For some, the message of today’s short post doesn’t need restating. I apologize for wasting their time. However, I’m always amused when people trot out the “Hitler was a Christian,” or “Hitler was a Catholic” tropes. These are just as inaccurate as the “Hitler was an atheist” trope. Such canned statements show ignorance of history and naïveté in general. It behooves any powerful leader to pander to the religious ebb and flow of his day. Constantine did it, and the Roman Catholic Church was the result. Remember the photos of Bush 43 donning a Kipa and praying at the Wall? Hitler used religion. He tried to destroy mainstream churches. Jews weren’t the only ones consigned to concentration camps: priests, nuns and Jehovah’s Witness were, too. Hitler youth were indoctrinated in blasphemy from the ground up. Consider the following “children of Hitler” chant from the 1934 Nuremburg Party rally:
No evil priest can prevent us from feeling that we are the children of Hitler. We follow not Christ but Horst Wessel. Away with incense and holy water. The church can go hang for all we care. The swastika brings salvation on Earth. (Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich, p.442)
There was a Nazi rendition of “Silent Night” that was mandatory in state-run orphanages. The Nazis also had their own marriage and baptismal rites. This was anti-YHWH pagan occultism, plain and simple. Next time you hear somebody trot out the tropes, educate them.
I’ve never been a huge fan of holidays, at least not throughout my adult life. I mean, what kid doesn’t love them? You get time off from school, people often give you gifts, and sometimes you even get to dress up funny or scary and collect free candy. But as an adult, and a “religious” adult in particular, I find myself increasingly less enthused with them.
Christmas was the first to go on my “I so love holidays” list, for reasons I’d rather not digress into. In my experience, every argument given to support observance of holidays can be given in support of living holy everyday. Sure, holidays are good because we get to see friends and family, or because they prompt us to more deeply consider our convictions, or because some of us spend them giving to the poor, but people ought to have these things at heart every single day.
Every now and again I meditate on the fact that the atheist / naturalist / materialist position cannot be empirically vindicated. By atheist / naturalist / materialist position, I mean the Epicurean idea that death entails the complete and final cessation of consciousness – that after we die, there will be no more thought, no more experience, no more anything.
One of the many disadvantages of this world view is that no other option can potentially befall it other than falsification. That is to say, even if this position is correct, we can never prove it, for how could we ever be conscious of the cessation of consciousness to prove that such was indeed the case? You need consciousness to prove anything, and indeed, the atheist / naturalist / materialist position cannot be empirically vindicated. It can only prove false, because if even one iota of consciousness continues in any form after death, the idea is effectively bunk.
And so the challenge is for any atheist, naturalist or materialist to satiate my curiosity by reasonably or at least politely answering the following questions: Why believe in an idea whose only possible empirical verification is disproof? What of the hypocrisy in committing yourself to a position that claims to rely on proof as the highest measure of truth when the position itself cannot possibly be proven?
Just what is a Christian? Or, what set of behaviors is implied by the term? Famed logician and skeptic Bertrand Russell addressed this in his essay Why I Am Not A Christian:
Perhaps it would be as well, first of all, to try to make out what one means by the word Christian. It is used these days in a very loose sense by a great many people. Some people mean no more by it than a person who attempts to live a good life…"
As in Russell's time, the meaning of the word is vague today. It seems possible to be a Christian by one person’s definition yet equally possible to not be a Christian by another’s. If the definition of the word Christian is assumed to be somebody who believes in God and goes to church, then by that definition there are a great many Christians around. However, if a Christian is defined as somebody who accepts and adheres to the teachings of Christ, then there are hardly any Christians around. Besides, what type of Christian are you referring to? Protestant? Catholic? Liberal? Scientist? The point of all this is not to play the game of semantics; rather, such examples are included to highlight the importance of clarifying our terms to prevent the furthering of ignorance, dissension and misunderstanding.