Answer to Mr. Paul Belien
I mostly agree with the eloquent and thoughtful Paul Belien at the Brussel Journal. The quality of all their postings is amazing.
But I do not entirely agree with his latest article: Anti-Jihad Manifesto Misses the Point
He talks of the Manifesto I posted below this posting.
[...]While Islamism can be considered the perversion of religion, the three scourges of the 20th century – Fascism, Nazism (National-Socialism) and Stalinism – were secular ideologies. Neither Adolf Hitler nor Joseph Stalin were theocrats. It takes “French intellectuals” to use mankind’s experience with National-Socialism and Stalinism as motivation for a rallying cry to oppose “religious totalitarianism” and a call for “secular values,” which they hold to be “universal values.”
There is no doubt that Islamism is a threat to freedom and human dignity. However, as we have warned before, some people – undoubtedly brave, but nevertheless mistaken – are prepared to destroy certain basic freedoms, such as freedom of education, in their fight against Islam and religion in general. The question has already been put here:Is Islam dangerous because it is a religion? Do Muslim values differ from European values because the latter are rooted in Christianity or because they are secular? These questions are at the heart of the debate in Europe today.
In our opinion, man is a religious being. Secularism destroyed the Christian roots of Europe and, in doing so, created the religious vacuum that is now being filled by Islam. The manifesto warns against[...]The Islamists and the secularists (including the priests and bishops among them) have more in common than the Islamists and the Christians (including the agnostics among them), because the latter acknowledge that at the heart of Christianity is the individual with his individual responsibility before God. Without Christianity, individual responsibility would not have become the centre of European civilization. It was the French Revolution that jeopardized this tradition and that became the root of collectivism, with its socialist, fascist, national-socialist and communist excesses. From this perspective even Jihadism is more a child of secularism than of religion.
Thank you, Mr. Belien, for another thought provoking article.
As an agnostic liberal-conservative I can certainly subscribe to the "second group is prepared to acknowledge the importance of the cultural traditions of the West, rooted in the Judeo-Christian values without which classical-liberalism could never have evolved."
I must admit - except for the super-natural parts - the bible is the basis for all my moral values. The general teachings of Jesus are obviously right. But so are other similar teachings. I am a man of not just the book, but books. I understand when you, Mr. Belien, theorize about the secular societies having no point of moral reference and a secular human being have no purpose in life. This would be true for an amoral human being.
But, frankly, as far as I can tell, the more religious a society appears - the more violent it is. Maybe this can be proven scientifically? I have no doubt that the creation of secular law has been an essential development in our civilization.
Truly religious people in my experience do live according to their faith. It is a personal and deep feeling. I respect such people as they often show remarkable qualities. They will not try to spread their faith by force but by example. But I do not find religion positive, when it is used an escapism or rejects all rational thought.
I would like to believe the human evolution goes towards atheists, agnostics and the enlightened religious - bound together by deeply felt moral values and philosophical thinking. As of course many atheists and agnostics also can find and create value in a meaningful life. By empiric evidence more so when compared to many so called religious people of our time and especially of the past. The atheists and agnostics I know are far more likely to be let into a hypothetic paradise than hypocrites preaching religion but not living religion. Of course moral codexes are of the outmost importance. Our secular societies fail miserably to teach our young even the most basic values. But did not the religious societies of yesterday fail as well? People of moral standing will agree moral formation starts in the family and that a broad education is essential.
Instead I think fanatism is the real current problem. Fanatic religion is based on the same as communism or fascism. A total blindness and conviction of the absolute truth. It is nothing but a vessel for the power-hungry to satisfy their sick needs - it is evil at play. It is something that has been repeated time and time again in history. This time a double whammy. Religious fascism or as we call it, Islamofascism.