“Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation…” – Winston Churchill
Today is the day we pause to remember, the day we dedicate to those who have fought and struggled and died on our behalf. We, those of us who live under the shield of freedom and safety that these men and women provide, owe them so much more than this one day, but at the least today we can pause and honour those who make our lives, our ideals, and even our disagreements possible. We can recognize the cost of our comforts and our peace and be thankful.
“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.” – Bob Dylan
Ever since mankind first began to group together into communities there have been those who took up rock and spear, or sword and shield, or helmet and rifle and marched out in defence of their homes or in support of some great cause. Whether the cause was just or evil, whether their leaders were great or terrible still one has to appreciate the courage, the sacrifice, and the strength of the soldier. These men and women seek out the hardest and most unpleasant of situations, and go knowingly into horror and danger the likes of which most of us cannot imagine. They do so because WE ask it of them, because our society, our civilization cannot exist without them. These ordinary people who take up the duty of safeguarding our lives and our freedoms are the heart and soul of all human endeavour. Our freedoms do not come from the heavens, our freedoms were born in bloody mud churned fields where our grandfathers and their grandfathers struggled tooth and nail against others who would have had us be something else, something less, something a little less free. Our morality comes not from some ancient book or tablet but from those who stand up prepared to defend the weak from the strong.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon
Today remember that our freedoms, our ideals, our nations themselves were not granted to us from on high. They were not given to us by the pretty, well-meant words of politicians and statesmen, the sermons of priests or the writings of scholars. At it’s base and foundation all that was, is, or ever will be exists because a brave few stand forward to claim it, to secure it, and to defend it. Face this truth with humility and grace and be grateful. You think war is evil? It is, that’s true, but never forget for a second that all the world would be war and evil if it weren’t for those men and women who hold the darkness back with their effort and sweat and their very blood. Hate the deed if you will, hate the necessity of its existence but be grateful of the fact that there are those who will stand forward. It is an often quoted but rarely considered truth that freedom is not free. Take the time today to honour the price paid by those who have given you so much and who receive in return so little.
“When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, We gave our today.” – John Maxwell Edmonds
For Those That Serve, We Remember.
May We Never Forget.
The following a a piece of a Facebook conversation I had recently with a theist arguing for the historicity of the bible. I got caught up in other things at the time and didn’t respond to it but some of the things in it have been gnawing at my brain for a couple of days now so I’ve decided to respond to it here.
“The point is that people are evil by nature, mixing whatever they want to believe about the world good or bad. We all need to push on purpose (and I would argue divine intervention) to be decent people or by default we end up justifying our own selfishness. Next…the criteria for historicity. 1- Supporting docs. 2-Conflicting docs. 3- time after event info is recorded. The bible not only meets this standard but is the best example of the ancient world. Go look it up, I’m not writing as much as you guys. Homer, Alexander the great’s biography, Julius Caesar and so on…all considered rock solid with anywhere from 10 to 643 supporting docs and written 400 to 1000 years later. The new testament alone has over 24000 supporting docs and were written 15 to 40 years after the fact and some by eye witnesses. I’ll even give you 70 – 100 years if you want because that’s a common claim but the writings clearly talk about life in Jerusalem before the destruction in 70 AD. Either way, to doubt the historicity of the bible is to do so based on an irrational bias and not on scientific historicity (partially quoting EM Blaiklock). Historians around the world don’t seem to have the problems you’re having with the bible. In fact, it has been said by many that if the bible was considered a secular writing, this discussion would never come up. As far as extra biblical sources there are plenty. Some you have named (good job) but there are many others talking about the life, death and even the Resurrection and the expansion of Christianity as if it is common knowledge. Some were considered enemies of Christianity You know what we don’t find are writings disputing these events though. “
First off the major problem with the opening of this comment would seem to be obvious, if people are evil by nature, as this comment’s author states, and we are the creation of a god who created us in it’s image then it follows that an evil god created us as evil beings on purpose. While I’m sure this isn’t the position the author would take, it would explain quite a lot about the measurable effects of Christian Theism on the history and sociology of the world. If you assert that god is real, and god is perfect the idea that god is evil does fill in quite a lot of the logical holes that pop up when you propose that god is real, benevolent and perfect.
That wasn’t my major problem with the comment though, that was just an interesting aside. The major problem is with the argument for historicity. The author’s criteria for historicity are correct. He’s also correct when he says there is a huge amount of extra-biblical writing regarding Jesus, the New Testament, and the spread of Christianity. Where the problem is is that he’s making this an argument for the veracity of the biblical account based on these things. The problems with these assertions are huge. First, there are no first hand accounts of the events laid out in the bible. They were all written at at least second hand years after the events in question. Second, the extra-biblical accounts of Christ are all at least a century after the fact. Most of them are simply reporting rumors and talk, and most importantly just because a non-biblical source mentions that there was talk of a person called Jesus who’d built a following and was credited with miracles doesn’t mean that that author is saying that the talk is true. Third, corruption by the christian church of extra-biblical accounts specifically to create the image of historicity. Almost every extra-biblical account of Christianity from Josephus on has had allegations of interpolation by later Christians. When combined with the fact that Christians spent hundreds of years and millions of man hours hunting down and destroying “heretical” documents is it any surprise that there are no period documents “disputing these events”?
Finally, comparing the historicity of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to that of the bible is just madness. Both Alexander and Julius Caesar were well documented humans who (and this is the important part) are credited with completely human and probable (if extraordinary) accomplishments. Comparing the terrestrial accomplishments of exceptional human beings with the catalogue of magic myth and superstition laid out in the bible is insanity. If there were an account of Julius Caesar taking a spear in the chest, pulling it free and then summoning lightning to destroy his enemies I would require a great deal more evidence than I do to accept the history as it is laid out. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The amount and quality of evidence needed to be convincing is directly related to the extraordinary nature of the claim. If I read a single account of Queen Elizabeth travelling from London to Cairo in an airplane I’d be willing to accept it. If I read the same account but the airplane was replaced by a flying horse I’d be less likely to accept the story, regardless of how many authors mentioned the fact that the original account existed or talked about the growing masses of people who’d accepted the account.
This comment embodies, to me, the very worst aspects of Christian Apologetics. It combines a touch of factual statement and understanding of reality with the usual religious supposition, distortion and faith to create an argument that on it’s surface seems rational, well considered and probable.
I appreciate the fact that this isn’t my best post to date, I apologize to the reader but I just had to get this out of my head. Thank you so much for your patience. I promise better in the future.
Inscription translates as “God is with us.”
If one has enough debates with theists one will eventually hear something to the effect of “Atheists are no better morally, just look at Adolf Hitler!” While I agree that Atheism is not necessarily morally superior to Theism this assertion that Hitler was an atheist always surprises and baffles me. Given the sheer weight and breadth of Hitler’s various theistic, and specifically Judeo-Christian, remarks where precisely do Theists get this impression? This first question doesn’t even mention his many condemnations of Atheism. I’ve chosen to look at this question by breaking it down into two sections, Hitler’s anti-atheist statements and his theistic pronouncements.
“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” Adolf Hitler, Berlin October 1933
“There may have been a time when even parties founded on the ecclesiastical basis were a necessity. At that time Liberalism was opposed to the Church, while Marxism was anti-religious. But that time is past. National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity. The Church’s interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of today, in our fight against the Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for the consciousness of a community in our national life, for the conquest of hatred and disunion between the classes, for the conquest of civil war and unrest, of strife and discord. These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles.”Adolf Hitler, Koblenz August 1934
“Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.”Adolf Hitler during negotiations for the Nazi-Vatican Concordat (treaty) 1933
I think these statements represent a very clear picture of Hitler’s views on Atheism. It’s clear, to me at least, that he had no love at all for Atheists or secularists whatsoever. These are by no means all of his pronouncements against Atheism, but I think they’ll serve as a cross-section of his thoughts.
Theistic Statements and Pronouncements
In his notorious book “Mein Kampf” Hitler makes a number of clearly un-atheistic statements such as:
“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
“Once again the songs of the fatherland roared to the heavens along the endless marching columns, and for the last time the Lord’s grace smiled on His ungrateful children.”
“But if out of smugness, or even cowardice, this battle is not fought to its end, then take a look at the peoples five hundred years from now. I think you will find but few images of God, unless you want to profane the Almighty.”
“What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe.”
These, it must be pointed out, are only a few of the statements made in the text that use theistic ideas of god and religious phrasing, there are a great many more. One can’t help but notice that Hitler doesn’t speak at all like an Atheist. Indeed he speaks as a man who not only believes in a directing and designing personal god, but as one who sees himself as doing the work of that god. Historian Richard Steigmann-Gall of Kent State University wrote in his 2003 book “The Holy Reich” “Hitler gave no indication of being an atheist or agnostic or of believing in only a remote, rationalist divinity. Indeed, he referred continually to a providential, active deity.”
Aside from “Mein Kampf” here are some quotes from various public speeches and remarks:
“In the Bible we find the text, ‘That which is neither hot nor cold will I spew out of my mouth.’ This utterance of the great Nazarene has kept its profound validity until the present day.” –Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 10 April 1923
“The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.” –Adolf Hitler, 22 July 1933, writing to the Nazi Party
“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” – Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933
Again, these are only a few examples of Hitler’s declarations of religious belief and support. There are many more, and they are not hard to find with even a little bit of looking.
In the interest of fairness I’ll state that a great many atheists’ assertions that examples such as those above point to the fact that Hitler was a Christian or a Catholic of some specific denomination also seem to be wrong and simplistic. Hitler had a great many negative things to say about Christianity, and often had not great things to say about Catholicism. (He was very careful about those statements however since Catholic support and sufferance were so important to his survival and success.) In the interest of fair play here are some:
“The heaviest blow which ever struck humanity was Christianity; Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew.” – Adolf Hitler, Table Talk pg. 7
“The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death…. When understanding of the universe has become widespread… Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity…. Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity…. And that’s why someday its structure will collapse…. …the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little…. Christianity the liar…. We’ll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State”. Adolf Hitler, Table Talk pg. 49-50.
“The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.” Adolf Hitler, Table Talk October 19th 1941
It must be noted that some English translations of the book “table talk” have been criticized as not being a true showing of the original German text and that some translators have in fact left out theistic elements such as “What man has over the animals, possibly the most marvelous proof of his superiority, is that he has understood there must be a Creative Power!” in order to paint Hitler as a disbeliever for propagandist purposes.
What this post goes the long way around toward demonstrating is that there is absolutely no basis for the idea that Hitler was an Atheist, or that the National Socialist (Nazi) Party was in any way an Atheistic movement. There is every reason to suspect that Hitler himself was a Theist of some description and perhaps even believed himself to be an instrument of the divine. However there is also reason to believe that Hitler would not have considered himself a Christian or even a Catholic. I would ask atheists this: When debating please stay away from this concept. There are more than enough genuine Judeo-Christian atrocities in history without having to reach for the questionable ones. For instance ask instead why the Vatican had a treaty with such a man for years, or why none of the nominally catholic leaders of the Nazi party was ever excommunicated. If we have right and reason on our side then there’s no reason to go for the cheap “Yeah? Well the monster was on YOUR side!!”