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Sectarianism, God and the world's problems

Reader comment on item: The Middle East Runs out of Water
in response to reader comment: A Problem with Monotheism, or just one branch of it?

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Oct 2, 2015 at 03:43

Hi, Ron. You said,

"Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that 'Abraham', or whoever came up with this powerful story about the "one true God of all"..."

Powerful story? That's an interesting way to put it. Abraham's God is described as all-powerful; and the story is about Him; so I assume it was relayed to Abraham by some worthy agent. If it were a "flimsy" story, of course, I would suspect purely human authorship.

"...opened the door to centuries of unending sectarian rivalries and wars."

Did it? I'm trying to picture just where that door is, and what it opens unto on the other side. Up until Abraham's time, there are records of many wars, city against city and nation against nation; and each city and nation had its "god" whose honor it was defending. That being the case, I suspect that the "door", wherever it was, was already ajar.

One has to wonder if a wise God (and I admit my own complete absence of belief) would ever have proclaimed this idea to mankind since, if truly wise, he would understand what the nature and psychology of his creation would predictably do with the idea of 'one true God'?

There's a problem with trying to decide how wise God is and isn't. "Wisdom", after all, is in the eye of the judge. The God of Abraham is credited with having created and sustained the Universe -- quite an accomplishment, requiring considerable planning, forethought and other aspects of wisdom. It stands to reason, that the creation is less wise than the Creator, especially since we seem unable to create and sustain one tiny planet. let along an orderly arrangement of galaxies -- and the laws governing them. It's probably wiser, on our part, to try to understand God's wisdom in what He's done, rather than criticising Him. I will note, as a pertinent matter, the fact that the universe itself is beset by continual "warfare" of planets, stars and other bodies annihilating one another. Should we suppose that we humans are somehow immune to these same things? I tend to give God credit for having a great deal more wisdom than you and I put together.

I'm not trying to nit-pick here, just to satisfy you that I am carefully considering what you said. You continued:

Because of centuries of earlier conflicts which ended over 400 years ago, the West has conquered the urge to mass murder those who do not share either the belief in one God or the meaning of His message.

I'm having trouble following that. Four hundred years ago was 1615, three years before the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. That was fought between Montheist and Monotheist, and was horrific -- about half of Germany was killed, by some estimates. Other notably bloody wars since then include the Taiping Rebellion, the American Civil War and the two World Wars. I think that covers the bloodiest. These wars were fought between nominal Christians and nominal Christians in the West, and between fellow followers of "Eastern" religions in the East. Relatively speaking, there was little conflict between Monotheists and non-Monotheists. Concerning the "meaning of God's message", it's also hard to draw conclusions. In the Thirty Years' War, Protestant Saxons fought for the Pope's allies and the Catholic French fought against him. In the American Civil War, Baptists fought against Baptists and Methodists against Methodists.

During the period before 1615, there were many bloody conflicts; but I believe the greatest of these were the Mongol invasions of Europe, China and the Middle East. The Mongols were shamanists; but soon after their conquests, they largely adopted the religions of the conquered peoples: Nestorian Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and so forth. In any case, I did not see an urge to mass murder until Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews. Even the Rapacious Mongols left some people alive to grow the next year's crops, so the Mongols could come back a year later and steal them from them. You went on,

"...It certainly appears that we have mastered the dreadful problem of lethal sectarian rivalries, probably permanently. But it flares brighter than ever in the Muslim world..."

Let me think about that. The bloodiest conflicts in the Muslim world, of Muslim on Muslim (as opposed to, say, the conflict between Muslims and Hindus), have probably been (1) the Iran-Iraq War and (2) the long Turkish-Kurdish conflict. The Turks and Kurds, of course, are both mostly Sunni and/or secular. During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah's forces were Shi'ite Islamists. Sadaam's forces were largely Sunni, but they were led by the secular Ba'athist Party. In the West, we have been engaged primarily in the Cold War between secular/atheist Russians and secular/Christian Americans. Since then, the Russian leadership has re-cast itself as the defender of religion in general and of Orthodoxy inparticular, while the West seems to be re-casting itself as the defender of Hedonism and Sodomy. In Africa, meanwhile, big conflicts include the Muslim-on-Muslim conflict in Darfur, and the Christian-on-Christian conflicts in Rwanda and elsewhere. In NIgeria, which is half Christian and half Muslim, both religions have fought wars together against the Catholics of Biafra and the Puritanical Sunnis of Borno.

Let me skip down, and see what point you're getting at. You said,

'Your message gets more obscure when you say, "if he is truly God, then these (sectarian) issues are important." I must dissent.'

Aah, now I think I may see the problem. I said that the doctrinal issues, which you interpret as "sectarian" issues, are important to God. I don't recall exactly what I said; but I agree that the hair-splitting that separates Christian and Muslim sects, such as whether the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ before or after the priest's blessing; or whether Ali was the legitimate successor of Mohammed, are essentially meaningless to God. What I think is important to God, is whether He is the God of Moses and the Jewish Bible writers or, contrawise, of Muhammed -- who claims that the Bible is a fraud; or whether He is just another manifestation of Zeus or Osiris. People get puffed up, thinking that theirs is the "one true way", based on things like abortion and homosexuality. God is concerned about those things; but I prefer not to get too involved in them. I have my own life to account for before God, and I don't want the burden of trying to condemn or justify others around me -- it's just too much for the old boy to deal with. Suffice to say that if I was trying to make some sort of point about these things, I recant it all.

Thank you for reading what I had to say, in such detail. God bless and keep you.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".


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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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