September 16, 2010

The Pope in Scotland

The pope has landed and commented on the evils of atheism (as he sees them) and the problems inherent in a secular society.

Well, I'll take a secular society that promotes the life and health and well-being of its people any day over the tyrannical, brutal and cruel regime of theistic hierarchs condemning and demeaning the innocent on the basis of their theological opinions and world-views — Christian or Muslim, for that matter.

The pope should be aware from his own personal experience that Nazism was not atheistic at heart, but rather polytheistic and idolatrous, drawing heavily on the "Northern Religion" that also nourished the imagination of Richard Wagner and JRR Tolkien. Religion is morally neutral — it's what you do with it that counts.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

9 comments:

susan s. said...

Preach it, Brother!!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Hear, hear!

Tim said...

Most heartily agreed.

Additionally, his Holiness should be aware from his personal experience that Edmund Burke was right.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Kevin K said...

Christianity is morally neutral? Who would have thought it?

It is somewhat hard to argue with the proposition that a kind and generous state is better than a cruel one. However, I don't suppose anyone would say that they would rather live in a cruel secular dictatroship than a gentle and loving theocracy.

Kevin K

JCF said...

"a gentle and loving theocracy"

THAT'S an oxymoron if ever I heard one!

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks for the comments.

Kevin, the problem isn't Christianity, but Christians. And JCF sums up my sentiments concerning theocracy. In addition to the fact that most of the actual theocracies in human history of which I can think were rather on the downside, in principle any ideology that attributes its views to the will of God (and hence any opposition to... evil?) will tend towards tyranny rather than benevolence.

Of course, the same is true of any sufficiently robust ideology (theological or social) -- which is why a communist dictatorship (in which communism becomes a kind of "religion") is also a problem.

But the pope's notion that Nazism was not "religious" is simply specious. What's more, the history of the Roman Church getting into bed with tyrants (from Louis 16 of France to Mussolini, Franco, and yes, Hitler) has also led to the decline of the church in those places. That the former pope was irate at liberation theologians protesting repressive rightists in Latin America just goes to show how out of touch with real principles of justice (as opposed to ideology) he was. And he has paid the price with the decline of the Roman church in Latin America, and the rise of Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism there (and among Latino communities in the US).

Kevin K said...

Tobias,

But that is not what you said. You said that religion is morally neutral. If religon is morally neutral, then Christianty, which is a religion, is morally neutral. I disagree strongly. I do agree that human's are what is generally wrong with religion.

I confess to choosing a theocracy to set up as a straw man. This is the system which progressives hate the most and would hopefully show the flaw in your comparison. I dislike theocracy as much as anyone. However, there is no reason why a theocracy can't provide good government or be, at least, as benevolent as say Stalin's soviet union.

As for the Nazis being religious. The Nazis were clearly interested in using religious practices to support their goals. No doubt some of them were sincerely neo-pagans. I am not convinced that Hitler had any religion beyond a belief in struggle with some sort of "cosmic" dimension. The Nazis, with Hitler's blessing, seem to have been trying to come up with a religious practice that advanced the goals important to him, creating a war like culture to nurture superior aryan soldiers. If anything, Hitler's "religion" was Darwanism gone mad.

Kevin K.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Yes, Kevin, that is what I said: religion, as such, contrasted with atheism, is morally neutral; that is, it can be good or bad. I was not saying that "Christianity is morally neutral," or speaking of any particular religion, but religion in general in contrast to atheism.

In short, you misunderstood my original statement. I was responding the the pope's thesis that it was the atheism of the Nazis that was the source of their evil, and the implication that if they had had "religion" they would not have been so bad.

The fact is, they had religion; not only their own neo-paganism (which the pope might rightly classify as a "morally bad" religion) but also their own brand of Christianity (which I would also classify as a morally bad version of Christianity -- as did Bonhoeffer). Your attempt to deny that fact (along the lines of the "No true Scotsman" fallacy) doesn't stand up very well against the evidence, for example, of the cozy relationship of both Romans and Evangelicals with the Nazi Party. If you want some visual evidence, there is a very helpful web page that documents this close relationship.

Your choice of theocracy, far from showing the "flaw" in my comparison between secular society and a religious one, far from making your point, actually supports mine. As a purely objective observation, theocracies tend not to produce benevolence, but tyranny. This is one of the reasons Americans were so interested in toleration and disestablishment. If you could offer a demonstration or example of a benevolent and productive theocracy, it might help your case. It seems to me it is as easy to find bad theocracies as bad dictatorships. (And if Stalin represents your concept of "benevolence" we are clearly speaking different languages.)

You may well be, as I also am inclined to think, correct about Hitler's own religious feelings. But I wouldn't blame religion for that any more than I would blame Darwin for the eugenics movement. Both represent misuses to support other ends than those either of faith or of science.

Erin said...

Facebook has made me lazy. I looked for the like button to click instead of commenting :-)
Really good!