I don’t think he has inflicted any damage on those that believe in God. He inflicted damage on those he influenced into not believing. He aided the devil in leading people away from God. I suppose recanting his atheistic beliefs is about the best he can do. Since no one that needs to hear this message seems to be listening to him, now. I’m not sure he’ll be able to undo the damage.


12 posted on 11/19/2007 6:33:11 AM PST by Barb4Bush
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To: Buggman

To his credit, Hitchens does go after Islam.


13 posted on 11/19/2007 6:35:58 AM PST by twntaipan (To say someone is a liar and a Democrat is to be redundant.)
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To: Matchett-PI

I agree with you in the Macro sense, but in the micro, much damage can be done by say Bill Clinton talking about how important his faith as a Southern Baptist while being serviced by a intern.


14 posted on 11/19/2007 6:37:04 AM PST by fungoking
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To: Kaslin
Oh, come on. Are we expected to believe this guy changed his mind? REALLY?! After all, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of nothing but random chance and chemistry creating this complex world and all that is within it.

Just like the internet.

15 posted on 11/19/2007 6:37:25 AM PST by SoFloFreeper
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To: Boiler Plate

Anthony Flew? Anthony WHO? I’ve never heard of him, and I’ve read on this topic. Vs. Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis are/were famous. So the analogy doesn’t hold up. I’m not even sure that he qualifies for “the worlds most famous Atheist”. That would be Sam Harris, or one of the other authors who’ve written best sellers on the topic. Or the late Madeline Murray O’Hare, perhaps. Anthony has over-reached on his PR claims, methinks.


16 posted on 11/19/2007 6:45:43 AM PST by Jack Black
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To: 2banana
I’ve seen professing believers do more damage than atheists to the name of Christ. Don't worry God is bigger than anything we may do.
17 posted on 11/19/2007 7:00:47 AM PST by ThisLittleLightofMine
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To: xzins
There doesn’t seem to be a huge movement that gets its morning engine revved at the prospect of going out that day to tackle the problems of buddha.

You don't know much about Buddhists do you? LOL Can you name their God?

our atheists could be just as fairly labeled adherents to the religion of anti-christianity.

You might be correct if you included all the People of the Book, but being 1/3 correct must be good enough for you : )

18 posted on 11/19/2007 7:09:24 AM PST by LeGrande
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To: 2banana
Wonder what he will do to “undo” the 60 years of damage he ha inflicted on those that believe in God...(especially Christians).

He's written a book, right?

Besides, God has forgiven him, so who are we to stay bitter?

19 posted on 11/19/2007 7:09:40 AM PST by shekkian
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To: Buggman

I guess it is flattering that they see us as THE enemy.

It’s their subconscious way of publicly declaring the identity of the real God.


20 posted on 11/19/2007 7:11:34 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: Jack Black

Actually, among the college professor, philosophy PhD types, Flew was recognized as the world’s foremost champion of a-theistic philosophy for decades.

Comparing Madeline Murray O’Hare to Anthony Flew is something like comparing Billy Graham to Alvin Plantinga.

O’Hare put a lot of Flew’s ideas out in the public forum; Flew was really an academic type, behind the scenes guy for most of his career.


21 posted on 11/19/2007 7:12:06 AM PST by L,TOWM (Liberals, The Other White Meat)
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To: LeGrande; Buggman

Actually, there are 2 major branches of buddhism, and yes, one of them does place a lot of stock in those little bot-bellied idols.

Islam does not use the same book as I do.

Nor do I see atheism attacking it. See #20


22 posted on 11/19/2007 7:15:54 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: 2banana

Well, it’s not like he started off to Damascus to drag Christians to their deaths.


23 posted on 11/19/2007 7:17:48 AM PST by Tribune7 (Dems want to rob from the poor to give to the rich)
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To: Buggman

I know, I’m a glutton for punishment but I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with the family, militant atheist. I actually find him amusing most times because he has his anti-theology all mixed up.

He doesn’t believe in God but blames Him for a lot of things. So when he’s expounding on the non-existence of God I just say “whatever” and when he’s blaming God for bad things I just calmly say, “but I thought there was no God”. He usually shuts up then and we have a nice time.


24 posted on 11/19/2007 7:21:40 AM PST by tiki (True Christians will not deliberately slander or misrepresent others or their beliefs)
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To: LeGrande
You might be correct if you included all the People of the Book, but being 1/3 correct must be good enough for you : )

There are abour 800 million more Christians than Moslems and Jews combined.

25 posted on 11/19/2007 7:24:15 AM PST by Tribune7 (Dems want to rob from the poor to give to the rich)
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To: Tribune7

One should never combine Muslims and Jews.


26 posted on 11/19/2007 7:26:33 AM PST by Buggman (HebrewRoot.com - Baruch haBa b'Shem ADONAI!)
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To: Buggman
When atheists have the chutzpah to go after Islam with the fervor with which they attack Christianity, maybe I’ll have some respect for them.

Perhaps you missed Richard Dawkins' comment about "testosterone-sodden young men too unattractive to get a woman in this world" who are so desperate they are willing to execute a suicide mission for the promise of "72 private virgins" in the next life.

I'll admit that his writings are far more centered on Judeo-Christian tradition than on Islam, but his audience has that as their cultural background. You know very good and well that any Arabic translation of his works would get fatwas issued at lightning speed, and anybody carrying such a book in Islammunist lands would be subjected to even worse treatment than somebody carrying a Bible.

That's probably what would have happened in Europe five hundred years ago if his book had been written then.

27 posted on 11/19/2007 7:29:44 AM PST by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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To: Tribune7
Well, it’s not like he started off to Damascus to drag Christians to their deaths.

Yeah - and it is not like he has started off to Rome evalislising all along the way (and writing parts of the Gospel too)...

28 posted on 11/19/2007 7:31:05 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: xzins

Buddhism is a non-theistic “religion” so it would be hard for atheists to attack it.


29 posted on 11/19/2007 7:32:02 AM PST by Humvee (Beliefs are more powerful than facts - Paulus Atreides)
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To: L,TOWM

Atheism always struck me as a waste of time.


30 posted on 11/19/2007 8:08:09 AM PST by Boiler Plate ("Message received, is message sent" Claire Cooper)
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To: chesley

Well, you certainly cannot find God if you don’t believe that God exists. For a former atheist to come to believe there is a supreme being responsible for creating all of this is huge. It rejects creation without a creator. It means recognizing that an incredibly powerful being exists that may have an impact on your life.

If he truly does keep looking at the evidence and hunting for the truth, he will find God. But you’re not going to look for God if you don’t think God exists. That’s why it’s such an important 180 on this guy’s part. He is open to the idea of God, that God exists, and that God can be found.


31 posted on 11/19/2007 8:14:58 AM PST by Secret Agent Man
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To: xzins; Buggman
Actually, there are 2 major branches of buddhism, and yes, one of them does place a lot of stock in those little bot-bellied idols.

So you would call yourself Abuddhist? LOL So you are saying that half the Buddhists think that Buddha is God?

Islam does not use the same book as I do.

So what religion are you if you don't use the Old Testament?

Nor do I see atheism attacking it.

You haven't seen atheists attacking the God of the Old Testament? I thought mocking Noah, Joshua and the Creationists was part and parcel of it.

Atheists claim that none of the religions are true. Despater, Zeus, Allah, Elohim, etc. are all creations of mans imagination. You just notice when we attack Christ, because the truth hurts.

32 posted on 11/19/2007 8:19:12 AM PST by LeGrande
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To: LeGrande
You just notice when we attack Christ, because the truth hurts.

It has been my experience that atheists (at least the Western variety) attack Christianity while finding voodoo, Hinduism, animism and other variants of religion "interesting." They save their real vitriol for Jesus and God (YHVH) and adherents thereto.

33 posted on 11/19/2007 8:36:48 AM PST by the808bass
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To: Kaslin

I just finished Mr. Flews’ book last night and it was very good. It made me feel very sorry for the kids being force fed atheism at the Universities. They will never get exposed the a guy like this or C.S. Lewis just their lefty professors.


34 posted on 11/19/2007 8:53:34 AM PST by therut
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To: LeGrande; xzins

Yeah. Have you ever noticed that whenever atheists get around to making some comment about Islam, it’s always surrounded by twenty+ attacks on Christianity based on a non-existent moral equivalence between the two?


35 posted on 11/19/2007 9:01:00 AM PST by Buggman (HebrewRoot.com - Baruch haBa b'Shem ADONAI!)
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To: LeGrande; xzins; hunter112

Oops, hit the wrong “reply” button. The above was meant for hunter112.


36 posted on 11/19/2007 9:02:32 AM PST by Buggman (HebrewRoot.com - Baruch haBa b'Shem ADONAI!)
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To: Humvee
You are thinking of Theravada and not Mahayana

Finally, the Mahayanists completed the conversion of Buddhism from a philosophy to religion. Therevada Buddhism holds that Buddha was a historical person who, on his death, ceased to exist. There were, however, strong tendencies for Buddhists to worship Buddha as a god of some sort; these tendencies probably began as early as Buddha's lifetime. The Mahayanists developed a theology of Buddha called the doctrine of "The Three Bodies," or Trikaya. The Buddha was not a human being, as he was in Theravada Buddhism, but the manifestation of a universal, spiritual being. This being had three bodies. When it occupied the earth in the form of Siddhartha Gautama, it took on the Body of Magical Transformation (nirmanakaya ). This Body of Magical Transformation was an emanation of the Body of Bliss (sambhogakaya ), which occupies the heavens in the form of a ruling and governing god of the universe. There are many forms of the Body of Bliss, but the one that rules over our world is Amithaba who lives in a paradise in the western heavens called Sukhavati, or "Land of Pure Bliss." Finally, the Body of Bliss is an emanation of the Body of Essence (dharmakaya ), which is the principle underlying the whole of the universe. This Body of Essence, the principle and rule of the universe, became synonymous with Nirvana . It was a kind of universal soul, and Nirvana became the transcendent joining with this universal soul.
http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/BUDDHISM/MAHAYANA.HTM

The people have those fat-bellied buddhas for a reason.

37 posted on 11/19/2007 9:03:35 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: LeGrande; Buggman

Islam does not view the old testament as an inspired book. They simply don’t. There are a few pieces of pieces of it they like. I’m sure they have great regard for: Israel is the nation of God.


38 posted on 11/19/2007 9:08:04 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: 2banana

>>It seems as people get closer to death - they think more of God. Wonder what he will do to “undo” the 60 years of damage he ha inflicted on those that believe in God...(especially Christians).<<

Sounds kinda like the apostle Paul. I wonder if there is a limit. ;)


39 posted on 11/19/2007 9:11:13 AM PST by RobRoy (Islam is a greater threat to the world today than Nazism was in 1938.)
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To: chesley

Read the book. He does not say the Christian God in not real. He is very pro-Chrisian God as he says He is the best to fit the things that the Mind behind the Universe must be.


40 posted on 11/19/2007 9:11:23 AM PST by therut
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To: LeGrande

I don’t think half of the total number of buddhists would be an accurate characterization. I was thinking in terms of the 2 major divisions of buddhism. Mahayana is the larger, though, but I think it’s a bit lop-sided as in Christianity we have Catholicism being the larger.


41 posted on 11/19/2007 9:16:27 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: Tribune7
There are abour 800 million more Christians than Moslems and Jews combined.

Hmm, I should have been a little more specific. I meant that there are three major Abrahamic Religions. I know that when it comes to sheer numbers Jews are vastly outnumbered by the Christians and the Muslims.

I have noticed though that most Christians, especially the vocal ones on Free Republic don't think that other Christians are Christians, so if they are correct there are only a very few 'true' Christians.

42 posted on 11/19/2007 9:22:17 AM PST by LeGrande
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To: therut
Got other things to do besides read his book, although I might get around to it.

Whether he is pro-Christian, or not, is irrelevant to the state of his soul. Is he a Christian, or not? That is the only question that matters for eternity.

43 posted on 11/19/2007 9:33:24 AM PST by chesley (Where's the omelet? -- Orwell)
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To: LeGrande
Atheists claim that none of the religions are true.

Atheists claim that everything came about as a result of natural processes and faith is foolish and those processes not yet known will one day be revealed, which is something that, well, can be taken on faith.

Which means atheists self-define themselves as foolish.

44 posted on 11/19/2007 9:44:27 AM PST by Tribune7 (Dems want to rob from the poor to give to the rich)
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To: Kaslin

I have found that many atheists are not so adamant against a God concept in general, but bristle against what historic and modern organized religions have done with theistic and philisophical issues.

That an avowed “atheist” has somehow found a God out their in the universe is not surprising to me but I would caution against high fiving over it...the God he found is no where near the God of Christians, Jews or Muslims.


45 posted on 11/19/2007 9:47:20 AM PST by Bob J (For every 1000 hacking at the branches of evil, there is one striking at its root)
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To: pnh102

“what damage? God is still here.”

imagine an atheist punk in school who attempts to badly intimidate a Christian kid after being told by the punk that Christians aren’t liked in the school. the Christian kid refuses to be intimidated, and backed into a corner he flattens the atheist. does the atheist punk get penalized or is it the Christian kid who gets expelled?

the damage is when the Christian kid is villified and the atheist punk is honored with victimhood.


46 posted on 11/19/2007 9:49:19 AM PST by ripley
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To: Bob J
...the God he found is no where near the God of Christians, Jews or Muslims.

He's keeping his mind open, and has not rejected the possibility.

47 posted on 11/19/2007 9:58:19 AM PST by Tribune7 (Dems want to rob from the poor to give to the rich)
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To: Tribune7
Atheists claim that everything came about as a result of natural processes and faith is foolish and those processes not yet known will one day be revealed, which is something that, well, can be taken on faith.

Setting up a strawman are you? Atheists claim that nothing is revealed. It is the religious types that believe that. And that requires faith which as you agree, is foolish.

Which means atheists self-define themselves as foolish.

48 posted on 11/19/2007 10:05:55 AM PST by LeGrande
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To: LeGrande
Setting up a strawman are you?

???? No I'm not. I'm being perfectly fair.

Atheists claim that nothing is revealed.

Which, of course, is a faith statement. But what they do is far more than that. They discount possibilities for arbitrary (and emotional) reasons, then offer explanations with evidence which requires very great faith to accept as conclusive.

And that requires faith which as you agree, is foolish.

You better go back and re-read what I wrote.

49 posted on 11/19/2007 10:18:21 AM PST by Tribune7 (Dems want to rob from the poor to give to the rich)
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To: Buggman
Yeah. Have you ever noticed that whenever atheists get around to making some comment about Islam, it’s always surrounded by twenty+ attacks on Christianity based on a non-existent moral equivalence between the two?

Most Westernized people are quite familiar with Christianity and to a lesser extent, Judaism, whereas they really wouldn't understand most arguments about the theological underpinnings of Islammunism. Besides, most of the target audience of such a book is already aware of the damage that Islam causes in this world, and clearly sees how it leads people to do irrational things, like slay others for the sake of hedonistic pleasure in a next world.

Perhaps there is much less moral equivalence between the way Christianity is practiced today with the way Islam controls the minds of its adherents, but several centuries ago, you'd have a tougher case to make. Go to Wikipedia, and look up "torture", you'll find a history of devices utilized by both Catholics and Protestants alike to deal with the other when their group had the upper hand. The only really positive thing to come out of it were groups of people who fled Europe to seek religious tolerance in the New World. One of the truly great developments of our Founding Fathers was the idea that people did not need to be imprisoned, impoverished, tortured or killed for having a different interpretation of an ancient book.

All religions involve belief in things that are not verifiable, and require a suspension of disbelief (a/k/a faith) to operate. Yes, some atheists work really, really hard at trying to convince people that there is no deity, but the majority of us simply don't believe in something that most believe in only because our culture has conditioned us to believe in it. We just don't make the connection between the pretty flower or the stars in the sky, and some power-grabbing religious leader dictating what we may consume or how we may seek recreation.

50 posted on 11/19/2007 10:20:16 AM PST by hunter112 (Change will happen when very good men are forced to do very bad things.)
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