Silence of Mind

ThinkerThe anonymous blogger over on Silence of Mind, (we’ll call him ‘SoM’) is arguing that Christianity is responsible for Western civilisation. He does so even though others have pointed out to him that the essential elements of a civilised society – democracy, the rule of law, moral codes, mathematics, scientific enquiry, medicine, education, art, literature and architecture – were all evident in human societies millennia before Christianity emerged.

SoM goes further, however, insisting that Western culture owes its existence solely to Christianity. He doesn’t demonstrate how this is so; he is content to assert that it is. He is, of course, confusing correlation with causation, failing to recognise that Christianity’s involvement in the development of Western society does not mean it was the cause.

Having reach this insupportable conclusion, SoM makes an even greater leap of faith by declaring that because the Christian faith created civilisation as we know it – we’ll ignore, as he does, the church’s suppression of so much that is integral to a civilised society during the ‘dark ages’ – then Jesus must therefore be God. Here’s how he puts it:

1. Jesus established the Christian religion.

2. Christianity became the religion that spawned Western Civilization.

3. Western Civilization is the only civilization in human history to have developed modern science.

4. Modern science proved the existence of God

5. Since only God can reveal God, Jesus of Nazareth must be God.

So wrong in every respect:

1. Jesus did not establish the Christian religion. Paul did.

2. Christianty did not spawn Western civilisation (see above).

3. Western civilisation is not the only one to have developed science, and where it has emerged has often been in spite of religion, not because of it.

4. Science certainly has not ‘proved’ the existence of God. It has no interest in the so-called ‘supernatural’ nor, indeed, in ‘proving’ anything. It is significant that none of the explanations science has arrived at require the involvement of a god.

5. ‘Since only God can reveal God, Jesus of Nazareth must be God’ is a non-sequitur; it doesn’t follow from anything that has gone before, as flawed as all of the previous assertions are. What SoM is claiming here is that because “1, 2, 3 and 4 are the case (though I have failed to demonstrate they are and in fact they are not), then A must equal B”.

In the end, SoM’s ‘argument’ is the same as saying that because there is a place called Greece, Zeus must really exist. Or because there are tea-shops, we can be certain Bertrand Russell’s teapot is orbiting the sun, forever just out of sight.

As proof of the divinity of Jesus, the argument from the scientific and cultural achievements of the West has to be one of the worst. All arguments (and SoM’s assertions can hardly lay claim to the term) that attempt to demonstrate how an abrasive, inconsistent zealot from a Palestinian backwater was secretly the God of the Universe are equally worthless while God himself remains unproven, as he always must.

This is why believing anything about him and about Jesus’ supposed divinity is called ‘faith’. If it were possible to prove the things held on faith, then faith wouldn’t be necessary. But it is, because believing the impossible and the unprovable can only be managed by by-passing and, yes, silencing the mind’s critical faculties.

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