Monday, February 09, 2015

Blaspheme or else

I'm going to comment on an article by apostate atheist Hector Avalos:

Like many unscrupulous academics, Avalos exploits the Hebdo massacre as a pretext to attack Christianity:

As the world knows by now, a dozen persons were massacred at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French weekly satirical magazine, by two Islamic jihadists shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is Great”). The presumed reason is that the terrorists were angry at the blasphemous cartoons of Muhammad that Charlie Hebdo published.
Many of these commentators overlook how much of the Muslim jihadist view of blasphemy derives directly or indirectly from the Bible, the foundational text of Christianity. Yvonne Sherwood’s Biblical Blaspheming: Trials of the Sacred for a Secular Age (2012) discusses some aspects of the long reach of biblical blasphemy laws in western culture.
For example, Leviticus 24:14 states: “He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him; the sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death” (Revised Standard Version).
In other words, not only should fellow Hebrews be stoned, but also foreigners, if they blaspheme against the Hebrew god. Killing non-Muslims as well as Muslims for blaspheming bears a similar mentality. 
Notice that Avalos offer no evidence whatsoever that the Muslim jihadist view of blasphemy derives from Lev 24:14. How does quoting that text begin to demonstrate that Islam is historically or causally indebted to Lev 24:14? How many modern-day jihadist have even read that text? Muslims don't consider the OT to be authoritative. That's Jewish. Muslims are Jew-haters. 
Keep in mind that Muslims don't think Yahweh is the true God; they think Allah is the true God. So how would a text about blaspheming the name of Yahweh have any bearing on Muslim sensibilities?

Bears mauled 42 children or youths to death after insulting the prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23-24. Their crime was to call him “baldy.”
Several problems: 
i) Notice the equivocation, as Avalos elides "blasphemy" into insulting a prophet. 
ii) Once again, he presents no evidence that this text influenced the Muslim jihadist view of blasphemy. 
iii) How does this text have any bearing on the Hebdo massacre? That is not a divine command to punish blasphemers. Rather, that's a case of God taking it upon himself to defend the honor of his prophet. At the risk of going out on a limb, I can safely say no Christian has never taken control of a bear's mind and telepathically directed the bear to maul a blasphemer. This is direct divine punishment. It's not commanding believers to punish blasphemers. 
Although Jesus enumerates many actions as sinful, he only describes one as being unforgivable in Mark 3:29: “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
i) See an emerging pattern? Avalos offers absolutely no evidence that this text has shaped the Muslim jihadist view of blasphemy. 
ii) Moreover, this is not a command to punish blasphemers. To the contrary, it refers to eschatological punishment. God himself will punish them. 

As late as 1921, John William Gott was sentenced to prison in England for publishing pamphlets depicting Jesus entering Jerusalem as a circus clown. These people were not killed. Yet, these cases demonstrate that the freedom to blaspheme in “western” countries is not as “advanced” as some may think. 

i) He admits that Gott wasn't executed.

ii) And this was 95 years ago!

According to The Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). So, the very presence of other gods in our culture may be blasphemous for those who worship Yahweh alone.
Muslims don't worship Yahweh alone. Muslims don't worship Yahweh at all. So that has no relevance to Muslims killing infidels.    
That is why the International Humanist and Ethical Union champions the abolition of all blasphemy laws.
For most secularists/pluralists, you must blaspheme — or else your freedom of expression will inevitably be hostage to one religion or another.
i) Secularists reject freedom of expression. Secularists have secular blasphemy laws. Hate speech and speech codes. That's the real parallel to Islamic terrorists. 
ii) Moreover, many secularists rush to the defense of Muslims. They excuse Muslims. They enable Muslims.  

1 comment:

  1. The man is nit only ignorant of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, but of religion in general; were he not, he'd know of the Germanic history of the Christmas tree and the anti-blasphemy laws of cultures around the globe. He certainly doesn't let ignorance get in the way of a good rant.