CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth




I never realized that actress Kiera Knightley was a comedienne. The only problem is that she probably doesn't think of herself as a comedienne either. She probably thinks of herself as a serious thinker. Allow me to elaborate.

In our adult education program last Sunday, the teacher used the meme above in the class PowerPoint as part of a discussion of world views and atheism. In the event the reader is unable to see the meme above, it shows a photo of Ms. Knightley with a quote that reads, "If only I wasn't an atheist, I could get away with anything. You'd just ask for forgiveness and then you'd be forgiven. It sounds much better than having to live with guilt." Now, I didn't comment about the quote in class, but whether Ms. Knightley realizes it or not, her thoughtful words are basically a retelling of a joke that Emo Phillips (an acknowledged comedian - and a very funny one, at that) shared as part of his stage act in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Emo's joke went like this: "When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realized, the Lord doesn't work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me." Compare this joke to Ms. Knightley's supposedly serious statement about Christianity. I don't see much difference, do you? Both assert that if you are a Christian it is okay to sin because God will forgive you.

Emo's joke is funny because, like all good jokes, it has a grain of truth. Yes, Christianity promises that if you confess your sins and trust in Jesus' promise to forgive your sins then your sins will be forgiven. To the frivolous, that is a license to sin at will because God will forgive the sin. But of course, that is not the Biblical teaching.

Numerous verses in the Bible talk about the need for Christians to have good conduct. Romans 6 is but one example. Paul asks, "Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? " Much of the Bible tells Christians that they are forgiven, but the forgiveness comes with an obligation to behave in a good and Godly way. In fact, one could argue that James makes the point that a person who is a Christian but acts as if nothing in his life has changed is not truly saved. ("Faith without works is dead.")

Emo's joke works because the answer is unexpected in context. Readers/listeners know instinctively (or from having actually read the Bible) that it is wrong to steal a bicycle just because you know that God will forgive you. Emo recognizes this because his quote is a joke. Ms. Knightley apparently misses this essential point because her quote is apparently her effort at serious thought. Emo recognizes his joke has a grain of truth; Ms. Knightley believes that her quote is the whole truth.

But what most fascinates me about the meme is that Ms. Knightley seems to admit that she feels guilt. What is guilt? Guilt is the knowledge that the guilty party has violated some rules or ethic and know it. In my earlier blogpost (way back in December 2004) about Edgar Allan Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart," I discussed guilt, and I want to share a small portion of that earlier piece again.

"There is a very important lesson to learn from [the Tell-Tale Heart] and it has to do with guilt. You see, all of us have guilt. According to the Gale Encylopedia of Psychology’s article on guilt:

"Guilt is both a cognitive and an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes that he or she has violated a moral standard and is responsible for that violation. A guilty conscience results from thoughts that we have not lived up to our ideal self. Guilt feelings may also inhibit us from falling short of our ideal again in the future. Individual guilt is an inner reflection on personal wrongdoing, while collective guilt is a shared state resulting from group-such as corporate, national, or community-wrongdoing.
Guilt serves as both an indicator and inhibitor of wrongdoing. Healthy guilt is an appropriate response to harming another and is resolved through atonement, such as making amends, apologizing, or accepting punishment. Unhealthy guilt, sometimes called neurotic or debilitating guilt, is a pervasive sense of responsibility for others' pain that is not resolved, despite efforts to atone. Healthy guilt inspires a person to behave in the best interests of him- or herself and others and make amends when any wrong is done. Unhealthy guilt stifles a person's natural expression of self and prohibits intimacy with others.
"Guilt is a concept that is taught in the Bible as well, but it does not lay the reason for guilt on such things as sexual drive or aggressive impulses (as Sigmund Freud did). Instead, Christianity teaches that each of us has guilt in recognition of the fact that we have fallen short of what we were meant to be by God. (According to the Blue Letter Bible, Sin as used in the Bible means “missing the mark.”)"

Ms. Knightley acknowledges feelings of guilt. After all, in her world if one can merely sin, get forgiveness (relieving one of guilt) and sin some more, then that's the easier road than living with guilt -- which is apparently what she is saying that she as an atheist must do. I would love to know more about this guilt that she apparently feels. Is it transitory guilt that one gets from getting a speeding ticket or is it the deep down guilt one feels when we know that we are violating some great moral law or rule of the universe (or of God)?

Ms. Knightley's quote is based on ignorance of what Christianity actually teaches about morality, forgiveness and sin. In saying that, I recognize that she is not alone nor am I accusing her of being stupid. She is a victim of the popular press. A lot of what Christianity teaches is misinterpreted or completely ignored by people who prefer to discount or even make fun of Christianity and Christians, and they are anxious to share their ignorance with others. But Ms. Knightley's quote shows hope - she recognizes that she has guilt even if she is probably dismissive of what it really is. Maybe some day she will come to recognize that the guilt is what's real, and then she might be led to try to figure out if that forgiveness for sins that she thought was so easily gained might be something that she truly needs. One can only hope.

Image result for atheistwatch.blogspot.com/ Nazis marching




Shades of the old days! I haven't thought about this topic since about 2005. Our atheist friend "I'm Skeptical," (aka "Skepie") responded to J.P.Holding's piece on Hitler and Christianity by linking to a source, Coel Hellier, an astrophysicist who argues that there were religious influences in the Nazi movement.[1] This is supposed to Prove 
that Hitler was a Christian and the upshot of that is if you think like a Christian long enough you become Nazi-like, They never really state this last move openly but I really don't see why they are obsessed with Hitler being a Christian if that's not it, Of course now they have put a creationist/evolution spin on it that wasn't there way back in the early ought when I used to give a damn about this topic. The new spin allows them to stop short of saying Christianity = Nazism because they can just say creationism = Nazism., It's still guilt by association, Oddly enough the source of which Skepie is so proud to quote actually disproves the link to Christianity.,

Before getting into that specific source I think it's important to point out there is a new scholarly interest that links Nazism to religion is general. But the real scholars are not the making guilt by association fallacy  in trying to blame religion for Nazism; but rather they are seeking to do legitimate sociological analysis. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, in his ground breaking  work 
Occult Roots of Nazism:Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology,[2] argues that Marxist analysis that explains the rise of Nazism is no longer on the beam. The vast nature of religious influences makes a link to religious thinking imperative, Yet this source actually disproves the New Atheists anti-Christian link as well as the link to biblical creationism (see my standard caveat about creationism),[3]

Hellier states that pre-Hitler proto-Nazi doctrine was laced with lists of religious thought. specifically this was an idea that the races were created separately. They did not see so called inferior races as diverging from pure stock but  as separate special creations, The pure superior races they called "root races." The modern Dawkamentalists think this is an indictment of "Christianity via creationism." But what's wrong with this picture? Hellier starts by talking about an obscure occultist writer who was important to Hitler named De Gobineau.Heiller says: "De Gobineau's central argument is that human races are distinct and unequal and he argues against the Unitaian  idea that all men are descended from a common origin."[4]  Of course by "Unitarian" he doesn't mean the New England Congregationalists but the German occultists who believed all races come from Adam. There we have the problem, It's not just some occult sect they opposed but Judaeo-Christian teaching in Genesis! It's a from of creationism but it is opposed to Biblical creationism, So then how can they stick Christianity with Nazism? Skepkie was so adamant that he was proving links to Christian teachings with this source and it confirms quite the opposite,

Heiller quotes De Gobineau: "I conclude from this refutation of the only argument brought forward by the Unitarians that permanence of racial types is beyond dispute;it is so strong and indisputable that the most complete change of environment has no power to overthrew it, so long as no crossing takes place," [5] The one Unitarian argument to which he refers is Genesis creation story.  All he;s really done so far is to prove that one must stick with the word of God. Don't depart from truth, or false religion is as bad as no religion.,

Next Hellier turns to a source who he labels as "Christian," This is supposed to prove the link between Nazism and Christianity, "Chamberlain was a Christian, devoting chapters of his Foundations to his version (emphasis mine) of Christianity he believed that much of Christian doctrine was a distortion of Christi's teachings..." He quotes Chamberlian 
The whole Superstructure  of the Christian Church has hitherto been outside the personality of Christ...we need a regeneration that shall be specifically religious: we need to tear away the foreign rags and tatters that still hang upon our Christianity as the trappings of slavish hypocrisy: we need the creative power to construct out of words and the spectacle of the crucified Son of Man a perfect religion fitting the truth of our nature.[6]

That sounds real Christian talking about the crucified son of man, not being a historian Hellier is just ignorant of what he's talking about (I am an historian), The reference to foreign influences refers to the Jews, Hitler tried to foment a "German Christianity" that took out all Hebrew influences to the point of denying standard OT teachings,[7] So again when his source is specifically "Christian" its a marginalized figure who doesn't accept orthodox teaching. Chamberlian has a sick little warped racist version of Christianity he condemns the whole of Christian teaching,  rather than provimg that Christian teaching leads to Nazism as Skepie specifically argued, he's really proving that the kinds of so called "Christians" who led to the Nazi movement were actually rejecting Christian teaching.
are you reading this Skeptie. if you see this let me know,

Hellier tries to lay this on religion itself: "The topic of religion was central to the Nazi world view, with the Nazi party including in their 25-point program the declaration that: 'The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination.'" Then focuses specifically upon Christianity:


Third Reich is much too large to provide anything but a brief summary here. A good book-length account is Steigmann-Gall’s “The Holy Reich”, which demonstrates that the majority of the leading Nazis considered themselves to be Christian, with a minority also having leanings to Nordic/German pagan folk-religion. See also this accessible compilation of religious quotes, photos and artifacts by leading Nazis (a compilation from which the photos displayed here are taken).[8]

In terms of religion as a whole he;s just repeating the same mistake atheists have always made in trying to interpret Nazi campaign rhetoric on a par with frank private admissions. Have we ever seen a candidate who pretends to be a big Christian and obviously isn't  perhaps exhibiting racism and sexism and treating women badly? Gee it sounds familiar but I just can't place it. But you know I think its obvious that a party platform is  a political statement designed to appeal to the masses it cannot be taken as an indication of true belief. That is where the atheists usually stick in their Fallacious misunderstanding of no true Scottsman; arguing that there is no true Christianity so anyone who says shes a christian must really represent the faith no matter how far from the faith their actual beliefs,That has been thoroughly disproved, It is not applicable. [9] It is contrary to the historical-critical method to try and understand campaign speech as the same kind of speech as private admission, It's a failure to account for the nature of the appeal.

Moreover the attempt to link to Christianity is totally unimpressive. First as already pointed out the only examples of so called Christians are occultist marginal "problem Christians,." Secondly his reference to the book by Steigmann-Gall proves nothing, All he does is point out historical anti-semitism such as of Luther,which any historian knows about, nothing new and it proves nothing, There are racists among the Christians,. That is merely a guilt by association argument, There were also Christians who hid Jews from the Nazis. 
Steigmann-Gall points out that prior to the 60s the vast majority of historians saw no connection between Christianity and Nazism except institutional crossing of lines,certainty nothing causal such that Christianity causes Nazism. But since the 60s a small crew has risen up and worked itself into a minority voice that is getting stronger, [10] It appears from what he says that it coincides with the  rise of new atheism. But at that point he;s talking about the relationship between Protestant churches and Nazism during the third Reich, not the origins of Nazism. That negates a causal link, All that proves is that given the worst of circumstances people know how to rationalize, and they are apt to go with tier read and butter.

Hellier may be a fine physicist but he needs lessons in social science, He tries to argue from demographics:

The German people during the Third Reich were overwhelmingly Christian, with among the highest church-attendance rates in Europe. In a 1939 Census 94% declared themselves Christian.Nearly all of those involved in the Holocaust regarded themselves as Christian; the Auschwitz SS self-labelled as Catholic (42.6%), Protestant (36.5%) or Gottgläubig (20.1%; the word means God-believer or devout, and was the term favoured by the “German Christians”); not one was recorded as “without faith” (atheist). Indeed Himmler declared that: “I have never tolerated an atheist in the ranks of the SS. [10]
There are a couple of problem here, He shows that most Germans where Christians that is supposed to prove they were Nazis, But he forgets to ask how many Germans were Nazis? The answer is only 10% at the high point,.[11] Why weren't more Christians Nazis if the two were so compatible? Then he quotes a highly selective source to show that a big Nazi was a big Christian but that is not causal and it;s not representative, Skepie doesn't understand things like representative samples. He says 
the Germans were Christians, and so were the Nazi authorities. It's right there in the quote you gave, which you obviously don't grok. Do you not know what SS is? The majority of Hitler's senior staff was Catholic, as was Hitler himself. Atheists were persecuted by the Nazis, the same as Jews. Every time I hear people trying to claim that Nazi atrocities were attributable to atheism, I have to laugh at the ignorant denial of historical FACT.
By the time you get to be SS commander you are pretty  well politicized. It was not his religious faith that got him there, He obviously was rationalizing his faith to make it fit his politics if he was even  ever sincere about faith, Atheists avoid the distinction between real faith and membership in a club with the No true Scottsman misunderstading. That way they can avoid the reality that not all who profess believe.,Any German who paid taxes was listed as a church member,so they don't give us a index of sincere belief to go back in that statistic. Just because x% of SS guys were enroled on chruch roll as members that does not prove the professed Christianity, it only means they paid taxes, The enrollment in church was automatic, But no more than 10% Germans were Nazis.Thatvmeans no more tahn 10% of the Christians were Nazis. If being a Christian leads to Nazism it seems more Christians would have been Nazis. One thing Skeptic is right about, there is no link between Nazism and atheism, The Nazis were not atheists, I have never argued that.

Now If we go back to the origins of Nazi thinking in mid 19th century we do not find mainstream Christian thinkers. 
We find warped "Christians" and marginalized weirdos with obscure views who reject the Bible and who try to distort the teachings, that is what is at the origin. The war years are a matter of the fringe group coming to power and the mainstream has to bend to the new President's will. Uh, I mean Chancellor's will.

Hellier sloughs off the role of the occult saying there was some of it about but mostly it was Christians (see above fn8). Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, disproves both this notion and the link to creationism. Hellier as we have ween tries to argue that creationists were Nazi forerunners and evolutionists were atheists, But not so, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, says, "The Darwinist idea of Evolution thorough struggle was also taken up in order to prove that the superior pure races would prevail over the mixed inferior ones." [12] He also Bashes the idea Christianity was the main brunt of the thinking of the proto-Nazis and the occult was just a minor influence. It was mainly occult it was a big force, "The Occult Roots of Nazism (note the tile) documents lives, doctrines, ad cult activities, of the Arisophists of Vienna and their successors in Germany who combined Volkish German nationalism and Aryan racial theorizes with occultism."[13]

Goodrick-Clarke clearly indicates that occultist fringe groups were all over that 19th century movement, He says it was a political religion,so religion did play a major role but not just religion.
It's not just religion that causes the harm, not just creationism, but  it's religion based upon mythical ideologies, right wing politics, anger, hatred,resentment, racial superiority and secret knowledge.

where have I read this before? sounds familiar.

The lesson here is do not turn to a physicist for history lessons especially not one who is associated with an ideology like new atheism (Dawkamentalism). Read the historians first hand and don't take all your views from websites dedicated to an ideology such as  new atheist websites. Social science and history are too complex to lend themselves to being object lesson's for truth regime's.






Sources


[1] Cole Hellier, "Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism,Colesblog,
online resourcek no date given

Hellier is Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University in the UK. In addition to teaching physics, astrophysics, and maths 

[2] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, in his ground breaking  work Occult Roots of Nazism:Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology. London, New York: MPG Ltd., 1985. Taruris Paperback edition, 2005.
[3] Ibid., 7-8.
[4] Hellier, op cit.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Holocaust Encyclopedia, "The German Churches a d The Nazi State,"  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

Hellier also documents this point and he draws upon eh Holocaust meusium the very source I just cited, from the same source

How did Christians and their churches in Germany respond to the Nazi regime and its laws, particularly to the persecution of the Jews? The racialized anti-Jewish Nazi ideology interpretations of religious scriptures seemed to support these prejudices.The attitudes and actions of German Catholics and Protestants during the Nazi era were shaped not only by their religious beliefs, but by other factors as well, including:converged with antisemitism that was historically widespread throughout Europe at the time and had deep roots in Christian history. For all too many Christians, traditional 


Backlash against the Weimar Republic and the political, economic, and social changes in Germany that occurred during the 1920s
Anti-Communism
Nationalism
Resentment toward the international community in the wake of World War I, which Germany lost and for which it was forced to pay heavy reparations
These were some of the reasons why most Christians in Germany welcomed the rise of Nazism in 1933. They were also persuaded by the statement on “positive Christianity” in Article 24 of the 1920 Nazi Party Platform, which read:
This supports my position of this article, that the factors leading to right wing tyranny or more complex than religion  alone can explain.

[8] Hellier op cit
[9] Joseph Hinman, "Answering the Fallacy of the "No True Scotsman Fallacy," The Religious a priori Website 
[10] Hellier, op cit. This quotation is actually from the Holocaust Museum article op cit
[11] The History Place Frequently Asked Questions.
The History Place is a private, independent, Internet-only publication based in the Boston area that is not affiliated with any political group or organization. The Web site presents a fact-based, common sense approach in the presentation of the history of humanity, with great care given to accuracy.
The site was founded and is owned and published by Philip Gavin, who has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern University and a Master of Science degree from Boston University. Except where noted, the articles and text appearing throughout The History Place Web site were written by Mr. Gavin.
The History Place (where noted) also includes materials from other writers. Some, such as those listed in Points of View, have PhDs in their fields of study, and in a few cases, are well known celebrities. Other writers, such as Michael Tougias, may not necessarily have an advanced degree, but have proven knowledge resulting from extensive research on a particular historical topic.
The History Place is advertiser supported, although Mr. Gavin has chosen to keep over fifty percent of the Web site commercial free. Mr. Gavin established The History Place on July 4, 1996, utilizing the wonderful technology of the newly emerging World Wide Web to communicate the history of humanity to a global audience.

[12] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, op cit., 5.
[13] Ibid., Introduction, 7-17.

 photo frontcover-v3a_zps9ebf811c.jpg 

Order from Amazon 
Ground breaking research that boosts religious arguemnts for God to a much stronger level. It makes experience arguments some of the most formidable.Empirical scientific studies demonstrate belief in God is rational, good for you, not the result of emotional instability. Ready answer for anyone who claims that belief in God is psychologically bad for you. Order from Amazon 









This is a chapter from an ebook I did which included a look at the works of Alexander Hislop -- the Christian version of Acharya S. Sadly, even Christian leaders as prominent as John MacArthur fall for this kind of stuff.


***


Who can forget those "Where's Waldo?" books, where you had to strain your eyes while scanning a giant cartoon picture looking for that one guy with the glasses, the striped shirt and the funny hat? If you were good at finding Waldo, you might also be good at finding Semiramis. She isn't in the Bible. She's also not in the works of the Jewish historian Josephus. So, we have to ask ourselves a question. Alexander Hislop says that Semiramis is pretty important as the wife of Nimrod, and co-founder of the Babylonian mysteries. But how can this be the case about someone who isn't even found in the Bible?


Let's start this round with a look at the history of Semiramis in the real world. The most complete and detailed history of Semiramis is found in the work of Diodorus, an author of the 1st century BC. In his Bibliotheca Historica, Diodorus says that Semiramis was born at Ashkelon, to her mother, the goddess Derceto, and her father was an anonymous young man, who was doing a sacrifice to Derceto. Apparently, Derceto wasn't much for the romance. Ashamed, she killed the young man and abandoned the child, leaving her to be taken care of by doves. Eventually, the child was adopted by the head of the royal sheepfolds, Simma, who named her Semiramis, which is a variant on the word for "dove."
Semiramis became a very beautiful girl, and the Assyrian governor of Syria, Onnes, fell in love with her and asked for her hand. He took her to Nineveh, where they had two children, Hypatus and Hydaspus. Later on, Onnes was called to military duty, and after he went away, he sent for Semiramis to join him. As it turns out, though, Semiramis had a hidden talent for military tactics: She used a ruse to help defeat the city they were besieging.


Thanks to all the fame that came of this coup, the Assyrian king, Ninus, rewarded her and also fell in love with her. As kings were wont to do, he first asked for her hand in marriage and then threatened to take her from Onnes if he didn't comply. Not being able to handle the stress, Onnes hanged himself, leaving Ninus to marry her. (Based on our last chapter, you can now begin guessing how and why Hislop connects Nimrod to Semiramis.)


Eventually, the couple had a son they named Ninyas. After Ninus died, he left Semiramis as queen, and from there, she went on to have a successful career founding Babylon. During her reign, she toured her kingdom and she created all sorts of wonderful parks and public works. She never remarried, but did give certain favors to handsome men in her army, who she showed her gratitude towards by making them disappear.


For her last great act, Semiramis raised a huge army of 3 million men and went after the natives of India, who ended up sending her back home defeated, with wounds in her arm and back. At that point, Ninyas plotted against her, but by this time, she was 62 years old and pretty tired, so she handed the reins of power over, and disappeared.


This won't sound a great deal like what Hislop has to say about Semiramis. The biggest problem, though, is the assigned date for Semiramis by scholars. She's supposed to have been around somewhere between the 9th and 7th century BC. That means that she's over a thousand years after the time when Nimrod lived, if we take Biblical chronology strictly.


Part of Hislop's confusion comes from the story of Semiramis founding Babylon, while Nimrod founded Babel. As we explained in the last chapter, although the two cities are related, they are not exactly the same. The city has undergone more than one renaissance in its history, and Hislop merely assumed that there was just one possible "founding" event - and that is one reason why he incorrectly put Nimrod and Semiramis together as contemporaries.


Historically, Semiramis is probably to be identified with Sammuramat, who was known from an inscription to be a queen from 823-811 BC, during the reign of a king named Shasmshi-Adad V. She was a regent for approximately four years, as is confirmed by the Babylonian 3rd century BC historian/priest Berosus, who interrupts his Babylonian King list to refer to "government of Semiramis in Assyria."


This equation does leave some aspects of her legend unexplained, like her alleged founding of Babylon. There are also some other testimonies about her that seem contradictory; however, all agree that she didn't live at the same time as Nimrod. [1]


[1] For more on Semiramis, see an essay by Georges Roux, "Semiramis: The Builder of Babylon, in Jean Botterfo, Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia (Johns Hopkins University, 1992, pages 141-61)."


What would Hislop offer in response to this, in order to foist Semiramis into the time of Nimrod? Again, we won't be able to address every single point Hislop makes, but we can address a good number of them, sufficiently to show that he cannot be taken seriously.


Eusebius. Hislop initially notes three sources about Semiramis: Ammianus Marcellinus, Books 14 and 23; Justinus, Historia, Book 1; and the Chronicle of Eusebius.


Ammianus' reference in Book 14 doesn't even mention Semiramis. It only mentions Ninus:


And first after Osdroene, which, as has been said, I have omitted from this account, Commagene, now called Euphratensis, gradually lifts itself into eminence; it is famous for the great cities of Hierapolis, the ancient Ninus, and Samosata.


Book 23 does reference Semiramis, and says:


In this Adiabena is the city of Ninus, which once possessed the rule over Persia, perpetuating the name of Ninus, once a most powerful king and the husband of Semiramis; also Ecbatana, Arbela, and Gaugamela, where Alexander, after various other battles, overthrew Darius in a hot contest.


Neither of these, though, does anything to advance Hislop's case to early date Semiramis.


The reference in Justinus offers much of the information we related above, including Semiramis as founder of Babylon. As noted, Hislop confuses Babel and Babylon, so this does not aid his case.


The last reference, in Eusebius, Hislop considers prime evidence, for he says that Eusebius had Ninus and Semiramis reigning in the time of Abraham. This turns out to be true, but there isn't much useful about it:


Year one of Abraham. He was the first patriarch of the Jewish people. During his time Ninus and Semiramis ruled over Assyria and all of Asia.


Once again, though, we're hard pressed to see why Eusebius, writing some 1000 to 2000 years after the fact, is to be taken as correct over the evidence that has been gathered by historians indicating a different chronology. And, even more problematic for Hislop is that Eusebius disagrees with Hislop on certain other issues as well. Contrary to Hislop, Eusebius identifies Asshur as a person (see prior chapter). He also clearly does not regard Ninus as the same person as Nimrod, and doesn't think Ninus/Nimrod was chopped into pieces by Semiramis (i.e., Eusebius says: "Semiramis buried Ninus' body in the palace").
A secondary problem is that Eusebius isn't here testifying to what he thinks is actual history. In the Chronicle, Eusebius was collecting and reporting varying chronologies from different sources.


Beyond this, Hislop found himself compelled to address an authority in his own time and who dated Semiramis to a later age. Hislop's reply is instructive:


Sir H. Rawlinson having found evidence at Nineveh, of the existence of a Semiramis about six or seven centuries before the Christian era, seems inclined to regard her as the only Semiramis that ever existed. But this is subversive of all history. The fact that there was a Semiramis in the primeval ages of the world, is beyond all doubt, although some of the exploits of the latter queen have evidently been attributed to her predecessor.


In other words, Hislop is compelled to invent a second Semiramis to accommodate his thesis, and then, to accommodate his thesis yet further, speculates that the deeds of the earlier one have been attributed to the later one! The reality is that there is no evidence of an earlier Semiramis - save in the writings of authors like Eusebius who were in no position to confirm the chronology. Once again, Hislop merely picks and chooses what he wants to believe ignoring the rest.


Today, Rawlinson's view is the standard among scholars, and is also decisively in accord with the evidence. We're also compelled to ask, if we use Hislop's rules of evidence, why Berosus is to believed over Eusebius, when he was much closer to the time in question than Eusebius. That doesn't mean Berosus is automatically right - but it does put a burden on those who support Hislop's theories to give an explanation.


God of fortifications. To further connect Semiramis to Nimrod, Hislop appeals to Daniel 11:38, which refers to a "god of fortifications." But it's not really that "god" with whom Hislop is concerned just yet. He rather uses the reference to segue into a "goddess of fortifications," whom he identifies as Cybele, because she "is universally represented with a mural or turreted crown, or with a fortification, on her head." This much is true as Cybele's crown looked like a city wall, but what does this have to do with Semiramis?


Hislop quotes the Roman poet Ovid as saying that Semiramis, as first queen of Babylon, "surrounded Babylon with a wall of brick." This is not exactly true. The line from Ovid says:


In Babylon, where first her queen, for state, Rais'd walls of brick magnificently great...


Semiramis is not specifically named, but, since other writers of Ovid' s day regarded her as the first queen of Babylon, that is probably who is in mind. At any rate, Hislop completes the equation by saying that Cybele wore a crown that looked like walled towers because "she first erected them in cities." From this he concludes that Semiramis must also be Cybele, since Babylon was the first city in the world after the Noahic flood that "had towers and encompassing walls"!


The problem here is that we just don't know if or when Babel had walls. We also don't know for sure what city was the first to have them, though we have a relatively high degree of certainty that Jericho was the first walled city (Cambridge History of Warfare, Geoffrey Parker, 414). Babylon did have walls as well, but it is not regarded as a contender for "first walled city."
Hislop also has another problem as he must admit that another ancient historian, Megasthenes, reported that it was a "Belus" who built the walls of Babylon. Here is what Megasthenes reports:


It is said that from the beginning all things were water, called the sea: that Belus caused this state of things to cease, and appointed to each its proper place: and he surrounded Babylon with a wall: but in process of time this wall disappeared...


As you may guess from the context, "Belus" was a Babylonian creator-deity. But Hislop doesn't report this; in fact, he misrepresents what the text says of Belus:


As "Bel," the Confounder, who began the city and tower of Babel, had to leave both unfinished, this could not refer to him. It could refer only to his


So Hislop has "solved" his historical problem by conveniently rolling yet another identity into Nimrod - namely, Belus! It doesn't matter to Hislop that Megasthenes doesn't say Belus didn't finish the wall (indeed, his words imply that Belus did finish it). Instead, Hislop covers all his bases by making Nimrod responsible for starting the walls of Babylon, and Semiramis responsible for finishing them! And so, in turn, Hislop also claims that Daniel's "god of fortifications" is none other than…you guessed it -- also Nimrod.


Like a Virgin? As noted, one of Hislop's goals was to rebut Catholicism, and to this end he found another use for Semiramis:


As time wore away, and the facts of Semiramis' history became obscured, her son's birth was boldly declared to be miraculous: and therefore she was called "Alma Mater, the Virgin Mother."


The object here, of course, was to imply that this pagan accounting was a source for Catholicism. Not that this would work even if it were true: Hislop himself would hardly deny that Mary was a virgin even when she was the mother of Jesus. Unfortunately, Hislop was so excited about this proposition that he neglected to provide documentation that Semiramis ever was called a "virgin mother." He also does nothing to keep from undermining his own (quote Protestant) belief in the virgin birth, using the same arguments.


Even more poorly documented is this argument:


The dove, the chosen symbol of this deified queen, is commonly represented with an olive branch in her mouth, as she herself in her human form also is seen bearing the olive branch in her hand; and from this form of representing her, it is highly probable that she has derived the name by which she is commonly known, for "Z'emir-amit" means "The branch-bearer." (From Ze, "the" or "that," emir, "branch," and amit, "bearer," in the feminine.)


As we noted above, though, "Semiramis" means dove, not "branch bearer." But once again, Hislop has a -- connect the dots explanation: Noah's wild dove (or pigeon) carried a branch back to the ark, and that is how we also turn "Semiramis" into "branch bearer"! Nor can he produce any record of "Z'Emir-amit" as a historical person rather than as a fanciful linguistic construction.


In short, Hislop's treatment of Semiramis, like his treatment of Nimrod, is more fantasy than fact.


 
From time to time someone will announce here that Christian apologetics is a sham discipline because it presupposes the truth of what it sets out to discover. Given that apologists are theologically biased from the outset, they must cherry-pick their facts in order to support the truth of Christianity and at the same time spurn unwelcome alternative views of the world. Thus apologetics is a grand exercise in question-begging. Or so we're told. This purportedly intellectually deficient – or worse, intellectually dishonest – apologetic approach is usually contrasted with the virtues of "science," in which discoveries are confirmed only as they clear various objective methodological hurdles like repeated observations, consistent measurements, careful experimental designs, statistical analysis of findings, peer review, and so forth. 
 
Now at first blush there seems to be a grain of truth in the charge. Having personally experienced the presence of Christ and the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon encountering the Word of God, Christian apologists like me are indeed thoroughly convinced that God exists and has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. As a result we are naturally confident that Christianity is true, and thus "biased," in a sense, toward it actually being true. Such confidence is in keeping with the authoritative pronouncements of Christ and the apostles: that what we preach is not "cunningly devised fables" or delusion, but "the words of truth and reason" (2 Pet. 1:16; Acts 26: 24-25). My "bias" is grounded in compelling arguments from natural theology, in historical facts, and most of all, in personal experience. It would be foolish for me to write off a self-authenticating and eternally significant revelation of divine truth just so that other people might think me more broad-minded, or intellectually nuanced, or whatever.
 
Clearly the gospel is not a "tentative hypothesis" subject to scientific testing or falsification, and apologists should not have to pretend that it is. Defending the truth of that gospel (apologetics) would be irrational or dishonest only if it were a self-evident truth that propositions must be scientifically testable in order to be true; and I don't know anyone who actually believes that. The axioms of logic, mathematics and probability, to name some examples, are certainly not subject to scientific confirmation or falsification; nor, for that matter, are the very assumptions that underlie the scientific method itself. Yet the scientific enterprise could scarcely get off the ground apart from logic, mathematics and probability – and of course, the scientific method – applied to the observable world. It turns out that numerous undeniable and indispensable propositions, while obviously not scientific, are just as obviously true. There is nothing intellectually dishonest about recognizing all this.
 
The history of science itself indicates that scientific theories only reflect our current understanding of the universe, and therefore can only approximate the truth – whatever the truth may be exactly. As I argued recently in my book: "This is not to say that scientific inferences are false…, only that they have no reliable truth function. Inductive reasoning and inferences to the best explanation are indispensable tools within the larger scope of natural science, but hardly the keys to unlocking eternal verities. Scientific discovery depends primarily on the collection and analysis of empirical data. Because these data are constantly in flux, the inferences drawn from them are ever subject to revision, and often, replacement."[1] Scientific knowledge must apparently remain incomplete for as long as we are housed within this universe. Anyone honestly seeking truth should consider looking beyond this finite, contingent universe to its eternal creator: "Heaven and earth will pass away," said Jesus, "but My words will by no means pass away" (Matt. 24:35).
 


[1] Transcending Proof: In Defense of Christian Theism (Houston: Christian Cadre, 2016), p. 47.  

Photobucket




Atheists are intent upon echoing the constant refrain, "no empirical proof for God."   If God is empirical then the lack of empirical proof counts against belief. Yet, there's more to this than just a demand for evidence of some fact. They have vested an entire world view imn the notion that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. So they are willing to give up logically obvious positions in order to get this child's advantage of being able to insist that our little limited view point on this dust mote in a vast sea we have yet to plumb,  is somehow indicative of real empirical proof of the nature of the universe.

One example of the sacrifice of logic to push empiricism is seen in my recent confrontation with an atheist (call him "Dusty") on Victor Reppart's Dangerous Idea blog. [1] Defending Hartshorne's modal argument I advanced the notion that if God can be conceived analytically without contradiction then God is not impossible. He of course assumes that science is the only form of knowledge so for him empirical evidence is more real than deduction. In fact he thinks inductive reasoning is just pretending, He treats my argument a though I said if there's no contradiction then God is empirical. If there is no logical contradiction then God is possible not proven. The thing that takes God beyond mere possibility is being non-contingent not being uncontradictory.

From time to time atheists have tried to disprove God with parsimony. Or they might at least argue that parsimony renders belief less likely. [2] If God is not given in empirical data then God is not subject to the demands of parsimony its unfair to expect it. I don't imagine that parsimony would prove anything anyway it'snot a proof. There are different kinds of parsimony and belief in God meets some of them. For example, God is a more elegant and economical as a solution than naturalism. [3] Just as the more insightful atheists, such as Parsons, don't argue to disprove God but in terms of likelihood, then so to do i argue not to prove god but to warrant belief. Belief may be warranted without proving the existence of God.

To many atheists God is contrary to the rules of science because he's the product of something called "supernatural."[4] They don't have the slightest idea where the concept comes from or what it really says, but they are sure it's stupid and don't' want anything do to with it. So God can't be parsimonious because he's supernatural. These atheists are merely reacting to the modern post enlightenment concept of SN as that which stands in opposition to scientific data or modern secular thinking.It really ha nothing to do with the Christian concept of the Supernatural.[5] The so Called Rules of science are not a guide to ontology.That God is not given in empirical data is a function of God not given sense data, that is not a disproof it merely means that God represents an aspect of beyond that beyond our ability to spy on.

God could only be the subject of parsimony if he is the object of empirical investigation. I can see why atheists want this to be true, because they could pretend that they've ruled out God, with their penchant for ignoring God arguments, and their glass half empty outlook which always finds the negative, the dark, the bad, refuses proof, refuses the benefit of a doubt only the cutting edge of doubt. But God is not the object of empirical investigation, nor can he be by definition. thus he cannot be judged by parsimony. The whole idea contradicts phenomenology in the first place. So typical of atheists to cherry pick reality so they accept the schools of philosophy that help them and consign as hog wash any kind of thinking that they can't understand (which is most of it).

God cannot be empirical. There are three reasons. These reasons are deductive. The reasons themselves do not require empirical proof because they are deductive. In fact they could not be empirical and claim to  prove that God is beyond the empirical because they would have to have empirical evidence of God to say that, which would be a contradiction.

The three reasons are absolute:


God is not given in sense data.

Empirical means experienced first hand. In modern terms we speak of empirical proof in  terms of scientific observation but it's not really empirical in the traditional sense. It's really inductive reasoning, it's extrapolation from a representative sample to a generalized probability. If God was a big man in the sky with a localized existence I would say the lack of empirical proof is a good reason not believe. But God is more basic than that. God is more analogous to the laws of physics in that we know his effects but he has no localized existence that can be observed directly.



God is not a thing  in creation, 

Not a thing alongside other things  that is, but is the basis of reality: God is being itself. If we could say the universe contains trees and oranges, and mutt dogs and swizzel sticks and mud pies and jelly and fish and comic books and flt tires and roofs and taxes and stupid people, and God, then they would have a point. What's wrong with this list? God is not just another thing. God created all that stuff and everything else. Nothing would exist without God. So God is not along side jelly and swizzle sticks in creation. As St. John of Damascus said "God exists on the order of Being itself." God is not a product of things in creation, god is the basis of all reality. Thus, God may not be treated as things in creation. God is not contingent because he' snot produced by a prior thing. He's not part of creation, the basis of it, so obviously he can't be given in sense data he can't be understood in a empirical way.


The graphic that I have chosen above really says it all. Reality itself is framed by God, by God's being and creative energies but we ca't see that because it's the frame it'most a tangible thing in tyhw world or not given  in sense data.

God is eternal.

Because God always was, never came to be, is not dependent upon anything else for his existence, we can say that God, if there is a God, then God had to be, it's not a matter of maybe God might not have existed. God must be either necessary or impossible. This is what Harsthorne drives home in this modal argument.

Because the concept of God is that of eternal necessary being, God cannot be contingent and since empirical things can only be contingent, God cannot be the object of empirical study. These arguments prove conclusively and beyond question that God cannot be empirical. Since God cannot be empirical it makes prefect since that there is no obvious evidence for God in of the kind some atheists seek, such as  stars lining up to spell out his name or any of that nonsense. It might just be that God is parsimonious in some sense, but not in the sense of being more scientific. which is I think the way most atheists use the term "Parsimony" (because they don't know any better).

Of course there is empirical evidence that can warrant belief in God. For that I recommend my book


 photo frontcover-v3a_zps9ebf811c.jpg 

Order from Amazon 
Ground breaking research that boosts religious arguemnts for God to a much stronger level. It makes experience arguments some of the most formidable.Empirical scientific studies demonstrate belief in God is rational, good for you, not the result of emotional instability. Ready answer for anyone who claims that belief in God is psychologically bad for you. Order from Amazon 







Sources

[1] Stardusty  psyche, "Exchange with David Brightly," "comments," Dangerous Idea blog
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=10584495&postID=5659799769651012438
(accessed 1/18/17)

there are 221 comments and still running,

[2] Stenger 2007, pp. 17–18, citing Parsons, Keith M. (1989). God and the Burden of Proof: Plantinga, Swinburne, and the Analytical Defense of Theism. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-0-87975-551-5.

Original Stemger is Victor J. Stenger,  (2007). God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-652-5.

[3] Joseph Hinman, "Eligance of The God Hypothesis," Doxa: Christian Thought in thei21st Century, On line Resoirce no date imndicted. URL:
http://www.doxa.ws/cosmological/Elgegance.html (accessed 1/18/17)

it is not a contradiction on my part to say that my Parsimony argument might offer rational warrant to believe, but that God is not a subject of parsimony. I said there is a distinction in types. What atheists mean by it and what I mean by the term are two different things. My argument turns upon being an elegant idea, so God need not be empirical to be judged elegant; all one need know is a concept


[4] Benson Saler, “Supernatural as a Western Category,” Ethos, Vol. 5, issue 1, first published online 28 Oct., 2009, 31-53 35. PDF URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/eth.1977.5.1.02a00040/pdf (accessed 1/25/2016).

see also Stenger, Failed hyp.... op cot

[5] Benson Saler, “Supernatural as a Western Category,” Ethos, Vol. 5, issue 1, first published online 28 Oct., 2009, 31-53 35. PDF URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/eth.1977.5.1.02a00040/pdf (accessed 1/25/2016).




This is a reprint of the last chapter of my ebook Hitler's Christianity. In it I address claims that in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Hitler should still be reckoned a Christian because...well, because!!


***


In spite of all the information we have presented in this volume, and the twisted nature of Hitler's Positive Christian beliefs, and of the Nazi persecution of mainstream churches, and in spite of the attempted destruction of European Jewry, there are critics who will nevertheless insist that this is insufficient to disqualify Hitler (or any Nazi figure) as a Christian. We will now consider a collection of objections designed to argue this point, although ineffectively.


The Self-Profession Argument


The first objection has been formulated by one online atheist source as follows:


The basic problem (for religious folks) is that Hitler said he was a Christian, and God apparently didn't feel the need to disagree in public.


We may disregard the rather childish supposition that God is in some way obliged to think on our behalf, and save us the trouble of critical discernment when it comes to the religious professions of others. The key argument in this statement is that: Hitler was a Christian, because he said he was one. In the same way, referring to theologians like Kittel who accepted Nazi doctrine, Ericksen says: "Their self-definition as believing Christians cannot be doubted." He notes other signals of their religious allegiance: A professed personal meeting with Christ; being asked to preach; practicing piety, and regular Bible reading and prayer. [1]


A more sophisticated variation of this argument can be found even in the otherwise excellent historical work of Steigmann-Gall, who points out that "many Christians of the day believed Nazism to be in some sense a Christian movement." He further states that "only false-consciousness theory allows us to contend that millions of sincere Christians could create a non-Christian movement." And, finally, he adds that proponents of Positive Christianity "maintained that their anti-Semitism and socialism were derived from a Christian understanding of Germany's ills and their cure." [2] Though written in more formal terms, the argument is little different in substance than that of the former atheist website; namely, a self-profession and self-conception is sufficient to objectively classify one's self as a Christian.


We may immediately note that this argument sets a rather low bar of evidence for how one may be defined as a Christian. If simple self-profession and self-conception is all that is required to define one's personal identity, without any reference to objective criteria, then there is little to stop even a hardened atheist from referring to themselves as a Christian.


This is not so outlandish a proposition as one might suppose. Among the wide variety of movements on the market today is one that terms itself "Christian atheism." The sum of this view is that, while Jesus is not God, and God does not exist, the moral teachings of Jesus are superior and ought to be followed.
The designation of "Christian atheism" leads to a salient point. As we have noted in prior chapters, cults or deviant movements are frequently posed as, "Christianity plus," or, perhaps "Christianity minus," with the implication that the differences make the variation purer than, or superior to, mainstream Christianity. Can we accept that when a person or group adds a term (or beliefs) to differentiate themselves from another group, that this might place them outside the defining bounds of that other group?


Indeed, the extra designation exposes a key problem with the "self-profession" argument. The critic is intent upon resting in the broad definition of "Christian" as defining a group or body of persons which would include Hitler. One critic put it this way: "A Christian is simply a person who believes in God and Jesus in some form or manner." Needless to say, such a broad designation is difficult to defend. [3]


But let us grant for the sake of argument that Hitler and his associates added the designation "Positive," to define themselves separately from other persons designated as "Christian." The critic argues that Hitler was a Christian in order to suggest that persons in the category of "Christian" are somehow immoral, dangerous, or could be responsible for the sort of evils Hitler perpetrated. But why then use the broader designation of "Christian" rather than the more specific designation of, "Positive Christian?" Why not say, as we all will agree, that it is "Positive Christianity" specifically that leads to immorality in its adherents?


The "Variety of Christianity" Argument


The above offers a segue into the second form of objection, which is that Hitler's Positive Christianity was simply another "variety" of Christianity. One atheist critic put it this way:


There can be little doubt that Hitler was a Christian. You really don't get to disqualify Hitler's beliefs just because you believe a different version.


And, yet another atheist critic said:


The trouble is, there are thousands and thousands of different groups out there and they all claim to be Christians. Isn't it just a little bit arrogant to say that a Jehovah's Witness, a Mormon or a Roman Catholic is not a true Christian, especially since they might well say the same about you? Since as far as I can see there is no way of being able to decide who is and who is not a Christian Adolf Hitler's claim to be one is as good as yours.


Steigmann-Gall again provides a more sophisticated form of the argument: "[T]he Nazis represented a departure from previous Christian practices. However, this did not make them un-Christian." [4]


As with the first objection, however, the critic is refusing to consider objective criteria, and is instead making an emotional appeal to the sensitivities of those who are designated as not Christian. It is at this stage that we must now show that objective criteria are the only basis whereby a person's religious identity can rightly, and must be defined. To illustrate this, I have created what I term the Patriot Analogy.


As one may ask, "Who is really a Christian?" it is also possible to ask "Who is a loyal, patriotic American?" (Of course, the reader may substitute any national or political designation for "American.") Would it be someone who:

  • Displays a flag?
  • Is willing to join the military (or other organization) to serve the country? Or, to serve the country in other ways outside an organization?
  • Knows the contents of the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence?
  • Knows the laws of America? Arguably, these are all things (though not the only things) one can or must do to be called a Patriot. Yet of course, the absence of these things does not cause us to say someone is not a Patriot. At a minimum we suggest they must love their country. Yet if they do none of these things, or are unwilling to do them, or refuse to do them, what do we say? Is it evident that they do love their country as they profess? They may be:
  • A real patriot, but not an active one; or,
  • A patriot who takes issue with some of the claims of the country upon them, but still loves the country and adheres to the core values of the nation; or,
  • A "wolf in sheep's clothing" pretending to be a Patriot, for whatever reason (i.e., like friendship, etc.) By now one can guess that this is analogical to the question, "Who is a true Christian?" Let's rework some of the questions above. Who qualifies as a real Christian? Someone who:
  • Displays a cross or a Christian T-shirt?
  • Is willing to join the church (or other organization) to serve the body of Christ? Or, to serve the body in other ways outside an organization?
  • Knows the contents of the Bible?
  • Follows the precepts of the Bible? Arguably, these are all things (though not the only things) one can or must do to rightly be called a Christian. So in light of the above, does the absence of these things not cause us to say someone is not a Christian?
  • At a minimum we suggest they must love God, and Jesus. Yet if they do none of these things, or are unwilling to do them, or refuse to do them, what do we say? Is it evident that they do love their God as they profess? They may be:
  • A real Christian, but not an active one; or,
  • A Christian who rejects some part of the Bible's teachings, but still adheres to the core principles of the faith; or,
  • A "wolf in sheep's clothing" pretending to be a Christian, for whatever reason (i.e., like friendship, etc.) Of course, there is another issue: What about someone who is a member of a cultic group (like the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses) who qualifies on all counts for the list above? In that case, the question turns not just upon, for example, whether they follow the Bible, but it also follows upon whether they do so accurately. Ericksen pointed out that professed Christians as Kittel performed actions in accord with that profession (e.g., Bible reading and prayer). This adds a step to the argument, but is no more definitive. These actions are expressions of devotion to a specific doctrine, but if the doctrine is a false one, those actions may as well be directed to a brick wall.

  • If someone claimed adherence to the Constitution, but professed to somehow read out of it a model for a dictatorship (!), wouldn’t we rightly wonder of their ability to be defined as a “patriotic American?" Certainly, the more selective a person is with beliefs, the less likely it is that they can satisfy the definition of "patriot" to a given cause.


    Now, let us turn this back to the issue of Hitler's religious beliefs. Is it really impossible to wedge Hitler or anyone else into the fold at our convenience, just because they say "I am a Christian?" To do so, one must show that Hitler was at the very least loyal to Christian principles, otherwise, the claim is unreasonable. To illustrate the folly of the critics, can you imagine a conversation like this being seriously pursued?
  • Skeptic: "Osama bin Laden is a patriotic American!"
  • Christian: "What?"
  • Skeptic: "He said in one of his own speeches he was!"
  • Christian: "Anyone can call themselves a patriotic American, but that doesn't make them one."
  • Skeptic: "Oh yeah? How can you judge who is a patriotic American?" Of course, it is always possible that some flag-waving, Bill-of-Rights-quoting person out there is really some sort of false patriot, a terrorist in disguise plotting to blow up something, but we recognize that such people are the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, consider the absurdity of designating, as an American patriot, someone who, in parallel to the major deviations of Positive Christianity:
  • Declares that we should ignore half of the Constitution, including more than half of the Amendments;
  • Claims that George Washington was actually a Communist;
  • Believes that we should ignore the nation's laws and just concentrate on activities like having Fourth of July picnics. How much credence would we give to someone who advertised this as “Positive Patriotism?”

  • There is one final point, which shows that this objection can also backfire. One frequent argument of Christian apologists is that Hitler was inspired by the teachings of Darwinism. We will not here pursue the accuracy of that claim, but it is rather instructive to consider one Skeptic's response to this argument:


    ...what reached Germany was not the English version of Origin of Species, it was a translation by German paleontologist Heinrich Georg Bronn that was a main source of German notions of Darwinian evolution, and those notions were a distortion of Darwin’s views. Bronn had a substantially different conception of evolution than Darwin, and Bronn’s translation apparently incorporated a good bit of his own conception rather than being a straight translation of Darwin. Bronn even added an extra chapter to OoS to incorporate his own ideas. [5]


    Using the same logic of critics, however, can we not say that Bronn's "distortions" are merely another "variety" of Darwinian teachings? The critics who use the "variety of Christianity" argument end up cutting off their nose to spite their face.


    The Flattened Criteria Argument


    Once a critic is compelled to consider objective criteria as a way to define who is a Christian, an attempt may be made to flatten the criteria by classifying Hitler's Positive Christianity variation as somehow comparable to the mainstream. In this regard, the critical issue is whether the key variations of Positive Christianity -- a bowdlerized canon, a dejudaized Jesus, and a hypertrophied orthopraxy -- are sufficient to divorce it from mainstream, orthodox Christianity. The matter is somewhat tendentiously summed up by one critic as follows:


    Hitler was no more anti-Christian than your run-of-the-mill Protestant bigot. His Christianity was odd, surely, but so is that of many die-hard believers today.


    Concerning the canon of Positive Christianity, Steigmann-Gall, though he admits that Hitler's conception of Christianity "contained a good deal that was far from orthodox," [6] says that the criterion of canonicity "do[es] not constitute a reliable gauge, as others whose Christian credentials are undisputed would similarly fail to pass." [7] Unfortunately, Steigmann-Gall does not say to whom he refers in this context, only vaguely saying that “the rejection of the Old Testament in fact found expression within bona fide varieties of Protestantism." [8] But what were the "bona fide varieties?" Steigmann-Gall does not explain, so no answer can be directly made. Why would it not be argued in reply that the "varieties" Steigmann-Gall has in mind are not "bona fide" at all? And why would this not especially be the case for Positive Christianity followers, whose radical surgery on the canon involved discarding some 80 to 90 percent of it?


    What about the doctrine of a dejudaized Jesus? As we noted earlier, one critic has pointed out that the Aryan Jesus of Positive Christianity has parallels in mainstream views that depict Jesus as a blond, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon. But this is an inapt comparison. Mainstream depictions of Jesus in this fashion come of a mistaken idea that all Jews of the first century were white Anglo-Saxons. In other words, it is not the result of an active racism, as was the case with Positive Christianity, but rather, the result of simple ignorance. At the same time, if we ignore questions of Jesus' fundamental identity, and say that someone who "follows Jesus" counts as a Christian, we are left to admit into the Christian fold all manner of outlandish deviations. As noted earlier in this volume, one of my "favorite" books as an apologist is titled The Elvis-Jesus Mystery, by Cinda Godfrey. This amazing volume declares that Elvis Presley was the Messiah, and as the title indicates, makes a direct connection between the fundamental identities of Elvis and Jesus. If we follow the logic of such types of critics to its proper conclusion, even Godfrey must be admitted to be a Christian!


    It is true that even early Christianity was subject to a certain amount of diversity. Nevertheless, it must also be apparent that diversity has its limits. Critics naturally have no desire to place limits on the acceptable limit of diversity within Christianity, but if they fail to do so, they risk making the definition of "Christian" so broad that it has no meaning at all.


    Steigmann-Gall writes, "By detaching Christianity from the crimes of its adherents, we create a Christianity above history, a Christianity whose teachings need not ultimately be investigated. Seen in this light, those who have committed such acts must have misunderstood Christianity, or worse yet purposefully misused it for their own ends. 'Real Christians' do not commit such crimes." [9] But this is not a matter of detaching Christianity from the crimes of its adherents. This is a matter of whether, indeed, the alleged adherents have, in fact, misunderstood, distorted or misrepresented Christianity, according to a set of objective criteria, and not their crimes. In the final analysis, the critics simply do not do enough analysis to answer this question.


    Notes
    [1] Ericksen, Theologians Under Hitler, 39.
    [2] Steigmann-Gall, Holy Reich, 5, 6, 10.
    [3] A distinction should be made, though, between defining "Christian" in historical and theological terms, and defining it in strictly anthropological terms. Social scientists with no concern for theology may define a wide variety of groups as "Christian" using the same broad definition as the critic, with no intention to besmirch the Christian belief. Of course, the critic may try to shift the goalposts by arguing that Hitler was anthropologically a Christian, when whether he was theologically a Christian is far more meaningful in terms of their argumentative goals.
    [4] Steigmann-Gall, Holy Reich, 262.
    [5] Accessed August 10, 2013.
    [6] Steigmann-Gall, Holy Reich, 37.
    [7] Ibid., 6.
    [8] Ibid., 11.
    [9] Ibid., 267.

    Use of Content

    The contents of this blog may be reproduced or forwarded via e-mail without change and in its entirety for non-commercial purposes without prior permission from the Christian CADRE provided that the copyright information is included. We would appreciate notification of the use of our content. Please e-mail us at christiancadre@yahoo.com.