New Thinking or Old Myths ?
In the following article Quintus Perera speaks of a "new thinking" in religions which he says can "save the world from disaster and doom". But he only speaks of one religion, Christianity, and there too he repeats not any new thinking but the same old falsehoods associated with that religion. In this blog I shall seek to expose some of these common misconceptions about Christianity, and show that Abrahamic religion far from saving the world from disaster and doom will lead it to new disasters and doom.
Quintus starts by misrepresenting the trial and execution of Jesus. He gives the idea that he was sentenced for saying that he claimed that there is a "Kingdom of God". This is certainly a falsehood but it is not a capital offence. Jesus was executed because he was convicted on two capital charges, one by the Roman state that he claimed to be the King of the Jews, and the other by the Sanhedrin that he blasphemed the Jewish religion (to which Jesus belonged) by saying that he was the son of their God (Yahweh). The first charge was a political charge of treason as only the Roman emperor was the King of the Jews and other people in the Roman empire. Then (as now in some jurisdictions) execution is the punishment for treason. The second is now considered a capital offense only by Islam but only a few centuries ago anyone who "blasphemed" the Christian "Saviour" would have been executed. The two capital charges against Jesus could easily be proven, and in fact Jesus did not even deny them. Thus his execution is a legal one, and a just one by the standards of the age. Of course the event that Easter commemorates, viz. that Jesus "rose from the dead" is a fabrication of Christians, and has no basis in fact. Richard Dawkins in his The Delusion of God says that there is as much evidence for the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as there is for Jack and the Beanstalk.
Quintus implies that Jesus was killed for preaching "Thou shalt not kill" etc. but these were the commandments of the Jewish religion and many rabbis would have preached it. Judaism and its commandments were not prohibited by the Romans in Palestine. Jesus was killed not for uttering the tenets of the Hebrew religion but for the capital offenses of treason and blasphemy. Thus Quintus completely distorts the reasons for Jesus' execution. His statement that "the significance of the death of Christ even today is to seek for justice and truth and die for it". There is pretty little that is true in the myths concocted by Jesus and in case he did not die for them. He died for the two capital offenses that we had mentioned earlier. Some Christians maintain that Jesus died for the "sins of mankind". In fact he died for his own "sins"! Quintus then refers to the alleged persecution of Christians in the first century and half after Jesus' death but blithely glosses over the far greater Christian persecutions during most of the past two millennia in which the Popes and the priests of Christianity participated. This is not a balanced judgment of the record of Christianity.
Quintus refers to Christians who have engaged in charitable works, etc. But such people have existed not only in Christianity but in all religions, and amongst non-religious people. To give a balanced picture he should also refer to the crimes committed by Christians. This involves not only grand crimes like the Inquisition, the Crusades, the religious wars and persecutions, etc. right down to the Holocaust, but also the crimes like slavery, colonialism, and the methods used to convert the peoples of Latin America, Africa and many parts of Asia. This includes the crimes done by Portuguese Catholics in Sri Lanka, and to lesser extent by the Dutch and the British. Indeed even now the Christians are taking the lead in unethical conversion and engaging in charlatanism like faith healing. Quintus should be well advised to contemplate these in his Easter message.
There is a good deal of double standard in what Quintus says, and some of things he says are not true of Christianity. This it is said that "no religion could be supreme or all religions and different believers should respect each others religions" Unfortunately it is in the very nature of each religion to consider that it alone contains the whole truth. Christianity says that only those who follow Jesus are saved, the other were said to have been consigned to eternal hell-fire. This is particularly true of all Abrahamic religions who have killed each other throughout history. It is only Asian 'religions' like Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism etc. that have been tolerant of other religions, a tolerance that has been abused by Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam. Quintus speaks of people amassing mass wealth but one of the worst offenders in this respect is the Vatican and the Catholic church. Again his statement that people should be left to believe whatever they want to believe is well and good, but tell this to the Evangelists. The positive things Quintus says in his article may well be acceptable, but they rarely apply to Christianity.
Quintus says that "if conflicts occur, if poor and ignorant suffer, if different groups try to annihilate their rivals, it is time that the world open its eyes and realize that something is drastically wrong and what the founders of those great religions envisaged to inculcate in people seem to have gone astray". But the truth is that much of the evils that Quintus refers to come from the teachings of the founders of these religions. Jesus said that those who do not agree with him should be brought before him and burnt like "withered branches". An of course he cursed anyone who did not heed his message. This is not a good example for a founder of a religion to set.
The so-called "new thinking of religions" that Quintus tries to promote amounts to ensuring that human rights are respected and implemented. Thus he says that "the world has decided to be fair by all peoples when all these nations got together and promulgated conventions on human rights and thus the religion of all mankind would have been ensuring of [these] rights". However human rights have sprung from secular philosophy and humanism, not from religion. In Christianity there are no human right at all but only the rights of God. Jesus simply wanted people to pray to his alleged father, but modern Jeshelas (q.v. = see ACSLU Glossary) simply pray to Jesus himself. In Islam there are no rights for women and men are given total control over them. The barbarous Sharia laws negate most human rights. There is a human rights equivalent in Buddhism and some other Asian 'religions' but they are not codified as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . In this connection it should be stated that organizations like Amnesty International (AI) are political bodies often giving support to Christian terrorists like the LTTE. Thus it is wrong on the part of Quintus to attribute the new found interest in Human Rights to the religious founders, especially of the Abrahamic religions.
Finally the threat of terrorism that the world faces today in the so-called "clash of civilizations" is another evil that has been brought about the Abrahamic religionists. The "War of Terrorism" is a religionist war between Christians and Jews on the one hand the Islamists on the other. Both sides are motivated by the teachings of their religious founders. The Abrahamic religions, far from opening the door to a universal peace and fomenting new ways of destroying whatever efforts for peace had been secured by non-religious people.
The trend and approach for the large majority of humanity seeking justice has not changed since the beginning of mankind. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ signifies this trend as those who stand for justice and truth would be challenged and eliminated. It is not only to Jesus Christ, but common to all those who tried to defend truth and could draw many examples from the history.
In Christianity, the fundamental belief is that suffering is common to mankind but the suffering ends with the rejoicing and triumph as signified in the life of Jesus Christ as the belief goes on that Christ who suffered immensely, triumphantly risen from the dead after three days. (Christians commemorate these events on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday). Christians repent on Good Friday but on Easter Sunday, the celebrations would be not second to Christmas. Yet suffering and the triumph in human life is indeed a mystery because there are human being who suffer untold miseries and die of such suffering which indeed makes inroads to the belief that there is a life after death and during the new life, those who suffered in the worldly life, would gain the shortfall in rejoicing and triumph in the next heavenly life.
Yet the mystery of suffering, the injustice, defying truth and ill-treatment of the weak and the humble continues and they have become challenges to all religions.
Christ was brought before the Judge of the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate for speaking of the kingdom of heaven and God and the Judge probed Jesus "Did you claim of a Kingdom of God"? Jesus answered "You are speaking the truth". Though the judge, questioned "What do you mean by truth" he did not wait for an answer. So the man who preached "Thou shall not kill, thou shall love thy neighbor" was condemned to die on the cross and this phenomenon is continued to date in different forms and style.
While innocent, non-violent people are being condemned to the cross, to persecution, torture and death for seeking truth and justice, Barabbas who was found guilty of robbery and murder was set free and still the phenomenon takes place in different forms. Thus the significance of the death of Christ even today is to seek for justice and truth and die for it.
On Good Friday Christians everywhere commemorated the death of Christ on the cross to seek solace, peace and to mitigate the burdens of their treacherous lives and implore the indulgence of justice, peace and harmony. During the early days of Christianity, the followers of Christ tried to emulate justice by trying to dispel inequality, sharing their wealth and belongings with their neighbors and the needy. The piety, kindness and helpfulness of these early Christians during the formative years in Rome could be easily identified and they were caught, persecuted and killed.
The practice of helping the needy has been the most cherished precept of Christianity. Christ has shown the way first by preaching as to how one should part with his wealth to be eligible to be a follower of Christ. He asked to give all the possessions to others and then join Him. Christ taught that the highest sacrifice one could make for another is to give the life and he followed it in sacrificing his own life for the salvation of mankind. Therefore Christianity is a religion of giving, beyond the extent of hurting.
Those Christians, who understood the true meaning of the religion, did not hesitate to give their lives to fulfill the teachings of their Pathfinder to Heaven. They became clergies and with this message of giving, prepared to sacrifice their lives, they crossed many seas, to distant unknown strange lands and many of them sacrificed their lives to the cause of humanity, to the cause of God almighty and to the cause of justice, fair-play and truth. The cycle continues, in different forms, more complex and sophisticated, today.
Mother Theresa's mission in Calcutta could be a classic example of this continuing cycle - an Albanian nun who came to a strange distant land, lived with destitute people , cripples, invalids and abandoned, nursed them tenderly and died a living saint, a saint in a different land.
Since the death of Christ, his followers tried to emulate his teachings and also dramatize his suffering up to the crucifixion and also his rising, but it has become indeed a mystery that apparently could not be understood by human beings that still justice and truth are mutilated and often could not stand their ground.
A few rich people are amassing more wealth carving into the rights of the vast majority of poor due to economic principles set out by so-called rich and intelligent people where there is the "market concept" flourishing. They have thus developed the insatiable desire to have all the good things to themselves, leaving the vast masses of mankind without any shelter, without any food, without any clothing.
In this moment of commemorating suffering and triumph, it is worthwhile, to also dwell upon the principles of other religions that people tend to believe so venerably and devoutly. All people who believe in religions, feel that their religions are supreme and better than the others. But the general consensus would be humility, justice and fair-play so that no religion could be supreme or all religions and different believers should respect each others religions.
If one goes back to the history of mankind, there has been enough battles between nations, between different communities and races and there appears they have some links to religions. There is many a conflicts between various religious groups. This denotes that if any believer preaches violence under whatever circumstance there appears to be something wrong in the belief as the person would be violating the basic principles of that religion.
Again going back to the history, religions appear to be segregating isolating the believers confining them to their religion only and in that process, the rights of the people are violated to be free to believe in whatever religion and if so desires he should be free to be an atheist, according to his free will.
In contrast, in many countries through their constitutions proclaim that all people are free and equal to each other, and many have sought legal recourse for treating them unequally. Thus religions come in direct conflict against those constitutions as religions may have some unequal treatment and the best example is women.
Yet there are countries with best of constitutions and believers of leading religions but it is a well-known factor that only in those countries, but everywhere in the world, injustice, fowl play, powerful people defy law and escapes and crime, corruption and bribery are all there in varying degrees.
If religions are to distance people from each other, rather than uniting all peoples, as religions preach fair play, justice, equality and if conflicts occur, if poor and ignorant suffer, if different groups try to annihilate their rivals, it is time that the world open its eyes and realize that something is drastically wrong and what the founders of those great religions envisaged to inculcate in people seem to have gone astray. If rich become richer and poor become poorer, shouldn't there be something wrong – something wrong drastically?
Apart from these religions, the world has decided to be fair by all peoples when all these nations got together and promulgated conventions on human rights and thus the religion of all mankind would have been ensuring of rights of each others rights and rights of all peoples ensured, then it amounts to believing all their religions.
The world has waited too long and now the time is ripe as the world has been enveloped by dastardly crimes, rape, mangling, strangulation, torture is rampant in many parts of this globe and the victims are innocent, powerless, poor and ignorant.
In this world there are eminent scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers and a barrage of intellects and champions of human rights, parallel to the great religious leaders, but look at what has happened to the world, everybody trying to amass wealth and everything today decided by rupees and cents.
If religions are to be persisted upon their believers and for the people to emulate the great teachings of the founders of these religions, the greed of the man to amass with no limit has to be curtailed to the point that he would be satisfied to the limit of what is necessary to exist and to part with at least a part of the wealth he amasses over and above his requirements, so that precepts of religions are adhered to and thus sustain human rights.
If human rights is made the religion of all mankind, the world would definitely be a better place to live and of course, they would then have a great opportunity to practice all their religions fully.
Those great oratorical preachers and politicians must stop their travestying the truth and must initiate a new thinking to salvage the world from disaster and from the ultimate doom and put the world on the correct perspective those founders of great religions preached and exemplified. If not commemorating the agony of Christ or his rising from the dead would be meaningless. In the same way it would also be meaningless, if other religions too initiate to get their followers to come within the teaching of their founders and all of them should accommodate the principles of basic human rights.