Confession Re: [FoRK] "Peace and Love"

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar <drernie at> on Thu Dec 20 13:18:51 PST 2007

Hi Jeff,

On Dec 19, 2007, at 8:30 PM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> Look, you know what, if just ONE of you apologists could step up and  
> admit that the Church (in general) has NOT historically been a  
> general force for good


1.  Yes, the Church (in general) -- and "religion" (in general)  --  
has historically been *major* source of evil.  It has led to   
institutionalized self-righteousness and demonization of opponents,  
and often been a major supporter of anti-intellectual and anti- 
progressive forces.

> and that you COLLECTIVELY have some serious work to do to even come  
> close to having the kind of moral authority and righteousness that  
> you've asserted was yours all these centuries,

2.   The Church (at least in the West, which is all I can  
realistically speak for) has *absolutely* lost its moral authority  
over the culture, and its attempts to regain it through political  
maneuvering range from the ludicrous to the pathetic to the shameful.

We absolutely have some *massive* work to do in order to recover our  
_own_ moral compass, much less be able to speak with any sort of  
authority to others.

In short, over the last couple centuries we have pretty much  
squandered any moral authority we might have earned during from  
Charlemagne to the Reformation, and we pretty much have to start over  
from scratch.

>  only then could I even BEGIN to assume any sincerity.  Sincerity  
> begins with humility, and the burden of historical debt is  
> enormous.  You know, something other than "yes there are many wrongs  
> done in the name of religion, but there are many (more is implied)  
> goods as well."

I agree that the "balance of good vs. evil" argument is kind of  
silly.  What is more interesting to me is when and how religion (or  
for that matter, atheism) leads to evil; a question that for whatever  
reason you don't seem at all interested in...

> But of course, that's never going to happen --- because the  
> believers are all True Believers (and therefore aren't going to let  
> facts --- scientific, historical, or otherwise --- get in the way of  
> their beliefs) or cynics who are part of the problem in the first  
> place.

Um, which part isn't going to happen?  My admission, or your beginning  
to assume sincerity? :-)

> Apropos your comment, is it entirely impossible for you apologists  
> to accept that somebody can PASSIONATELY reject your drug of choice,  
> yet for LEGITIMATE reasons?  Oh no, clearly, anybody who can't get  
> past the FACTS OF HISTORY is just a hater.

There are many legitimate reasons for rejecting religion, and you've  
named a good number.  But those are really reasons to suspect and/or  
critique religion.  You really seem to hate *all* religion, which  
seems either an oversimplification or a reaction to something else.

> You name a SPECIFIC  good thing that has been done in the name of  
> religion, and I will counter to illustrate how that action was  
> either (a) self-serving, (b) not "religious" at all, or (c) in some  
> way dependent on more "evil" actions or motivations.

My cousin (who was a wealthy doctor in Illinois) spent three years of  
his life -- with his wife and two kids -- working at a mission  
hospital in the jungles of Africa.  Yeah, they preached the gospel  
when they had a chance, but mostly they spent a lot of time in pretty  
miserable surroundings healing sick people who would never have gotten  
any other care.  Because he believed that's what the love of Christ  
would have him do.

If that's your idea of an evil motivation, I'd love to see more of  
that kind of "evil" in the world...

-- Ernie P.

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