TIA Tuesday: The historical irrelevance of ChristianityMay 20, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
One of the things that Vox Day has done rather well in TIA is to document the fundamental irrelevance of religion to weighty, real-world matters like war. Unbelievers, of course, have known about this for some time, but it takes real skill to convince believers of this fact. Vox’s unsurpassed success in this field is demonstrated by a review, favorably quoted by Vox, which praises him for to thoroughly debunking the idea that religion played any sort of influential role in the outcome of real-world conflicts.
Unsurprisingly given my own background, it was on the subject of history that I found Day’s critiques of the New Atheists – and of anti-Christian arguments in general – to be most convincing. Not only does Harris in particular get it wrong when it comes to understanding the relationship between religious beliefs (or the lack thereof) and warfare, but atheists in general often distort such events as the Crusades, the Inquisition, Adolf Hitler’s personal faith, and the Aztec practice of human sacrifice in their zeal to demonize all religious believers as troglodytic and potentially homicidal maniacs.
Vox is quite right to be proud of this accomplishment. Though it stands to reason that imaginary Friends would be of little use in a real crisis, Christians are generally quite reluctant to admit this, preferring instead to offer prayers “seeking God’s wisdom in this time of trial,” and claiming to have received comfort, support and guidance from their faith. Such postures are purely empty gestures, as Vox tirelessly demonstrates. In war after war, and conflict after conflict, it is the purely secular forces that really matter.
Dawkins and Harris and the rest could, of course, have produced the same facts, but it is doubtful they could ever have been as successful as Vox in convincing Christians that these facts were correct. Yet perhaps they deserve some credit, because if it were not for atheists observing the religious pretenses with which believers have clothed their true, secular influences, Vox would not have had the context he needed to drive home his point so forcefully. The obvious objections—that God did indeed care, that He chose to work in and through believers to turn the tide of war according to His will—are effectively silenced by the fact that raising these objections would mean that Vox was wrong and the atheists correct. You can’t argue that war is entirely free from religious influences, and that it was also being supernaturally controlled by and through Christians and their God. Well, not without contradicting yourself anyway.
So hat’s off to Vox. Whatever else might be wrong with TIA, he did at least slip that one past the critical review of his peers.