I write this post in response to a friends e-mail in which he talks about
religious extremism. The next section is extracted from his e-mail.
At this point in time and in my life I believe that the Bible was written
about 1500 hundred years ago or so about conditions and beliefs that are now
about 2100 to 2500 years old. The Bible contains many interesting ideals, quite
a few contradictions and can be open to horrific interpretations. Given the
context I really do not feel that the Bible has a whole of relevance for me
personally in the “the 21st century”. As for moral guidance I find a lot more
relevance in the writings of John Stuart Mill and John Rawls as well of some
Aristotle’s views. Of course there are numerous others such as Cincinnatus,
Hobbes/Locke/Rousseau’s Social Contract theory, George Washington, Benjamin
Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Eric Hoffer, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela,
etc.etc. that have influenced my view of life and how we should behave our
selves. I, personally, do not accept all of any of the aforementioned peoples
views or even all of my own.
I am very concerned about religious extremists of all denominations because
through out recorded history religion has been an extremely bad formula when
kept to the straight and narrow. Unfortunately our current period seems to be a
period of more and more extremist control of religions with very little
tolerance for other persons beliefs.
The following is my response
I hear and understand what you say about religious extremism, and it’s hard
to argue against. Much chaos and many deaths have resulted from what could be
rightly labeled as religious extremism. Since I am a Christian, I will step up
to whatever legacy ownership is due me because of the legacy of my faith.
However, have you ever considered the fact that more people have died, and
more people enslaved under the banner of Atheism, than all of the so called
Christian wars of the last 2000 years? And all of this in less than 100 years!
I speak of Marxist Communism of course, and the savagery of the Soviet Union,
China, Cambodia, and Cuba and wherever Marxism held sway. In fact, some scholars
place the ratio of deaths due to atheism vs. all of the so called Christian
wars to be on the order of 7 to 1, or higher. You can throw the German Nazi
regime into that mix if you wish, because the Nazi world view, although not
atheistic, was certainly anti-Jew and anti-Christian.
Another contrast between the legacies of faith vs. non-faith is the American
and French Revolutions. The American Revolution sprung from the predominantly
Judeo/Christian ideals of the dignity and worth of the individual. These ideals
spring directly from both the old and new testaments of the Bible. The French
Revolution on the other hand was undergirded for the most part in one form or
another of Humanism, the faith that man alone can extract himself from the
depraved condition he has found himself in, with no need for a transcendent god.
The results and lasting consequences of these two contrasting world views is
The Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias sums it up this way in his book Can Man Live
“Apart from God, chaos is the norm, with God, the hungers of
the mind and heart find their fulfillment”. Notice that he spoke of the norm; we
all know there are, and have been many good people of no faith, and I
acknowledge that. However when we look at the sweep of history, the norm is
Also often lost in the shuffle and discussions of “religious extremism”, is
the good that has come from the Christian tradition. Another of my favorite
Christian Philosophers, Dr. D. James Kennedy, points out many of these positive
contributions in his books What if
Jesus had never been born? And What if
the Bible had never been written?
· Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
· Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of
the world’s great universities were started by Christians for Christian
· Literacy and education for the masses.
· Capitalism and free-enterprise.
· Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American
· The separation of political powers.
· Civil liberties.
· The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times.
· Modern science.
· The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
· The elevation of women.
· Benevolence and charity; the Good Samaritan ethic.
· Higher standards of justice.
· The elevation of the common man.
· The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions.
This has helped to preserve the human race, and has spared many from heartache.
· High regard for human life.
· The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
· The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages.
· Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest
works of art.
· The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities.
· The eternal salvation of countless souls.
You do yourself no favors when you ignore the rich contributions of the
Christian world view. I cannot change your world view, which is in your hands.
And I will not kill you because of your views and beliefs as others of many
faiths and no-faith would do. I simply wish to point out to you that you may be
missing some important pieces of the puzzle.
So, as I said earlier, I will step up to whatever legacy ownership is due me
because of the legacy of my faith. I would ask that others of other faiths, or
of no faith, do the same.