This is from a philosophy 101 class my son and I took at a local community college. Francis Collins, one of America’s leading scientists and head of the Genome Project for America – one of the most important scientific programs of our day, stepped outside his expertise and tried to don on a cap of a historian at times. Here is my critique of a portion of Collins book for class:
b. Faith in God is harmful, since “throughout history terrible things have been done in the name of religion” (p. 39).
Another favorite of the skeptic. Here Collins drops the ball in my opinion. I will critique two aspects of his work: i. his understanding of Islam, and ii. His understanding of comparative crimes.
i. Collins is getting out of his genre a bit. If I met him I would probably hand him two books by Robert Spencer. Quickly, before I quote Spencer. Muhammad personally ordered (and partook in) the slitting of 900 throats of men, women, and children. Jesus, when Peter cut off the Roman soldiers ear, told Peter to put the sword away and healed the soldiers ear.
The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.
All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.
Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.
Not to mention that just saying the Crusades were wrong is almost jeuvinile. Robert Spencer talks a bit about the lead up to Christendom finally responding — rightly at first, woefully latter.
The Third Crusade (1188-1192). This crusade was proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII in the wake of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Crusader forces of Hattin in 1187. This venture failed to retake Jerusalem, but it did strengthen Outremer, the crusader state that stretched along the coast of the Levant.
The almost Political Correct myth is that the crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world. I can see with quoting Tillich and Bonhoeffer, although worthy men to quote, they are typically favorites of the religious left. Robert Schuller and Desmond Tutu on the back of the cover of Collins first edition are also dead give a ways. So PC thought is entrenched in Collins general outlook on religion and life. Continuing:
The conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood as the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution. A few examples: Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam; and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children.
Brutal subordinations and violence became the rules of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.
A pastor once made mention to me that to paint a picture of the crusaders in a single year in history is like showing photos and video of Hitler hugging children and receiving flowers from them and then showing photos and video of the Allies attacking the German army. It completely forgets what Hitler and Germany had done prior.
While the church withheld the Bible from most, so the misuse of it wasn’t the case as much as a drive for political supremacy – and in fact was the catalyst for the Reformers and pre-Reformers getting copies of it into the laities hand so they could actually read what the Bible said on such matters – the response by the West’s only large organization to the Islamo-Fascism of the day was in fact a net-good. (Actually showing that God can bring good out of the bad.) This response may have been carried out wrongly at times engendering people’s fears and prejudices, however, the Bible played no role in these fears or prejudices. Mainly because the people involved in these atrocities had no access to a Bible. That aside, the totality of the Crusades [good and bad] was a net moral good for our planet and shows God’s providence over the course of history.
Read more: RPT Homosexuality-A Christian Ethic? (FYI, I need to update this post… a lot)