Imagine No Heaven and Lots of War

War2by Enza Ferreri   1/20/15
It’s a common, but misconceived, idea that Western people have grown disillusioned with religion because of religious wars in the distant or — in the almost unique case of Northern Ireland — recent past.

People on the Left have taken this view with a bit more consistency than those on the Right.

Think of John Lennon’s song Imagine. He saw world peace and unification in the abolition of what he considered as all causes of division and conflict: religion, class, nation.

Lennon was, to put it in euphemistically-correct language, “cognitively challenged”, but at least one can’t deny his consistency and even-handedness in spreading the blame for war potential among different causative factors.

On the Right, instead, we have activists who condemn religion for provoking wars while at the same time strenuously supporting the value of nationhood.

Let’s look at this as scientifically and empirically as we can.

Vast numbers of people have been killed in wars fought along class lines or for socialism, or proclaimed as such, and in their aftermaths: French Revolution, Russian Revolution, China, the spread of communism to Eastern Europe, Spanish Civil War, Vietnam, and these are only the main ones. Lennon’s idea of the pacifying effect of the abolition of classes was not very far-sighted.

Many have also been killed in self-declared national wars: European wars, American Revolution, the Two World Wars, wars against colonial powers and so on.

And many have been killed in Christian religious wars; in fact there is an overlapping of several national and religious wars in Europe.

The reasons why I limit myself to Christianity are two: it’s always been the religion of the West, and — not coincidentally — it’s the only religion that can survive rational examination.

Writers like the New Atheists have had some influence in setting the current debate in terms of simply “religion”, as if we could treat all religions in the same way.

But think if we did that with science.

After all, science includes many different theories. Some of them, like Ptolemy’s geocentrism postulating the earth at the centre of the universe, have now been rejected. And yet Ptolemaic astronomy is a scientific theory, both in the historic sense that it was for centuries accepted by the scientific community, and because it used the best scientific methodology available at the time.

In the same way as, when we talk about science, we make distinctions between theories — invalid ones like geocentrism or Copernicus’ circular orbits and currently valid ones like relativity and quantum physics — so we should do when the subject is religion and distinguish among greatly different doctrines.

Religions other than Christianity are primitive and constraining: Judaism with its excessive, indeed obsessive, emphasis on a great number of laws and rituals; Islam ordering the slaughter of all infidels to establish a utopian paradise on earth; Hinduism with its plethora of deities representing contradictory values; Buddhism with its withdrawal from the world.

Christianity has represented an immense liberation and step forward for mankind.

I am not saying that attachment to one’s nation is a bad thing; far from it. I think that — if it doesn’t trascend into fanaticism — is a value to cherish.

Many good things can become bad if fanatically supported. That is true of defence of nationalism as well as blind defence of science of the kind that Richard Dawkins has accustomed us to.

I just question the consistency of someone who adduces religious wars as the reason to reject Christianity but doesn’t consider national wars as a reason to reject nationalism, despite the fact that violence and massacres were caused by both.

Indeed, the first century after the triumph of “secularism”, the 20th century, has seen some of the bloodiest conflicts and genocidal wars in history.

The reality is that the progressive abandonment of Christianity in its home, the West, in particular in Europe, has not been caused by a reaction to religious wars. It has not been a spontaneous process in the consciences of native people, but the effect of instigation and propaganda by few, by elites with their own ideological agendas and alien interests, often damaging to the indigenous population: communists, atheists and ethnic elites, frequently the same people.


EnzaEnza Ferreri is an Italian-born, London-based Philosophy graduate, author, and journalist. She has been a London correspondent for several Italian magazines and newspapers, including Panorama, L’Espresso, La Repubblica. She is in the Executive Council of the UK’s party Liberty GB. • (3604 views)

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7 Responses to Imagine No Heaven and Lots of War

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Think of John Lennon’s song Imagine. He saw world peace and unification in the abolition of what he considered as all causes of division and conflict: religion, class, nation.

    What has been passed down to us by the 50’s and 60’s is a naive, Kindergarten mindset. Dennis Prager has a saying: “Everything the Left touches it makes worse.” You could substitute “hippies” for “Left.”

    That drug-addled generation pined not just for a better world (a worthy goal) but a perfect one…and thus so despised the present one all the more, not seeing in it the better world that had been built, difficult brick by difficult brick. These spoiled, thoughtless, narcissistic little children now hold the reins of power and influence, in government and the media.

    Hippies, and their progeny (aka “Progressives”) are very much air-headed. If this was not a dangerous world, their delusions wouldn’t matter. But as we see with Islam creeping into the West and slowly subverting it, these Rousseauian child-like delusions do matter.

    There are many facets and ingredients that go into the ideology of the Left. But perhaps nothing captures the attitude of your typical dumb-ass Progressive or hippie like Lennon’s “Imagine” song. The idea goes like this: If people didn’t believe in anything firmly, then we would have no conflicts. To hold any kind of preconception is to be “prejudiced,” and there is obviously nothing worse than this in the mind of the dumb-ass, Kindergarten-brained Progressive.

    Do you think I exaggerate? I do not. I ran across a great post the other day while reading the reviews of a prospective book, War Before Civilization. This books makes the rock-solid case that ancient and tribal man — rather than living in a Rousseauian state of perfect sustainable harmony — was a bloody, warlike being — worse than today. The “nobel savage” is a central myth of today.

    One astute reviewer had pointed this out, which caused another person (the dumb-ass) to write:

    As for humanity being intrinsically ugly- speak for yourself, brother. Any meaningful discussions of sociology, history or politics must start WITHOUT ANY ASSUMPTIONS, or they are destructive folly.

    Try getting out of bed in the morning without at least the assumption of gravity.

    There is, of course, nothing wrong with working for peace, in turning the other cheek, in not being so quick to be offended, to mediate a different rather than resort to violence, to make an attempt to understand the complexities of a situation, to even try to understand the other person’s point of view.

    But, truly, only a Kindergarten-brained dumb-ass would think, and write, that we must start with no assumptions (which, of course, is itself an assumption). The brains of our yutes have been addled by this feel-good, good-time-rock-and-roll fluff (which has now, frankly, made it to the very top of the moral hierarchy — the Pope).

    How about we change the song a little:

    Imagine there’s no dumb-asses…

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I seem to recall that Rush Limbaugh had a song a couple of decades ago (this may have been before he started relying on Paul Shanklin) that was a parody of “Imagine” (“Imagine there’s no liberals” — certainly a much improved world concept).

    Note that the militant atheists tend to be leftists, and thus sympathetic to the ideology of the Killing Fields, the Terror Famine, the GULags, and the Cultural Revolution (among many, many horrors). Note also how many are reluctant to criticize Islam (though Christopher Hitchens did so readily, and Richard Dawkins did recently as well). This indicates that there primary motive is probably christophobia, probably resulting from some very negative encounter when young.

  3. GHG says:

    On the subject of large scale killing in the name of Christ or Christianity … am I missing something? Even if one accepts that the crusades were evidence of Christians killing in the name of Christ rather than in response to Islamic aggression, that was hundreds of years ago! Furthermore, the Holy Book of Chrstianity, specifically the teachings of Christ in the New Testament, doesn’t command that we kill, it commands that we love our enemy and turn the other cheek. Christians that kill in the name of Christ are not following the teachings of Christ and other Christians are quick to speak out against them.

    Those who equate the killing happening now by Muslims in the name of Islam with the crusades hundreds of years ago are willfully blind to the differences or simply do not have faculty to discern truth from lies.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Not only were the killings by the Crusaders (and later actions such as the Inquisition) long ago, and those of the Hebrews even further in the past, but they don’t represent any generic command either to kill infidels or to conquer the world. The Hebrews were specifically commanded on several occasions to slaughter their enemies (such as the Amalekites, Midianites, and Moabites, none of whom survive today to be targeted), these were specific commands for specific occasions. Christians had no such Biblical command at all. But the Koran does command unending jihad against all infidels, and especially the slaughter of Jews.

  4. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    I would add that wars between nations, such as WWI and WWII, were not caused by “nationalism” (pride in one’s nation) but by the simple lust for power. Dictators are never satisfied at ruling one nation; they dream of building an empire. It’s part of the disease that is the will to power. It’s interesting that the Left does not understand this, since they themselves are animated by power-lust. It’s a measure of just how great their cognitive dissonance is that they do not understand their own motives, believing them to be simon-pure (typically “helping the downtrodden” etc.).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      My way of looking at the causes of war is that they’re more or less the same as the causes for murder. Consider, for example, the Franco-Prussian War. Bismarck wanted a war because he needed to be attacked by a major power in order to unify Germany under Prussian domination. So he basically provoked France by insulting them, in effect waving a red flag in front of a bull. The War of Jenkins’ Ear was another with an incredibly ridiculous casus belli. Patriotism can be used to stoke support, and nationalism (and for that matter ethnic, racial, or religious disputes) can be used to increase patriotism.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Great points, Tim.

        And Nik is right about the basic thrust of “the will to power.” The remarkable change in the West (which has not been appreciated by closet Marxists such as the Pope, and certainly not by Obama) is that the West — using a combination of freedom, free markets, and political/economic liberty — have overcome the time-honored way to accumulate wealth: plunder.

        For all the high-minded words of “the poor” and their supposed benefactors (read George Wills latest column at NRO for some stats), there are only two ways to get wealth: make it or plunder it. And the welfare state, in effect, is a return to plundering (the “poor” are now plundering those who work for a living).

        For nations it’s been the same thing. War is a quick way to plunder, although there are obviously a variety of reasons nations or tribes go to war. And that hardly needs explaining because it’s been the standard of human nature and societies to be at war. What needs embracing are the reasons and the means that we’ve been able to rise above that.

        Thus all of these frickin’ “social justice” idiots who support the plundering of other people’s wealth for the supposed “poor” need to understand that they are working to yank civilization backward.

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