Religion in the Korea Times

I am torn: there are two articles, pro and con, regarding religion in recent issues of the Times and I approve of neither.

I want to agree with Shin Chul-ho and his article, “Delusions about religion” but I don’t like the way he picks and chooses his representatives for religion.  He describes a few hypocrites who practice Christianity, but every group has good and bad examples. There being around two billion Christians, one is likely to find many with unpopular or disturbing views.  I do agree with his main, and final point:

I do not think that moral behavior came from religion. Long before any types of religion, morality existed. This is the product that was made over an infinite amount of time. People cultivated morality as they came to realize the principle of reciprocity benefits them. 

People are born with the ability to act morally and capable of acting toward the world full of love and peace.

…but I don’t agree with his build up to that point.

I need to be careful.  Judging from his name, I feel that the man is Korean and possibly English is his second language.  And yet, it is not his language -his article displays far better grammar than most of my posts here – but his weak arguments, that bother me.  I could probably give him a pass, based on my assumptions about his primary language but that seems as unfair and racist as if I judged him harshly for hypothetical language errors.  Whatever the case, I may use his essay at some future time to show how weak arguments, even well-written, weaken the central point of those arguments.

I presume Bradley McDonald is a native speaker and again find no grammar errors in a quick study.*  Indeed, a large part of his argument seems based on semantics (Questions about religion):

Also in the third paragraph, the author calls himself a “nonbeliever.” This must mean that he regards nothing as believable. As for his question about whether there’s any universality in religion, the open-minded reader will look that up for himself or herself and find that there most certainly is (but if there wasn’t it wouldn’t matter). 

He or she will also find there’s a very broad spectrum of beliefs and stances in atheism and agnosticism. As for his question “Were any wars waged for the extension of atheism,” I’d like to inform him that Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Kim Jong-il, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro were all atheists. The death toll of religious fanaticism doesn’t come close.

“Nonbeliever” is a common term for non-religious and McDonald’s attempt to win debaters points by extending and distorting it’s meaning is disappointing.

I am more upset by his bait-and-switch with the “Were any wars waged for the extension of atheism” question.  People, religious or not, have started wars for variety of reasons.  Looking at Hitler, it is possible that he was an atheist, but clear that he used Christian and religious claims to support his war.  “We’re atheists: let’s kill the Jews and gays” doesn’t have the same clarity of purpose as starting the same phrase with “We’re Christians…”  Hitler may have been an atheist, but he drove German citizens to war using Christian beliefs.

To look at a counter example, and I am afraid I am leaving the articles behind as this is ground they did not cover, consider slavery in the US. Christians were divided on the subject and used religious rationales for both sides. One group that was outspokenly pro-slavery, were a group of Baptists.  They split their church over the issue, specifically on the issue of slavery, with the Southern Baptists of the time being pro-slavery for religious reasons.  The American Baptists, to their credit, were equally opposed to slavery, again for religious reasons.  These were clergymen, expected to be knowledgable about their religion, making these claims.

I bring  this up to counter McDonald’s argument that atheists like Stalin fought wars for specifically religious reasons.  I don’t believe that is true.  They were merely non-religious people who started wars. Wikipedia has a post about religious wars, which are defined as ” A religious war is a war caused by, or justified by, religious differences”.  The Second World War, for reasons I have described above, might fit that  criteria; I am not sure that McDonald’s other villains started wars that do.

* This is remarkable in itself as the Times, and the Herald – see the previous post- are known for poor editing.


9 Responses to “Religion in the Korea Times”

  1. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Well, while you’re on the subject (and in Asia – admittedly a bit east and slightly north), ever hear about what the Guinness Book of World Records rates this as the “bloodiest civil war in history”?

    In 1850, a rebel in Qing Dynasty China named Hong Xiuquan, a Christian convert (and you know how those born-agains are, amirite?) decided that the first 3 of the Ten Commandments (he used the Protestant translation) were directly in conflict with having a ruling class that claimed the “Mandate of Heaven.” So Hong established the “Taiping Heavenly Kingdom” (also known as the “Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace”) with its capital at Nanjing. They were eventually crushed by the Qing forces, but not before an estimated 20 million people were killed.

  2. Patrick Says:

    Hi Brian,

    The following documentary suggests that Hitler and the Nazi regime were far more interested and influenced by Darwinist than Chritian ideas:

    In any case, the notion of ‘religion’ as a blanket statement is about as useful as the notion of ‘science’. It’s important to be as specific as possible, when making such statements.

  3. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Even if I accept that Hitler was an atheist (and I don’t), he sold his ideas as Christian to the German public. Mien Kampf (spelling?) has many references to the Christian God and none to Darwin. Further, Darwin’s books were among those burned in Nazi Germany. It is possible that he was an atheist and an evolutionist, but he stated that he was Christian and mentioned God many times and spoke anti-evolutionary rhetoric.

    I think you need to put “documentary” in quotes when referring to “Expelled. I hope there is something of value in this crap. It starts with Sternberg, who published an ID report in a journal and who claims he was kicked out of his position. And yet, he completed his contract and left as every other editor in that position had done. He also did not ever work for the Smithsonian; his journal had an independent office at the Smithsonian.
    …Ah, if HItler is mentioned, it is in another part. did you intend to waste my time?

  4. Patrick Says:

    It covers the Nazi regime (including ‘Mein Kampf’) in the last few minutes of 7/10

    and throughout 8/10

    Well worth viewing. Of course, it is clear that Darwinism is not directly but indirectly to blame, but it was certainly far more Darwinism than Christianity that was fuelling the Nazi ideology, regardless of what Hitler did or did not believe.

  5. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Of course. After all, no Christian ever had cause to dislike to persecute the Jews. No sir. Those Jews lived a life of bliss, free of prejudice before 1859.

    Again, they burned Darwin’s books.

    Further, inside of Darwin’s Origin was a section on ‘artificial selection’. Do you somehow imagine that he invented animal husbandry? Animal husbandry metaphors are in the bible, for crying out loud.

  6. surprisesaplenty Says:

    I have not yet seen parts 7&8, but I’m willing to call a truce. No one wins arguing about Hitler. If you are willing to accept that he either used or misused or abused the Bible and Christianity, I am willing to accept that he did the same for evolution.

  7. Patrick Says:

    Well, I’m not trying to start a holy war, but just feel a duty to try and show the other side of the story. The fact is, we’re all in the same category of Hitler, ie. ‘guilty’, until we turn and put our faith in Christ and through Him become ‘not guilty’.

  8. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Yeah, is it the same kind of fact as saying that God is just, while yet we are all guilty for a crime committed six thousand years ago and one that god knew about as he made man? Christians use interesting definitions of words.

  9. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Boy, that was a waste of time.

    Darwinism is not a sufficient condition… but it’s certainly a necessary one.

    About reading Mien Kampf – “Darwinism leaps off the page” – interesting that he gives no examples.

    Note that although Darwin developed the theory of Natural Selection, he used ‘Artificial Selection’ – descriptions of established farming practices – to explain how it could work and what it could do. Neither you, Patrick, nor that IDiot Stein or his interview subject seems to recall that even in the bible, there are instructions about what to do with sub-standard livestock. The Spartans are believed to have left their new-borns out over night as a sort of selection process. I would love it if you, Stein and the rest are giving Darwin credit for animal husbandry and farming techniques still in use today.

    This “not sufficient …but…necessary condition” is ridiculous.

    Part 7 ends with “They relied on Darwin.” – Again, that is a remarkably unsupported assertion.

    2:51 HItler “Create a new race of man.” – gosh, before 1859, the world must have been wonderful without any racism or desire to kill people over the color of their skins.

    You were wrong. There is nothing in that movie worth viewing.

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