I have my own Theory as to why this happens. I don’t think that Christianity was singled out because it is safe, I think Christianity remains a Target because you won’t get Christians to go about stabbing or beheading people who mock them, and there has been no Holocaust ( and no subsequent Lawyers) who can create an Anti-Defamation liege based on a previous Horror like the Jews.
It has to do also with why I don’t really get all excited about Democracy, or why I scoff at Atheists who bleat on about Logic and Reason and how Science will save us all. In addition to the Later Atheists often not really using anything approaching Reason and having just as often no actual understanding of what Science is (Dawkins irritates me with insistence that its a Philosophy, when its really a Methodology…but I digress…) the Pro-Democracy lot also seem oblivious to what Democracy really is. Ultimately, they just associate the words with a sort of Mythology of their own, and base certain expectations off of that.
To explain further, I have said before that there is no such thing as someone who Truly Lacks Religion. This is because Religion is nothing more than a sort of Intellectual Framework built from ideas that explains to you how the world around you works and who you are and how best to get on with life in said World. Religion basically exists to supply its adherents with a general mean of how to comprehend their own existence and is concerned with Addressing the Fundamental Questions of our existence such as who we are, where we came from, and what the Ultimate meaning of Life is. Any Philosophy that does this, and I used by its Adherent to shape their entire life and perspective, is a Religion.
Since we need to form some mental framework for how we think, we will inevitably develop something that would form into a Religion. Its impossible not to.
Most ( No I did not say all) Atheists are Secular Humanists these days, for example. Secular Humanism is a Philosophy that bills itself as a non-Religious Philosophy and an Alternative to Religion. Secular Humanism also addresses all the Same Questions as Religion, covers all the same grounds that Religion covers, and serves the same basic need that Religion serves. It functions the same way that Religion functions. It is thus the same in all ways to a Religion, with the same Value and Purpose to its Adherents. Yet, somehow because Secular Humanists reject belief in God they say that there own beliefs are not Religious. I find this rather odd as many Religions such as some forms of Buddhism are not Theistic.
I’d say that Secular humanism is simply a Non-Theistic Religion that bills itself as not a Religion due to the negative connotation given to the word “Religion”, and how the Humanists often view themselves as superior because they have started to use Reason, identified with Humanism itself, as opposed to Faith, identified with tings like Christianity, and thus see themselves as immune from the same foibles.
I’d argue the same is True of other Atheistic beliefs, such as Neitcheism, or Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. They all function as a Religion in the Minds of their Adherents. They Answer the same basic questions and serve the same function in exactly the same way.
You may well now say, That is, of course, all well and good but what does it have to do with why Christianity is bashed?
That is where part two of my Masters Thesis comes in.
The Human Mind ultimately works by telling Stories and by Association. This is perhaps an Evolutionary Adaptation related to Memory that enables rapid association and pattern recognition so that Decisions can be made faster and so that Groups may form a collective or individual Identity. Or, to may simply be a function of having a concept of Memory and a need to make sense of the World.
Whatever causes it, we know that the Human Mind is a Storytelling Mind. Whilst capable of thinking in Abstraction, the Human Mind never truly relates to an Abstract form and needs an absolute, physical representation before something seems Real. At the same Time, Real objects often become more significant than they are in Nature simply because they are imbued with those Abstractions.
Suffice to say, Humans basically Create Mythological Tales that embody basic principles and that help them make sense of the World they see around them. These Myths are not necessarily make believe Stories, they can be Real Events, but often those Events Transcended the mere Historical Facts and become the embodiment of some Idea or Ideal. A Primary example of this in Modern History is the now Ubiquitous Adolph Hitler. He is so Ubiquitous that Godwins Law was created based on people comparing other people to Hitler. Hitler is not to us simply the Chancellor of Germany who managed to overtake the Government and institute the Nazi Regime and Start World War 2, he is, in essence, our Collective ANTI-CHRIST. He is the Living personification of Evil and the ultimate reflection of Hatred and Tyranny. Hitler is no longer a mere man, but a powerful Mythological Figure who’s very Name is connected to the very Epitome of Evil itself. He, along with the Nazi’s, define how we understand what Evil even is, and even today in Movies or TV shows or books, many of the “Bad guys” are patterned explicitly on Hitler and the Nazi Regime.
The Story of World War 2, and most notably Adolph Hitler’s entire Persona and the general Regalia and Pomp and Ideals of the Nazi Party are used by us to explain everything form Modern Politics ( Actually completely valid as WW2 still effects modern Political Ideas) to how some people view co-workers or their boss. (Much less realistic.)
People will see these Parallels and draw the connection.
Another good example I often use is America’s Founding Fathers.
Whereas Hitler is a universal Evil and most Evil man to Live in our Narrative, America’s Founding Fathers embody our Ideals as to what it means to be an American. On them we lavish the same Adoration and Veneration as Saints in the Catholic or Orthodox Church, and on them we project our very Idea of what it means to be American.
The American War for Independence now transcends real History and has become so linked in the Minds of Americans with the Soaring Rhetoric and sweeping Philosophical Ideals America was Founded on as to be utterly inseparable.
As a Result, the Loyalists are forgotten or simply cast as cowards or Villains and the Image of King George the Third as a Tyrant who brutally suppressed the Colonies endures not only as a representative of a bad Government, but as a Living representative of all monarch and all Monarchies that ever existed, and sow why Monarchism itself is Evil and why a Republic is about Freedom.
We also project onto the British Government the opposite of all American Values, such as Freedom of Speech and Freedom fo Religion. Its just assumed that if America’s Founders stood for something, the evil King George must have opposed it.
Yes some people have bothered to read the Real History and know better, but most of them still have deeply engrained Romantic Notions of the Revolution and who America’s Founders were.
You also have what I like to call Historical Hijacking. The Tea Party for instance drapes themselves in America’s Founders and Revolutionary War Imagery to Identify themselves with the Founding Fathers, and to basically acquire the Authority they had. The Tea Party also depicts the Loyalists as Liberal progressives and says that the struggle they have today is Identical to that of 1776.
To them, America’s Founders held the same Modern Views they do.
But it’s not just the Conservatives who do this, as often Liberals have misrepresented History to secure the Imaginary Blessing and automatic Authority of America’s Founding Generation. EG, the ever present claim that Thomas Jefferson rejected Christianity and was a Deist. ( as if being a Deist meant you were not a Christian.)
Both left and right say America’s Founders supported their views, and as they are Dead thy can be made to agree with anything. The same is True of Abraham Lincoln, or other Great heroes of Old who are now a Storied and Legendary part of our Culture.
In the end, the Basic Mythology is the same. Both the TEA Party and the Occupy Wall Street Protestors use the American Dream and the vision of “Our Glorious Founders” to inspire their own Movements and justify their own actions. They gain Credibility in following in the Footsteps of Liberty America’s Founders presented and personal Inspiration as well for their Ideas. However, they often also read into the Mythology their own Ideals, reinterpreting the Mythology and basic concepts to suit a Modern political position.
In the end, it’s the Emotional Attachment to the Mythology and the ability to read into Vague abstract Philosophical Ideals and a few Catchphrases that is used to subsequently tell a new Story of a Modern Struggle by basing it on a supposedly Higher Ideal. This can even be done by two groups, like occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, that Fundamentally oppose one another.
Ultimately, what is relevant is the Shared Narrative, for it determines how you see things and how you Justify your own Actions.
You will also see the same pattern in regards specifically to Christianity. I believe it was you on this Bog ( I may be mistaken) that referenced how it is a shame that people still talk about “The Dark Ages”, and how most of what people think they know of the Middle Ages is wrong.
The Middle Ages was not a Time of backwardness in which the Knowledge of the Romans and Greeks was lost and Culture Stagnated under the Heavy Heel of Oppression by corrupt Kings and an all powerful and Equally ( or perhaps yet more) corrupt Catholic Church. The Truth is that many Buildings from the Middle Ages were built using techniques in advance of the Romans. The Classics were not lost, and Philosophy continued to Evolve, as did Culture and Art.
But the Dark Ages continues to be a powerful Story deeply engrained in our Consciousness, and plays a Vital Role in the Demonisation of Christianity as a Whole.
Christianity was basically the only Real Religion around till about the 18th Century Enlightenment. Sure, they knew of Islam, but how many Muslims existed in Europe or the America’s at the Time? Jews also existed but were already marginalised. Most people were at least nominally Christian in Culture even if not belief and the general Moral and Ethical beliefs of Christianity went unquestioned. While Philosophers and even some Daring theologians did question basic Theological Questions, like David Hume, there was no real effort to depict Christians as anything but people who held certain beliefs. Even Atheists from before the Enlightenment made no regular attacks on honest Piety or sincerely held beliefs.
But then came the Enlightenment and Revolution.
Not contented to be a mere intellectual force and seeking to agitate total Social Change, Enlightenment Thinkers ( of whom only really Paine in the American Revolution belonged, despite some claims otherwise, though Jefferson was Sympathetic) sought to utterly overthrow all existing Institutions and create a New Society and a new Man. Inspired by the writings of Diderot, Rousseau, and Alembert, Jean Le Rond, amongst others, it was decided in France ( and in some other parts of Europe) that Total Revolution was necessary.
The Revolutionaries found it needful to control the Narrative people were told, for like Orwell they understood that he who controls the Past controls the present, and they wanted to both tell how the world is now and how it was, as well as deliver a message of Salvation in the form of how the world should be.
Of course the first Propaganda they used was not their own creation, they merely Modified it. In the 1600’s, and perhaps the late 1500’s, the Catholic Church was attacked by dredging up the teem “The Dark Ages” and giving it new meaning. Originally coined by Petrarch to simply refer to a period of Decline in Latin Literature, it now took on the more familiar Sinister connotations of s Time of great Evil, in which Suppression took place. All, of course, blamed on the Catholic Church. Catholicism had, according to this version of History, risen to power on the back of Political Corruption by aligning itself with the pagan Emperor Constantine, and then set out to eradicate all freedom. This lead to Cultural Stagnation and loss of all the advances enjoyed till then, whilst giving Rise to an Ever increasing Corruption within the Church who’s Clergy now existed to increase their own power and Wealth, not to Minister Christ.
Naturally, the Protestants rose up with True Christianity to break the bonds of the Evil, Corrupt Church and set people Free, and once again began the Wheels of Progress.
Finding this Story useful in Heavily Catholic France, the Revolutionaries modified it yet Further to now depict Christianity in General as an Evil, oppressive Force, not merely the Catholic Church. Though it should be noted that the Catholic Church was still seen as the worst Church, for the First Time Protestants were attacked on the same Narrative Idea that Christianity itself had held us back and causes us to decay as a Society, and only by its Overthrow can be Advance.
The Story in its Initial form was very much more simple than today but that’s because its been added to and amended over Time.
To add Impetus to this, and to give their own Ideas some Historical Legitimacy, the Revolutionaries bound their Vision of a Republic on Ancient Rome and Greece. As a Natural Result of this, they began to Elevate Greek and Roman Pre-Christian Thought, and thus adapted the Renaissance’s own Romantic attachment to Antiquity.
To the Revolutionaries in France, Pagan Rome was a Bastion of Reason and Free Thought, in which liberty Abound and all were Equal, and even their Religion was more Natural and beautiful!
This Identification of themselves with the Ancients lead to a High Veneration of Ancient Philosophers, but also of Ancient gods and mythology. As with the TEA party or Occupy Wall Street, they also read into this Narrative their own Contemporary Ideals even when such did not really exist in Antiquity.
This is also why Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans both Hate Christianity now and why Atheist and Pagans get on so well. They basically use the same Historical Narrative and stereotypes, and their vision of what the Ancients believed in is mainly rooted in this same seed, though Wicca owes more to the 19th Century Romanticism. More on that later.
At any Rate, while Robespierre was busy forming his “Cult Of The Supreme Being” and Jacques Hébert, Antoine-François Momoro, Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette, Joseph Fouché, and other radical revolutionaries. created their own Murderous Atheistic “Cult Of Reason” (Which also dispels the claim that none have ever killed in the name of Atheism, as Herbert and Mormo and their followers did just that) they all felt compelled to show adoration to a supposed forbearer generation by paying Honours to the lost Republics.
It is here that both the Antipathy toward Christianity began, and the Rationalisation on why its OK.
Based on a newfound Need to create villains in History, the same Enlightenment thinkers began to rework the History of the Christian Faith, depicting it as a Political ploy by Emperor Constantine to control the Masses, insisting it was spread by Violence and the Sword, and in the end creating the Modern Mythic versions of the Crusades and Inquisition that are still favourite weapons to use against Christians today. All of this was produced as a sort of Interpretive History designed to prop up the new Ideals of the Enlightenment.
Dennis Diderot and Edward Gibbons wrote their own works as well, helping this Narrative Along. Gibbons blamed the Fall of the glorious Roman Empire on Christianity, for example, saying it had made them too weak to resist the Barbarians. It didn’t matter how this contradicted the image of Bloodthirsty Christian Hordes invading an Idyllic Europe and Slaughtering those who refused to convert, it was still used.
From this, Christianity was Branded as an Enemy of Reason, an Anti-Intellectual force that stopped us from thinking for ourselves, and as, of course, a Great cause for all manner of Civil and Social Evils.
These claims began to loose Steam as people lost interest in the Enlightenment and began to not e the Hypocrisies and excesses of the Revolutionaries. France was in Shambles and the Reign of Terror had discredited many of these objections, or at least rendered the accusers in no position to complain.
In America the Great Awakening had happened. In the mid 19th Century the Second Great Awakening occurred as did Revivals in Europe. Only handfuls still clung to the Revolutionary Propaganda. T quietly faded away, except for Gibbons History.
But Ideas can be pernicious, and from so small a spark can reignite a great Fire at any Time. In the 19th Century, such a Fire was Kindled in the form of a new Movement called progressivism.
Writers like Marx began to against Dream of Worldwide Revolution, and preached on a Democratic Ideal inspired by the Revolutionaries in France. Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution was in Full Swing and the Idea of a Linier, progression of Man ever upward in Technology developed, and soon evolved to see Humanity ever improving up a Linear Progression on all Things, not just technology.
With the Advent of Modern Sciences as well, some began to argue that the Bible was wrong and Theological Claims discredited. This was a bit silly as most Theologians had accepted an Old Earth for a long Time but, Ushers Chronology had been published in the King James Bible for over 150 Years now and was the accepted “Lay” explanation, which was then seen as what all Christians believed. The development of the Freethought Movement, which embraced these Ideas and claimed to want Liberation from Dogma, began to take shape.
Finding the Former propaganda useful, they began to rework it to their own new ideas, and began to read into the Revolution in France their own Modern views as well.
The idea that Christianity opposed reason, while not true, began to be often quoted and cited since the Early 19th Century and now began to take on Cultural Relevance by the mid to late 19th century.Many freethinkers (as they called themselves) began to really tie reason and Science, but most Science was done by Clergy. It took the proffessionalisation of Science to really even enable this. But once the Profrfessionalisation of Science and separation of it from Church Patronage had occurred, IT became necessary for Scientists to create their own Separate identity that distanced themselves from their obvious Church related past, so many jumped onto the Freethought bandwagon and began to openly oppose Christianity.
In the 1870’s, two men, John Draper and Andrew White wrote separate Books that proved quiet influential in this regard, as they produced what is now known as the draper-White Conflict Thesis. This thesis says that there is a Fundamental Conflict between Religion and Science, and that whenever Science Advances, it is inevitably resisted by Religion, which fiercely opposes its claims. In the end though, Science Prevails and religion recedes yet further.
The Purpose of these books was to essentially promote Science over Christianity. In drapers, mainly Catholicism again, as he says protestants aren’t so bad. It also existed to help create a separate identity for Scientists and to explain what it meant to be a Scientist, even if this was at the expense of Christianity by depicting it as the Villain that must be opposed.
The Books were best sellers, and while heavily criticized by Academics for False Claims. Became widely read and believed.
It was heavily reliant on bad History though, and equally responsible for its propagation. EG, that people in the Middle Ages believed the Earth was Flat is from Drapers book.
In addition to all this, Anti-Catholic books meant to attack only Catholicism, such as the now infamous “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop enjoyed a wide readership. Many of its claims would fall into “Common Knowledge” and become engrained as well in the Minds of Society. However, most of Hislops claims didn’t require much Modification to blast all Christians, not just Catholics. Soon, the history of Hislops book would be used by the Enemies of his own protestant faith, with no one checking the History.
This lead to a general cultural sentiment, mainly carried by Osmosis and producing an automatic emotionally based distrust of Christianity. It also leads to even Christians accepting that Christianity has a shameful. Blood soaked History that is inexcusable.
With Modern Academics still being Human and thus not really entirely rational, they tend to fall into groupthink, as does our Society at large.
While it’s obviously not true, Christianity has become synonymous with the Dark Ages and holding back Science and Reason, with the general narrative being bigoted Christians who need to learn tolerance and acceptance, or the evil now dreaded Fundamentalists who want to return us to the Dark Ages because Christians hate Science.
In essence, Christianity and its History aren’t objectively studied, Christianity is treated as a Singular and never changing thing that acts to represent a rather unpleasant but ill defined concept of social division, hatred, and stupidity, with Christians being either irrational bigots or Naive childish fools who don’t know Science and can’t live in the real World or think for themselves.
Ridicule of these pathetic creatures is clearly deserved.
But we also live in an Era when our Politically Correct Elites want to feel Enlightened and tolerant, so if Muslims bomb buildings and shoot people it id their sacred duty to say “Not all Muslims do this’ and to defend even those Muslims who do. It is, after all, the Wests fault due to Cultural imperialism and the Colonialisation that happened a long Time Ago. While I cant get into the Anti-Western Western Bias ( I’d love to but this is too long as is) I will need to mention it in passing. Basically the West is on a guilt Trip over the Age of Empires and wants to show how its changed and is now reasonable and Tolerant and following the Path of Equality and Democracy and all that jazz.
Mix this with the fact that they now see anyone of a different ethic background than whites as Victims, and all Cultures as Victims somehow of the Evil Imperial past and you get them siding with Muslims like wildfire.
Yes it is inconsistent to think of all religion as opposed to Science and Freethought only to defend Islam on how Tolerant and wonderful it is, but Logical Consistency is not to be expected in humanity. Christianity has been singled out for abuse base don a former Historical Narrative that really doesn’t speak about Islam much at all, and is already known to be Evil and oppressive, whilst Islam came to us much later in our Cultural Awareness so gets to ride the waves of proving we are Tolerant and believe in Equality.
At first people just don’t think about it, but when confronted by this hypocrisy usually make some sort of excuse.
Tis also human nature, I’m afraid.
Its not rational, it makes no sense, and it is Hypocritical, but that’s the basic reason. Until we abandon the Cultural Stereotypes and bad history tis founded on, this will continue.
But fortunately the Study of History says these images always change, given enough Time.