Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Paul Belien in The Washington Times

Today’s Washington Times features the editor of Brussels Journal, Paul Belien:

Europe is in the middle of a three-way culture war, between the defenders of traditional Judeo-Christian morality, the proponents of secular hedonism and the forces of Islamic Jihadism. In Western Europe, the fight between Christians and secularists is all but over. The secularists have won. Now, the religious vacuum left by the demise of Christianity is being filled by the Muslims. Since one cannot fight something with nothing, the European secularists are no match for Islam.

Notice Mr. Belien’s emphasis on Western Europe. He points out the difference in Eastern Europe, where Poland has locked horns with the EU on a number of issues:

On April 25, the European Parliament (EP), the EU’s legislature, adopted a resolution condemning “homophobia.” With 325 votes against 124 and 150 abstentions, the EP warned Poland that it will face sanctions if it adopts a law barring the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Churches, too, were reprimanded for “fermenting hatred and violence [against homosexuals].” Poland’s prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, commented on the resolution: “Nobody is limiting gay rights in Poland. However, if we’re talking about not having homosexual propaganda in Polish schools… such propaganda should not be in schools.” Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice retorted: “There is no homophobia in the Catholic Church and it is time that all this [recrimination of Christians in the European Parliament] ended.”

It is not likely to end. The fight against “intolerance” — i.e. adherence to traditional Christian morality — is intensifying. On May 3, the European Court of Human Rights found Polish President Lech Kaczynski guilty of violating human rights because he banned a “gay pride” parade in Warsaw in 2005. Last March, the same court ordered Poland to compensate a woman who was denied an abortion. Last year, Poland was denounced by the Council of Europe because it prohibited the distribution in schools of a leaflet about homosexuality.

- - - - - - - - - -
When Poland joined the EU in May 2004, it did so on [the] condition that “no EU treaties or annexes to those treaties would hamper the Polish government in regulating moral issues or those concerning the protection of human life.” However, in January 2006 the European Parliament called for “tough action” against Poland and the Baltic states, while Franco Frattini, the EU justice commissioner, warned that the EU has powers under Article 13 of the EU Treaty to combat homophobia. The move came after Latvia included an amendment in its constitution that restricts marriage to a man and a woman, and Estonia proposed similar legislation. Some members of the European Parliament have called for punishing Poland and the Baltic states by suspending their voting rights in EU councils.

The EU is tyrannical and duplicitous. Other member states calling for the suspension of Poland’s voting rights in EU councils is a ludicruous threat. What post-modern EU state would ever stand in solidarity with Poland or Latvia to protect its right to preserve its own culture?

The despots rule in Europe. No wonder the sane are fleeing.

23 comments:

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

I don't think Paul Belien is correct on this one.

Islam isn't filling a vacuum left by Christianity. Multiculturalist ideals etc. have filled the vacuum, thus enabling Islam to step in. If Islam itself was filling the vacuum, people would be converting to it, which would of course be a rather strange thing for secularists to do.

It's also rather bizarre to think that it's either Christianity or nothing, as if you can't have strong ideals and morals without it. It's stupid black and white thinking that has no basis in reality. Belien strikes me as a fanatic who wants a theocracy, and that's not something I support.

mistkerl said...

Would it be possible to have Paul clarify the seeming inconsistency in this statement:

In Western Europe, the fight between Christians and secularists is all but over. The secularists have won. Now, the religious vacuum left by the demise of Christianity is being filled by the Muslims. Since one cannot fight something with nothing, the European secularists are no match for Islam.

I mean, if secularists could so easily vanquish Christianity with 'nothing', why can they not fight islam? Does that make any sense? Is he implying that Christianity was also 'nothing' and thats why they could fight it? Or is he implying that Secularism did offer something but now it offers nothing?

kepiblanc said...

OK, maybe secularism has pushed Christendom back in my country, but certainly not to Islam's advantage. MOF some of the worst dhimmies are bishops and priests.

And why should Poland care a rat's a$$ about the EU(SSR). Does the Commission threaten Poland with an invasion by the formidable EU-Army ? - Or send a strongly worded letter ?

7of3 said...

Well, there is no spiritual vacuum among the atheists that I know of (myself included), and hedonism only in moderation... Seriously though, I find it disappointing that Mr. Belien is lashing out at atheism with such disdain - furthermore, I see such attitude as an explanation of why there are no advocates of Mr. Sam Harris for example (book: The End of Faith - Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason) on this blog, regardless of his stance on consequences of islam being almost identical to cumulative sentiment of GoV...

I hope I'm wrong.

BTW, as for the impending EU decline to "umma" - there is dhimmitude for the "people of the Book" but summary execution for the true unbelievers. Motivation abound ...

a citizen said...

Judeo-Christian is not really the cornerstone of Europe nor of the US. Greek concepts of citizenship and democracy and Roman concepts law are. Since they themselves are in many ways inherently secular Belien is taking a real leap.

turn said...

I have a few questions for Jesus Christ Supercop and 7of3.

What would you lay your life down for?
What is important enough to you that you would sacrifice your lifestyle, your comforts, your security?
Assuming you have offspring, what would you hope for their future?

7of3 in particular.

Just how does an atheist recognize the presence or absence of a "spiritual vacuum"?
And what is "moderate hedonism"?

_________________

Secularism didn't exactly vanquish Christianity in the sense that it won some 'war of ideas'.
As the power of the state has increased and people come to rely more and more on government to be their provider the focus on values that, at their very heart assumed 'a reckoning' to a Higher Power, has diminished.
Many minority blocks of people, people that intend to mainstream lifestyles and behaviors previously shunned, have encouraged passage of laws (more like 'edicts' from the EU) that prevent traditional thought and speech.

Current reckoning is that by 2020 muslim population in Western Europe will reach a tipping point and there is broad consensus that ethnic Europeans will have neither the will or strength to maintain their way of life.
If, since the middle of the 1st decade of this century, there are enclaves in much of Western and Northern Europe in which police and emergency services are wont to go, and such enclaves are growing in size and number, what then do you expect to find in the 3rd decade?

What, you're going to get a handle on it?

Paul said...

Kepiblanc's poignant comment: Does the Commission threaten Poland with an invasion by the formidable EU-Army ? - Or send a strongly worded letter ?"

Personally, I think the EU should send a strongly worded letter. Such a respone seems to be the limit of EU understanding of the subject.

I advocate that Poland tell the EU to "piss up a rope". My apology in advance if that is too insensitive.

Would you want some EU know-it-all teaching your kid in school that homosex is A-OK??? I think not.

Paul Belien's comment, "In Western Europe, the fight between Christians and secularists is all but over."

Hmmm. Well, the fight between Christians and vacuum secularists may be over, but the contest between the God who lives and his enemies is far from over.

The consequences of throwing God out of your country is what, an improvement? I don't think so. Any historians care to expand on this?

I hesitate to point this out, but... How long did it take for the Soviet Union of Lenin to come undone? 3 generations? Lenin advocated "many shootings" of church people. What a terrible experience Christians suffered under godless oppression in the USSR. Suffering was the experience of Soviet Christians.

What will it be like, and how long will it take in the godless EU? Or will there be conflict to push the Moors out?

Dymphna said...

kepiblanc--

The EU will keep Eastern Europe on a short leash via oil...don't forget, this is Eurabia we're talking about. Playing kissy-face with the Arabs was always about oil and the East European states are vulnerable in that respect.

This reality is one of the things that has made me realize how truly clueless are those who think we went to Iraq for oil. What they know about geopolitics could be put in a thimble with room left over for what Gore got right about the environment.

Dymphna said...

j.c.s. cop:

Would you be willing to change your argument to the extent of leaving out the adjectival ad hominems? They detract from your point -- acutally they weaken your case and they point back at you...

Your first sentence and your following paragraph are fine. But terms like...

1. bizarre...

2.stupid black and white thinking...

3.a fanatic who wants a theocracy...


all of these have no place in civil discourse.

Please make your arguments without resorting to insults.

I would be most grateful.

Thanks.

turn said...

dymphna-

But...but...but (stutter the BIG pipeline is from...Russia.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

I don't think there's anything inappropriate about the word bizarre, and neither do I think there's anything wrong with calling ideas stupid. But calling him a fanatic who wants a theocracy? Well, that just seems accurate.

Why do I get this feeling that if my post had been directed againts a Muslim fundamentalist, you would not have cared? It's the same thing at LGF: suddenly people are very concerned about being "civil" when the person in question is not a Muslim.

kepiblanc said...

Paul, please listen to an outspoken, European athesist HERE.

kepiblanc said...

And - when done - THIS.

turn said...

I'm disappointed but hardly surprised that JCS failed to answer my earlier questions.

Nothing--nothing--in Belien's statements advocates a return to an imagined theocracy. In truth, one could reasonably posit that the current socialist states in Europe--its multiculturalism and hate thought/speech laws--are equivalent to a theocracy.

We think therefore we are. An element of that self-awareness is what most humans regard as a 'belief system' and some respect as religion. In the absence of an entity to which we answer to, how does one have "strong ideals and morals"?

Where does one learn "strong ideals and morals"? Government schools?

Speaking for myself (and mindful that I'm a guest at GoV) I could not care less about your (jcs) opinions regarding Paul Belien, your crass dismissal of those who profess faith, or your other 'feelings' of inadequacy.

In fewer than 15 years, men and women in Europe will be faced with the choice of 'fight or submit' to islam.

I ask again:
What would you lay your life down for?
What is important enough to you that you would sacrifice your lifestyle, your comforts, your security?

7of3 said...

Re (mostly)Turn & (to a lesser degree)Paul

a)
I hope this discussion does not turn out to be an all-our flamewar on the topic of existence of God, but I feel compelled to answer to what I perceive as thinly veiled hints of innate immorality of atheists.

Allow me to start with a controversial statement: never in my life have I met a single Christian, and in all likeness, hopefully, neither have any of you. Moreover, our morality does not stem from the Bible and it is good that it does not. Take for example an extract from Deuteronomy concerning a person advocating other religions and gods:

"You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. You shall stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt out of the land of slavery." —Deuteronomy (13:9-10).

There are further examples of the same verdict being extended to those who touch pig-skin on Sabbath, disobedient children, etc. It is the Word and the Law, which is duly upheld by Jesus in the New Testament – yet, many who call themselves Christian fail to observantly kill their football teams and offspring for transgressions mentioned above, not to mention that (I hope) none of you had just now embarked on a Bible-mandated quest to subject myself to the same punitive lapidation.

This can only mean that sensible people who call themselves Christians – or have dropped the pretence altogether and call themselves atheists – have the common sense to accept some of the morality-teachings of the Bible and reject the others which do not correspond to their code of morality. This also means that the sense of morality had to come from somewhere else, and, again, that it is good it is so.

The questions posed by Turn's post all relate to the perceived lack of, say, fortitude of atheists against the onslaught of Islam. No fear – we are even more stubborn :) My life, my lifestyle, my comforts, my security (and my children's) are all contingent upon my living in a democratic society that respects the right to self-determination, free dissemination of ideas and values life higher than it values death. For all this I would (and most likely will have to, in not so distant future) fight. The possessions and comforts are rendered completely irrelevant if one has to live in prison-like oppression of any unverifiable dogma which, by its nature, is without petition or appeal and is reliant on circular arguments of it own logical inconsistency. It's where Islam is now and where Christianity was half a millennia ago.

My only wish for the kids is that they would be able to think critically for themselves. If this is accomplished, everything else will naturally follow. This is also an answer to Paul – school cannot dull a an enlivened mind and fallacy in promotion of homosexuality hardly goes unnoticed by a child that understands how species is to survive – as for mentioning homosexuality – though mildly uncomfortable, I do not see kids as victims of indoctrination but participants in debate which I think are perfectly capable of conducting (and enduring).

The spiritual vacuum question is very good and it made me ponder – I do not know how to answer that exactly, but can only describe my state of mind as former Catholic as more resolute, more self-reliant and altogether happier in my daily existence. I admit that I did not particularly analyze the meaning of the expression, but am vaguely imagining the vacuum in this regard being as a sense of being lost or adrift or without purpose – which is very contrary to what happened to me. Given the inadequacy of the answer I see that I'll have to ponder some more, but this is basically it. As for moderate hedonism was an attempt of a joke obviously gone awry… although in this regard one comment, I think it was made by the late Pope, when he said something along the lines that "modern society enables us to quickly find pleasure, but makes it harder to find happiness" seems pretty accurate – and warrants further exploration.

b)

The war of ideas between atheism and theism certainly existed and is still ongoing. If I limit the argument to Christianity it goes like this: in the beginning, Bible furnished all the answers concerning our environment, our lives and our death. Humans, with their powers of observation, testing etc. found objective reality to differ from the Bible. Sensible humans adjusted their views – foolish ones (or those whose power was dependent on continued belief of others) persisted. Verse by verse, chapter by chapter, Bible had to give way to objectivity – and more and more that we discover and learn, more and more things will have to be conceded – until there remains only the small core of ideas that will be acceptable – but which are reasonable enough without needing to consult the Bible, such as Do not kill. Do not rape. Do not steal. Be good towards your fellow man. Do we really need religion to tell us that, which is self-evident?

Europe is not to be underestimated just because there are couple of thousand starry-eyed Eurocrats yammering away at Brussels (my view might perhaps be sorely tested since I'm expecting Mr. Belien's book form Amazon any day now). Apart from some quite rare cases, the thought/crime/control-PC-multiculti edicts are mostly laughed at and rare is a person taking them seriously – except of course, the journalists. What I'm trying to convey is that there is still a lot of common sense among the people who do not participate in "media discourse" because simply, they feel they have better things to do with their lives. In light of this I do not share the general sentiment of doom and gloom concerning Europe's self-defence, even if the push comes to shove.

It is nonetheless worrying is that we have no self-restraint on use of organized violence when violence is to be applied (which USA no doubt had to have during the Cold war and still has) but mostly blindly plunge into action as demonstrated in WWI, WWII and the Balkans. It does not bode well for the enclaves around the tipping point, methinks.

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

turn
I'm disappointed but hardly surprised that JCS failed to answer my earlier questions.
I didn't answer because there's no reason to. You'd simply nitpick my responses in a futile attempt to prove that you can't possibly have any beliefs or morals without Christianity. I strongly believe in many things, and I don't really care if that's a problem for you.

In the absence of an entity to which we answer to, how does one have "strong ideals and morals"?
You could answer to yourself. Some might argue that answering to yourself is better than answering to an external force.

Where does one learn "strong ideals and morals"? Government schools?
The same place most people, probably including you, learn them: society. And independent thinking. I hope you're not suggesting that you learned yours directly from God himself.

your crass dismissal of those who profess faith
There's that black and white thinking I was talking about. Surely there's some kind of middleground between atheists and religious fanatics?

or your other 'feelings' of inadequacy.
What feelings might those be? Please explain.

7of3 said...

Jesus, I think they have forgotten us... or is it the time difference?

Archonix said...

Ok, here we go, I'll keep this short.

7of3, the verses and concepts you cite are certainly undeniable in their presence. They're there. However, you seem to neglect the intervening period of philosophical analysis and discussion of what exactly was meant by these various laws and precepts. The laws themselves were not unusual for their time. Possibly even a little progressive, as it was unusual for women to be given any rights at all in that area at that time, yet they were given quite a few. And, unlike certain other religions you might want to mention, the history of hebrew religious discussion has always been one of liberalisation and rationalisation, which is a tradition carried on by the christian inheritors. Jesus upheld the law, but the law he upheld were the commandments, the laws of god. The laws of justice and freedom. Everything in numbers and deuteronomy is called the laws of man, though it is collectively called 'the law', it was not the same law that jesus upheld. It is completely obvious from the gospels that every major punishment under those laws was made obsolete by his actions, religious observances were demonstrated to be for the benefit of man, not for his enslavement. The law became the essential doctrine of compassion, not the soulless oppression it had been made by men. Jesus said it 2000 years ago, though it's fairly obvious he and his followers were influenced by pre-existing schools of thought which, ironically perhaps, included some of the pharisaic teachings - though not their obsession with making exacting laws.

It's very easy to criticise christianity and judaism from outside without really thinking about it, but if you actually study what the great christian and and jewish thinkers have said, and their subsequent influence on the direction of these two religions you'll see that the actual trends of both has always been toward promoting peace and the excising of hatred and violence. There have been plenty of aberations along the way, but that's because we're merely human, and tend to be territorial and violent.

You see, the bible is not just a book of religious tropes. It's not just a list of 'thou sahlt nots' and the like. It's history, philosophy, folk-lore, song, poetry and drama. It's a reference work for life, not merely a set of rules. You can't objectively dismiss the song of solomon, or the book of proverbs. You can't cast aside the psalms as non-rational. Eclesiastes, a philosophical treatise on a par with the writings of plato, can't be dismissed as mere religious flimflammery.

A thorough reading of the scriptures and a good understanding of their historical context is essential to understand what it really means to be a christian. Few do it.

7of3 said...

Archonix - Yes! I just went a little further... there are good things and bad things in the Bible and we, humans, have decided which rules to follow and which to discard. This means morality is extra-Biblical (and, more to the point, extra-Koranical). So, if we as (rational) beings have to censor, adjust, and reinterpret the Bible to function in an advanced society - why should we continue to defer to it as the source of morality, since, as you have ably demonstrated, it is not – I believe we are all ethical, moral, good etc. in spite of the Bible, not because of it.

Paul said...

Kepi: Thank you for the links. An interesting and creative mind with a stimulating point of view is worth a hearing. The gentleman in the video is certainly interesting to listen to, and makes good points especially in the second clip, though I think he misses a crucial element.

Cutting to the final lap, what is the heart of the matter? How can we tell the real from the false? In my view, relying on our own intelligence and experience to conclude there is no God, is an invalid analysis. We have limited understanding and a limited reference point.

There are two ways to conclude God lives and has created what we see:

First is to consider the created order which testifies to the greatness of the creator. Evidence of the creator includes the order in the stars above, the order of everything in the physical world, and in the content of the soul of man: his aspirations, his hunger for significance and meaning, his ability to be moved by the beauty of written music and the natural world, and by love....

Second is the leaning within the heart of man to seek and know God, to know meaning and purpose. Men go two ways, either toward God, or toward finding meaning and fulfillment in something else, including a false god.

My reading of God's word has convinced me the Bible is consistent with what I see in the created world regarding the nature of man and the created order. That's only the beginning. But it's a good starting point.

The video's author makes excellent and humourous points. But like all of us, it seems to me, he lives in a fixed and limited reference point.

Men face a difficult challenge.

kepiblanc said...

Paul, I seldom entangle myself in religious matters, but I can only say that if the clergy here had any influence at all the counter-jihad in Denmark would be in a very bad shape indeed. Just two recent examples : some fundamentalist priests refuse to shake hands with female peers and some will not allow marriages if one of the couple is a divorcee. And then we have the other extreme, namely the über-naïve "turn-the-other-cheek"-types who advocate the building of mosques, inter-religious, multi-culti evangelists who preach tolerance, no matter what.

Those Christian zealots seem to live in another galaxy, far, far away...

Fortunately no sane person here takes priests or imams seriously. OK, things may be different in the USA, but over here the war is being fought in another theater: on one side we have barbarism, ignorance, cruelty, superstition, stupidity and all things evil. On the other side we have civilization, enlightenment, science, ethics, reason, common sense, education and dignity.

In this war I'm absolutely certain the Christian God in on the atheists side.

The KnickerBlogger said...

I think the comments by secularists on this self-evidently make the author's point. I suggest you gentlemen read up on the secular moors vs. the deeply religious Iberian christians..hmm who won that one?

anyway if you want some sobering thoughts on the matter:
As many as 100,000 French and British citizens have converted to Islam
Why European women are turning to Islam
especially read:
Will Briton Convert to Islam
But this strange little story contains a warning for Britain as a whole, as it careers ever more rapidly down the path of permissiveness which began so gently in the Sixties and now slopes ever more steeply downwards towards sexual chaos, drunkenness, family breakdown and the epidemic use of stupefying drugs.

Sooner or later, as in every other era of human history, there will be a revulsion against this licence, a desire to stop the waste, cruelty and misery which these things bring, especially to children.

Archonix said...

7of3, you may not realise it, but our western idea of morality is so inextricably linked with the judeo-christian ethic as to be almost indistinguisahble in many ways. Some of these moral ideas are universal, but others? Well the British empire had to impose the idea that sutee was wrong in India; they believed that this was perfectly moral and necessary. The sutee concept wasn't limited to India either, as several cultures have practised the burning of widows with their decased husband. The vikings did it. In this there's a demonstration that a 'universal' morality can exist, but it is shaped and influenced to a much larger degree by moral precepts from without than by our internal moral compass, which is quite useless without external reference points.

Also, certain ideas from judeo-christianity are quite unique. The modern western idea of free will, for instance, stems primarily from biblical concepts. The greeks didn't believe it, as such, except that a man could influence his path toward his eventual fate only by a dertain degree. The contemporaries of ancient israel didn't. Our norse forebearers had a very different concept of free will from our own. Hinduism has absolutely no concept of free will. Our western concept of the individual and of free will stems almost exclusively from christian thinking, and christian thinking is informed primarily by the bible.

I'm not saying that you should get down on your knees and start praying or anything because that isn't my place, and if you're happy withn your beliefs then more power to you. I do find it strange when people spend so much time trying to deny the origins of their morality, though. Modern western society owes far more to its judeo-christian heritage than you seem willing to credit.