De-Bunking Myths About Christianity
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By Father John Flynn, LC
ROME, JUNE 15, 2012 (Zenit.org).- “Christianity is the main, central, most common, and most thoroughly and purposefully marginalized, obscured and publicly and privately misrepresented belief system in the final decades of the 20th century and the opening years of the 21st.”
These words come from the introduction to UK-born, and now Canadian resident Michael Coren’s new book “Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity,” (Signal).
The book covers topics ranging from the historical foundations of Christianity, to slavery, science and Hitler.
One of the chapters deals with the affirmation that atheists are intelligent, but Christians are stupid. At university, he explained, teachers often mock Christians as being credulous or gullible.
To refute this argument Coren cites a number of well-known Christian writers noted for their perspicacity and popularity. People such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, J.R.R. Tolkein, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Malcolm Muggeridge clearly demonstrated that Christians are far from stupid.
Another myth along similar lines is that Christianity is opposed to science or progress. Yet, Coren explained, we can find many examples of committed Christians who were prominent scientists.
Michael Faraday, he explained, was a pioneer in electricity and magnetism and also a firm Christian. Physicist William Thomson Kelvin was also president of a Bible society in Scotland. Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, came from a family of theologians and was a church warden for almost thirty years.
Christianity, he continued, “has been the handmaiden of science and scientific discovery.” People tend, however, only to remember Galileo and forget that Louis Pasteur was a Catholic, as was Alexander Fleming.
Coren cited other figures such as the Catholic priest Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaitre, who proposed the Big Bang theory; Father Roger Boscovich, a founder of modern atomic theory; and Gregor Mendel, a Catholic monk and the father of genetics
When it comes to bringing about change and progress in society Coren’s book has a chapter on a number of influential Christians who made vital contributions. Anthony Ashley Cooper, for example was instrumental in bringing about changes in laws in 19th century England to improve work conditions and to protect children from exploitation.
In America Martin Luther King played a crucial role in achieving equality between blacks and whites. “King personified the black struggle to white America, and while he would never win over the extremists, his Christian commitment to non-violence convinced millions that change was long overdue,” said Coren.
There is no better way of winning an argument than to accuse someone of being a Nazi, Coren commented in another chapter. Among the criticisms of Christianity is the accusation that Hitler was a Christian and that Christianity supported Nazism.
Coren pointed out that even if this were true it would prove nothing, as evil has been committed in the name of Christianity, just as it has been in the name of non-Christianity. “It demonstrates the fallen nature of humanity, and precisely why we need Christ,” he stated.
Given Europe’s Christian tradition it is not a surprise that most of the followers of Hitler were from Christian families, just as were many of their opponents and victims. Some right-wing organizations supported Christianity because they saw in it a way to maintain traditions, just as some Christians supported these organizations as a means of defence against Marxism.
Nazism, however, was different, as it took its inspiration from both left and right, Coren explained. He quoted a speech by Hitler in July 1941 in which the dictator proclaimed that: “National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.”
If Hitler was a friend of any belief it was paganism, Coren affirmed. Nazism, he observed, looked to some imaginary pure dawn before the advent of Christianity. In 1942, he noted, the New York Times reported on Hitler’s plans to replace Christianity with a “National Reich Church” to be doctrinally founded on his autobiography Mein Kampf.
Slavery is another subject that is used to criticize Christianity, Coren observed. Yes, Christians did support slavery in the past, just as many other people did. What we do need to do, he continued, is to distinguish between what is done because of, and in spite of, Christianity.
Slavery existed in most cultures, many of them non-Christian, in the past, he noted. It was Christians who were behind the anti-slavery movement in late eighteenth century England and later on, in America, it was Christians who campaigned for an end to slavery well before the Civil War.
Coren’s book touches on many other topics, including why Christians come under criticism for their views on abortion, the family and homosexuality.
Christians, he conclude, simply want to be allowed to take their place in the public square. Many, however, strive to exclude them and they are also “forced into virtual invisibility by lies and distortion.”
Those who would be critics of Christianity should at least pay it the basic courtesy of understanding its history and beliefs, before condemning it, Coren stated. Something that bears repeating often in many countries today.