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May 8 / Jonathan

Sunday Godblogging

Via James Wolcott.

…has Christianity, in fact, stood for a better morality than that of its rivals and opponents? I do not see how any honest student of history can maintain that this is the case. Chistianity has been distinguished from other religions by its greater readiness for persecution. Buddhism has never been a persecuting religion. The Empire of the Caliphs was much kinder to Jews and Christians than Christian states were to Jews and Mohammedans. It left Jews and Christians unmolested, provided they paid tribute. Anti-Semitism was promoted by Christianity from the moment the Roman Empire became Christian. The religious fervor of the Crusades led to pogroms in western Europe. It was Christians who unjustly accused Dreyfus, and freethinkers who secured his final rehabilitation… The whole contention that Christianity has had an elevating moral influence can only be maintained by wholesale ignoring or falsification of the historical evidence.

[snip]

That the world is in a bad way is undeniable, but there is not the faintest reason in history to suppose that Christianity offers a way out… What the world needs is reasonableness, tolerance, and a realization of the interdependence of the parts of the human family. It is to such considerations that we must look, and not to a return to obscurantist myths. Intelligence, it might be said, has caused our troubles; but it is not unintelligence that will cure them. Only more and wiser intelligence can make a happier world.

–Bertrand Russell, “Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?” (1954)

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