Is “God” the Root of All Evil?

Is monotheism itself a cause of war? Does the radical intolerance of “other gods” lead to intolerance of those who … Continued

Is monotheism itself a cause of war? Does the radical intolerance of “other gods” lead to intolerance of those who worship them? Are religious wars built into the structure of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam?

This has been the main charge lodged against all three Abrahamic faiths at least since the Enlightenment, yet ironically, this divisive notion of monotheism is itself a product of the Enlightenment. The very word, with that tell-tale “ism,” wasn’t even coined until the modern era (The OED dates it to the 17th century). Christians affirm the “Credo,” Jews the “Shema Yisrael,” Muslims the “Shahadah” – all declaring that there is one God. But what does that word “one” mean? In a scientific age, it is taken as a number. God is thought of as a solitary entity, standing apart from all others, and therefore, it is thought, against all others. If this is the meaning of monotheism, then, yes, such belief is inherently a source of conflict, not peace.

Contemporary Jews, Muslims and Christians may themselves have been influenced by univocal Enlightenment thinking, but in fact their traditions affirm the oneness of God not scientifically or philosophically, but religiously, which is the opposite. A religious fundamentalist who goes to war against modern “secularism” shows the spirit more of that secularism than of ancient religion. Thus, Moses Maimonides, the 12th century Jewish sage, rejected the idea that God’s “oneness” is a category of quantity. Instead of a unit, the “oneness” of God affirms a unity. Oneness in this sense means not the Being who stands apart, radically different and superior, but the Being who is present as the reconciliation of all oppositions. That God is one means, as Isaiah saw, that the God of this people is the God of all people.

Karen Armstrong points out that the initial success of Islam in rapidly winning the hearts of millions was not a matter, as Western prejudice has it, of violent “jihad” nearly as much as it was of a unifying religious message that varied populations could claim as their own. “For our God and your God is one and the same,” the Koran says, “…and it is unto Him that we all surrender ourselves.” Monotheism understood religiously, as opposed to scientifically, affirms that God the friend to one people can be friend to all. Offering an alternative to nationalism as much as tribalism, Abraham’s gift to history has renewed importance as a source of political hope.

James Carroll is a best-selling author and columnist at the Boston Globe. In 1996 he won the National Book Award for his memoir “An American Requiem.” His latest book is titled “House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power.”

The following excerpt from “HOUSE OF WAR: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power,” by James Carroll, copyright (c) 2006, is used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

ONE WEEK IN 1943
1. Hell’s Bottom

A year after the Al Qaeda attack, at a rededication ceremony on September 11, 2002, much was made of the post-9/11 repairs having been completed in a mere twelve months. No one seemed to know that the entire Building had been constructed from start to finish in less than sixteen months. It was made of cement for which 700,000 tons of sand were dredged from the Potomac riverbed next to the site. The river’s edge is key to the Building’s impression, evoking a forbidden temple of the timeless past, as if looming over the ancient Nile.1 The picturesque lagoon that sets off the River Entrance, like a plaza waiting to receive the barge of Cleopatra, is a vestige of that dredging.

Relatively little steel was used in the construction — those ramps instead of elevators — because it was needed just then for bullets, shells, and tanks. Planners took for granted that once the war emergency had passed, the hulking edifice would be handed over for civilian use: a depot for government records or — and this is what my mother told me, which is why I always believed it, even after learning it was a myth — a facility for the care of wounded and disabled veterans, the ramps built for wheelchairs and gurneys. The largest hospital in the world. My mother’s devotion to this idea was sacralized when my brother Joe was stricken with polio, making her a haunter of hospitals, a connoisseur of ramps. Joe’s polio, in turn, transformed into worship her devotion to the similarly stricken, but nobly unbowed, President Roosevelt. He was photographed visiting the Building just before its completion in January 1943, but there is no record of his using a wheelchair there.

In fact, Roosevelt was deeply conflicted about the Pentagon. As assistant secretary of the Navy during World War I, he had ordered the construction of barracks-like “tempos” all over Washington, and these eyesores were still there twenty years later, despoiling especially the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The structures were a source of self-rebuke to Roosevelt. The War Department alone occupied seventeen separate facilities around Washington. To consolidate the offices in one handsome place, FDR had personally overseen the construction of a new headquarters building at 21st Street in Foggy Bottom, but no sooner was it completed than World War II broke out. By mid-1941, the Army had mushroomed to a million and a half men; the new headquarters was instantly inadequate, and senior Army officials told the president they would never use it.3 Though its entrance was decorated by a huge, undiplomatic martial mural — helmeted soldiers in combat — the building would become the headquarters of the State Department, which it remains to this day.

The size of the space was not the only issue. The freshly empowered Army wanted its new building to be set apart from the so-called Federa West Executive Area, apart from entanglements with, and the limits of, the seat of government. In a time of peril, the Army was not about to be treated as just another bureaucratic function, alongside Interior and Commerce and Indian Affairs. The Army would transcend. Senior military officials immediately began scouting sites outside the city — this despite the explicit terms of congressional appropriations for construction within Washington.4 A site in Virginia appealed to the Army because, for one thing, District of Columbia architectural supervision would not hinder the mammoth scale envisioned by departmental planners. Yet even across the river the initial site selection proved controversial. The D.C. Fine Arts Commission, chaired by Roosevelt’s cousin Frederick A. Delano, reached across the Potomac to denounce the “flagrant disregard”5 of context in the Army’s wish to build at the western end of Memorial Bridge. The site was then occupied by Arlington Farms, an agricultural research facility — all that was left of Robert E. Lee’s original plantation, the rest of which had long before been seized by the federal government to serve as the national cemetery. Recovering from the punitive impulse of that requisition, Washington had, in the 1920s, established a symbol of reconciliation between North and South by aligning an axis along Memorial Bridge between Lee’s becolumned mansion atop the hill at Arlington and the Lincoln Memorial, which was completed in 1922. Joined to Lincoln in this way, Lee was thus linked along the Mall to George Washington and the Capitol. The proposed new War Department building, just below the Lee mansion and directly on that axis, would destroy the geographic symbol of national reconciliation.

When that was pointed out to President Roosevelt, he ordered the War Department building moved about a mile downriver. At the same time, considering the architects’ plans for the hulking structure, FDR ordered the size of the building reduced by half. Among other considerations, the president expressed concern for the psychological effect on those who would be employed amid such dominating impersonality.6 He also affirmed that, after “the present emergency,” the War Department headquarters would be returned to Washington where it belonged; no permanent headquarters building would be necessary in Virginia. Roosevelt found himself declaring that the Army could make do, as the Navy would, with yet more tempos. (The Navy Annex was constructed to be temporary, but to this day it sits on the Arlington ridge, above the Pentagon.)When the general in charge of the project objected to these terms, the president said, “My dear General, I’m still Commander-in-Chief of the Army.”

The general complied, but only partially. The new downriver site was accepted — an unsightly shack-ridden wasteland called Hell’s Bottom. It was a former airfield and railroad yard littered with abandoned tin hangars and rusted-out boxcars. But without Roosevelt’s knowledge, the general declined to reduce the size of the Building, and with the help of Virginia congressmen, he protected the appropriations needed to make the construction permanent. By then the Building’s architects, led by G. Edwin Bergstrom, who had also designed the Hollywood Bowl, had completed drawings for the upriver site at Arlington Farms. The original design for that now abandoned location called for a simple rectangular footprint, but access roads required one corner of the rectangle to be cut off, leaving an asymmetrical five-sided building. What Bergstrom did was to even up the five sides, producing — voilà — the Pentagon. When the site was moved downriver, the polygonal shape was no longer required by the limits of the roadways, but such was the hurried pace of the project that the architects did not change the design. Eventually Bergstrom and others would mythologize the pentagonal form of the War Department headquarters as an echo of Napoleonic-era fortress architecture.8 The true, entirely mundane origin of the design would be forgotten.

Over the next year, more than a hundred architects and nearly as many engineers worked around the clock in those abandoned airplane hangars, turning out drawings for the more than fifteen thousand laborers, who often didn’t wait for specs. Pearl Harbor was attacked almost three months after groundbreaking, and from then on the already quickened pace of construction was redoubled. “How big should I make that beam across the third floor?” one architect asked another, who replied, “I don’t know. They installed it yesterday.”
* * *
Supervising all of this work was a Corps of Engineers colonel named Leslie R. Groves, who was forty-five years old when appointed to head up Pentagon construction. He was a burly, corpulent man whose belly protruded like lips over his brass-buckled belt.10 A man of the job, Groves was an important military manager. In charge of the Army’s crash building program across the country (in 1940 the Corps’s construction budget skyrocketed from $20 million to $10 billion), he had already purchased half the lumber in the United States.11 Born into an Army family four years after the Battle of Wounded Knee, in 1890, which marked the end of the Indian wars, Groves had spent part of his childhood at Fort Apache, Arizona, living in the house of a man famous for killing Indians.12 His lifelong hero was General William Tecumseh Sherman, whose “march to the sea” across Georgia legitimized the spirit of total war, which after the Civil War was unleashed on Native Americans.

Groves began as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but when his older brother died in 1914 — of a disease contracted at the same Arlington Farms that would much later be the first site proposed for the Pentagon — Groves transferred to West Point. From then on he wore a mustache, which did nothing to soften his stern, unfriendly demeanor. Work in the Corps of Engineers was essentially a matter of management, and Groves proved himself again and again. By the time he was put in charge of Pentagon construction, his most notable prior service had been in Nicaragua, developing plans for a second (never undertaken) canal across the Central American isthmus.

As the Pentagon neared completion, Groves was promoted to brigadier general, although for a reason having to do with his next project, not this one. Among his last decisions in Arlington was one that provided the new Building with separate eating and lavatory accommodations for “colored people” and whites. The dining areas for blacks would be in the basement, and on the other floors, at each corridor junction, double toilet facilities would be built, separated by race. When President Roosevelt visited the Building shortly before its dedication, he asked why there were so many lavatories (more than two hundred), and he was told that the Army was abiding by Virginia’s racial laws. Roosevelt had issued an order prohibiting such discrimination throughout the U.S. military only six months earlier, and he told Groves to get rid of the Whites Only signs at once. Groves obeyed. Because he was overridden by the president, the Pentagon would for a long time be the only place in Virginia where segregation was not allowed.

Within days of Roosevelt’s visit to the new War Department headquarters, at an understated ceremony presided over by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, the Pentagon was dedicated. Wartime exigencies eclipsed such a formality in the memoirs and memories of witnesses. Honor guards would have mounted battle flags in mahogany stands, and portraits of former secretaries of war would have been unveiled. One imagines the Army band playing martial music. Perhaps a ribbon was cut. It was January 15, 1943.

Copyright © 2006 by James Carroll. Reprinted with permission by Houghton Mifflin Company.

  • A Hermit

    Interesting point, Mr. Carrol, but isn’t it a bit unfair to blame secularism for monotheists immature understanding of their own religion? In my experience it is those believers who ar emost ignorant of the Enlightenment who are most likely to adopt the “my God is bigger than your God” attitude. (Read the post previous to mine by the ignorant, bigoted Frank Collins for an excellent example of this phenomenon…)RegardsA Hermit

  • Athena

    I have to agree with the Mr. Carroll – up to a point. There have been wars throughout recorded history (The Trojan War, etc.) most of these were for conquest. Once the conquering group was victorious, they generally left their subjects alone to worship whatever Gods they saw fit – as long as they realized that they were a conquered people. However, one hypothesis put forth by some historians is that more aggressive tribes with male warrior-gods conquered the less aggressive Goddess-worshipping tribes, and demoted their Goddesses to being the wives and/or daughters of the new male head God. They didn’t completely wipe out the worship of the Goddess, but they drove it underground. Even the Romans, who subjugated many people in their long history, were relatively tolerant of outside Gods. They readily adopted Isis, Serapis, and many others. It was only when the worship of local deities threatened the Pax Romana that they brought in the troops. Otherwise, they were content to leave things in the hands of client kings like Herod, or regional governors like Pilate. Christianity, OTOH, has a long, bloody history of people killing each other because they disagreed on what should be Orthodoxy. Ever hear of Arians? Gnostics? Didn’t think so. Arian Christianity was competing with Catholicism for followers, and was at one time more popular. Those who didn’t get wiped out were converted to the “true” faith. Look at the Catholics vs. Protestant Wars in Europe, and the Catholic vs Orthodox vs. Moslem problems in the Former Yugoslavia. Before people start condemning Islam for being violent (Frank), they should read the history of Christianity first.

  • Thomas Baum

    Actually there is only One God and that God is a Trinity and God is Pure Love, I have met God and I have met satan, satan is not nice and he happens to be very upset, well like I have said before that is his problem. Jesus is who He said He is and that is God Incarnate, not some second-rate prophet. I happened to be thinking about miracles this morning and a really awesome miracle would be for “good christians”, “good catholics” and “good evangelicals” to actually become christians. God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not religious affiliations or lack thereof. I do not hold it against Mohammed that he was deceived by the deceiver, do you? Refer to previous sentence. Jesus is the Saviour of the entire human race, He is the Brother of the entire human race and as He said on the cross, “Father forgive them”, them is us, all of us. Yes, there is hell and death, and He won the keys to both, by the way you can’t go to hell until you build it, hell is not some monolithic place and the definition is, “hell is worse than you think because it is worse than you can think and you build it yourself and you don’t know that you are getting out”. Jesus’s Divine Commission was to “Proclaim the Gospel”, the word gospel means “Good News” and like the angels said at His birth, “This is Good News that is for All people” and “Peace to whom God’s favor rests”, two seperate and true statements. Jesus also told us that He has overcome the world and that also means the prince of this world, who is satan. I just happen to be a messenger, the New Testament Moses, Be Ready, it is your choice, and like I have said before, God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not religious affiliations or lack thereof. Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • David

    The enmeshment of religion in wars seems to me to be extremely complex. There is not doubt that religion gets mixed up in conflicts (although the percentage may be much lower than some allege). However is it the true nature of that religion or some co-opted or corrupted version of it? I can’t speak in depth about the relevance of this for other religions, but the Christian Faith, as understood honestly (meaning you shouldn’t just pick out the fire and brimstone passages while leaving its fuller understanding ignored) reaches its zenith in the self sacrificial death of it’s Lord and God, including commands to love and pray for enemies. In this light I can only see that it is the corrupted versions that get enmeshed in unjust wars, which indeed and quite sadly has occured way too often. However, fundametally, it is these corrupting forces of any belief system that are at work in unjust wars. The key question is, “…does the belief system have the innate foundation to allow it to self reform?” Christianty, although historically imperfect, has demonstrated that capacity. Can “nonreligious” belief systems make the same claim?

  • denis

    Although monotheism has caused some wars, I think it’s just one of our many rationalizations for being inhuman to each other.It’s more a cause of disdain for others with different (even monotheistic) faiths. This has led I think more to persecution than wars berween nations. However, countless millions have been killed, tortured, maimed and made into refugees. There are passages in the Hebrew Bible, for example, in which God directs his people to commit genocide. The Koran clearly marks non-belivers as enemies of the faithful. And Christian history is full of massacres and persecutions of the dis- and mis- believeing.The polytheistic Romans might kill and conquer and tax, but they would rarely persecute religious believers for their beliefs. The Druids were an exception bcause they inspired Celtic warriors to fight harder.Slight comfort for the killed and taxed, but no interference in dogma.Monotheism fosters a sense of superiority (Chosen people, Children of God, The Elect), which encourages people to act in these inhuman ways. These symptoms also can appear among the non-religious. Marxism provides a horrible example — millions dead. So atheism isn’t a cure – it can be another form of intolerance.

  • AMviennaVA

    Religion has nothing to do with war. Men go to war for power!Or, dare I add some levity, to have some peace and quiet away from their wives.

  • A Hermit

    denis: I do have to point out that atheism is not synonymous with Communism.Other than that, excellent comment…RegardsA Hermit

  • Anonymous

    God is not the root of all evil.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Writes Athena:>*Even the Romans, who subjugated many people in their long history, were relatively tolerant of outside Gods…. Otherwise, they were content to leave things in the hands of client kings like Herod, or regional governors like Pilate.*Unbelievable! How about the Christians who died in the arena? What about the destruction of Jerusalem and the ethnic cleansing of the Jews?What about the Celts of England: “In the holy name of empire you have robbed, raped and murdered.You have made a desert and called it peace.” The Romans were cruel. If you threatened Rome they did not just defeat you, they massacred your men,sold your women and children into slavery, razed your city and then ploughed salt in the ground so that nothing would grow again. Ever hear of Carthage? Thought not. The Roman empire was based on plunder and slavery. But Athena notes the empire with favour because they were “tolerant” of other religions. Some tolerance! Writes Denis:>The polytheistic Romans might kill and conquer and tax, but they would rarely persecute religious believers for their beliefs.Same thing–the polytheistic Romans killed any who refused to obey them. Jews and Christians did not fare very well under such “tolerance.”Some tolerance.

  • halozcel

    ‘For our God and your God one and the same’Quran says.No.not at all.’Monotheism affirms that God the friend to one people can be friend to all’God of christians comes from ancient greco-roman belief.Jupiter was the savior and Nativity,revelation of God to mankind in human form,pagan greek belief that adapted from Sumerians.Nativity also resembles birth of Krishna of Hindu and birth of Amenhotep 4 of pagan egyptian.Healty co-existence should be based on Secularism and Civilized Values.

  • Anonymous

    ALEXANDER THE GREAT. a/k/a “Son of G-D” or “Son Of Man” 530B.C. ? Then What or who is Jesus to man & G-d?.

  • Paganplace

    “Monotheism affirms that God the friend to one people can be friend to all’Too bad it always seems to be on the terms of ‘If and only if you worship at my altar.’

  • FRIEND

    If we accept that god (personal or impersonal) or not god, is the answer to the question of why and how we are here, then god is the root of all good and evil, peace and war, and love and hate.The song we sing is complicated, beautiful, and ugly.

  • Anonymous

    Athena:(nice name from the polytheistic tradition) you wrote: Denis says: The polytheistic Romans might kill and conquer and tax, but they would rarely persecute religious believers for their beliefs.Same thing–the polytheistic Romans killed any who refused to obey them. Jews and Christians did not fare very well under such “tolerance.”The Romans weren’t demanding theological belief, just adherence to Roman law. Christians were mischaracterized and persecuted as traitors to the Roman state. The Judeans started an armed revolt, which was put down in the usual severe Roman fashion.But the Romans could care less about their Jewish god or Judean claims that only their god was real.The problem with the intolerance that monotheism encourages is that we’re not in relatively primitive times, when people hacked at each other with swords and axes. Today, nations are armed with deadly, even indiscriminate weapons, including nuclear devices. We need to de-emphasize this kind of divisiveness about who has a “truth” that no one can prove, and focus on the tangible problems that face us. Food, disease, conflicting territorial rights.Sui generis, without resorting to any gods, godesses or other whimsical things, I think we need to learn to respect each other as human beings – you know – homo sapiens, the wise one. Otherwise we’re going to hasten our own extinction.

  • Paganplace

    I’d say, though, to the question, “Is ‘God’ the root of all evil?”I’d say it’s the root of *enough* ‘evil.’

  • denis

    sorry about the “anonymous” tag Athena, forgot to fill in my name

  • Quinn Miller

    God is not the root of all evil. (Neither is Satan for that matter.) Man is. However, both God and Satan provide convenient justifications for waging wars. History shows us that once you convince people to suspend their critical thinking and accept your premises on “faith,” you can get them to do pretty much anything.

  • Daniel

    Didn’t the Christians get into trouble with the Roman government because they refused to acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor? Ceasar Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, who ruled when Jesus was born, did not like his desingation as a god, and he did not want temples erected to him, and he did not want people to pray to statues of him, because he knew he was not a god, but a man. The political apparatus of the day sought to secure the power of the Emperor, and generate respect for him, by having him proclaimed a god. In the East, where people were more used to worshiping their monarchs as gods, it went over a little better than it did in the West, where few people took the Emperor-God notion seriously, but just accepted it as a sort of political oath of loyalty. After Augustus, the Roman Emperors had a wide range of beliefs regarding their own divinity. Caligula was apparently psychotic. Nero, became gradually more confused and mixed up, and it is during his reign that the Christians were aggresively persecuted. With the advent of Christian Rome, the Christian Emperors continued to throw people to the lions as blood sport, in the Roman Colliseum. That practice did not end, until after the total collapse of Rome. I don’t think monotheism causes war. But, likewise, I see ZERO evidence that religion helps moderate war. As far as war and peace go, religion does not seem to be very relevant.But people sure do seem to get awfully worked up about it, don’t they?

  • sammer muhammad

    For all those who above quote Quranic scriptures that condemn infidels. Infidels in the Quran implies non believers in God. Hence, people who do not believe in God will be condemned. I do not find that much different then other scriptures that condemn people who do not believe in God. All religions condemn gays and athiests. In the Quran, Christians and Jews are People of the Book.They are protected under muslem law. Israel’s existence is talked of repeatedly. Jewish prophets and Christian prophets are revered by muslems. So, for people like Collins the genius who rants about my religion as if he was speaking of sewage. Please quit misquoting and item line reading what you want. Yes we do have our radicals in Islam. But so does everybody else. Invading countries and decimating their peoples is a form of radicalism too. Imperialism and warmongering is mainly confined to Western values. Noone in the world has invaded more countries then the Brits and French. They are Christian nations. I can mention a fifty wars off the top of my head that killed millions all started by Westerners. My point is,, we all have our wackos and not a single one of them is justified. They all must be condemned as I condemn Islamist fundamentalist lunatics.

  • Anonymous

    The Talmud; the Jewish “bible” teaches that all Christians and muslims deserve death.Seems the only passive religion is Christianity.

  • Anonymous Too

    “Seems the only passive religion is Christianity.”Do you mena in word, or deed? In word alone…yes. In deed…ABSOLUTELY NOT!

  • AMviennaVA

    “Didn’t the Christians get into trouble with the Roman government because they refused to acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor?”YES!You could believe in any God you wanted, as long as you ALSO believed in the Emperor as God.Everything else posted here about how tolerant the Romans were is just a prelude to attack Christianity.

  • Paganplace

    Actually, Ami, you just had to make *offerings* to the shrines of certain Emperors. Roman state religion actually wasn’t so concerned with *belief* as Christians are. It was more along the lines of the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ that Christians have been fussed over since inserting ‘Under God’ into it during the Red Scare.

  • Anonymous

    No, you would treated like in most muslem countries. Like anybody else should be treated. No different. Since you mention Darfur, you do know that America used to provide weapons to both sides in that conflict? Also, it is mainly muslem killing muslem crime there. So, Judaism doesnt condemn Gays? lol you better go back and read the Talmud. Sodom and Gomorroh was what? Muslem Gays? Prophet Lot was what? A hindu? He was jewish genius. God flipped that town over and now you have the Dead Sea..

  • Paganplace

    At least I can read about it enough to know when someone doesn’t mention Judaism, Anonymous. Apparently, ‘anyone else’ should be treated in ways that don’t include them in ‘protection’ from ‘how people should be treated.’ I disagree. I’m not surprised about America’s arms-merchanting, particularly in terms of trying to arm ‘religious’ fanatics against ‘Godless’ commies. I told you I don’t see much difference, even. I asked, what you propose to do with me, righteous guy? :)

  • Paganplace

    I’ll notice one thing in common you have with certain Christian haters of Muslims, ‘Anonymous,’ …is when people who are neither get massacred, or abused, or tortured, or oppressed, it doesn’t even seem to *count,* does it?’Righteous guy.’ Feh.

  • Paganplace

    You see, Anonymous, it doesn’t take any kind of theological genius to see that people readily make the leap from, ‘Believers should be protected from the horrible things we’re otherwise ‘supposed’ to do,’ to… ‘Well, OK, *these* guys aren’t *real* believers, so all bets are off, lock and load, better bring some tires to stick people in and burn them with,’ (or whatever’s the holy atrocity in fashion in the area.)

  • Anonymous

    Death by Tickling or death bye to much coochy poochy, so to speaketh and many other Pre-Apocalyptic “creative” Means, will & way(s). Ya Ya.

  • Ethan Quern

    There’s a simple way of testing this theory. Is there any historical record of a cilivization going to war against another because of religion before the Abrahamic religions began? My knowledge of ancient history isn’t exhaustive, but from what I do know, the answer is no. Modern ideas of religion are so different from the ancient world. In the ancient world, there was no such thing as “religious identity.” If you were Greek, Egyptian, or Babylonian, you were obligated to perform the ritual responsibilities of your people to maintain the current order. The whole idea of “faith” as in beliefs having any particular relevance was meaningless. You honored Zeus because you were Greek. You sacrificed to Marduk because he was your god. Some Babylonians even switched gods when they didn’t perform, but faith and belief were irrelevant.

  • john mccumber

    ” …this divisive notion of monotheism is itself a product of the Enlightenment…”Very strange. How about “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me..” That is certainly pre-Enlightenment. Doesn’t it sound just a little bit divisive?

  • Quinn

    Christianity was truly a religion of peace. For about 300 years after Jesus was crucified, Christians followed his teachings strictly and refused to participate in warfare, even in self defense. (That’s why there are so many martyrs in the early church.)But then Constantine converted to Christianity and made it the state religion of Rome. States rely on violence to subdue their populations and the populations of rival states, so Jesus’s pacifist teachings had to be perverted. Augustine came up with the “just war” concept and almost immediately it was used to justify wars of aggression. Eventually you had Popes actually leading armies.Not much has changed since. Christianity died when Augustine’s “just war” concept became more central to the faith than Jesus’s own words. Many people still pay lip service to Jesus, but very few throughout history have actually followed him.

  • Karen

    This topic tends to bring out madness, it seems.Some of the postings are unreadable.

  • Burns

    It seems we may have skipped history class a few too many times. A few items:Roman Empire: Killed people for being POLITICAL enemies and eventually adpoted Christianity to be the Empire’s main religion because it became so popular.The Crusades/Spanish Inquisition: Brilliant pieces of Christian/Catholic passiveness. Israel: On paper a good idea, in reality during the middle of the last century Israel went on a crusade of sorts to reclaim all it’s god-given land. And no disagreeing with Israeli policy is not anti-semetic.Islamic Terrorism: Now it’s their turn to be brainwashed by people who pervert peaceful religion to achieve their own ends. Certainly colonialism and the white man’s burden of spreading the one true faith has nothing to do with this. Darfur: NOTHING to do with religion, it is not Muslims killing animists it’s drugged up Sudanese killing animists.The similarity of all these is man’s use of religion and the convenient translation of scripture to achieve political power. Anybody smart enough to use religion to facilitate conflict knows exactly what the root of all evil is and that is man’s penchant for blind faith. The popes of the middle ages never went to war, Osama bin Laden wasn’t on those planes, and I wonder if Hitler ever actually killed a Jew himself. No all these people let other weaker individuals do their dirty work. I’m surprised nobody has brought up Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations because that is what is at the heart of this debate. Rather than “Is God the root of all evil?”, should the question be “Was Huntington right?”.

  • Karen

    This topic tends to bring out madness, it seems.Some of the postings are unreadable.

  • Karen

    This topic tends to bring out madness, it seems.Some of the postings are unreadable.

  • Kase

    Yes.

  • Paganplace

    Actually, though, early Christians did perpetrate plenty of violence under the direction of ‘St. Paul’ and others. Some of the perps were even made ‘Saints.’

  • yo-yo

    The question is

  • Anonymous

    For all those who above quote Quranic scriptures that condemn infidels. Infidels in the Quran implies non believers in God. Hence, people who do not believe in God will be condemned. I do not find that much different then other scriptures that condemn people who do not believe in God. All religions condemn gays and athiests. In the Quran, Christians and Jews are People of the Book.– Alas, no. I’ve read your Quran, and there is a delightful scene where Allah taunts Christians who now roast in hell because they believed in the Incarnation.

  • A Hermit

    Sammer says: “Infidels in the Quran implies non believers in God. Hence, people who do not believe in God will be condemned.”You’ll forgive me I hope for pointing out that this isn’t much comfort to some of us…RegardsA (non-believing) Hermit

  • Anonymous

    Karen Armstrong points out that the initial success of Islam in rapidly winning the hearts of millions was not a matter, as Western prejudice has it, of violent “jihad” nearly as much as it was of a unifying religious message that varied populations could claim as their own.– Karen Armstrong is a former Christian who has denied the divinity of Christ and who now sits in judgment at The Jesus Seminar. Any history book — any REPUTABLE history book — will tell you that Mohammed created a militia after his “revelations,” and woe to those towns who defied him. Compare with Christ refusing to call down fire on those towns which rejected Him.

  • A Hermit

    Seems to me it’s not so much that religion causes war as that when there is a religious, or ideological element involved the war seems to be much more brutal and more difficult to resolve than if its simply over territory or resources. People are less willing to compromise over deeply held beliefs.

  • Mike

    No, Mr. Carrol, God is not the root of all evil and monotheism is not of itself the cause of wars.

  • B-Man

    Even the most blase’ reading of any of the 3 Abrahamic religions’ holy books will show conclusively that each religion believes their god is the only one true god, and to believe in anything but the god as described in that holy book will cost you ever lasting damnation.This essay was pure BS.

  • Sheen

    a hermit wrote:”People are less willing to compromise over deeply held beliefs.”Much like non-believers would fight for their right to live free from having a religion forced on them, no?

  • rn1

    I can’t even figure out what Carroll is talking about. It’s typical religious mumbo-jumbo — “oneness” in the *religious* and not *scientific* sense. Ah, yes, right, of course. That explains everything.

  • Daniel

    OK Frank Collins; you hate Islam. We got it.So? What should we do? Get rid of them all? Kill them all? How? It would be a lot of work, and probably, most of the Christian executioners wouldn’t have their hearts in it.And, even after we have killed off all the Moslems, and cleansed the entire earth of their presence, mankind will still live upon the earth, and there will still be strife and dissension, and war. Who would we blame then?

  • lambert strether

    Actually, humanity is the root of all evil, since evil, like good, would never have arisen in nature unless it had survival value.The problem with the Gods of the various monotheistic belief systems is that they license their believers to slaughter, or convert, or consign to hell, entire classes of other human beings — those who don’t believe in “the one true God.” Thus, these religious beliefs give the natural human tendency toward evil great scope.And ever since a monotheistic cult of true believers took over the Republican Party, seized power under Bush, shredded the Constitution, and turned us into a nation of torturers, then started lawyering up and claiming their Fifth Amendment rights, people have really started to question religion.I wonder why?

  • Gabriel Fry

    So, Mr Carroll, you’re saying it’s not God that’s the cause of conflict, it’s the mischaracterized idea of God that causes conflicts? Oh, well that clears things right up, then. Because God and the mischaracterized idea of God are so eminently separable. Religions are useful for keeping the peace in communities composed exclusively of like-minded adherents, so monotheistic sects like Lutheranism or Salafism or Judaism would be effective instruments for peace if everybody followed just one of them. And if we could just ensure that the workers controlled the means of production, we could have a just and equitable economy. However, back here in the real world, every One True God comes with a non-competition clause and is therefore, de facto, a cause of conflict. All the lawyerly misdirection in the world can’t change that.

  • Jacob

    I don’t remember ever seeing such a lunatic assortment of insane raving in my life. Virtually every major commentator here (except Karen) is nuts.I only hope this comment section serves a useful public service, such as keeping one of you fruitcakes from going postal somewhere.

  • EthixRulz

    Monotheism, by it’s strict definition, means that there is only *one* recognized and worshipped GOD.Christianity is not a true monotheistic faith. Christianity is founded upon the belief that one must believe in and accept Jesus Christ as the one, true savior. Christianity is also founded upon the belief in the existence of the Trinity (GOD, Christ, and the Holy Spirit), which makes it technically an polytheistic faith. Christians more often than not, pray to Christ, *not* GOD. Of the three faiths mentioned in the article (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), only Judaism and Islam are truly monotheistic.

  • a former muslim

    I’m a little amazed that most participants in this forum are comfortable quoting freely from the intolerant and murderous passages of the Quran, but don’t seem to think that the same exist in the Bible. Or better yet, that events like the Crusades were somehow against Christian teachings while terrorism is in line with Muslim ones. I am going to quote the Bible to refute this view. My point is that most of the modern Christian world has learned to exist with murderous passages of the Bible without feeling the need to kill everyone who is not Christian… we should all be engaged in a way to help the Muslim world do the same. And we should try to do this without making bigoted comments about their beliefs or their prophet. Here are some biblical quotes to clear up the misunderstanding:Exodus 22:20 “He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”This is an example of a Christian text asking God to destroy all other faiths: Psalms 79:6: “Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.”This next one says you are personally responsible for killing anyone who gives you a different religious message:Deuteronomy 13:6-10 “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die…”I could come up with many more…

  • Paganplace

    Well, Eth, they can call themselves monotheist cause they believe Jesus and the father-god figure and the ‘Holy Spirit’ are the same guy, somehow… It sounds a little schizoid, but it’s really supposed to mean these figures are all part of the same dude, basically. But, well, you can discuss that among yourselves. It seems to only matter to those who insist that ‘polytheism’ is *bad* cause ‘monotheism’ says it is. :)

  • forty six & 2

    “All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream in which we are an imagination of ourselves.”what exactly is the purpose of religion?

  • jack

    Wars are about obtaining or protecting power. Religion is just one of many pretexts. It does seem to be particularly good for motivating the foot soldiers though.

  • Paganplace

    Yeah, Former, I’ve tried to point that out, too. I’ve had em waved in my face by plenty of abusive Christians, though, when it’s not Muslims they’re going after. But, of course, the ‘new Covenant’ made those go away… Unless you want to use them to attack queers or unbelievers, then they’re back in play until it comes time to say, ‘We’re the peaceful religion, and you’re not, you Pagan!’ But when you ask why they touch menstruating women, eat bacon, wear polyester blends, don’t cut their hair in certain ways, (also ‘abominations,’) Well, Jesus made *that* go away…. Except the Ten Commandments, which he *did* say they could pare down, but it’s anti-Christian not to want graven in stone in public courthouses, …but only for historical heritage reasons, …unless it’s an attack on the New Covenant… Round and round. Bait and switch. :)

  • yo-yo

    Lambert

  • Paganplace

    *putting that number on speed dial.* May have to patch in the scientific calculator. :)Ok, where’s that from, though, Jacob? It looks familiar. :)

  • Anonymous

    Paganplace

  • Anonymous

    Correction: “G-D’s Number” is Eclat’s “Presence” “seen” in nature! Via Decomposition too.

  • Matt

    Heres the deal people. I do believe religion as a whole has been used by many men, from the time that a sense of a higher being(s) or power existed, as a tool to use at their disposal to force one group to go against another groups belief(s) for governing power for natural resources, land, ect… Look at any conflict caused by the human race and there will be hints of religion, not just monotheism, being used not by all who believe in it’s true message of tolerance, just the ones in power. Isn’t intolerance bliss??? PEACE!!!

  • JJ

    Yahoo “Richard Feynman” father of Atomic Bomb & more greats. P.S., ive mention ours Prophet of “Ralativity & Quantum Entanglement” his Honorable of many , Albert Einstein et al. A native New Yorker!.

  • JJ

    Att: Pagan Place, correction om my 5:38 Post. Einstein is a “new-Jersian” & Feynman is a New Yorker!

  • Matt

    JJ, ur 5:41, I’m 5:38. GET IT RIGHT, j/k.

  • TWstroud

    No doubt having the one true god on your side can justify conquest. But does monotheism, in itself, encourage expansionist behavior? History wouldn’t back that sentiment. Many polytheists were conquerors. They would just add conquered gods to their pantheon as they rampaged about. No doubt their followers believed in something. But it did not necessarily have to be a single god.

  • Zeus!

    If God actually exists, then the Eastern traditions express this concept best. In the mystical traditions of all religious, God is not seperate and uniquely seperate from his creation; rather God and his creation(includes us) are part of that oneness! This philosophy includes the basic spiritual quests as realizing this truth and beoming aware of and an aware agent of this oneness while realizing the identity of everything. It is this choice to make God concrete and other that makes the Abrahamic religions dangerous and breeds the wars to justify this delusion and the assumed “special” relationship the self-selected peoples have with their God, generally to smite those other peoples who have a “special” relationship with their God. It is one of the sad facts of ignorance to claim there is one god and then limit that God in so many ways!

  • Anonymous

    ECLATARIONITY is the “Religion Of Everything”! Before The “Theory of Everything”. Ya Ya.

  • Paganplace

    That’s OK by me, Anonymous. :) It’s certainly not reassuring to *me* as *not* People of The Book to hear how ‘tolerant’ Islam’s supposed to be, while most of those passages specifically exclude me, and others say, ‘Kill or enslave me.’ I certainly don’t think you’re *limited* to such ideas, just that it’s not really so comforting. My assertion is that these legalistic religious creeds offer no *protection* from the horrors of war and abuse, and often are taken to condone or even command it. I have no religious quarrel with you, (save apparently that you apparently think I should be subject to laws which seem to forbid my very existence, little things like that, but, hey, I’m used to it from some Christians, too) though I do tire of hearing *both* sides saying, ‘You’re worse, so everything Muslims and Christians do that’s bad doesn’t count,’ Or when the atrocities against animiss in Darfur are taken to not mean anything while *Muslims* are dying.These are my points. As for football, sure. :)

  • Kalidas

    Religions are the source of evil! They separate the people from God which is a illusion! God is omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal, unlimited, etc. God has no evil, this is a delusion of religion by delimiting what is Good” and what is “Bad”. This is a false dichotomy, totally dependent on human cultural factors and concepts. God by definition can not make such distinctions, everything is God’s play, there can be no basis for human measurments, what would God use as a ruler to measure?

  • CT

    I think it’s important to point out that no wars have been started by the followers of His/Her Noodlyness, the Flying Spagetti Monster. May you all be touched by his/her Noodly Appendage.

  • sasquatch

    Religion arose as one of many social constructs that helped promote the survival of a population. Populations, not individuals, are the base unit of evolution, and a population’s survival ensures the preservation of genes from individual members of that population. Thus, success of the population is intimately tied to success of the individual.So, religion arose independently, many times, due to positive evolutionary selection for behaviors that promoted (1) population cohesion and cooperation, and (2) fear and hatred of competing populations and a willingness to confront the competition. The notion that monotheism or one of the Abrahamic religions is more or less culpable for the history of war is therefore misplaced. Religion, like nationalism or rooting for your favorite college football team, is a manifestation of deeply embedded components of our pscyhe, honed by natural selection. Historically, these behavior patterns would help the population survive. In the days of instantaneous mass communication, these behaviors are collectively used to manipulate the population, be it for war or to encourage donations to the local televangelist.

  • Paganplace

    Noodliness! :) *bright laughter* Ok, And, Anonymous, I didn’t mean to leave this out:”One of Prophet Muhammad’s sayings was,” If you kill a tree, it is as if you have killed all of humanity.” Islam does not call for violence. It is like the other Abrahamic religions. It calls for peace and harmony unless attacked. Of course it details who to fight if attacked.”Doesn’t that presume that certain kinds of people are inherently ‘attackers,’ then? I’ll point out that the Christians’ Jesus has a similarly-beautiful sentiment to the ones where Muhammad says, “If you kill someone, it’s as f you killed all humanity,” (The tree’s a new one on me, but, as a ‘tree-hugger’ accused of ‘worshipping the created instead of the ‘Creator,’ I heartily approve. )But this Jesus says, ‘Whatever you do to the least of these people, you do to me,’ (I tend to think he’s trying to represent humanity in a Jewish context of the time, myself, not impose laws as such. ) But, hey, the body count on trees is actually pretty serious, right now, while everyone’s fighting about theology and the like. Maybe after the football game, we could get together on that? :)

  • Paganplace

    “The notion that monotheism or one of the Abrahamic religions is more or less culpable for the history of war is therefore misplaced. Religion, like nationalism or rooting for your favorite college football team, is a manifestation of deeply embedded components of our pscyhe, honed by natural selection”I think what it’s *culpable* for is, perhaps, *arresting the development of civilization* as though we were *still* in the same kinds of situations, rather than empowered to change and improve them these some two or more thousand years.The first real monotheism came about in Egypt, under the Pharoah Akhenaten, …and with it, the first religious purges and attempts at rewriting history there. Frankly, even the Jews would appear to have been polytheist before this period, interestingly enough, (after all, they weren’t even supposed to have those commandments until they left,) …there’s plenty of invective there against the followers of Holy Wisdom and the like, for instance, and the obvious parallels of a humanized ‘Isis and Osiris’ myth in the stories of the origin of Moses and the like. In a sense, the whole idea of a ‘One And Only Unknowable God Only Approachable From Unquestionable Texts’ …literally *attempts* to arrest development to force different situations to fit into incompatible tribal (and early nationalist and urban) models, …cutting people off from the sources of renewal and change, and dealing with each other like we’re *not* landless people needing to meet only when coming over the hills thrusting spears at each other.

  • HeyHey

    PaganPlace says “Hinduism is generally mixed on the issue, as in many things.”PaganPlace, what do you know about Hinduism and its stance on atheism ?

  • Paganplace

    Not enough, really, Heyhey: …I was actually referring to the homosexuality issue on that one. There are apparently different attitudes over time with that, and branches of practice, and the like: the overall situation doesn’t make it exactly a happy thing to be gay in India these days, but then again, I’ve never heard a Hindu come after anyone for being gay or atheist, either. :)

  • Chaotician

    Hinduism is just one more ism, although I can say it is totally misunderstood by the “West”…always wondered how one decides who is East and who is West, just one more European arrogance!

  • ottie

    My goodness gracious, folks. let’s not get so riled up talking about religion and such. Let’s all calm down and meditate upon, for example, Thomas Jefferson. “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.” “I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another.” “I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”(As we all know, Jefferson was referring to religious tyranny offered up by zealots of the faith, in his day mainly Episcopalians. Whatever would he have had to say about our present-day gimlet-eyed evangelists?).Reading Mr. Carroll’s commendation of monolithic monotheism and motley collection of comments appended, one is forced to conclude that “faithyness” has become the opium of the masses in our darkening age. Otherwise, why devote an entire Post blog feature to nothing but that?Having viewed the TV “debates” of both parties’ candidates, one wonders how Jefferson would have fit in. Can you see him, hunched over in a far corner of the stage alongside Dennis Kucinich? Scorned and ridiculed by the Fox News, would he even get the time of day from Wolf Blitzer? Today Thomas Jefferson not only couldn’t be elected, he couldn’t be nominated, he couldn’t even get an op-ed piece published and would be savaged into obscurity by the attack machine of the Republican-dominionists.What I’d really like to see is a modern-day convention of authentic saints, TV evangelists, political figures and cult leaders who not only claim to have talked with God personally but who have experience God and actually have been one with him, joined in him or unified with his spirit or being. We then would put them all under oath, give them lie-detector tests, scan them with MRIs, analyze all their genetic predispositions and claimed experiences for common attributes, so as to see how their physiology and character and lives may have been altered or not. Then we could, with more certainly, produce a concise operations manual for sainthood to fit our modern times. (We might come up with something like the Sermon on the Mount and the Jefferson Bible (where he clipped and pasted 18 percent, what he thought Jesus actually said and meant).If this has already been done, excuse the lack of originality.

  • Thomas Baum

    The question is, “Is “God” the Root of All Evil?”, well considering that God created everything and everybody, including satan and that God gave us free will, you could say that God is the root of all evil since nothing would exist if it were not for God. Or you could take personal responsibility for what you do. Your choice. Take Care. By the way God is Pure Love, and God has a Plan for all of His children to be with God in the Kingdom of Love. God is also a Trinity of One. Remember, “Let Us make man in Our Image”, man meaning mankind. Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Paganplace

    Actually, Chaotician, those sorts of ideas are pretty deeply familiar to many branches of modern Paganism, I just don’t know if ‘Hinduism’ runs around ‘condemning gays atheists’ or anything, as someone asserted ‘All religions do,’ …certainly it wouldn’t seem to be a big theological priority, even if they have their own cultural hangups, at least of late.

  • Ron Schexnayder

    Ah, religion…the pursuit of, and belief in, seems entirely based on various historical documents…and in far too may cases, the unexamined and totally blind acceptance thereof.”I have this document, ergo I have all rights, knowledge, and convictions therein contained and thereto appertaining.”I’ve gotta ask…if there’s one and only one “true” religion, why is there no universal establishment of such from Day One? Why did man plod the earth for thousands of years without it?Conclusion: go to school and learn to read, else be condemned to that place where all illiterates suffer eternally (don’t they???)…

  • JJ

    NO! G-D is like a gun, It’s there for your protection, but do not abuse IT’s “Purpose” in man-made, nor genuine G-d LIFE systems. Amazing Ha? Praise the lord Eclat + “i”!

  • Paganplace

    Sometimes, JJ, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. What you think happens when you have a ‘gun?’ I think that may be the very point.

  • Anonymous

    “WISE-ONE” indeed.

  • steve

    genetic science is discovering the facts of human evolutionary psychology. the aspects of human behavior related to religion, war, tribalism, self righteousness, bias racism are all rooted in our genes. people enjoy hearing propoganda that reinforces their genetic bias. we are animals, like pavlov`s dog

  • steve

    genetic science is discovering the facts of human evolutionary psychology. the aspects of human behavior related to religion, war, tribalism, self righteousness, bias racism are all rooted in our genes. people enjoy hearing propoganda that reinforces their genetic bias. we are animals, like pavlov`s dog

  • HeyHey

    PaganPlace says “Not enough, really, Heyhey: …I was actually referring to the homosexuality issue on that one. There are apparently different attitudes over time with that, and branches of practice, and the like: the overall situation doesn’t make it exactly a happy thing to be gay in India these days, but then again, I’ve never heard a Hindu come after anyone for being gay or atheist, either. :)”Thanks for attempting to be evenhanded, but you are essentially admitting you don’t know much.That’s quite alright. I just wanted to clarify.

  • J Josevz

    Att: S T E V E, et al;”DOG(s) do NOT have “FRONTAl-LOBES”, that is ours miracle “planet Hopping” Medium projectiles miracle system! see what “i” see of “I” systems of Miracle as ours “eternity avoiding loneliness through US-ALL, Friend(s)?

  • b mccarty

    Religion is for childern. Real adults know better. Religious belief demonstrates emotional and intellectual immaturity that should not be tolerated in adult discourse in this day and age.

  • b mccarty

    Religion is for childern. Real adults know better. Religious belief demonstrates emotional and intellectual immaturity that should not be tolerated in adult discourse in this day and age.

  • b mccarty

    Religion is for childern. Real adults know better. Religious belief demonstrates emotional and intellectual immaturity that should not be tolerated in adult discourse in this day and age.

  • Paganplace

    Real helpful, Heyhey. that was actually a qualified portion of a statement in refutation of someone’s insistence, speaking for all religions, , that ‘all religions’ condemn atheists and homosexuals, when this is not the case.I think all you clarified is your own mentality. Quite all right. :)

  • Paganplace

    Frankly, B, I think intellectual immaturity demonstrates *itself,* religious belief or not. :)

  • Kim Page

    I have been making the argument for years that there must be an evolutionary CAUSE for the existence of religion, since religion exists in different forms in all human societies. By “evolutionary cause” I mean a survival-of-the-fittest reason why religion exists. I mean if we accept the premise of evolution, (that we evolved our traits because they helped us survive), then we must have evolved into religious beings because it gave us a survival advantage. And if this is true, then we got religion because religion made us more successful at warring against our fellow human-beings.Don’t you agree?

  • Bob

    Get a real religion. Church of the subgenius. Just $1.00www.subgenius.comGet some slack now!

  • Anonymous

    I want me Money Back Ya!

  • Joel Dubnoff

    When one thinks of all the stupid wars and useless murders done in the name of god it is inane even to ask the question.People believe in this garbage and kill for this garbage even though there has never been one drop of evidence for something super natural ever to have existed

  • Carol Alcola

    I find these comments really uninteresting. I’m all for free speech, but it seems that these sorts of “send-in-your-opinion-webpages” attract angry people who want to complain or get on their soapbox more than have something thoughtful and interesting to say about the subject at hand. Why are there so many angry people in the United States? I’m living in the developing world at the moment and we have it pretty good at home. I don’t understand why we aren’t more pleasant to each other.

  • JJ

    Att: J O E L, DUBNUF, et al;interesting, Ya!

  • EthixRulz

    “Paganplace:” said:But, well, you can discuss that among yourselves. It seems to only matter to those who insist that ‘polytheism’ is *bad* cause ‘monotheism’ says it is. :)”"Schizoid” is a nice way to word it…and I would agree. Simply cuz once I started to figure out things for myself (versus what I was spoonfed), the whole Christianity thing all began to fall apart rather quickly. I switched at that point from considering myself to be a Christian to knowing I was a monotheist. The superiority that seems to reign amongst ppl who call themselves monotheists (when in fact they are anything but), grates on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. Based upon what I’ve witnessed, they tend to be the worst PR system for believing in GOD that ever existed.

  • Maurie Beck

    Kim Page – I have been making the argument for years that there must be an evolutionary CAUSE for the existence of religion …Some people have suggested that religion evolved as a mechanism to cope with death. Although it may help individuals cope with death (as a byproduct), I can’t think of any reason that natural selection would favor such a coping mechanism or how it might originate. Some people assume that individuals with religious beliefs may face death and hazards with more equanimity than nonbelievers, but whether that would translate into higher fitness (i.e. more offspring) is questionable. There are six different hypotheses about why there is religion and how it evolved. Some of them are adaptive and some are not. I’m only going to address one of the byproduct hypotheses (there are many) on the origin of religion. Humans are social animals and interactions among humans in a social environment probably has a very large selective effect on individual fitness. In fact, just belonging to a group, especially in the past, would most likely be a matter of life and death. Having strong social bonds between individuals, whether they are related or not, would enhance fitness, especially in response to predators, other antagonistic humans, competition for food, or any number of other things affecting survival and the production of offspring. We all know the effect of social bonds among the individuals in our own lives whom we love and cherish (maybe not so much). Such strong feelings (i.e. social bonds) often carry on after the death of someone we love. This may result in remembrance of those who have died (e.g. on their birthday) and a wish to see them again. Eventually, this might lead to ancestor worship and a belief in life after death. Religions and spirituality are the outgrowth (i.e. byproduct) of selection favoring social bonds among individuals (See Barbara King, Evolving god: A provocative view on the origins of religion). There is evidence in other animals (dogs, elephants, chimps) of strong social bonds and grief even after the death of a group member. Once religion has evolved, selection then may favor it because of one or more of the reasons listed above. However, it is unlikely that it originated because of those reasons above. As for the possible selective advantage of religion, I think there is a lot of support for the group stability hypothesis, including … Some researchers such as David Sloan Wilson suggest that competition between groups (Hypothesis 1) might account for a selective advantage in having strong religious beliefs. This is undoubtedly true. Group fitness would probably be enhanced with a strong religious ideology. However, this is an emergent property after groups have formed. There has to be an underlying fitness advantage for individuals in terms of altruistic behavior, or mutant cheaters who only behave selfishly would arise and dominate the group. See the mechanisms I listed just above this paragraph that prevent cheating or enhance cooperation.

  • tom

    I am never prepared for exactly what these little commentaries release. So, this is the new journalism and its dialogue on matters spiritual. It is no small wonder that Christ looked out over the people and wept. In any case, against my better judgment, my say:Spiritual concern is the playing field on which many of us humans struggle to resolve the duality of our natures and live up to our reputation for being created in God’s own image. Some of us do better than others. So, we have Gandhi and Shirin Ebadi, George Bush and Osama Bin Laden, and all the rest of us. It’s that simple. Is anyone really surprised by this? God’s peace to all who read and contribute to this blog.

  • Roy

    Satan (evil) uses the combination of man’s ego and monotheism to cause hate, war and destruction. Man’s ego blocks his ability to see this. Abraham did not teach his children well.

  • yo-yo

    Carol Alcola

  • Tonio

    I disagree with the notion that there is a “root of all evil,” a single cause for everything bad that happens. That’s the kind of thinking that produces such doctrines as Original Sin and such secular ideas as conspiracy theories.I suggest the problem is not necessarily with “God” but with “God’s will.” That assumes those two concepts can be separated. Can one believe in God and at the same time define morality as what helps or harms others, instead of what allegedly pleases God? Can one believe in God but reject the idea that God has plans for everyone?

  • MultiplePOV

    The belief in “us” and “them” (“saved” and “lost,” “accepted by God” and “not accepted by God,” and so on and so forth) is the root of all evil (well, at least the most egregious, single-minded, uncompromising evil).

  • Paul Habib

    There is one God, spelled N-A-T-U-R-E. And there are many gods they are all manifest within Nature. The supernatural is simply our superstitious ignorance.

  • Paul Habib

    There is one God, spelled N-A-T-U-R-E. And there are many gods they are all manifest within Nature. The supernatural is simply our superstitious ignorance.

  • mo

    monotheism made simple.

  • Athena

    About Darfur… it’s not Muslims vs. animists. That was the other Sudanese problem. That was the Muslims in the north picking on the Christians and animists in the south because they were sitting on all of the oil. Darfur is Muslim on Muslim violence. The root causes, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said last week, is the change in climate and desertification of Western Sudan. The tribes involved used to be friendly towards each other. Now that the land has turned to desert, the herding tribe and the farming tribe are competing for scant resources. Add in all of these displaced people with guns from the previous conflict, plus a government that is being given money by the Chinese for their oil and spending it on weapons. As for defending the Roman Empire, there is a mixed reaction. The Romans did a lot of good things, and they did a lot of bad ones, too. No civilization is perfect. Once a group was conquered, they were pretty much left alone, unless they decided that they wanted to be independent from Rome. That’s what happened with the Zealots in Judea, and why they were wiped out. Jesus was thought to be setting himself up as the “King of the Jews” to supplant their puppet ruler, Herod. It’s the same reason that they wiped out the Druids – they wanted a nice, compliant ruling class and the Druids weren’t playing nicely. Nero blamed the Christians for the Great Fire of Rome, which led to all of the Christians being arrested and thrown to the lions. Nero probably started the fire himself to clear some land for his Golden Palace. Caligula and Nero are good examples of generations of inbreeding among the Roman nobles.

  • Secular

    All religions nothing but a set of superstitious beliefs. Religion : Science :: Alchemy : Chemistry. In the early years of man’s appearance on this planet, man was ignorant. Then he observed the world and started to make up a few heuristics to allow him to cope with the survival of the species. This led to dramatic improvement in his survivability. Once the survival was somewhat assured, he started to get curiouser and curiouser. He started to explain the world around him. Those that he could not fathom, he attributed it to god or superstition. These crystallized into religions. Now in 21st century to still hold on to these silly There is great deal of differences between Islam and other religions. While there are many a vile commandments and strictures in all religions, most of the adherents of Christianity, judaism, hindhuism almost always reject them or at least make apologies for those vile texts. In case of islam, its adherents they do not come out openly and condemn these texts. instead try to contextualize the vile texts. Then again they claim Koran is for eternity. This is the sordid game they play bad texts are justified as “in those days……”. I challenge the islamic apologists to name just 3 islamic states that allow non-muslims to build their own places of worship. SHow me 3 islamic states that protect minoriy rights.

  • William kraal

    lets be honest and just say religion is a moneymaking industry run by mostly homophobic moneygrabbing preachers its a total scam .all they want to focus on is abortion and gay marriage oh jesus what a farce pleeze.

  • pseudotruth

    There is no evidence to support religious beliefs.Religious intolerance and bigotry has been and remains a cause for conflict, the oppression of women and human misery.Fairy stories are for children! Adults, or those who believe themselves to be grown-up, should open their eyes and see these myths for what they are.According to many the Abrahamic god isBut these qualities are incompatible given the bible and our knowledge of the world.Therefore, the inevitable conclusion is that there is no god that has these qualities.God is a fairy story! GROW UP!

  • pseudotruth

    There is no evidence to support religious beliefs.Religious intolerance and bigotry has been and remains a cause for conflict, the oppression of women and human misery.Fairy stories are for children! Adults, or those who believe themselves to be grown-up, should open their eyes and see these myths for what they are.According to many the Abrahamic god isBut these qualities are incompatible given the bible and our knowledge of the world.Therefore, the inevitable conclusion is that there is no god that has these qualities.God is a fairy story! GROW UP!

  • Mary Cunningham

    There is some hilarious history here. Especially the atheists and non Christians attempt to beautify and beatify the Roman Empire. I understand why, of course. Their mindset goes something like this:Monotheism=badThereforeThereforeAny polytheistic empire =????If not good, then that great attribute of relativists: tolerant.Well, it depends on what you tolerate, doesn’t it? According to our patronizing pagan ‘experts’ Athena and Paganplace–and they ‘do’ go on these pagans don’t they?–the Romans killed for *political* reasons and tolerated slavery, pillage, public executions, fights to the death &tc, for *political* reasons. Oh, so that makes it OK, then? I guess it does for these comfortable women writing in the 21st century but it didn’t make it so wonderful for the 2,500 Jews the emporer Titus had publicly executed–pitting some against each other in combat, pitting others against wild animals, and burning the rest–as a *celebration of his brother’s birthday*! Some party, eh? But you have to deify the Roman Empire in order to demonize Christian western Europe. It makes for a hilarious rewriting of history–makes one pine for the old Soviet encyclopedia. And that is where we came in, isn;t it?

  • Mary Cunningham

    Dear Mr Carroll,Quoting Karen Armstrong on Islam’s appeal and tolerance is like quoting Josef Stalin on the inevitably of communism. Both vehemently anti-Christian (Armstrong called Jesus Christ a “Galilean faith healer”), uncompromisingly anti-Catholic,atheists and biased in the extreme against Christianity in the West. In Armstrong’s case, although a Buddhist, she promotes Islam as an antidote to Christianity. Armstrong is biased. By citing her, rather than making your case, you will weaken it.Regards,

  • KD

    Circular argument that! Why would religion not lead to war? Look at the intial posts: The initiation of a complex debate has the power of becoming a war of words instead of an exchange of ideas, reasoning, thought process, events of human history, evolution, culture…. The war is not over God, it lies in the misinterpretation of ‘Unity’, ‘Faith’, or simply ‘things none of us can understand’ for personal, social or material gains.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Armstrong’s bias in favour of Islam;Letter to the Financial Times from Mr Robert Spencer, 5 May 2007″Sir,Karen Armstrong in her review of my book, ‘The Truth about Muhammed’ says I do not mention Koran 29:46 in which Allah instructs Muhammed to tell Jews and Christians the ‘we believe what you believe; your God and our God is one’. In reality, I discuss this verse twice (pp 17 and 51). She also says: ‘When discussing Muhammad’s war with Mecca, Spencer never cites the Koran’s condemnation of all warfare as an ‘awesome evil’. Yet the verse she quotes (2:217) actually says only that warfare during the ‘sacred month’ is an awesome evil’, and adds: ‘Persecution is worse than killing.’….”There is more of the same which I’m not going to post. Suffice it to say if I wanted a ‘fair and balanced’ view of Islam I would not go to a work by Karen Armstrong, who btw professionally is neither theologian, nor historian nor philosopher. Instead she is an ex-nun who trained for a doctorate in English literature and has no formal qualifications to pontificate on religion. In this sense she is similar to Christopher Hitchens, although the latter is a better writer & far more entertaining. If I wanted a ‘fair and balanced’ view I would compare Hitchens and Armstrong, both are polemicists but Armstrong clothes her’ss in false exegesis.

  • MC

    KDWar has been a constant of history–pre-history too. So has religion.But one cannot say one lead to the other. Correlation is not causation..Best,

  • Anonymous

    V.O.T.E. ((((((((((( Peace-Love-Rock-n-Roll-n-Wrap, Mitt-ROMNEY for Prez, Ya! 2008 )))))))))))

  • Bill Brattain

    There is only one God. That He may also be Jehova or Allah is only a result of our lack of human wit to percieve it. Moslems seem to in part accept Allah as God. Can we accept God as Allah?

  • MC

    Accepting the Creator, Whom Jesus called his Abba (father), is not the problem. The problem in reconciling Christianity with Judaism and Islam is role of Jesus Christ. To Christians Jesus is the face of God– the Creator, YHWH–Him whose face in the Hebrew Bible remained hidden.Christianity–unless one denies the divinity of Christ–is thus impossible to reconcile with Islam and Judaism.

  • Bob Fleischer

    I think I agree with James Carroll, but his theological language seems a bit turgid. A belief in one God can — and I believe should — mean that “your god is my god too, for there is only one”.However, religion, certainly modern Christianity, has become very doctrinaire in its world view. Even if you acknowledge one God, if your doctrine about that God differs from mine, I will claim not only that it is a different God, but that therefore it must be a false God — no God at all — at best a demon.Some very doctrinaire Christians even claim that the God worshiped by other Christians is a “false God” and demonic simply because their doctrine is different.It is very easy to slip into religious war at this point, for most of us can be convinced of the threat posed by a nation following the evil of a false God.

  • denis

    To MC: you’ve made part of the case for the fact that these competing monotheisms cannot be reconciled. Judeo-Christianity, for example, is a well intentioned phrase meant to discourage people from killing each other by papering over the fact that either Jesus is the messiah, in which case Judasim should fade away, OR that Jesus was not the messiah, and Christianity is bogus.As someone who has no god in that or any other theistic race, let me suggest that what we need to do better is learn to co-exist peacibly with people who will remain different from us. That’s the part that some major portions of the monotheistic folks have a problem with, and I think they need to be encouraged to change. If not, we need to work to undermine belief in their ideas, particularly among the young. The world, armed as it is with high-tech weaponry, needs to become more intolerant of intolerance!

  • candide

    Unfortunately the idea that God is god of all peoples is only honored in the breach. Most Christians, Jews and Muslims think God is on their side. Pagans can be cruel but they restrict that gods to local effect and do little major harm. The Greeks and Romans asked for little from ‘believers.’ The monotheists ask for too much.In any case, there is no evidence of a God or gods or anything spiritual. A materialist is a better friend than a believer.

  • b mccarty

    Secular’s post is sound.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Denis,I agree with your points but I think I’ll leave for a while. The discussion disappoints me because not nearly enough emphasis has been placed on the historical fact that humans have always fought. Always! It is–one might say–a law of history.Now all this nonsense over who fought the more pagans or Christians or Jews (why not Buddhists? Look at Cambodia) is just rhetoric and, really, historically hilarious. It reads like a giant game of Gotcha with about as much insight. “War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention” wrote jurist Sir Henry Maine in the middle of the 19th century and there is little to suggest he was wrong. Archaeological, anthropological, as well as all surviving documentary evidence indicates that war, armed conflict between organized political groups, has been the universal norm in human history. It is hardly necessary to explore whether this was the result of innate aggression, or whether aggressiveness arose from the necessity of fighting for such scarce resources as water or land….What Kant termed man’s ‘asocial sociability’ automatically created conflict as well as co-operation.”"The Invention of Peace, Reflections on War and International Order”, Michael Howard (London, 2002). A good book–and short, a mere 113 pages by a former professor of military history first at Oxford and finally at Yale. For those that might want to test their preconceived historical beliefs with a few facts..

  • Burns

    I still think this debate is in the wrong section of this website, it being a non-religious topic.Mary said:”the Romans killed for *political* reasons and tolerated slavery, pillage, public executions, fights to the death &tc, for *political* reasons.”It was not so long ago in our humble history that we tolerated such things, and now wholly enjoy watching people fake kill each other all the time, on the same token Ultimate fighting has now been popularized, where men pummel each other into unconsiousness. We also live in a POLY-theistic society that is, for the most part, tolerant of other religions. History does re-write itself, the only thing that changes are the main characters.And Secular has a great point with the Islamist states. Why allow other religions to come in and influence your people when all the power you have over them is rooted in Islam? Catholic Europe of the past saw the same thing and forced conversions because they feared these other religions as a threat to their *political* power. It was also said before that we have been turned into a nation of torturers by this administration. First, I do not support this administration, but I am not naive enough to think that we are the first ‘modern’ country or that this is even the first US administration to use torture for information gathering/coercing. Like I said before the christian faith has a rich history of torture, we have only recently gotten less creative in our methods.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Mary Cunningham,Since you are perusing non-military matters at the moment, here are three points to ponder:a. Jesus lived and was crucified but did not bodily rise from the dead.

  • Daniel

    Yes, indeed, war is a part of human history, and has existed among all known peoples, even among the people of Polynesia, and Tahiti, who were, when first discovered by Europeans, thought to be living in a sort of “Garden of Eden.” Among Christian cultures war has not diminished, at all, although you would think it would have had some moderating influence, but it has not; the political institutions of Christianity just pile on with all the others, for more war, war, war. The prevailing religion of a culure has no affect on war or its moderation. The only thing that moderates war are political treaties among competitive powers, which seek to establish a peaceful equilibrium among their many tensions.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Burns,Reading your Protestant history again eh? Why limit forced religious orthodoxy to Catholic states only? Protestant powers practiced it as well: after 1700 Catholics in Great Britain and Ireland were forced into an apartheid system as cruel as any practiced in South Africa. Europe had coped with the challenge of the Reformation with the formula ‘cui regnus religio’ (I think I’ve got the Latin right) or whoever rules, that is the religion of the realm. Those who did not share the religion of the ruler were allowed to emigrate to a neighbouring region where their religion could be freely practiced. It worked for a few centuries or so. Except in the UK and Ireland, both islands, with no adjacent Catholic states nearby. After subjecting the Catholic Irish to internal ethnic cleansing (replacing them with Presbyterian Scots in Ulster), the state passed further the harsh anti-Catholic Penal Laws, referred to above. In mid 18th c. England also cleansed Catholic highlanders from Scotland and replaced them with sheep. It’s not a pleasant history, especially traumatic for Ireland.Anyway, I said I’d go, so I’m off.

  • Anonymous

    frank and Frank collins:

  • Asim

    Mr. Caroll,

  • Tonio

    Denis, I have qualms “the world would be far better off” because that could be misinterpreted as making a judgment about who deserves to live in the world. But the rest of your post is excellent.

  • denis

    Tonio: when I said the world would be far better off if people didn’t belive in gods, I didn’t mean to suggest anything about who “deserves” to be in the world. The concept of “deserving” to be on the planet means nothing scientifically, and has been used as an excuse for mass murder.I meant that in the same sense as “we’re all better off if people don’t run red lights.”Thank you for the positive review otherwise. :-)

  • Tonio

    Denis, thanks for the clarification. I recognize that you didn’t intend to suggest anything coercive. Your red light analogy is a good one. My point is that I find myself in a bind – I see the harm caused by such notions as “God’s will” and life “beginning” after death. However, I’m not sure how to point that out without sounding like I’m telling people what to believe.

  • Pandeism Pundit

    All of this strife is resolved by recognizing the truth of Pandeism. Not a religion, but merely a rational spiritual position, Pandeism teaches that God became the Universe, and is no longer an active and intervening God. No miracles, no prayers answered, no divine laws passed down or divine judgment administered. No God to go to war for, indeed under Pandeism the very idea of warring “for” God is absurd. Of course, there is still spirituality extant in the Universe, and so people will experience “miracles” which they will naturally attribute to God, and some people will have a superlative talent for invoking this force, and may think that this is God intervening on their behalf (or that they are God). But this is a natural phenomenon explainable by the presence of the silent pandeistic God.

  • Paganplace

    Or, you could say the Universe is alive, and sacred, eschew religious authoritarianism, embrace diversity, *look at what we’re seeing,* and not decide everyone ‘must recognize the truth’ of any particular religious idea we may come up with? :) Religions aren’t ‘solutions,’ they’re …tools. Some maybe more functional and functionally-aware than others, but tools nonetheless. You may have a useful one there. Wanna get together and help fix a few things? :)

  • Jim J.

    paganplace:Of course the Romans killed for “religious” reasons – you didn’t see them putting other Romans into the arenas with wild animals, or in public burnings or executions. Nope, that was saved for the Christians and Jews.

  • Paganplace

    Incorrect, really, Jim J. Bad enough that it was done to *any* from among criminals or conquered peoples or perhaps unruly slaves, but there were no commandments from the Palatine Trio to ‘kill nonbelievers if they won’t convert,’ it was about slavery or ‘criminality.’…it was a matter of, generally in the case of Jews, when they were a ‘defeated enemy’ and in the case of Christians, where they were seen (however hysterically, at times,) as *seditious.* More ‘Pagans’ ended up feeding that nightmare than Christians or Jews, certainly. It’s not to say this was a *good* thing, but, it wasn’t about religion in the way monotheists see such atrocities. It was about *slavery* and *war.* And Empire.Small consolation to many of our ancestors, but, it was nothing personal. Or really about religion to those who perpetrated those horrors. As opposed, I suppose, to those Christians who bought and sold black people as ‘children of Ham’ or whatever.

  • Paganplace

    I mean, the sad fact of it is, the horrors of the Coliseum were sort of a primitive substitute for *television,* …captured enemies would recreate battles, condemned criminals would be ‘punished’ publicly by being shredded by what ‘lies outside the civilized world,’ (say, wild animals or other criminals,) …people would be dressed in the ‘military uniforms’ of other nations and fought so people could see for themselves the ‘glorious conquests of empire,’ …it wasn’t for the *purpose* of ‘persecuting the righteous,’ …it was for the purpose of bringing home to the urban populations the power of Empire. Only difference now, in some ways, is we don’t see real bodies. It had a *horrible, political, ‘logic’* of its own, playing on some of the same psychologies that are turned by some other forms of religion into some ‘holy war dynamic’ which was readily-enough embraced by powermongers when it proved advantageous.Constantine, who defined, for the most part, what modern Christians should consider sacred texts, actually privately worshiped Apollo, hoping for advantage, while persecuting Pagan folk, till his deathbed, when he officially ‘converted’ in order to escape being held to account for it by the Gods whose temples he worked to abolish. Not precisely the picture of theological integrity or sophistication. But *he’s* all but ‘deified’ by Roman Catholics.

  • Jim J.

    paganplace wrote:”it was a matter of, generally in the case of Jews, when they were a ‘defeated enemy’ and in the case of Christians, where they were seen (however hysterically, at times,) as *seditious.* “Sorry to have to disagree, but that simply is not correct. Nero specifically tortured “all the Christians in Rome, before executing them with lavish publicity. Some were crucified, some were thrown to wild animals and others were burned alive as living torches.” In Rome’s Asian provinces, Christians were “punished if they were publicly criticized and refused to abandon their beliefs.”You wrote “Small consolation to many of our ancestors, but, it was nothing personal.” On the contrary, it was extremely personal.

  • Paganplace

    Nero was, clearly, a complete twitch about a lot of things. It’s a problem with ‘God-kings’ to which people representing ‘King-Gods’ have by no means proven immune. Yes, he made Christians a scapegoat. Funny how when Christians want to blame ‘Paganism’ for it, they leave out the fact that he was *clearly stark raving mad, and people knew it, but couldn’t say it, cause the ‘executive branch’ had too much power.* But it wasn’t Christians who took him out, either. Gods.

  • Paganplace

    I mean, you do realize that the real notorious baddies among the Emperors were actually *in total defiance of Roman cultural modesty, social order, and notably, the Gods themselves?*

  • Jim J.

    paganplace:I am not trying to “blame” Paganism, as you put it. My point in this is to say that one shouldn’t try to minimize the meaning or prejudice behind the killings based on numbers or competency of leaders. Many insane people have been in charge of thousands of murders; it doesn’t lessen the impact of those deaths. And there have been instances where entire groups of people have been killed whose numbers were less than the number of Christians killed by Nero, and yet they are not considered insignificant. I’m not blaming anyone; I’m just saying don’t say it meant nothing. It meant something; it was personal, not political. It was based on hate, not some war over land. It was prejudice against people who were different.

  • Paganplace

    Heck, not to mention all the lead in the pipes, particularly those which served the upper classes: That’s been known to create the occasional cognitive problem. Though some in our own society may say that sort of thing ‘isn’t proven.’

  • Paganplace

    “I’m not blaming anyone; I’m just saying don’t say it meant nothing. It meant something; it was personal, not political. It was based on hate, not some war over land. It was prejudice against people who were different.”This did often happen, but to say it had a theological basis, as opposed to being a problem of early civilization and endemic to the idea of Empire, particularly in Mary’s way of trying to say that these ‘holy absolute texts and King-Gods’ *don’t* create unaccountable authorities which in a unique way *sanctify* these prejudices and hysterias, …and trying to say that ‘Polytheism is an evil theology, look at Rome!’I mean, it remains a fact that the Christians did* claim to serve a ‘higher order’ than that which people felt was the only think keeping them ‘safe’ from the world… *did* have the pretty novel idea of disrespecting other people’s Gods, and *did* refuse to claim allegiance to their nation (instead of, really, just being *portrayed* as such, as modern Pagans deal with every day…)This *was* a political issue, one which was often exploited by madmen. But that doesn’t mean the point was ‘religious oppression.’ Frankly, to the Roman idea of religion, what they were saying didn’t even *make sense.* It wasn’t the Christianity you know now, anyway. I mean, look at Frank’s rants against Neopagans: he clearly *just doesn’t get it and doesn’t care to.* At least a ‘God-king’ someone can shiv on the way into a stadium. A ‘King-God’ remains forever unaccountable. Both really aren’t a good idea. It leads to blindness. And atrocity. In whatever name.

  • Jim J.

    paganplace:I do agree with you; except for the “blindness and atrocity” part. It doesn’t have to be that way. What is truly maddening is that I believe too many people have been brainwashed into letting society and the media think for them and decide for them what is best for them and for the world. People are being taught that differences are bad for you, that they lead to incompatibility and fear and hatred. Whatever happened to “variety is the spice of life”?

  • Paganplace

    I agree there, completely, Jim J. Especially in that ‘It doesn’t have to be that way.’ Even if you worship a ‘king-God.’ But you *must take accountability. Not blame ‘the other.’Heck, you could still use lead solder in your water pipes till, what was it, 1975?Give folks a chance. I’m OK with that. :)

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  • jill

    GEE, I GUESS MEN WERE PEACEFUL BEFORE MONOTHEISM. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF DIGITAL, LINEAR, BIO-ROBOTIC THINKING. THIS IS THE KIND OF THINKING THAT BEGETS INHUMANITY!

  • glock

    hi! my name is Glock

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