Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Why Christianity should be rejected
The Hindu response to Christian aggression should concentrate on consciousness-raising. Information should be widely disseminated on the two fundamental reasons why Christianity is totally unacceptable as an alternative to Hinduism.
The first is its historical record, with its destructive fanaticism as well as its opportunistic collaboration with whichever social force seemed most helpful to the Church's expansion. Contrary to current propaganda, Christianity has historically supported feudalism, absolute kingship, slavery and apartheid, all properly justified with passages from the Bible. St. Peter and St. Paul gave a clear message to the oppressed of the world: "Slaves, accept with due submission the authority of your masters, not only if they are good and friendly, but even if they are harsh." (1 Peter 2:18) And: "Slaves, be obedient to your earthly masters with devotion and simplicity, as if your obedience were directed to Christ Himself." (Ephesians 6:5)14 Liberation Theology, far from constituting a break with the Church's long-standing collaboration with the dominant powers, is merely the application of the same strategy to new circumstances: now that the masses constitute a decisive political force, now that social activism is a theme which ensures political and financial support from different quarters, the Church has decided to tap into this new source of power as well.
The other (and in my opinion the most important) fact about Christianity which ought to be the topic of an all-out education campaign, is the scientific certainty that its fundamental teachings are historically fraudulent, intellectually garbled, and psychologically morbid. Jesus was neither the son of a virgin mother nor the Only Begotten Son of God. Jesus's perception of himself as the Messiah and the Son of God was a psychopathological condition, supported by hallucinations (especially the voice he heard during his baptism, the visions of the devil during his fast, the vision of Elijah and Moses on Mount Tabor), and partly caused by his most ordinary but traumatic shame of having been conceived out of wedlock. Numerous manipulations (interpolation, omission, antedating, deliberate mistakes of translation and interpretation) of the textual basis of Christian doctrine by the evangelists and other Church Fathers have been discovered, analyzed and explained in their historical context by competent Bible scholars, most of them working at Christian institutes.15
Now some Hindus will object that there must also be a bright side. I am well aware that Christian history has produced some important contributions to human progress in culture, art, philosophy. I have a rather positive opinion of some of the Christian classics, such as Thomas Aquinas's philosophy, or the Church's social teachings (which are rather different from Liberation Theology), and I stand by my earlier suggestion that Hindu political ideologues would gain a lot from studying the works which inspired their natural European counterpart, the Christian Democrats.16 However, a closer analysis shows that the truly important elements in these contributions are ultimately of non-Christian origin.
The intellectually most attractive elements in Christian doctrine are bits of Hellenistic philosophy co-opted by the Church Fathers, without any prophetic or revelatory origins, apart from elements of Judaic tradition which predated Jesus and were in no way augmented or surpassed by his supposed teachings. The way Christianity incorporated them is often a superficial cover-up of the contradictions between mutually exclusive teachings. Thus, the Platonic notion of an immortal soul, which is part of Church doctrine, makes the central Christian message of the "resurrection of the body" (which originated in a Jewish tradition ignoring the notion of an afterlife) superfluous. If death does not really exist, if it is merely a step from this type of life to another type, why bother about bodily resurrection? And if we partake of the Divine nature by sharing God's immortality, where is the need for a Saviour?
On the other hand, those contributions which set Christianity apart from the prevailing religious and intellectual atmosphere in the Greco-Roman world, are not always the most desirable. Thus, Christianity's emphasis on the individual's dependence on Scriptural or Church authority has suffocated millions of people in their spiritual development and directly caused the persecution and killing of numerous freethinkers. Its contorted and repressive attitude towards human sexuality is notoriously responsible for untold amounts of psychological suffering. Add the negative attitude towards worldly pursuits including science; the sentimental fixation on a single historical person with his idiosyncratic behaviour, extolled moreover to a divine status (Jews and Muslims have a point when they consider this the ultimate in "idolatry"); the concomitant depreciation of all other types of human character (artist, warrior, householder, humorist, renunciant) in favour of the pathetic antisocial type which Jesus represented; and the morbid love of martyrdom. Our list of Christianity's failures is not complete, but is sufficient to justify the evaluation on which millions of Christian-born people have come to agree: Christianity is not true.
Jesus was not God's Only Begotten Son, and he was not the Saviour of mankind from its Original Sin. Historically, he was just one of the numerous antisocial preachers going around in troubled Palestine in the period of Roman rule. He believed the End was near (definitely a failed prophecy, unless we redefine "near"), and had a rather high opinion of himself and of his role in the impending catastrophe. We can feel compassion for this thoroughly unhappy man with his miserably unsuccessful life, but we should not compensate him for his failure by elevating him to a super-human status; let alone worshipping him as Saviour and Son of God. Whatever the worth of values which Christians claim as theirs, nothing at all is gained by making people believe in a falsehood like the faith in Jesus Christ.