Friday, 30 January 2015



A regular contributor to this Blog - Mourne Man Michael (MMM) - a man whom I have never met - but a man whose views I am very often in agreement with - left a comment on my Blog: "IS ISLAM A THREAT" that got me thinking.

MMM basically questioned if, in stating that Islam is "not a religion that is moderated by rationality"-  I was inferring that Christianity is a religion moderated by rationality. If that was my inference MMM said that he did not agree with me.

This was a very good and welcome challenge to me - a challenge I wish to address in this Blog - "Is Christianity a religion moderated by rationality"?

I think that my answer to this question cannot not be simple "yes" or "no".

For me the honest answer is:


The thinking behind happenings like The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Counter Reformation and the early 20th century war on so called "Modernism" was definitely irrational and clearly psychotic.

The History of The Catholic Church and its popes shows out of control irrationality and the madnesses of fundamentalism, hatred, bigotry and murder.

The right wing fundamentalism and gun love of American Christianity is absolutely irrational.

The ignorance and fundamentalism of much that passes for Christianity in modern Africa is shockingly irrational.

The historic and current displays of bigoted "Protestantism" in Northern Ireland is patently irrational. 

These are but a few examples. So much of Christian religion has been and is as irrational as many expressions of Islam.

But looking back over the history of Christianity there are also examples of rational Christianity. 

In the beginning of Christianity there were many rational and free thinkers, who treasured their spirituality but opposed and rejected imposed dogmas and were either written off as "heretics" or even tortured and killed.

There were those who opposed the imperialisation of Christianity.

And throughout the Christian era there were people who rationally opposed the abuse and the spoiling of genuine Christian spirituality. 


We can think of Francis of Assisi, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Galileo, George Tyrrell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximilian Kolbe, Teil de Chardin, Hans Kung and many others who fought for religious integrity. 

Of course one has to admit that the numbers of those fighting for integrity within the Christian Church have always been small - and they have been up against the unthinking Christianity of the masses - the masses of "the opium of the masses" variety.

My thinking about Christianity is that it must involve both the HEART and the HEAD. I also believe that the HEART should be in the driving seat but that the HEAD is a vital navigator, sitting in the front passenger seat - advising the heart.

Maybe I am more ignorant of Islam than I should be but I am not aware of a strong intellectual opposition is Islam - whereas there has always been a strong, if small, opposition in Christianity.

Having said that I am a great devotee of the Islamic poet Hafiz who gloried wine and women in his writings and pointed to them as a way to God.


But I do not know if Hafiz ever challenged unthinking Islam?

+Pat Buckley



  1. How can ANY religion be rational? They are all based upon things that cannot be measured by any scientific data. All religion is by definition irrational.

    Servio S. Paris.

    1. Your point is true in one way. Of course rationality, while being very important, is not the absolute golden rule.

      For instance my love for my lover cannot be measured by scientific data.

      So maybe there are things best examined in the lab - while other very important things are outside the lab's remit?

  2. And of course religion in brought into serious disretute when it thinks, speaks or acts in ways that contradict established facts - evolution etc.

  3. Like you Pat, I too deplore irrational behaviour by certain followers of religion, whether in the past like the Inquisition or the Crusades, or present like bigoted Protestantism in N. Ireland or American Christian fundamentalism. Certainly such bigoted behaviour is irrational and reflects badly on those religious believers.
    But my 29th Jan comments to your blog, "Is Islam a Threat?" concerning the irrationality of religion could possibly have been more explicit.

    I question the rational basis of any and all religion just as Servio S of Paris commented on 30/1. By that I specifically refer not to the behaviour of religious adherents, good or otherwise, but to the core essence of religious beliefs in a creator god or gods with ongoing interest in humankind.

    To best of my knowledge, there is simply no verifiable objective evidence to show the existence of any god or gods. Individual personal beliefs, alleged miracles and the like simply fail to convince. Without evidence of god/s, it surely follows that all religious practices based on belief in god/s are without foundation, and in the absence of god/s, are irrational.

    This humanist or atheist belief is shared by many, to degrees ranging from the absolute certainty of articulate protagonists like Richard Dawkins, to the many who quietly believe it, but don't proclaim it. Maybe that's a wise precaution in view of religious worldwide persecution of those whose beliefs differ from the accepted or mainstream.
    Even though I deplore bigoted religious practices, I acknowledge the personal comfort religion gives many; the sense of community and bonds religious practices engender, and certainly the devout beliefs and integrity of most religious adherents. Weighing the scales of whether religious charity outweighs religious bigotry is a futile exercise, and in any event, is irrelevant to the key question: is there any rational reason to believe in god/s, or to follow any consequent creed, in the absence of any evidence of the existence of god/s?
    For my part, I must say that the journey from a cradle catholic upbringing, Christian Brothers grammar school, and six years in a major catholic seminary was a gradual erosion of beliefs, for psychologically and emotionally it's not easy to shake off those very tribal influences. But there comes a point when, literally, 'the scales fall from one's eyes', and once over that threshold, acceptance that THIS life is all I have; I'm fortunate to have it, and as a social animal sharing earth's finite resources, I have a responsibility to be and do "good".
    Good without God seems a commendable option.

    1. Are ones belief in certain things which are not verifiable by science necessarily irrational?

      There have been many instances where belief in the true nature of things were not verifiable by science at the moment those beliefs were conceived. An example that comes to mind is Einstein's original ideas on the true nature of light and his theories of relativity which followed.

      Now I consider myself a Christian because I believe the central tenants of the faith to be literally true. Not out of some irrational or emotional reason but because I believe those tenants describe the human condition, the reason for our existence and a number of other thorny issues better than any other set of ideas.

      However, I will say that this rational/non-emotional approach to the faith leaves me allienated in many ways with my community of fellow believers.