Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven: atheism and tolerance
Came back this afternoon from watching Kingdom of Heaven. The one-line review is that it's two hours of anti-Catholic propaganda.
This shouldn't be too much of a surprise--Dawn Eden tracks how the screenwriter's anti-Catholicism goes back some years.
As history, the movie is said to be nonsense: "Prof Riley-Smith, who is Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Cambridge University, said the plot was "complete and utter nonsense"...."It's rubbish. It's not historically accurate at all. They refer to The Talisman, which depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality."
Worse, it's pro al-Qaeda nonsense: "Dr Philips [of the University of London] said that by venerating Saladin, who was largely ignored by Arab history until he was reinvented by romantic historians in the 19th century, [the director] was following both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both leaders commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin, who was actually a Kurd, to bolster Arab Muslim pride.
Prof Riley-Smith added that Sir Ridley's efforts were misguided and pandered to Islamic fundamentalism. "It's Osama bin Laden's version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists."
So: we have pro-Al Qaeda, anti-Catholic nonsense. A faculty member asked me if Catholics ought to picket? I don't think so. It's a thoroughly mediocre movie--there's no point in Catholics giving it free publicity. Leave them alone: they are the blind leading the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch.
The movie is the product of the kind of anti-intellectual contempt for religion that is so characteristic of the dictatorship of relativism: religion leads to wars! atheism is the foundation of tolerance. A position one can only hold if one drops the history of the twentieth century into the memory hole of Orwell's 1984.
The antidote for this is some serious study of Marxism--the leading test case for what happens atheists get control of governments.
Catallarchy gives the facts on the number slaughtered by Marxists in the twentieth century: "the total mid-estimate is about 110,286,000, an incredible total. It is around 65 percent of all democide over the same period, and is about three times greater than all the international and domestic war deaths, including the two world wars, Vietnam, Korea, and the Iran-Iraq War, to mention the bloodiest. This is the Red Plague driven by ideological fervor. The Black Plague, carried by fleas from rats and not by ideology, killed a quarter of the number the communists murdered."
So: more people were murdered by atheists in the twentieth century than died in all the wars of the twentieth century combined. That's a fact worth committing to memory. Talking point #1 for those who think that atheism leads to tolerance is the brutal history of the twentieth century: ideas have consequences, and no idea has murdered more people than atheism--over 100 million.
The Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn bore witness to this truth in his 1983 Templeton address: It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that "revolution must necessarily begin with atheism." That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.
The point here is not merely religious--it is philosophical. Atheism requires a deliberate shutting of the eyes and closing down of the brain, a refusal to face squarely the facts of the universe and the principle of causality. Aristotle saw it clearly over two thousand years ago:
If there were men whose habitations had been always underground, and if the earth should open, and they should immediately behold the sun, and observe his glory and beauty; the heavens bespangled and adorned with stars; the moon as she waxes and wanes; the rising and setting of all the stars, and the inviolable regularity of their courses…When they should see these things, they would surely conclude that there are Gods, and that these are their mighty works.