8/05/2004                                                                                       View Comments

Ideas Do Have Consequences

"...and be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds," - Apostle Paul.

One argument to which Christians are prone to resort revolves around the concept that without a Christian worldview, moral chaos is the result.

To a degree they are correct - what we mold our minds with will certainly influence our behavior.

Let me explain by relating something I heard on the radio today. The sister-in-law of Osama Ben Laden gave an insightful interview into the mind of an Islamic Fundamentalist on public radio. She has been separated from her husband for 16 years and has adopted a western life-style in part because of the Islamic marginalizing of women. For instance, she talked of how her brother-in-law Osama would not look at her or speak to her because for a man to look upon or speak to his brother's wife is a sin. Since Osama believed speaking to or looking on his brother's wife was a sin, he refused to acknowledge her at all.

Our present world wide struggle with terrorism speaks volumes to how beliefs, strongly held, mold or transform the way we think.

Hitler is constantly held up the epitome of a non-Christian worldview. More accurately Hitler was the epitome of a Fascist worldview as Stalin was the epitome of a Communist worldview.

I would agree with the Christian that the three non-Christian worldviews expressed above are destructive, and therefore not in the best interest of human kind. There are now, and in the past have been, millions of people who also agree that those three worldviews are not desirable.

Christians use this fact to conclude that Christianity is superior and therefore true. Our modern Christian worldview may indeed be superior to fascism, communism, or any other form of despotism or religious fundamentalist domination, but not because Christianity is true. What makes the modern version of Christianity preferable is its comparative tolerance to differences and its grudging acceptance and promotion of personal freedoms.

Christianity has not always held this tolerant view, as any student of history has no choice but to admit.

The reason the United States is a rich and powerful nation has nothing to do with Christianity. The US holds the pre-eminence in many areas because it was founded on the premise that all men are created equal and are entitled to pursue happiness, where ever it may be found, so long as that outworking of freedom does not harm others.

Does this system always work? No. Is this system in constant need of revision, re-examination and development? Yes. It is admittedly a man made system and as such cannot claim to have reached final development.

Fundamentalist Christianity does not really allow for personal freedom. Real Christianity is not the opposite of other despotic systems, it is a variant despotic system. Christianity plainly teaches that all who deny Christ are doomed to eternal perdition. Those who reject Christ are infidels who will be confined to eternal torture while the faithful are granted eternal reward. Ultimately, Christianity is a system built on threats of punishment, accusations against all detractors, and promises to a ruling elite.

When Christianity ruled the western world, the consequence of Christian ideas was a 1000 year period of scientific darkness. Monstrous plagues ravaged mankind, exploration was minimal, medical arts made no significant advances, education was almost non-existent, women were second class citizens - the list goes on and on.

Personal freedom and the right to pursue personal happiness is the superior human condition, and religion does not offer that alternative. Mindless belief is the requirement of religion.

Are there many Christians in the western world? That depends on who you ask. Fundamentalist Christians would say there is only a remnant of real Christians in the world - today or ever.

The people who fought Hitler were not all Christians. The people who resisted Stalin were not all Christians. Those who resist terrorism are not confined to Christian fundamentalist believers.

Those who fight against and resist these forms of human bondage are lovers of personal freedom. That is the core of the truly superior way.

What we think and what we believe undoubtedly has an influence on our behavior.

The Christian wants to say that without Christ, there is nothing wrong with despotic worldviews. The whole topic is black and white to them. Christ against everything else. Everything else is of the Devil, and only Christianity, or more accurately only the true version of Christianity, is the only defense against horrific crime sprees, rape, murder, perversion, you name it.

Yet time and time again we find non-Christians fighting against systems that create bondage, heartache, death, and the destruction of human freedom throughout history and the world.

I agree with Paul, but with a qualifier. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, but be sure you are molding your mind with concepts that protect the freedoms of others. In that way you promote a worldview that also protects your own freedoms.

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