Tuesday, February 28, 2017

a tolerant religion is a dead religion

A great deal of the controversy between atheists and religious folks, and between Christians and Muslims, comes down to the question of tolerance. Atheists accuse anyone who believes in religion of intolerance while Christians preen themselves on their astounding levels of tolerance. 

There is one thing that one can’t help noticing. The most tolerant religions are the ones that are completely dead. No-one ever complains about the bigotry of mithraists. No-one ever accuses mithraists of racism or sexism or homophobia. There’s a very good reason for this. There aren’t any mithraists any more.

The more a religion declines the more tolerant it becomes. The tolerance displayed by Christianity is not a sign of virtue - it’s a sign of irrelevance. Even Christians don’t care what Christians believe any more. Christianity is, for most Christians, a harmless hobby. Like stamp-collecting. And like stamp-collecting it’s a hobby that is slowly but surely dying out.

That’s one of the reason so many people are so freaked out by Islam. Say what you like about it, you can’t accuse it of being a dead or dying religion. It’s frightening because it’s a living religion.

Back in the days when it was still a living religion Christianity could be pretty intolerant as well. And we need to remember that intolerance is not always a bad thing. After all why shouldn’t we be intolerant of Sin? Or intolerant of injustice? Or intolerant of dangerous and deluded heresies? We’re intolerant of murder - is that a bad thing? Most of us are pretty intolerant of thieving.

If Christianity is ever going to stage a successful revival it’s going to have to stop being so nice. If you’re going to be a Christian in our society you’re going to be hated anyway. The one thing worse than being hated is being despised.

Tolerance is just another way of saying that we simply don’t care. Perhaps that will be our civilisation’s epitaph - they just didn’t care.

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