Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about God.

'It is not quite possible to locate the exact moment when men of learning stopped spinning the coin as between a creator and a long complex process ...'

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Biblitz, what do you make of the effect of religion on the world?

Biblitz replies:

One might begin an answer with a discussion of atrocities plaintiffs are claiming under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in Canada, which has already pretty much taken out organized religion in that jurisdiction, and the litigation has only begun.

On the other hand, one would be hard-pressed to think of an organization that's provided educational and medical facilities worldwide of number and quality equal to those of Christian origin. A Jesuit education is still considered among the finest as are hospitals and hospices run by Catholic nuns. Think of Mother Theresa's famous home for the mortally ill and homeless of Calcutta.

Religion has also inspired or at least financed some pretty good art and music, which may be enjoyed equally by believers and non-.

But - and this is a biggish but - one cannot help noticing the malicious obsession each of the world's three great religions has with with women, especially female sexuality and reproduction, an obsession which continues to injure both women and men, too, in all the predictable ways - nothing divine there, surely. Consider:


The Metaethics of Radical Feminism

By Mary Daly

More of this classic text.


... the motif of "purification" assumes different dimensions in European witchburning from those uncovered in the atrocities discussed in earlier chapters. The situation of those accused of witchcraft was somewhat different from that of the footbound Chinese girls and of the genitally maimed girls and young women of Africa, for these were mutilated in preparation for their destiny - marriage. It was also somewhat different from the situation of the widows of India, who were killed solely for the crime of outliving their husbands. For the targets of attack in the witchcraze were not women defined by assimilation into the patriarchal family. Rather the witchcraze focused predominantly upon women who had rejected marriage (Spinsters) and women who had survived it (widows). The witch-hunters sought to purify their society (The Mystical Body) of these "indigestible" elements - women whose physical, intellectual, economic, moral, and spritual independence and activity profoundly threatened the male monopoly in every sphere. ...
This obsession with purifying society of deviant/defiant women has been both the origin and manifestation of the secret bond between seemingly distinct and even opposed categories of men. Thus the members of the legal profession, who at first appeared opposed or at least indifferent to the witch-hunting propensities of priests, later became even more fervent persecutors. Thus also protestants, though bitterly opposed to catholicism, vied with and even may have surpassed their catholic counterparts in their fanaticism and cruelty during the witchcraze. Typically, each used the orthodoxy of the other to entrap women under the witch-label. Among some protestants, for example, Bishop Palladius, reformer of Denmark, the term witch was extended to include "those who used catholic prayers or formulas."

This massacre of women, then, masked a secret gynocidal fraternity, whose prime targets were women living outside the control of the patriarchal family. ...

... Under the Sign of the Cross good and wise women were tortured and burned to death. Trees were killed and their wood used to make fires that would devour these women. Under the reign of the Torture Cross Society, the Tree of Life - the divine Self-centering life of independent women - was cut down and consumed. ... No one was responsible for this evil except the victims, who were perceived not as victims of their murderers, but of the devil. Innocent and his "dear Sons" were servants of god, burning with innocence. (exhaustive footnotes ommitted) (From European Witchburnings: Purifying the Body of Christ, pgs. 183-190)

Islam any better to women?

A God Who Hates

The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam

By Wafa Sultan

No, apparently not. Some critics argue it may be far worse.

Listen to the Danger Zone interview March 27/10 with with Dr. Sultan.

Anything, in your view, to recommend democracy's jealously-guarded separation between church and state?
Do the economic benefits to the military industrial complex suggest there is value in proliferating conflicts between one set of believers and another? Have you examined the balance sheets lately? Weigh in, won't you? No harm in discussion. Send an e-mail if you prefer to All comments gratefully received!


Francis Bacon's nervy 1953 Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X. Was he reacting to a vision of Mel Gibson's epic, The Passion of the Christ, one wonders, or had he an inkling of the potential damage awards in addition to individual lump sum payments of $10,000 still to come under the Indian Residential Schools Agreement?

At the Same Time

Essays and Speeches

Susan Sontag
Essays and Speeches

Edited by Paolo Dilonardo and Anne Jump

Responding at last, in April 2002, to the scandal created by the revelation of innumerable cover-ups of sexually predatory priests, Pope John Paul II told the American cardinals summoned to the Vatican, "A great work of art may be blemished, but its beauty remains; and this is a truth which any intellectually honest critic will recognize."

Is it too odd that the pope likens the Catholic Church to a great - that is, beautiful - work or art? Perhaps not, since the inane comparison allows him to turn abhorrent misdeeds into something like the scratches in the print of a silent film or craquelure covering the surface of an Old Master painting, blemishes that we reflexively screen out or see past. The pope likes venerable ideas. And beauty, as a term signifying (like health) an indisputable excellence, has been a perennial resource in the issuing of peremptory evaluations. (From An Argument About Beauty, p. 3)

Not to put too fine a point on it:

God Is Not Great

How Religion Poisons Everything

By Henry Kissinger's old pal, humorist Christopher Hitchens

More compelling insights in the author's handy compendium of excerpts from the work of celebrated intellectuals who share his views on the matter in The Portable Atheist, another Biblitz favorite.

... Steven Hawking is not a believer, and when invited to Rome to meet the late Pope John Paul II asked to be shown the records of the trial of Galileo. But he does speak without embarrassment of the chance of physics "knowing the mind of God," and this now seems quite harmless as a metaphor, as for example when the Beach Boys sing, or I say, "God only knows ..."

Before Charles Darwin revolutionized our entire concept of our origins, and Albert Einstein did the same for the beginnings of our cosmos, many scientists and philosophers and mathematicians took what might be called the default position and professed one or another version of "deism," which held that the order and predictability of the universe seemed indeed to imply a designer, if not necessarily a designer who took any active part in human affairs. This compromise was a logical and rational one for its time and was especially influential among the Philadelphia and Virginia intellectuals, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who managed to seize a moment of crisis and use it to enshrine Englightenment values in the founding documents of the United States of America.

... It is not quite possible to locate the exact moment when men of learning stopped spinning the coin as between a creator and a long complex process, or ceased trying to split the "deistic" difference, but humanity began to grow up a little in the closing decades of the eighteenth century and the opening decades of the nineteenth. ... If one had to ... come up with the exact date on which the conceptual coin came down solidly on one side, it would be the moment when Pierrre-Simon de Laplace was invited to meet Napoleon Bonaparte.

Laplace (1749-1827) was the brilliant French scientist who took the work of Newton a stage further and showed by means of mathematical calculus how the operations of the solar system were those of bodies revolving in a vacuum. ...

... in his childish and demanding and imperious fashion, he (Napoleon) wanted to know why the figure of god did not appear in Laplace's mind-expanding calculations. And there came the cool, lofty and considered response. "Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypoth se." Laplace was to become a marquis and could perhaps more modestly have said, "It works well enough without that idea, Your Majesty." But he simply stated that he didn't need it.

And neither do we. ... (From The Metaphysical Claims of Religion, pgs. 65-67)

Still ...

The God Delusion

By Richard Dawkins

Let me sum up Einsteinian religion in one more quotation from Einstein himself: 'To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.' In this sense I too am religious, with the reservation that 'cannot grasp' does not have to mean 'forever ungraspable.' But I prefer not to call myself religious because it is misleading. It is destructively misleading because, for the vast majority of people, 'religion' implies 'supernatural.' Carl Sagan put it well: '... if by "God" one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying ... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.' (From A Deeply Religious Non-Believer, p. 19)