DID Jesus ever command his followers to kill unbelievers? Did Jesus ever personally kill someone for not believing in him? Did Jesus ever lead an army to kill unbelievers? No. But Muhammad did!
Iwant to challenge two dangerous fallacies which have crept into modern Western consciousness. In light of what took place in Paris this week, it has never been more important to monitor and critique our own presumptions about the world in which we live and to confront those presumptions which are ill informed or based on ignorance. Two ideas in particular come to mind: 1. All religions are the same and 2. Western values and ideals are universal.
The West’s pathological need to affirm these two fallacies has led to incalculable loss of life and progress. Let’s take each individually:
All Religions are the Same
To assert, as modern western society does, that all religions are the same is not to affirm their similarity, but rather to affirm their collective meaninglessness; if everything means everything, nothing means anything. There are propositions that are innately exclusive; the propositions of religion fall into this category.
It is of note that only secular people propagate the myth that all religions are the same; adherents of the world’s major religions make no such assertion. To do so would be to deny the truth statements in each varying tradition. It is a strange fact that the world’s non-religious peoples attempt to define the meanings, interpretations and traditions of the world’s major religions.
A frequent example of this is the relationship between Christianity and Islam. It has now become standard fare that after every heinous attack, after every barbaric massacre, the people of the West unite to proclaim the innocence of Islam and the “perversion” of Islamic teaching. We stampede to be the first to utter politically correct platitudes about Islam being a “religion of peace” while falling over each other defending the teachings of a religion to which none of us adhere and few of us understand.
In truth, it is not xenophobic, racist or bigoted to say that religions aredifferent. In particular, Islam and Christianity are very different. And because truth propositions are by nature exclusive, the teachings of each cannot be reconciled. In any case, if Westerners had the faintest idea what the teachings of Islam were, they wouldn’t want them to be reconciled anyway.
Consider these passages from the Koran:
“Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war. (Sura 9:5)
“Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them” (Sura 2:191)
“Fight those who believe not in Allah or the last day nor acknowledge the religion of the truth.” (Sura 9:29)
“Muhammad is Allah’s apostle, those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” (Sura 48:29)
“O Prophet, Struggle against the unbelievers, and be harsh with them.” (Sura 9:73)
“. . . Take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.” (Sura 4:89)
“Fighting is obligatory for you, as much as you dislike it.” (Sura 2:216)
“The infidels are your sworn enemy.” (Sura 4:101)
Consider also the simple questions:
Did Jesus ever command his followers to kill unbelievers?
No. But Muhammad did.
Did Jesus ever personally kill someone for not believing in him?
No. But Muhammad did.
Did Jesus ever lead an army to kill unbelievers?
No. But Muhammad did.
One does not need to be a scholar of religion to notice that there are great differences in the histories, traditions and teachings of Christianity and Islam; they are not the same. No religion is “the same” as another, and it does no good for Western society to go on pretending that they are. This leads us to the second fallacy pervading Western consciousness:
Western Values and Ideals are Universal
This is an exceptionally dangerous fallacy because it assumes that all people everywhere live by the same moral code and share the same values. This is simply not the case.
In President Obama’s remarks following the Paris attacks he parroted this notion stating “this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.” Obama betrays logic in two important ways: First, the attack was not on all humanity, it was specifically on people who do not share Islamist values. Second, because the attack was on such people, it is obvious that Western values are not universal; they are instead, uniquely Christian.
Churchill famously and repeatedly called Western civilization, “Christiancivilization”; and not by accident. Churchill understood that the societal underpinnings of Western culture are derived from a historically Judeo-Christian ethic. And I think it’s time we bring back this kind of meaningful language which reflects the philosophical foundation from which Western values arise.
It is the height of arrogance to assume that the Christian values and ideals esteemed in Western culture immediately translate to all people groups everywhere. It is tragically obvious that they do not. Not all people groups and not all countries trace their social and legal lineage to Judeo-Christian teaching.
It is a difficult thing for the Western mind to understand, but some cultures and religions value authority over freedom, death over life, commonality over individuality, edict over choice, subjugation over independence, theocracy over democracy, autocracy over decentralization of power. Some cultures and religions value the suppression of women and stifling of dissent. Some value dying in martyrdom, thus securing one’s place in “paradise”.
Every culture needs a story by which it makes sense of itself. The Islamic world takes its story from the Koran – we have already seen the worldview espoused therein. The Western world is currently without a story. Although we have historically derived our meaning and moral code from Christianity, we no longer consider ourselves to adhere to any kind of Christian system of values or ideals. Furthermore, the postmodernists have told us that “truth” is a construct which doesn’t exist in any absolute sense. Because of this, we can make obviously fallacious statements like “all religions are the same” or “ western values and ideals are universal” with a straight face while at the same time experiencing a gnawing feeling that something is deeply wrong in our lived experience.
Chesterton said this:
“When man drops one doctrine after another in a refined skepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, that he disbelieves in finality, when in his own imagination he sits as God, having no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas, turnips are singularly broad-minded. If then, there is to be mental advance, it must be in the construction of a definite philosophy of life. And that philosophy of life must be right and the other philosophies wrong. “
Western civilization is at a crossroads, will we follow those who with feigned sincerity profess their belief in the tired fallacies of secularism or will we systemically order our society, values and ideals according to “a definite philosophy of life?” As we have seen again in Paris this week, our Islamist enemy believes in and adheres to its philosophy with deadly resolve. It is time Westerners promote, defend and protect “Christian civilization” with equal tenacity.