Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Identity (#2) - Don't Let Your Sufferings Define You

(Lake Erie, Maumee Bay (Ohio) State Park)


Some people, even Christians, define themselves by sufferings they have undergone. They refuse to let go of their painful past, since to do so would be to lose their identity. They have become, they are, their sufferings. 

In this, they feel unique. No one really understands them. Howard Thurman writes: 

"There are many people who would feel cheated if suddenly they were deprived of the ego definition that their suffering gives them." (Howard Thurman: Essential Writings, 56)

Some are self-defined by their suffering. They are men and women of sorrows, and little more. To free them of their sufferings, to redeem them, would be to deprive them of their core identity.

Such people resist the redemptive activity of God. They need their sufferings. They will feel like a nobody should their being-abused cease. Prisonhood is their "normal"; freedom is abnormal and threatening to them.

Their chains define and delimit them. To escape this horrible life-condition requires a revelation of their true self, their true identity, as children of God and made in God's image. Only then will they be horrified by the chains and suffering and cry out for release and redemption.

If that happens, they will be free of the idea that no one understands them, and therefore free to understand and love others.

If you are a Jesus-follower and relate to this, read this and apply. 

IDENTITY #1 - I Find My Identity in Giving Myself to My Maker


(Rift Valley in Kenya)

Until you have given up your self to Him
you will not have a real self.

C.S. Lewis

Allow me to get hypothetical.

If...   there is a God..., and...

If...   God is a personal agent..., and

If...   God is the cause of us...,  and

If...   God has made us in His image..., then

My identity is: child of God.

If...   my identity is given to me...,  and

I am not left to create my own identity..., then

I will find my meaning and purpose in life in giving myself to my Maker.

(See, e.g., J. P. Moreland, The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism.)





Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Steve & Wendy Backlund at Redeemer - Sept. 20-21-22

Image result for johnpiippo steve wendy backlund september





STEVE AND WENDY BACKLUND 
FROM BETHEL REDDING 
@ REDEEMER 


Sept. 20-22

Redeemer Fellowship Church
5305 Evergreen
Monroe, MI
48162
734-242-5277

Go HERE for more on Steve and Wendy.

Converts to Unbelief Always Tell Subtraction Stories

Monroe County

(I'm re-posting this for someone.)

One of my favorite writers is theistic philosopher James K.A. Smith (Calvin College). Having read philosopher Charles Taylor's epic A Secular Age, Smith's book is a great follow-up: How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor

Taylor has a nice take on persons who "deconvert" from Christianity to atheism because of "science." These converts to unbelief "always tell subtraction stories," and the faith they have converted from "has usually been immature." 


For Taylor the subtraction story of the deconverted is that one becomes "rational" and "secular" by subtracting "religion" and "superstition." (How irrational.)This rings true in my experience of having deconverted students in my philosophy classes.

Smith writes: "If someone tells you that he or she has converted to unbelief because of science, don't believe them." I don't. Ever. Why not?


What usually captures the person is not scientific evidence per se, but the form of science. Smith writes: “Even where the conclusions of science seem to be doing the work of conversion, it is very often not the detailed findings so much as the form” (Taylor, p. 362). 


Indeed, “the appeal of scientific materialism is not so much the cogency of its detailed findings as that of the underlying epistemological stance, and that for ethical reasons. It is seen as the stance of maturity, of courage, of manliness, over against childish fears and sentimentality” (Taylor, p. 365)." (Smith, Kindle Locations 1673-1677)


The convert to atheism wants to "give the impression that it was the scientific evidence that was doing the work." But not so. "Converts to unbelief always tell subtraction stories." (Ib., 1677-1678) "Subtraction stories explain that "secular" is the subtraction of religious belief.

The subtraction story-teller rejoices, shouting "I left religion, and now am free!"
As I meet deconverted "freethinkers" and ask them what they left behind, they always describe something like a fundamentalist "Christianity" (hence modernist, because there's no one more modernist than a fundamentalist) that is near-completely anachronistic and, hence, hermeneutically false. Smith writes:


"[T]he belief such persons have converted from has usually been an immature, Sunday -schoolish faith that could be easily toppled. So while such converts to unbelief tell themselves stories about “growing up” and “facing reality” — and thus paint belief as essentially immature and childish — their “testimony” betrays the simplistic shape of the faith they’ve abandoned. “If our faith has remained at the stage of the immature images, then the story that materialism equals maturity can seem plausible” (p. 365). But, in fact, their conversion to unbelief was also a conversion to a new faith: “faith in science’s ability” (p. 366)." (Smith, Kindle Locations 1679-1684)


Persons who convert to atheism "because of science" are not so much convinced by data and reason, but are more moved by the form of the story that comes with it; viz., rationality = maturity. 


Taylor and Smith suggest that our response to unbelief "is not to have an argument about the data or “evidences” but rather to offer an alternative story that offers a more robust, complex understanding of the Christian faith. The goal of such witness would not be the minimal establishment of some vague theism but the invitation to historic, sacramental Christianity." (Ib., Kindle Locations 1687-1689)

**
My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Prayer Is Relationship, Rather Than Something We Have to Do

Image result for john piippo solitude
Monroe county

Praying is being-in-relationship-with God, rather than a religious duty that one has to do. 

I communicate with Linda, not because I "have to," but because I love her. To only talk and listen to her out of duty would signify a strange, unsatisfying marriage.

Philip Yancey writes: "Prayer as transaction rather than relationship can decline into a practice more duty than joy, an occasional and awkward exercise with little connection to life." (Yancey, Prayer, Kindle Locations 844-845)

How I communicate with Linda when no one else is around is an indicator of how I view her and our marriage. In a similar way, how I pray shows how I view God. "Who one believes God to be is most accurately revealed not in any credo but in the way one speaks to God when no one else is listening." (Nancy Mairs, quoted in Ib., Kindle Locations 820-822)

Praying is not something we have to do. To pray is to be in relationship with God.  When you are in a loving relationship, you communicate.

**
My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.

Is God the Designer of our Cognitive Faculties?

(Kelleys Island, Ohio)

Many of my posts are intended just for myself. My blog has become a way of cataloguing ideas which I can later reference or develop further. This post is one of them. But if you are interested in a deep read, check this out.

One of the books I am slow-cooking in this summer is Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God: The Plantinga Project, by Jerry Walls and Trent Dougherty. This morning I am reading 
"The Argument from the Confluence of Proper Function and Reliability: Is God the Designer of our Cognitive Faculties? Evaluating Plantinga's Argument," by Alexander Arnold.

Alvin Plantinga is perhaps the greatest analytic philosopher alive today. If not the greatest, he's tied for #1. And, he is a Christian theist. I've long been interested in Plantinga's claim that, if non-theistic evolution is true, then we have no reason to trust our cognitive faculties, since evolution without God has nothing to do with truth. That is, the reliability of our cognitive functions is less likely on evolutionary naturalism.

The likelihood principle is this: given an event, and two competing explanations of that event, which explanation is more likely. So...

Where Pr abbreviates probability, R abbreviates reliability of our cognitive faculties, T abbreviates theism, and NTE abbreviates non-theistic evolutionism, here is argument (K) in likelihoodist terms: 

(K1) Pr R/T >>really small. (Premise)
(K2) Pr (R/NTE) = really small. (Premise)
(K3) Therefore, Pr (R/T) >> Pr (R/NTE). (From K1 & K2).
(K4) If Pr(R/T) >> Pr (R/NTE), then R favors T over NTE. (Law of Likelihood)
(K5) Therefore, R favors T over NTE.

While this may look similar to Bayesian reasoning, likelihoodism is different because it involves no speculation on prior probabilities.

Arnold writes:

"While (K5) is modest, if it’s correct, then (modulo some plausible assumptions connecting confirmation with rationality), it tells us M renders theism a bit more rational for us to believe than it does non-theistic evolutionary theory. That is an interesting claim, especially in light of the pronouncements of some atheists to the effect that theism has absolutely nothing going for it."

Arnold then goes on to examine the premises. If the premises are true, then the conclusions follow, since the argument is deductively valid. He examines difficulties he has with (K1).

Arnold concludes: "If (K2) is correct, then it naturalism faces a serious problem independent of whether argument (K) succeeds."

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Sometimes You Have to Lose Something to Gain Something Greater

(Maumee Bay State Park)

(My friend Mike Ansel wrote this, and gave permission to post it here.)

Many times true strength comes through attrition. Sometimes you have to lose something in order to save yourself and others. 

Several years ago I was on a caribou hunt in Northern Quebec. We had a 19 year old Canadian camp helper. One day someone forgot to tie the boat up upon returning from the hunt. The boat was drifting out into the middle of the lake. 

The float plane was not due back for 5 days and the boat was our only means of transportation. Andy gingerly entered the frigid waters and started swimming toward the drifting boat. 

About half way there he turned and looked toward shore as if to say good by fellas I cant make it! My pastor friend (Bob Baltrip)and I started praying out loud for the Lord to save this young man. As we prayed he turned and resumed swimming toward the boat, but a sudden burst of wind came up and made the boat drift faster out of reach. It looked bleak, but a miracle took place, as God answered our prayers. 

A long rope that was attached to the bow of the boat suddenly came floating to the surface of the lake within reach of Andy. He grabbed on to it and proceeded to pull himself toward the boat. Because he was exhausted and his strength was zapped by the near freezing water, Andy had a hard time pulling himself into the boat. (More prayers!) 

We then saw that Andy was naked! When he had turned toward shore and we feared for his life he was discarding his socks, pants, and underwear that were saturated with water and holding him back. 

We had a rip roaring fire and warm blankets waiting for him when he finally got back to shore. We massaged his arms and legs and told him about the love of Christ and how God had heard our prayers and saved him physically. And then Andy stepped into the waters of rebirth and allowed Jesus to also save his soul. 

I believe this was all God ordained. Andy had to lose something in order to move forward and eventually save his life and soul!

- Michael Wade Ansel

Join Me and Craig Keener Sunday Night July 28

This is for pastors and Christian leaders who have been reading Craig Keener's book Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost.

What a helpful book this is! We will be privileged to have Craig with us, by phone, Sunday night at 8.




The reviews, and reviewers, are impressive.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Have You Been "Hurt By the Church?"

Tree, in my back yard

(I'm re-posting this, to keep it in play.)

I have met people who talk of being "hurt by the church." Here are some things I think about this.

1. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are the church. You have been placed within the community, not as an outsider. You are one of the church's body part. (See 1 Cor. 12:12-27) It is important to remember this in relation to what follows below. 

2. Some people who say they have been hurt by the church never give church leadership an opportunity to respond to their pain. They just leave. Some of them go and tell others, "I left that church because they hurt me." Some post this on social media. If you have been hurt, don't do that. That is unloving.

3. Never leave a church family because someone hurt you, unless you first try to correct the problem. Go to your pastor and share with them your situation. If that doesn't help, try this. If you choose not to do this, do not announce to the world that you've been hurt, because you never gave others a chance to listen and respond. That is not loving, and is a way of hurting back (vengeance).

4. Pay no attention to rumors, gossip, or slander. Be a person who follows this biblical counsel: "If you have something against someone, go to them." (Matthew 18:15)

5. Some who leave form a group, centered on the common denominator of being hurt by a church. This is a "hurt by the church" support group. If these people are Christians, they are forming another local church. This is because "church" is people, and wherever two or more Christians are gathered, that's "church." If they did not deal with their hurt properly, then eventually they will bring this to their new group. Then, the same thing will happen all over again (they will get hurt by someone in this group, leave, talk to others about it, etc.) Note also: healthy support groups not only share hurts, they provide solutions. A "hurt by the church" support group, if it is loving, should discern how it can help the church.

6. No church family is perfect. If you see something wrong in your church family, address it. And remember, you are not perfect or "above" others.  If you are part of any community it won't be long before you upset someone in that community. Search your own self and see whatever responsibility you may have. ("Search me O God, and know my heart. See if there is any wicked way in me." This applies to non-Christians, the non-religious, you name it, because hurting others, unfortunately, is part of the human condition. Just try to imagine, e.g., the number of people we have met with who were raised by atheist parents who hurt them.)

7. It is easier to tear down than build up. Anyone with a sledge hammer can demolish; it takes skill to construct. Your responsibility is to edify, not complain and destroy. Beware of coming off as the righteous one who stands in judgment of other church people.

8. Distinguish between being hurt by unkindness, and feeling hurt because someone does not affirm your particular theological beliefs. See here. If you do not affirm something I believe, I am not to respond to you by telling others how much you hurt me. To disagree is not to hurt; to be disagreed with is not to be hurt. But, sadly, some take it that way, probably because of unhealed wounds in their heart. (See, e.g., Jonathan Haidt on the American culture of "microaggressions," "safetyism," and the need to be "coddled.")

9. Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." Be one.

10. You have been given a ministry of reconciliation. Do it.

11. Our real battle is not against flesh and blood. Therefore, if it has flesh and blood, don't battle against it.

12. Sadly, some churches are toxic and abusive. Some Christians unknowingly get in these churches. If this is you, you can attempt to address it with leadership. Leave if you are not listened to, and corrections are not made. If it is a toxic church, the likelihood of this happening is slim. In some cases it might be best not to bring this to leadership, but just get out, because in the process you could get abused even more. Do not abuse in return, but pray for them. (For information on what a toxic church is, read this, or this.)

13. Some Christians get hurt by anything. These are unhealed hurting people who will leave church after church after church. They have a spirit of victimhood and, sadly, live off it. They bring their problems into whatever becomes the next church they go to. Every pastor has seen this.

14. Never post on social media your grievances about some particular church you were part of. Such behavior is destructive, immature, and not reconciling or peacemaking. If you have done this, contact leadership and ask for their forgiveness.

15. When you feel hurt by someone in the church, this can be an occasion for growth. It is mostly in darkness that faith is tested and strengthened. Read this book, and this book, to see how this is possible.


16. Finally, in my twenty-five years at Redeemer, I know I have said and done things that have hurt others. When I discover this, I am saddened. If you have been hurt by me and want to talk with me please call - 734-731-1709. 

One time I confessed to the entire church, asking forgiveness for something harsh I said in a sermon. (Thank you to those who forgave me!) I am so grateful for those who have loved me enough to come to me personally and share any grievance they may have against me. This has served to deepen our understanding of one another, and strengthen our friendship. I thank God for you! 

Letter to My Redeemer Family - July 26, 2019

(Me and Linda at the Biltmore, Ashville, NC)



















July 26, 2019

Good afternoon Redeemer Family!

Here are some things I want to share with you.

THIS SUNDAY:
         We continue to preach on revivalist themes.
Neil and Gayle McLeod are moving away from Monroe. We’ll say good-bye to them this Sunday, and pray for them and bless them.
1 PM – We walk for Jesus in the Fair Parade!
8 PM – New Testament scholar Craig Keener will join me on a phone conference call discussing his excellent book Spirit Hermeneutics. If you have read the book, or parts of it, and want to join please email me and I’ll send you the log-in details.

BOOK STUDY INVITATION – This is for Redeemer youth and those just out of high school. Purchase Kris Valotton’s book Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity. Read it. Then, sometime in late August or early September, please join me and Linda for pizza and discussion about the book – date and time TBA.
NOTE: Some adults are reading the book. We’ll have a pizza & discussion evening for you too!

FULL LIFE IN CHRIST IS COMING THIS FALL – dates, times, and details TBA.

JAKE AND KELLY GOINS are having a fundraiser luncheon Sunday August 4 right after church to cover moving expenses and tuition for Jake to attend Radiant School of Worship in Kalamazoo. Please join us in donating desserts to make this a successful time of fellowship and support for them. Please call or text Winnie Webb and let her know what you would like to bring. 734 243 3559. 

STEVE AND WENDY BACKLUND from Bethel Redding will be at Redeemer Sept. 20-21-22 (Fri. night; Sat. morning and evening; Sunday morning and evening).

VERTICAL MARRIAGES – Fifteen Redeemer couples read the book Vertical Marriage and met at our home for a picnic + discussion + praying. Linda and I are challenging Redeemer’s marital couples to Invest in Your Marriage. We will be recommending another book to read as couples, and have another get-together to eat and discuss and pray.

You can stay in touch with things I am thinking and writing about on my blog – johnpiippo.com.

I am now working on my next book, Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart. I hope to have this book out by next summer.

Blessings to all of you – Linda and I love you all so much!

PJ



Living In the Presence of God Is the Greater Call

Our back yard

When Henri Nouwen met Mother Teresa he asked for advice concerning his spiritual distractions and temptations. Nouwen described his "unique complications" and gave "elaborate explanations" of the trials of his life. After listening to him Mother Teresa responded: "Well, when you spend one hour a day adoring your Lord and never do anything which you know to be wrong you will be fine!"

Her answer startled Nouwen. He had expected her to diagnose him. Instead, she pointed him into God's presence. Nouwen writes:


"She knew that even if I better understood my distractions and problems, something else remained: a call to live closer to the heart of God. At first her answer didn’t seem to fit my questions, but then I began to see that her answer came from God’s place of healing and not from the place of my complaints. Getting answers to my questions is not the goal of the spiritual life. Living in the presence of God is the greater call. The gift of discernment is the ability to hear and see from God’s perspective and to offer that wisdom from above to others. Truly, God spoke to me through the mouth of Mother Teresa. She called me back to the discipline of prayer and being in God’s presence, which is the starting and ending place out of which guidance emerges." (Nouwen, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, p. 67. Emphasis mine.)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Preaching Issues Is Different than Preaching Politics

(Monroe)

There is a difference between a moral issue and a political issue.

This affects how I preach (at least, how I intend to preach).

A moral issue is about right and wrong, about what we ought to do. A political system is about how we govern the polis (policies, legislation, etc.) Ethical systems affect all human systems, including government. Thus, ethical systems can be talked about independently of political systems. 

In preaching the biblical texts we are confronted by many moral issues. In the New Testament the focus is more on morality than politics. Jesus refuses to be an earthly political leader. Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world. But his kingdom ethics will impact all human institutions, including politics. (Whereas the opposite is false; viz., human institutions do not impact the ethics of the kingdom of God.)

In his famous book The Politics of Jesus John Howard Yoder refers to Jesus as "apolitical." Jesus refuses to align with any of the preexisting political parties, and critiques them all. 

But Jesus does talk about right and wrong, about what a person ought to do and what a person should not do. Jesus talks about "righteousness" and "unrighteousness." He demonstrates how it is possible to morally discourse while not being political.

For example: It's wrong to rape children for fun. A preacher can preach on that without touching politics. My intent is to preach on moral issues, as they arise in biblical texts, without touching politics.

Moral issues can, and should, affect political systems. If all political leaders in the first place adhered to the ethics of Jesus our world would be different. (On the ethics of Jesus see, e.g., Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: An Introduction to New Testament Ethics. For a practical example of how the ethics of Jesus can affect political systems see Ronald Sider, Rich Christians In an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity.) 

Some people conflate morality and politics and view preaching on ethical issues as being political. This is a false equation. We have to say things like raping people is wrong without being accused of preaching politics.

Preach issues, not politics. Preach the ethics of Jesus, and let all political parties be measured by this.

(Greg Boyd recommended that I read Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel.

On the relationship between Christianity and politics see my post "Jesus-Following and Politics.") 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Is Religion the Root Cause of Evil?

(I taught philosophy of religion for eighteen years at Monroe County Community College. My PhD is in this area, to include the problem of evil, as related to metaethical matters.)

Is religion the cause of evil? Was John Lennon correct (in spite of his own wife-beating, child-abusing behaviors) that "imagine there's no religion" and... no wars?... and we all will live as one big metaphysical love-mass?

I don't think so. Atheist David Berlinski doesn't think so either.

See Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions. What is unique about Berlinski is his non-religious nature, railing against the new (but aging) atheists. He writes: "I am a secular Jew. My religious education did not take... I cannot pray. I have spent more years than I care to remember in studying mathematics and writing about the sciences. Yet the book that follows is in some sense a defense of religious thought and sentiment. Biblical verses are the least of it." (xiii)

Berlinski is witty, caustic, funny, and brilliant. One of the things he addresses is the atheistic idea that religion is, especially, the root of all evil. He quotes physicist Steven Weinberg, famously, as saying: "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." (21)

I now confess: "religion" has made me a far better person than I was without it. And, I have met countless people over the years about whom I could say the same. But onwards...

Berlinski turns to atheist Steven Pinker, who believes that "something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler." Pinker gives us good news: "In the scale of decades, comprehensive data again paint a shockingly happy picture. Some of the evidence has been under our nose all along. Conventional history has long shown that, in many ways, we have been getting kinder and gentler." (21-22) Pinker goes on to list things like "cruelty as entertainment, human sacrifice to indulge superstition, slavery as a labor-saving device, genocide..., torture and mutilation..., assassination..., rape..., homicide... - "all were unexceptionable features of life for most of human history. But, today, they are close to nonexistent in the West." (22)

To which Berlinski responds, surely Pinker jests! Here is Berlinski's list of 20th century "happy-face moments," presented to you by irreligion and atheism..

A Shockingly Happy Picture by Excess Deaths (22-24)



  • First World War(1914-18): ……..................................................15 million
  • Russian Civil War(1917-22) ……..................................................9 million
  • Soviet Union,Stalin's Regime(1924-53) ……...............................20 million
  • Second World War(1937-45) ……..............................................55 million
  • Chinese Civil War(1945-49) ……..................................................2.5 million
  • People's Republic of China,Mao Zedong's regime(1949-75) …….40 million
  • Tibet(1950 et seq.) ……...................................................................600,000
  • Congo Free State(1886-1908) …….................................................8 million
  • Mexico(1910-20) ……....................................................................1 million
  • Turkish Massacres of Armenians(1915-23) ……............................1.5 million
  • China(1917-28) ……........................................................................800,000
  • China,Nationalist Era(1928-37) ……..............................................3.1 million
  • Korean War(1950-53) ……............................................................2.8 million
  • North Korea(1948 et seq.) ……......................................................2 million
  • Rwanda and Burundi(1959-95) ……..............................................1.35 million
  • Second Indochina War(1960-75) ……............................................3.5 million
  • Ethopia(1962-92) ……......................................................................400,000
  • Nigeria(1966-70) ……....................................................................1 million
  • Bangladesh(1971) ……..................................................................1.25 million
  • Cambodia,Khmer Rouge(1975-78) ……........................................1.65
  • Mozambique(1975-92) …….......................................................... 1 million
  • Afghanistan(1979-2001) ……........................................................1.8 million
  • Iran Iraq War(1980-88) …….........................................................1 million
  • Sudan(1983 et seq.) ……..............................................................1.9 million
  • Kinshasa,Congo(1998 et seq.) ……...............................................3.8 million
  • Phillipines Insurgency(1899-1902) ……...........................................220,000
  • Brazil(1900 et seq.) ……..................................................................500,000
  • Amazonia(1900-1912) ……..............................................................250,000
  • Portuguese Colonies(1900-1925) ……..............................................325,000
  • French Colonies(1900-1940) ……....................................................200,000
  • Japanese War(1904-5) ……..............................................................130,000
  • German East Africa(1905-7) …….....................................................175,000
  • Libya(1911-31) …….........................................................................125,000
  • Balkan Wars(1912-13) ……..............................................................140,000
  • Greco-Turkish War(1919-22) ……...................................................250,000
  • Spanish Civil War(1936-39) …….....................................................365,000
  • Franco Regime(1939-75) ……..........................................................100,000
  • Abyssinian Conquest(1935-41) …….................................................400,000
  • Finnish War(1939-40) ……..............................................................150,000
  • Greek Civil War(1943-49) ……........................................................158,000
  • Yugoslavia,Tito's Regime(1944-80) ……..........................................200,000
  • First Indochina War(1945-54) …......................................................400,000
  • Colombia(1946-58) ……..................................................................200,000
  • India(1947) ……..............................................................................500,000
  • Romania(1948-89) ……...................................................................150,000
  • Burma/Myanmar(1948 et seq.) …….................................................130,000
  • Algeria(1954-62) ……......................................................................537,000
  • Sudan(1955-72) …….......................................................................500,000
  • Guatemala(1960-96) …….................................................................200,000
  • Indonesia(1965-66) ……..................................................................400,000
  • Ugandi, Idi Amin's Regime(1972-79) ...…........................................300,000
  • Vietnam, postwar Communist Regime(1975 et seq.) ……................430,000
  • Angola(1975-2002) ……..................................................................550,000
  • East Timor, conquest by Indonesia(1975-99) ……...........................200,000
  • Lebanon(1975-90) ……...................................................................150,000
  • Cambodian Civil War(1978-91) ……...............................................225,000
  • Iraq, Saddam Hussein(1979-2003) ……...........................................300,000
  • Uganda(1979-86) …….....................................................................300,000
  • Kurdistan(1980's,1990's) ……..........................................................300,000
  • Liberia(1989-97) ……......................................................................150,000
  • Iraq(1990- ) ……..............................................................................350,000
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina(1992-95) ……............................................175,000
  • Somalia(1991 et seq.) ……...............................................................400,000
Berlinski concludes: "In considering Pinker's assessment of the times in which we live, the only conclusion one can profitably draw is that such an excess of stuipidity is not often to be found in nature." (25)

And, we have the following "awkward fact": "The twentieth century was not an age of faith, and it was awful. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot will never be counted among the religious leaders of mankind." (19)

***
In The Devil's Delusion Berlinski raises and responds to these questions:


  • Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close.
  • Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close.
  • Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close.
  • Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough.
  • Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough.
  • Was secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good? Not even close to being close.
  • Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences? Close enough.
  • Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ballpark.
  • Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.