By Jim Fryar.
The following is a response by a reader to an article by Greg Sherridan in the “Australian”, blog section.
“Religion is very scary for rational people, and you can’t single out the Muslims Mr. Sheridan. Both the bible and the Koran clearly say that believers must kill unbelievers, and that anyone (even within your own family) who thinks about changing their religion must also be killed (eg. Deuteronomy, 13:6).
The brutal basis for both religions is basically the Old Testament, and you can’t cherry pick the word of god. The prophets are clearly different.
But then again Christians say Jesus is in fact the same as god, and sacrificed himself to himself, then reincarnated himself as himself, in order to absolve sins that he as the creator of everything was basically responsible for in the first place (at least the Muslims can see that Easter doesn’t make sense).
Fundamentalists in both religions are waiting for the end of the world, with relish. (See Andrew Denton’s movie for the Christian perspective). Because they will all be going to paradise, while the other billion or so believers will all be going to hell (to be tortured for eternity because god doesn’t like the way they think about him - how can you worship someone/something that treats other people like this?)?
The Israeli, American and Iranian leaders might just be trying to fulfill the dreams of their fundamentalists.”
This is not atypical of the type of comment we get when people argue from a predetermined perspective ie. Religion = fundamentalism = bad. The error this person makes is in ignoring the mainstream applications of those faiths, in the present day.
While I am essentially a Christian I am not into the Bible sufficiently to dispute or accept the statements of the writer, however the fact remains that in the modern era no Christian church advocates killing your relatives or friends for apostasy, certainly not in my local area anyway.
Any poll taken today would, I am sure, show very little support among Christians for the inquisition. True Christians are appalled at the excesses of the past in the name of the faith, fundamentalist Islam on the other hand regard theirs as an example of the way things should be done today.
The writer also adopts a fundamentalist position himself in claiming that –“ The brutal basis for both religions is basically the Old Testament, and you can’t cherry pick the word of god. The prophets are clearly different.”
All of the contents of Bible started life as oral traditions, which were written down over time, and probably contains the apocryphal, the legendry, and odd stories from here and there. The Old Testament is the same as the new in this regard. It was also written from the perspective of a very different society to that in which we live today.
The difference is that Islam has not advanced from what it is, and what it seems doomed to remain, - a medieval faith.
Christianity has evolved with the times into a faith of forgiveness, virtue, tolerance, freedom, and responsibility, or at least it is from my perspective, I know that not all Christians apply it in this way, but we are evolving in the right direction. Bigotry will always exist in society, and in Christianity. Strangely I get the impression that the same applies to the letter writer.
Judeo/Christianity holds a message of liberty – ‘Place no man between yourself and your god”, “You shall have no king….”, and the valid warning, “This is what your king shall do unto you….”. It also contains in the Ten Commandments, an excellent guide on how to live without causing conflict with those around you.
The fundamentalist positions taken in all faiths tend to assume the pagan view of all things being controlled by a god figure in a system in which we are merely pawns.
Jun 24, 2007
By Jim Fryar.