Right now there is a lot of flak in the air about athiest books that criticize religion.

I usually ignore them, if for no other reason than the observation Brier made in discussing the religion of ancient Egypt: God either exists or he doesn’t exist. One of these statements is a fact, and all the arguments to and fro won’t change that fact.

So if Dawkins relies on the philosophy of scientism to make his case, I don’t argue, knowing that his primary premise, that only what we can measure scientifically is true, may not be true.

Similarly, Hitchen’s arguments about how religion is the source of all evil ignores 50 centuries of Egyptian, Chinese, and Mesopotamian history,  then I merely shrug….On the other hand, I always say a prayer for Hitchens, who deep anger reminds me of my oldest adopted son who had a similar unhealed anger at God over his mother’s death.
Which brings me to the NYTimes magazine article: The Politics of God.

What’s wrong with the article? Well, again it sees Western European intellectual trends as if they were generally accepted by everyone everywhere. Nope, no hoi polloi here, folks, just move along.

The other problem? Where is the long intellectual heritage of Catholic social thinking, from Augustine’s City of God to Leo XII’s Rerum Novarum to John Paul II supporting capitalism and bringing down the evil empire? Nope, no papists here, folks, just move along.
Most of Lillas argument is about the his interpretation of the Enlightenment versus his interpretation of political religion.

So we have Lillas writing:

“Fresh from the Wars of Religion, Hobbes’s readers knew all about fear. Their lives had become, as he put it, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” And when he announced that a new political philosophy could release them from fear, they listened.”

…where do I start with why this is wrong?

I mean, in Hobbes time, my ancestors were living on Potatoes with a pig in the parlor, so I guess their lives were not the lap of luxury. But they were not “solitary”: Like most poor societies, the ties of family were strong.  Yes, it was poor and short, and their life might be one of poverty, but it was one where they lived in a loving family and with the knowledge that they were a child of God.

However, the most critical analysis of the article comes not from a believer but from the acid tongued Spengler of the Asian Times  HERE
In response to the Hobbs paragraph, Spengler writes:

Precisely how Hobbes accomplished all of this is a mystery known only to political scientists who take themselves far too seriously. The masses, after all, did not rally in the public squares waving little books of quotations from Chairman Hobbes. Never mind that the United States, which defined the modern democratic state, was founded by radical Protestant refugees from Europe who set out to build a New Jerusalem…

And it is Spengler who notes the supreme Irony of the essay: Lillas sees Christianity as the enemy, but he has nothing but praise for radical Islamic political theory, which would establish sharia as the basis for law.

Professor Ramadan personifies everything that Lilla hates, and Lilla knows it. But Ramadan has one redeeming virtue. He is not a Christian. Lilla does not love Reason; he simply hates Christianity with all his heart, and will make alliance with whichever of her enemies might be available.

So the problem is not religion vs secularism: it is hatred of their own private myth of something called Christianity that needs to be destroyed so that their utopian secular world can bloom.

That is why Lillas praises those whose aim is to impose Sharia law on the west, and sees no irony or contradiction in his praise:

“Abou El Fadl’s view, traditional Islamic law can still be applied to present-day situations because it brings a subtle interpretation of the whole text to bear on particular problems in varied circumstances”….By speaking from within the community of the faithful, renovators give believers compelling theological reasons for accepting new ways as authentic reinterpretations of the faith.

Figures like Abou El Fadl and Ramadan speak a strange tongue, even when promoting changes we find worthy; their reasons are not our reasons. But if we cannot expect mass conversion to the principles of the Great Separation — and we cannot — we had better learn to welcome transformations in Muslim political theology that ease coexistence. The best should not be the enemy of the good.

Peaceful coexisitence? Yes, with the Islam of most believers, which has much in common with Christianity, stressing family and hard work and honesty ane peace in doing God’s will.
But Islamofascism is a cult that demand everybody follow a rigid law interpreted by certain puritans who cannot be opposed. And like Fascism and communism, it too is is willing to war against those who oppose it.
A closer look at political Islam is not as marvelous as Lillas seems to think. When we see children indoctrinated into hatred, when Iran arrests 150 thousands of it’s citizens for not wearing politically correct clothing,  or when  one million Christian foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are denied religious freedom, perhaps we might wonder if living under traditional Islamic law is as benign as Lillas insists.

But then, he isn’t the one that would be required to wear a burkha or Chador, so why should he care?


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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