Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hector Avalos vs. Jesus, Round IV

Sigh.  It's Bambi vs. Godzilla, all over again. 

Hector Avalos wants to step back in the ring with Jesus of Nazareth.  Never mind what happened when he tried to insist that against all the evidence, "Jesus commands hate."  Never mind his false insinuation that the early Christians murdered Anania and Saphira in Acts 5.  And let's forget how he distorted the speech by Pope Urban that helped launched the First Crusade.

See the source image
Bambi vs. Godzilla: First smelling a skunk. 
Hector wants to go toe-to-toe with The Champ again!  This time to make the case that Jesus, if he ever lived, might have been -- can you guess?  -- some sort of a bigot against Jews.

"I will argue . . . that anti-Judaism can be traced back to Jesus himself, at least as he is portrayed in the Gospels."

Logicians among you will recognize what I did in those first three paragraphs: it's called "poisoning the well."  I've been deliberately trying to prejudice you against Dr. Avalos' thesis, before we even look at the evidence that it's based upon.

Which need not be irrational, because in historical inquiries, evidence isn't everything.  For every historical claim, warrant for that claim combines not only the evidence one finds for or agaSee the source imageinst it, but also prior probability, factors that mitigate in favor of or against it even before we look at the evidence.  For instance, if I say, "Yesterday I had lunch with my boss," you would probably not be too astounded.  But if I said, "Yesterday I had lunch with an alien from a galaxy far, far away" before we even discussed evidence, most of you would rationally look askance at my claim.  (I have my own prior reasons for thinking this of you: few readers here, so far as I can tell, subscribe to scientifically-naïve New Age notions about easy astral travel.)

To determine if Jesus really was an anti-Semite, in the end I suppose we should probably look at the evidence.  But before we do, I see it as rational to take the claim with at least seven big grains of salt:

(1) Jesus was himself Jewish.  Of course it is possible for a Jew (like Karl Marx) to despise his own race, but in the context of the First Century, when the Jews were struggling to survive against Hellenic, then Roman domination, it is highly unlikely that a Jewish rabbi would gain a following boisterous enough to get him killed by the Romans, on a platform of national self-loathing.  Imagine a Korean preacher under Japanese occupation whipping Koreans up to a passion of warm support by thumbing his nose at Korean culture and all his neighbors.  That's a long-shot.  It is far more credible to see him as getting in trouble with a portion of the Jewish, then Roman leadership, as the gospels generally depict.

(2) Most of Jesus' earliest followers were also Jews, which increases the force of (1).  This "anti-
Semite" Jesus, Stark argues, somehow won Jews to faith in him, including intensely Hebraic Jews like Matthew, Paul and the author of Hebrews, not just in that first generation, but for centuries.  

(3) Jewish prophets had been laying into Israel's political leaders, religious leaders, and common people, for centuries, in a vigorous internal debate that might sound like loathing of their own nation to outsiders, but was actually predicated on love and desire for Israel's well-being.  So if Jesus were the last such prophet, and come to "fulfill the Law and the Prophets," his lively rebukes of Jewish leaders and commoners might sound "anti-Semitic" to outsiders, but would be understood internally from within that tradition, and make perfect sense.

(4) It is tempting to anachronistically read the New Testament from the modern perspective, as people who have witnessed the Holocaust, or at least the pogroms.  That temptation must be resisted.  The New Testament must be read in the context of its own time and cultures.

(5) One does not need genuine anti-Semitism in the Bible to explain its occurrence later in European history.  As Exodus, Esther and Daniel reveal, the notion of genocide against the Jews had been floated more than once, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.  There was persecution of Jews in the Roman Empire, and it has occurred outside of Christendom since then as well.  Stark explains the phenomena, as does Girard with a different twist.  In times of stress, people often seek scapegoats, and vulnerable minorities of a different race and religion scattered around a civilization under pressure from outside, often are the unlucky targets of violence at times like that.  Stark points out that anti-Semitic pogroms thus occur in Europe and the Islamic world at just such points of international stress.  Other races have been victims at other places and times, such as China, America, or Rwanda.  It is no coincidence or even surprise, sociologically, that some early Crusaders attacked Jews on their way to defend "Christendom" against Islamic incursion, for instance.

(6) The New Testament often flaunts its Jewishness.  Jesus tells his disciples to go first to the "lost sheep of Israel" rather than to Gentiles.  He weeps over Jerusalem, "How often I have wished to gather you under my wings, like a mother hen gathers her brood, and you would not."  Paul even offers his soul for the salvation of his people, if it will help.  And the New Testament is chock full of references to the Jewish scriptures much more positive than anything, say, Richard Dawkins has ever said about them. 

The idea that Jesus comes to "fulfill" the Old Testament is not just tacked onto Matthew, but is a central theme of all the gospels marked by places (crossing the Jordan), references to heroes (David, Abraham, Moses, etc), types, customs like Passover and blood sacrifice, woven into parables, and denoted by several verbs including "teleo" as well as "plerou" among others.  If Jesus hated his people or tradition, it is extremely bizarre that his first followers described such an intricate tapestry of affirmation and fulfillment between his life, teachings, death and resurrection, and the story of the Old Testament.

(7) Finally, we have Avalos' habit of grotesque over-statement and misrepresentation in defaming Jesus and his followers.  (Follow links above.)

So even before looking at Avalos' case, I would expect the following:

I would expect Jesus, as a prophet, to make hard-hitting comments about the Jewish leaders and ordinary Jews of his time, as earlier prophets had done.

I would expect Jesus nevertheless to make it clear that he wishes his fellow Jews well, and hopes they will turn from their sin to acts of righteousness and love.

Some of what Jesus says might no doubt be interpreted by outsiders, especially in the hyper-sensitive modern world, as anti-Semetic.   But we cannot read the ancients anachronistically.

We must not cherry-pick materials to make a simplistic case that Jesus was merely positive or merely negative towards his own culture and neighbors.  If Jesus was the greatest of the prophets, which I think is the bare minimum one can reasonably allow, one must expect him to recognize the complexity of the situation, and to call people from their sins back to God using the vigorous language typical of the prophetic tradition.  But if we are going to be fair and reason as good historians, criticism of Jewish people or leaders must be balanced and understood in the context of the good Jesus does his Jewish neighbors, and teaches his disciples to do.   (Which fill the pages of the gospels.)  

Given all these factors, if Avalos doesn't hit a home run with his first pieces of evidence for "Jesus the Anti-Jew," I don't think we need to put up with too much of it.  

As it turns out, just take a few steps, and you realize that Avalos is not inclined to give fair consideration to these prior concerns, or to the full panoply of data in the gospels that show what Jesus thought of his people and their traditions.  And while sometimes subtle, Avalos is still playing tricks with exegesis, creating a "canon within a canon" as he has put it before, that undermine his interpretation of the New Testament from the get-go.

*** ************************ ***********************

The Anti-Jewish Jesus:    Socio-Rhetorical Criticism as Apologetics

Hector Avalos, Iowa State University

Avalos sets the stage by describing a volume entitled Removing the Anti-Judaism from the New Testament, by Howard Clark Kee and Irvin J. Borowsky.

"The book was prompted by the belief that anti-Jewish statements in the New Testament or by later Christian interpreters have led to violence against Jews . . . People have been murdered because of these words.  Whether it be Chrysostom in the fourth century, Martin Luther in the sixteenth, or Rudolf Kittel in the twentieth, one can trace a steady stream of anti-Judaism in Christian thought and culture."

But such scholars do not wish to believe that the "anti-Judaism" in Christianity came from Jesus -- if there was such a person, Avalos hastens to add.

Borowsky proposes that the New Testament be sanitized for the public, while the original version be used by scholars in their research!  Avalos rightly finds this proposal ridiculous:

"What is being proposed here is nothing short of a paternalistic deception. Borowsky and like-minded scholars believe that parts of the New Testament endorse and promote hateful and violent speech against Jews, but instead of denouncing the ethics of Jesus and other New Testament Christian voices, they simply want to revise the ethics expressed, at least for the hoi polloi. The masses will get the sanitized Bible constructed for them by scholars, and only scholars will have the version that best corresponds to the original meaning."

t's good to see we agree on one thing, before the inevitable flood of disagreement.

Avalos also correctly places the modern debate in the rather anachronistic context of reaction to the Holocaust:

"All such efforts to address the anti-Judaism in the New Testament received new impetus because of the Nazi Holocaust."

Avalos then takes a few pages to deal with the arguments of the Catholic scholar, Luke Johnson.  Johnson surveys both Greek and Jewish philosophical schools in the ancient world and finds a lot of lively rhetorical abuse flying in every direction.  It turns out, Johnson says, that the insults in the New Testament are actually pretty tame by comparison.  Everyone does it.

Not good enough, Avalos responds.  And here Avalos tries his first dirty trick -- the kind of hostile eisegesis which I have chronicled before in his work (in fact this closely parallels his trick with Martin Luther that I debunked previously). 

Avalos offers the following two quotes to compare:

Α. ‘Existence impels the Jew to lie, and to lie perpetually just as it compels the inhabitants of the northern countries to wear warm clothing’.

 Β. ‘You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires...When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies’.

Then Avalos concludes: 

"Rhetorically, both statements center on Jews being liars by nature."

Cut!  What did you just say, Hector?

A, which Avalos is about to reveal comes from none other than Adolf Hitler, does indeed "center on Jews being liars by nature."  There is no doubt about that.

But Avalos' "read" of B tempts me to say HE is the "liar by nature" at this juncture in exegetical history.  (Though more generously, one must at least say he has focused on one side of the evidence to the exclusion of all that undermines it.)

Who is Jesus speaking to in John 8?  Is he making a generalization about "Jews?"

The chapter is admittedly a bit confusing.  At times, Jesus is debating with "the Pharisees."  At times he is directing his arguments and rebukes to "the Jews."  But a group of "Jews who believed in him," and another who sought to kill him, are also mentioned, and strangely mixed together, in the transition from 31 ("Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him") to 33 ("they answered him").   But then in 36 Jesus speaks of those whom "the son makes free" and are "free indeed," following that with "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you."

So it appears that Jesus is talking to a mixed crowd.  Some in the crowd believe him, while others are hostile in the most existential and physical sense.

That some of his hearers might form a lynch mob is hardly incredible, given that Jesus was, in the end, killed.  (And more generally, that outdoor preaching has often been a hazardous sport, and must have been more so in the incendiary atmosphere of 1st Century Roman-occupied Palestine.)

In verse 40 again, Jesus refers to a sub-set of Abraham's physical descendants who "seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.  Abraham did not do this."

And this leads up to the "you are of your father the devil . . . He was a murderer from the beginning . . . he is a liar . . . " accusations.

The term "the Jews" is used twice more in the passage, leading up to the great "I am" declaration.

The following chapter contrasts a blind Jew whom Jesus heals, and who "sees" the significance of that healing with particular clarity, with "the Pharisees" or "the Jews" who do not.   The blind man recognizes that Jesus must truly be from God.

It should be fairly obvious from this context that while John is sometimes using the term "the Jews" to refer to those of the Jewish leaders who reject Jesus and seek his harm, he also recognizes that some Jews do recognize Jesus and seek to follow him.  John could, perhaps, have used synonyms less fraught with the ominous future.  (Though one can only blame him for knowing that some day Christians were going to have the power to persecute Jews, if one assumes his Gospel is divinely-inspired, if then.  The conversion of Constantine was more than two centuries in the future when the gospel was written, and Christians were few and scattered.) 

But Avalos gives this passage an even more dubious spin:

"By Johnson’s logic, in both statements ‘the polemic signifies simply that these are opponents and such things should be said about them’.   Yet, I wonder if one would say that about Statement A once one learns it belongs to Adolf Hitler, the foremost modern practitioner of anti-Jewish rhetoric.  Indeed there is not much difference between Hitler’s statement and Statement B, which is uttered by Jesus in Jn 8.44-45."

In fact, there is a world of difference between these two statements:

(1) Jesus was a Jew engaging in internal debate within his own culture: John clearly recognized Jesus' Jewishness.  Hitler was Austrian German.

(2) Hitler was clearly talking about all Jews; in context, Jesus the Jew was most credibly addressing himself to a specific sub-group of Jews.

(3) Hitler would show what he meant by trying to murder all Jews.  Jesus showed what HE meant by healing, forgiving, teaching, and dying on the cross for the sins of all Jews.  Hitler never healed a Jew that we know of.  Jesus never so much as slapped one in the face, that we know of.  (Aside from when he drove the money-changers out of "My Father's House" with a whip, which while painful to a few Jews, was a pretty radical affirmation of Jewish tradition, at the same time.)

This may seem obvious, but elephants in small rooms should not be ignored.  That is one of Dr. Avalos' bad habits.

And here stampedes a whole thundering herd of pachyderms.

(4) Hitler was not talking about or to people who were trying to kill him: Jesus was.  The technical name for someone who kills an innocent man is "murderer."  That is not hyperbole, that is not vitriol, it is an accurate description of the audience to whom Jesus was speaking, or at least the part of it to which that comment seems to have been addressed.

(5) Jesus was, in fact, murdered.  Is it a sin to call someone who murders a murderer?  I think not.

Avalos then hops over to Matthew to make his next point:

"Jesus describes the consequences of not catering to his followers: ‘And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me”. Then he will say to those at his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Mt. 25.40-41).

Dr. Avalos makes it sound as if this comment expressed an ego trip on Jesus' part, as he built up his religious kingdom.  "Cater" is what you do for a feast, not what you do with a million hungry children in the Sudan, for instance.

But who are "the brethren" Jesus refers to, who appear in the guise of the hungry, the sick, the naked, the homeless?  Obviously not his physical brothers.  And just as obviously, he is not limiting himself to one gender.

Does he mean only Christians?  Or only Jews?  The text refers to "the nations gathered before (God)."   Again, remember that this was written when Christianity was a very minor faith among a few mostly Jews scattered in one small corner of the world.  (And Jews of the time were aware of India, Africa, Europe, southern Russia, and probably China - indeed Herodotus gives a survey of the three great continents centuries before John wrote -- so John knew that "the nations" included places where no Christians had yet arrived, most likely.)  So unless Avalos wishes to concede that Jesus already knew about the worldwide spread of Christianity in advance, it seems most likely he is telling his disciples, as indeed we have generally interpreted it, that WHOEVER comes before us in need, is in this sense our "brother" or "sister."

Or has Matthew (always so careful with his structuring) forgotten what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount?  If someone sues you for your jacket, give him your coat.  Give to whoever asks of you.  Love your enemy, and pray for the person who persecutes you.

Obviously Jesus was not just talking about catering to Christians.  This is obvious to the Jesus Seminar, for instance, which stressed Jesus' concern for those on the margins, such as Samaritans.

Consider, for instance, Jesus' famous story of the Good Samaritan in Luke.  The whole point of the story is that the Samaritan is an outsider, and that we are to learn from him by caring for our "neighbors," meaning whomever we meet, even heretics belonging to hostile cultures.

What about the warning of punishment after death for those who ignore the hungry and homeless?   Is that reminiscent of Adolf Hitler?

Don't make me laugh.

Adolf Hitler did not warn people of God's wrath if they failed to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and visit those who were in prison!  In fact he made visiting the millions he put in prison rather difficult.

Is it so hard to distinguish between a man who went to prison and death for others, and a man who sent others to prison and death by the millions?  How willfully blind are we supposed to make ourselves, to find Dr. Avalos' exegesis of Scripture plausible?

And I think we'll stop here.  Ad Hitlerum arguments tend to be bad as a general category, but accusing the most famous Jew in history of being Hitleresque, against so much evidence, is particularly lame.  We're on a train to nowhere, and we might as well get off now.  

Bambi is still no match for Godzilla, however he sharpens his horns and practices his 50 yard dashes and long jumps.  In fact, rather than growing adult-deer antlers, he seems to have turned into the skunk.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Richard Carrier and Germs

Sometimes it takes me a while, but reading the Mark passage about washing hands this morning on the roof of my apartment, it suddenly occurred to me how I should have answered Richard Carrier's challenge (and on-line argument) on this subject, several years ago when we debated in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Maybe this will help other apologists next time you meet it!  Or maybe not!

Carrier's argument, which had often occurred to me, is that Jesus really shouldn't have told his disciples not to wash his hands before eating!  Exactly the wrong example to set in an ancient world full of virus and bacteria, in which people died like flies (and via flies) from communicable diseases.  Never mind the ceremonial aspects of washing hands: how many millions of lives would have been saved if Jesus had said instead: "Use soap and warm water before every meal and after every potty break!"  Didn't God know about germs?

Carrier also uses this argument in Why I am Not a Christian, Carrier's worst book, if not quite (against stiff competition) one of the worst books on religion ever written (see my Amazon review.)  But I actually feel the force of this argument, though one can brush it aside in various ways. 

Here's what I should have said . . . maybe.

"Yes, I wish Jesus had taken the opportunity to emphasize the need for good hygiene, however peripheral to his point.  But I see no historical evidence that any community followed this passage in that half-literalistic half out-of-context way which would actually lead to sloppy hygiene and mass communicable deaths.  If you have such evidence, please point it out, using all 17-odd steps of critical exegesis you require when one is employing the "Criteria of Embarrassment."  (Which if rigorously followed, would ensure that no one could ever possibly know what Jesus was really thinking, even if we have his words!) 

"But while that one passage cannot reasonably be interpreted as a general ban on washing hands, the whole weight of Scripture is against promiscuous sex.  (Here add "of the sort you have been publicly practicing and promoting for the past many years" as context and conscience allow.) 

"How many millions of lives have been saved from death of syphilis, AIDS, etc, and how many tens of millions of lives not been broken or disfigured, by people following Joseph's example and Paul's command and fleeing sexual temptation?  How much communicable disease has not been communicated?

"And how many broken families, torn and bleeding hearts, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, homeless children, not to mention disease and even death, have been brought into the world by people following your example instead?   And how many abortions and broken hearts and maybe even physical sicknesses has your life of sin brought about?"

I don't know if I would have survived the debate, if I'd said such a thing on stage at a university.  But next time, maybe I will. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mom and the Bible

The Stream just published a short piece I wrote about Mom and the Bible -- right before Mother's Day!  Happy Mothers' Day to those of you who are.   It made me think about the sort of legacy I would like to leave to my children -- I'm afraid I haven't measured up to my own parents on this score.

That's the second defense of the Bible I've published at The Stream in the past few weeks.  The first was mostly about the literary value of the Old Testament, though also hints at its spiritual genius and truth-telling.

Feel free to pass these on, if you like them!
A dozen or so years ago, by Mendanhall Glacier in our old stomping grounds.  Mom is staying in a downstairs 
apartment with my sister Laurel and her husband Rand, as mentioned in the article. 

Sunday, May 06, 2018

"Marshall is a Cowardly, Moronic Atheist."

Those of us who are Christians should care deeply about truth.

That is one reason I am not fond of a common Christian argument which cites The Encyclopedia of Wars to make the claim that only 7% of wars are caused by "religion."  This is usually mentioned in rebuttal to some atheist who trashes "religion," usually ineptly and from a depth of historical ignorance.

But two wrongs don't make a right.

And the 7% argument has many flaws:

(1) The authors, Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, appear to be authorities on war, not religion.  Given that the argument is often presented as an Argument From Authority, their lack of expertise in one central field about which they are making a claim limits the force of that argument.  We do not properly cite Richard Dawkins on philosophy, do we?

(2) The term "religion" is not well-defined, as I recall.  Peter Berger notes that definitions of religion fall into two categories: based on the substance of a faith (what one believes), and based on the function of a religion (its effects).  For instance, Marxism may either be considered a mere ideology, given that it denies the existence of supernatural beings (at least in theory), or it can be seen as a religion, since it serves the same social functions as faiths with which it competes: creating power structures that enforce codes of morality, appealing to supposed ultimate truths inscribed in "holy books" and taught by messianic figures, and so forth.  The same is true of Nazism, Radical Environmentalism, Objectivism, Freudianism, and other "ultimate concerns," as Paul Tillich described them.

If one defines "religion" broadly -- as some religion scholars prefer, and that seems to make sense when talking about motivations for warfare -- a vastly larger number of wars would appear to have "religious" roots: the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, the Nazi invasions, Mao's attacks on his neighbors, and many others.

(3) I see no reason why any Christian should put himself or herself into the position of being an apologist for "religion."  Much of the Bible warns against the evils of "religions," such as human sacrifice, libertine sexuality, and oppressive social structures.  In my view, caste Hinduism, Islam, and Central American sacrificial cults often had a terrible effect on the societies that accepted them, not even counting Nazism and Communism.  While I would gladly admit, contrary to radical atheists, that religions besides Christianity have also sometimes done the world a lot of good, I would agree with them that wrong worship often leads to bad consequence.  We follow Christ.

(4) Causes of war are often complex.  It would often be simplistic to reduce an outbreak of fighting to one single cause, and identify that cause as either "religious" or as "non-religious."

Take the American Civil War as an example.  We all know that war broke out as a consequence in some way of a quarrel over slavery and states' rights, and as a clash of cultures as well.  But books like Uncle Tom's Cabin fed into the abolitionist sentiment of the north that led to the clash.  And Uncle Tom's Cabin is almost a Bible study with a story attached: Harriet Beecher Stowe argued that Scripture, read properly, is incompatible with ownership of slaves, certainly with how slaves were being treated in the South.

So it would be simplistic to say the Civil War either was or was not "religious" -- and as no less an authority than Abraham Lincoln pointed out, "both sides prayed to the same God."  (Though he was clearly of Stowe's mind about the ultimate incompatibility of a biblically-informed theism with southern slavery.)

Yet I'm pretty sure the American Civil War was listed as non-religious in origin.

(5) This points to another over-simplification (in how the study is interpreted, whether or not the authors thought this): the notion that war is an absolute evil, and always wrong.  Clearly that is not true.  If Christianity finally helped inspire America to throw off slavery, as I am confident it did, even if that led to war, to paraphrase Lincoln again, that would be no stain on the honor of divine providence.

I think aside from the Crusades, many wars have been partly inspired by religious motives, and often righteously.  Read The Song of Roland or G. K. Chesterton's Lepanto, or Pope Urban's speeches before the First Crusade.  American preachers also played a commendable role in rallying troops against Hitler, Stalin, and arguably, King George.

(6) The survey, as I recall, also makes some odd omissions.  For instance, as I recall it didn't make any mention of the devastating Tai Ping Rebellion that eventuated in the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese during the 19th Century.  The Tai Pings had started their own religion, joining elements of Christianity, Confucianism, and folk beliefs into a potent blend.

For all these reasons, I think it would be foolish to try to too quickly dismiss the impact of "religion" on human warfare.

Ironically, when I recently mentioned my skepticism about this argument, one believer at least showed that he was inordinately eager to take to the rhetorical war path and go hunting my scalp.  (In all the wrong places, never on my actual head!)

Marshall's Atheistic Slanders

A day or so ago, someone cited the Encyclopedia of Religions, whose authors (he said) showed that only some 7% of wars were religious in nature, half started by Muslims, and that atheists had killed more people than all religions in the 20th Century alone.

I posted skeptically, emphasizing point (1) above:

"I'm tired of that Encyclopedia of Wars citation. The authors are expert in war, not in religion."

I added that I considered the analysis in that book "shallow," and that the authors "don't know what religion is or what role religions played in wars."

When challenged to prove my point, I was admittedly a bit coy and cheeky, pointing out merely that the original claim involved an Argument from Authority without further evidence, and since I'm more an authority when it comes to religion than the authors are, "in this field (my authority) trumps theirs," and no evidence was needed to check a claim made without any evidence.

Most responses to these comments were level-headed, however.

The owner of the site, who apparently at some point in the past invited me as a Facebook friend, took my comments personally, however, blasting me as a cowardly, lying atheist: 

"And finally, that COWARDLY NONSENSE about why you don't have to provide evidence proves to me that you're not any sort of expert at anything at all, just a moron who has diarrhea of the mouth.  If you want respect, show some professionalism.  You're asserting that a major publication is faulty; you have to prove it. Until you do, the evidence in our hands says that religion is not a major cause of war.

"Put up or shut up. 'Cause let me tell you, pal, out here in reality, some of us who actually care about scholarship are sick and freaking tired of lying atheists eager to slander religious people by making unsupported and unsupportable assertions about "all the wars caused by religion," but never lifting a finger to produce even a half-hearted enumeration."

So it turns out, surprisingly enough, that:

(1) I am an atheist.  (Because I don't like one particular argument for "religion.")
(2) I am also a cowardly
(3) liar
(4) guilty of speaking "nonsense."  (Nonsense is distinct from lying because it can't scrape together enough coherence even to be false, presumably.)
(5) I also have "diarrhea of the mouth."  (Though my comments had been mostly succinct.)
(6) And don't care about scholarship.  (Because I poured cold water on one argument cited from that "major publication," the Encyclopedia of War -- it certainly sells for a major price on Amazon, more than $300!)
(7) I "slandered" religious people.  (Because I said the authors of this encyclopedia, whose religious beliefs I have no more knowledge than this poster had of my beliefs, were wrong about one single issue.  Though I didn't call them "liars" or "cowards," pardon my negligence!)
(8) Furthermore, my assertion is "unsupportable."  (Never mind the support I give it above.)
(9) And I didn't "lift a finger" to defend my position -- well, now I have.

If I had been a real atheist, I don't think I would have found these rebukes very convicting, since the fellow rebuking me fits errors into a paragraph like sardines in a can, packed fin to snout.

My critic adds:

"Me, I'm betting that 'religion expert' David Marshall can't actually name three genuine religious wars apart from the Crusades without firing up Wikipedia."

Or I could fire up the paper I wrote 20 years ago on one of them for my MA.  

When another poster suggested that my critic "chill," he told him to "go jump in a lake.  What I have written, I have written (Pontius Pilate!) . . . I have no tolerance for dishonest fools."

Well, I suppose one can chill by jumping in lakes.

The sad thing is, this brother seems to think his lack of tolerance, patience, or even willingness to listen carefully before reacting angrily is a virtue!   He's so righteous for truth that he makes a fool of himself by casually tossing out incendiary accusations that bear not the fainted relations with reality.

I wonder how often the more sincere sorts of real atheists have to put up with those kind of wild attacks?  I hope I don't work myself into such a fine lather too often.

Friday, March 23, 2018

That evil Bible, again.

Neither do car repair manuals usually mention the
Makah Indians or totem poles.  What could they  
possibly be for?   
Image may contain: text

As in most memes, inanity and error battle for supremacy here.

Regions mentioned in the Bible -- North Africa, the broad designation "Ethiopia" (which seemed to mean "Africa, south of the deserts" to Greek historians), Southern Europe, Arabia, Asia Minor, perhaps tribes beyond - certainly constitute more than 1% of the world's land area.  And unlike, say, the Alexandrian Romance, or probably China's Classic of Mountains and Rivers, you can actually match up most biblical name-places to something in the real world. You can learn some geography from the Bible: not that that is what the book is for.

Of course the Bible doesn't cover World History or American History.  Who ever said it did?  Take Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time as a text for your Civil War class (it at least has the word "history" in its title), and see how you do.  A meaningless point.  Especially since, again, you can learn things about history from the Bible which you can't learn anywhere else, in such detail.  (Hundreds of facts recorded in Acts have been verified in other sources, for instance.

When it comes to biology, the Bible pre-empts modern racists (some very Darwinian) by pointing out that all races are human.  And it pre-empts silly modern radicals by saying God only created two sexes.

Biblical cosmology involves a beginning, and the universe out of nothing.  That's something, or two things, physicists have recently learned, and Christians knew all along.

But King David said, "When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers . . . "  As if it were a good thing to look at Nature and ponder its character and meaning. And Solomon said: "It is the glory of God to hide a matter, and of the king to find it out."  In his influential arguments for reviving or creating empirical science, Francis Bacon quoted Solomon's words at least twice. So the Bible intends not to teach cosmology, but to inspire the study of the stars, as indeed it helped to do.  (As scholars who have studied the history -- Chapman, Landes, Hannam, Stark, etc -- have often pointed out.)

But the parade of inanities proceeds.  The Bible isn't a medical book! Of course not. But it has inspired thousands of hospitals and probably billions of cures (I have met some of the doctors, like Dr. Paul Brand, who with his wife and colleagues helped millions of the disabled, and who wrote books with titles from Psalm 139.).

What about ameliorating the effects of war? Henry Dunant, winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize, whose work led to the Geneva ("Calvin was here!") Conventions, is described on Wikipedia in part as follows:

"Dunant was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1828 as the first son of businessman Jean-Jacques Dunant and Antoinette Dunant-Colladon. His family was devoutly Calvinist and had significant influence in Geneva society. His parents stressed the value of social work, and his father was active helping orphans and parolees, while his mother worked with the sick and poor. His father worked in a prison and an orphanage.

"Dunant grew up during the period of religious awakening known as the Réveil, and at age 18 he joined the Geneva Society for Alms giving. In the following year, together with friends, he founded the so-called "Thursday Association", a loose band of young men that met to study the Bible and help the poor, and he spent much of his free time engaged in prison visits and social work."

Well isn't that weird. They studied the Bible, and then went out and helped the poor and imprisoned, just like Jesus said. And then Henry went and tried to save the victims of warfare from dying.

The Bible does once say, "Spare the rod, and spoil the child," true.  Anyone who takes this as a license for child abuse is a fool and it ignoring the tenor of the NT in general.  Anyone who thinks a parent who spanks a miscreant mildly when needed, should be put in prison, is a tyrant and also a threat to society.

The modern conception of Human Rights grew out of a Christianized culture, and the example of Jesus.  In this forum, I have traced the lines of influence from Jesus to some of the world's greatest reforms.  Time prevents me from doing the same with others, but such reforms are going on around us today.

The author of this meme (as of most memes) appears to know little of history or theology, and is intellectually unjust, besides.  He or she is part of that vast modern ignorance, of skeptics flailing against the ground on which they stand, cursing the tree from whose remoter branches they swing.
Could someone cut down this tree, please?  I can't see those cherry blossoms over there. 

Saturday, March 03, 2018

"Great Philosophers" on Sex: A Parade of Lunatics

I often tell students to read original sources.  Hear for yourself from people of a different time and way of thinking.  Every historian is not just a bridge from the past to the present, she is also a pair of gates on either end of that bridge, filtering traffic across it: limiting that traffic first by what the historian has noticed, and second by what she wishes you to notice. 
An anthology broadens those gates, but does not knock them down.  Works are selected for a reason, but they let you meet the original writers more directly than a few quotes in a history book.  Still, the value of an anthology depends in part on whether you can trust the anthologist to select representatively and fairly.  
In History of Ideas on Women: A Source Book, Dr. Rosemary Agonito helpfully offers us the very words many "great thinkers" in the western tradition have written on women.  She seems to think she traces a forward trajectory of history, from the "bad old days" when Christian theology trapped women in misogyny and contempt, fitfully towards a more enlightened state, ending with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Women.  (However badly that document may be ignored.)
But the story Agonito thinks she shows is not what the selections she offers actually give.  A sounder conclusion is that the Christian tradition provides the only basis for sane reform and liberation for both sexes.  Because this is an anthology, Agonito cannot lie about the Christian tradition (as some of those she anthologizes do), she can only selectively misrepresent.  But even so, the Christian thinkers here come off as far more reasonable than the lunatics we have been taught to call "great thinkers," whom I will mainly quote and analyze below: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Wollstonecraft, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer (whose insanity we have already chronicled), Emerson, Mill (ditto), Darwin, Nietzsche, Engels, Russell, Freud, De Beauvoir, Friedan, Marcuse. 
What is startling is just how childish the "big thinkers" often seem to become, after they have rejected Christian orthodoxy." 

Image result for moses cartoon
"Whoops!  Did I miss a piece?"
Agonito relentlessly attacks the Christian tradition, directly and through proxies.  The opening three-page excerpt is the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis, which she prefaces by saying, “In the male-oriented religion of the Jews and later of the Christians, these concepts of woman’s inferiority and troublesomeness became entrenched in Western tradition, remaining virtually impregnable into the 20th Century.”
In a sense, the story of Adam and Eve is a great place to start, because the game of "pass the buck" it records -- “Blame the woman!” “Blame the snake!” is very like the game the “great philosophers” play down through the centuries.  I expected to respect even some skeptics here!  But aside from those who have imbibed more deeply from the Christian tradition, like Aquinas and Locke (Kiekegaard's piece is inscrutable), I found almost every one of them devoid of careful, systematic, and balanced reasoning.  Those who blame men and those who blame women and those who blame the capitalist system all seem a bit unhinged.  (Nobody pokes at Marxism in this text, even as Stalin’s little archipelago of labor camps is systematically butchering men and women alike.) 
But while Adam, Eve and the snake are a good place to start this story, Agonito misrepresents the Old Testament pretty badly by focusing on that tale.   
Eve does play the role of a villainess within it.  But in the Old Testament as a whole, some 37 women play heroic roles: saving families, taking the initiative in divinely-appointed love, befriending lonely widows, making adroit real estate investments, leading armies, even (in Esther's case) saving the people of Israel from genocide.  The percentage of male villains is surely much higher than of female villains (I only found 22 of the later, and some were ambivalent).  By contrast, is hard to find any heroines in Egyptian literature, still less three dozen!  
So Agonito's claim that the "inferiority and troubleness" of women was type-set by the single figure of Eve, "entrenched and impregnable" in Western literature, is promptly refuted by the whole rest of the Old Testament, including two entire books dedicated to heroines (Ruth and Esther).  In fact, the Old Testament represents a radical break from Egyptian literature, and allows mortal women a role that seldom appears in ancient Greek literature, either.  

St Paul the Misogynist 
Turning to the New Testament, Agonito cites Paul on how women should stay silent in church and cover their heads when praying, among other teachings from I Corinthians.  She fails to quote or even mention any of the many passages in which Paul writes in a friendly and respectful tone to female co-workers whom he seemed to accept as legitimate leaders of the Church.  She does mention that Jesus was friendly to women, but fails to include any of those passages in her anthology.Image result for apostle paul
We have already gone over both the gospels and the letters of Paul thoroughly in this series.  Agonito abuse of the biblical texts is disappointing, and raises the question of how much anything in this anthology can be trusted.  However, since most other thinkers are given enough space to develop their thoughts about women systematically, and Agonito doesn't exactly misquote, I think we can trust most of it.   

Plato & Aristotle

Image result for plato aristotle Agonito recognizes what all historians know, that women were placed in a very inferior position in the mainstream Greek culture represented by Athens.  (Though they enjoyed a higher position in Sparta.)  In general, women were supposed to stay in their quarters: Agonito cites the telling passage in The Odyssey in which Telemachus tells his mother Penelope to go back inside and leave public matters to himself as the man in the family now.  (Penelope seems quite pleased to see her son take this responsibility!)  
Plato represents, Agonito supposes, progress.  Men and women should share responsibilities because they share talents: 
"The gifts of nature are alike diffused in both."  
This is, no doubt, enlightened.  But the context, for Plato, is a commune in which public interest overrides the individual and ordinary human relations are destroyed:  
"The principle has already been laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior, as seldom as possible . . . if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition." 
"The wives of our guardians are to be common . . . and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent."
Can any society in which children are taken away from their mothers be described as "friendly to women" (or rationality)?  Ask most normal women whether they would prefer to live in Plato's commune, or the more sexist but family-friendly societies Aristotle seems to prefer.  
Two of our later "great thinkers," one who seemed to despise women (Rousseau), another who is cited as a feminist (Russell), will offer similar daft proposals, demanding permission to dump the fruits of their "free love" on the State or on charities.  (Because of course the State is so much better at raising children than parents are -- look at Soviet orphanages for example!) 
But Plato also says marriage should be important and licentiousness discouraged, so his position is a little hard to follow.  
Aristotle responds to Plato's optimism about female nature by arguing that women and slaves are naturally inferior to Greek males.  Women, after all, are "mutilated males."
"The male is by nature superior, the female inferior . . . The male is by nature fitter for command than females."
To be fair, Aristotle recognizes that the lordship of a man over a woman is different in kind than that over a slave.  (While pointing out that "among barbarians no distinction is made between the female and the slave.")
Aristotle's premise that woman is a "mutilated man" is, of course, both rather crazed, and at odds with all sound biology, even in his day.  Interesting, today the idea has arisen than one can in fact create a woman by mutilating a man, or vice-versa.  So perhaps Aristotle would feel vindicated by the modern transsexual movement, though I doubt many modern women (or biologists) would give Aristotle credit for the insight.     

Plutarch: Know Thy Place, Woman!
Representing a growing consensus within Greco-Roman culture, the late 1st Century historian Plutarch tells us that the duties of a virtuous women are “to keep at home and be silent,” also that the man should control their joint stock, however much the woman brings to her marriage:  
"It behooves a husband to control his wife, not as a master does his vessel, but as the soul governs the body, with the gentle hand of mutual friendship and reciprocal affection." 
Plutarch is not nasty or particularly crazy - and indeed, Agonito seems to regard his attitude as an improvement.  Plutarch represents the gentler and more reasonable side of the ancient consensus -- not a consensus that the modern world can accept, however. 
At this point Christianity comes in, as represented not only by Paul, but also (in this anthology), Augustine, Aquinas, and John Locke.   Augustine is a little too Roman and Manichean to be entirely sane (and was terribly unfair to his mistress), though with a strong-willed Christian mother for whom he held great respect, he could hardly veer too strongly into outright misogyny.  But we shall skip him, along with the eminently sane Aquinas, Locke, and Bacon since our story is of secular insanity.  (Also because Bacon doesn't really say much, besides that ambitious men may find family inconvenient, but that wife and children make a man more human.)  We also skip Hobbes, who merely notes that women have power over their children (in case any of his readers had never had a mother, presumably.)  And so we come to several figures who belongs to different branches of what is called the Enlightenment. 

Jean Rousseau and David Hume
Rousseau's words show what he thought of women:
“The principal object of the work of the whole house is to preserve and increase the patrimony of the father . . . “ 
“The father ought to command . . . “
“The husband ought to be able to superintend his wife’s conduct”
That's so his wife won’t sleep with some other fellow and he’ll be stuck raising the bastard.
See the source image
Made to command -- his 
kids to an orphanage.  Sorry,
This argument is common here.  From a strict biological sense (the sense so keenly apparent in the Law of Manu), far from being any kind of insane, locking up women to keep them pure seems to make a kind of sense.  This is the logic behind veils and why Mohammed and the Hindus shut women up or burned them on their husband’s funeral pyre, and why Chinese hobbled women by breaking their bones as young girls.  It is also the logic behind castrating men to act as your servants if you're the king.  If "your woman" is stuck between guarded walls, crippled, or dead, you don't have to worry about her running off and making babies with another man.  And if the man guarding her lacks the balls (literally) to make love to her, your DNA will be privileged in the competition for breeding.  
One need hardly call this "mad:" it is calculating and cold.  What is crazy, as well as cruel (and Agonito is too kind to mention), is how Rousseau sent the fruit of his own affair off to be raised (or more likely die) in orphanages.  Yes, the dirty SOB carted off five children to never trip his feet up again, so he could be free to write in peace.    
Mind you, this follows the spirit of Plato's communism.  But Burke, within the Christian tradition, recognized Rousseau for what he was: "(He) entertained no principle... but vanity. With this vice he was possessed to a degree little short of madness."
Indeed, here even cruel lust is divorced from the natural fruits which it seeks: you get the pleasure of copulation, but without the deeper satisfaction of loving your own children, never mind your wife.  
This is a form of insanity that has blossomed and grown in our era, with the pill and abortion and wonder drugs making it possible to divorce crude pleasure from the goal for which Nature or God gives us those pleasures.   
David Hume echoes the point that men feel a need to be sure the children they are raising are their own.
"There must be a union of male and female for the education of the young, and that this union must be of considerable duration.  But in order to induce the men to impose on themselves this restraint, and undergo cheerfully all the fatigues and expenses, to which it subjects them, they must believe that the children are their own . . . "
Therefore modesty in women, which encourages this trust, is a healthy thing.  

Kant Get No Satisfaction
Agonito introduces Immanuel Kant by claiming the concept of a “lady” in the Medieval world “marked a significant break with the Christian tradition and its literature, in which neither women nor passionate love had any significant place.”  The place Judeo-Christian literature makes for women and love actually begins with three Old Testament books titled for women (Esther and Ruth), or which are precisely about passionate romantic love (Song of Solomon), so Agonito is talking clap-trap, again.  (Let me also refer her to The Canterbury Tales, if she has not read them yet.) 
Kant believes men and women differ emotionally, a notion that will draw much fire later in the anthology. 
“Women have a strong inborn feeling for all that is beautiful, elegant, and decorated.”  
Kant’s “appreciation” of women is more than a little paternalistic (“Deep meditation and a long-sustained reflection are noble but difficult, and do not well befit a person in whom unconstrained charms should show nothing else than a beautiful nature.” ) A woman should not learn geometry, for instance. 
Still, Kant and Hume, while hardly feminists by modern standards, are relatively sensible, compared not only to Rousseau, but to some of the thinkers soon to appear.  (Not that the mother of Frankenstein is too bad.)  

Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft is perhaps most famous today as the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein and lover, then wife, of Percy Shelley, the great poet.  (His original wife committed suicide.)  Both Wollstonecraft and her husband (and Mary Shelley's father) William Godwin were radicals who didn't believe in traditional marriage.  And in the larger family circle, everyone committed adultery with everyone else and was shocked when everyone else turned out to be emotionally crushed at being betrayed.  The many broken lives and hearts within this circle of radicals betrays the frivolity of their thinking.   
But Wollstonecraft is not totally bereft of sense: 
"Man is so constituted that he can only attain a proper use of his faculties by exercising them, and will not exercise them unless necessity, of some kind, first sets the wheels in motion. 
See the source image"Morality will never gain ground . . . if one half of mankind be chained to its bottom by fate, for they will be continually undermining it through ignorance or pride.  It is vain to expect virtue from women until they are, in some degree, independent of men . . . 
"Our British heroes are oftener sent from the gaming table than from the plow . . . "
Wollstonecraft seemed especially alive to the hardships of her own upper class sisterhood: 
"Though I consider that women in the common walks of life are called to fulfill the duties of wives and mothers, by religion and reason, I cannot help lamenting that women of a superior cast have not a road open to them by which they can pursue more extensive plans of usefulness and independence . . . (but women are) arbitrarily governed without having any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government." 
Which echoes the American Revolution, Wollstonecraft being an admirer of George Washington (who went from the plow to the field of battle).  
Wollstonecraft considers what is to be done with alienated, frivolous society women -- a question that will come up later as well: 
"I have often wished, with Dr. Johnson, to place some . . . pale-faced creatures who are flying from themselves . . . in a little shop with a half dozen children looking up to their languid countenances for support."
Betty Friedan, by contrast, thinks having to watch kids and home is precisely what alienates women to begin with.  Both women seem to agree that there are a lot of neurotic women tooling around western cities, though they ascribe the problem to precisely opposite causes.  Looking at the lives of some of the feminist women anthologized in this work, it is hard to disagree with the premise to which they both give ascent.  

Georg Hegel
Hegel is in love with abstractions, but is not utterly devoid of sense.  “They represent that abandonment to the sensual is necessary as proof of the freedom and inner reality of love.  This style of argument is usual with seducers.”   Hegel is like Kant in affirming an only mildly contemptuous patriarchy (“women can, of course, be educated, but their minds are not adapted to the higher science, philosophy, or certain of the arts.”)  Their inability to attend to the universal (which was Hegel’s own mistress, or one of them) would make women dangerous heads of state.  But society depends on monogamous marriage. 

Soren Kierkegaard
It's hard to know what Soren Kierkegaard is getting at in the scattered piece included in this work, in which he puts various thoughts into the mouths of four eccentric figures at a banquet.  Agonito ascribes the confusion to his status as an existentialist, but he was also a sincere Christian thinker, which is not reflected in this piece.
See the source image
Thus spake Zarathustra,
either before or after
he lost his mind.
Schopenhauer & Nietzsche 
Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche then make a case against women, with a bit of off-hand support from Charles Darwin (see next group).  As described in my previous post, Schopenhauer is clearly unhinged: women are not just weak, but vile, have “never created anything really great, creative, and original,” they are sneaking, under-handed, inferior, and – yet he did chase 16 year olds at forty – ugly!  (Look at a painting of Schopenhauer himself, linked to above, and tell me that’s not a projection.)  He seems to be rationalizing his own hostility to his mother, a successful novelist, wishing women to be shut inside and even cites the Law of Manu, one of the most oppressive woman-hating texts in world literature, with a kind of passive-aggressive affirmation. 
Zarathustra adds, “Do you go to women?  Do not forget the whip!” 

Emerson, Mill, Engels, Russell & Darwin
The response to such hatred of women is given first by several men: Ralph Waldon Emerson, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Engels and Bertrand Russell.
See the source image
How could a pipe-smoker
with such far-seeing eyes
who writes Nobel-Prize
winning books and the
history of western philosophy
be so thick? 
Having read Marx and Engels in college, I had few hopes for Engels' contribution.  And indeed, he offers a highly simplistic picture of world history that satisfies communist cartooning, but bears little relationship to reality. 
“Almost all savages and barbarians of the lower and middle stages . . . women not only have freedom, but are held in high esteem.” 
Tell that story to the Yamonamo Indians, or the Yali in Papua New Guinea.  Engels also doesn’t seem to know that slavery was practiced among Native American tribes. 
I always thought of Mill as being a reasonable man, but his essay in this anthology proved me wrong.  He offers the most sweeping and wild claims – such as that all women are slaves, that other systems have never even been tried – without even the ghost of an empirical argument.    While less shrill in tone than Schopenhauer, and less pernicious in his demands – he wishes for “equality,” whatever that means – as an argument his argument is simply a disgrace, confirming the worst fears people have of philosophy as a field where people build intellectual castles in the clouds.  (In these castles, the men are all ogres, as in Schopenhauer’s castles, they are all knights in shining armor, while the maidens are in the dungeons where they belong.) 
Darwin tries to bring the conversation back to the empirical realities of lived experience in the natural world:
“With savages, for instance the Australians, the women are the constant cause of war both between members of the same tribe and between distinct tribes.”
So much for Engel's theory of peaceful primitive communism! 
Darwin also supposes that Nature forms the minds of men and women differently, as if forms their bodies.  He puts this in terms that are going to lose him many friends in today’s world:
“Man is more courageous, pugnacious, and energetic than woman, and has more inventive genius.”
Darwin notes that greater boldness and fierceness is already characteristic of male monkeys, who “come to the front” when the tribe is confronted by danger.  
“No one disputes that the bull differs in disposition from the cow, the wild-boar from the sow, the stallion from the mare . . . Woman seem to differ from man in mental disposition, chiefly in her greater tenderness and less selfishness.”
We already get observations of this sort in Aristotle.  What is curious how many "great thinkers" on women simply ignore millions of years of natural history.  
Bertrand Russell then appears to blame Christianity for the subservience of women.  Russell also reintroduces Plato and Rousseau's solution to everyone’s sexual frustrations: dump the kids!  Let Dad and Mom have fun without the diapers, because strangers will of course be kinder than one's own flesh and blood.  Make the state raise our children for us! 
“Christian ethics inevitably, through the emphasis laid on sexual virtue, did a great deal to degrade the position of women . . . It is only in quite modern times that women have regained the degree of freedom which they enjoyed in the Roman Empire . . . It is only with the decay of the notion of sin in modern times that women have begun to regain their freedom.” (293)
Schopenhauer blamed Christianity for elevating women too much.  Russell blames it for setting her back.  Either way, Christianity must be to blame.  
The family is protection for women.  A woman can say, “No, thanks, I’m already married,” and society will back her up, even if any given man (say, Russell) doesn’t accept that answer.  Darwin was right: primitive men may not have always dragged their women around by the hair, but some tribes came pretty close. 
Like Schopenhauer, Russell thinks prostitution is an “inevitable” outcome of the Christian family. 
What does Lord Russell propose?  Either men should put up with their wives having affairs (say, with Russell himself), and the wives should find better pills so the men won’t have to raise their lovers’ brats.  (Not realistic, Russell admits.)  Or else:
“The other alternative compatible with the new morality is the decay of fatherhood as an important social institution, and of the taking over of the duties of the father by the State . . . All children would be in the position in which illegitimate children of unknown paternity are now, except the State, regarding this as the normal case, would take more trouble with their nurture than it does at present.”
Bertrand Russell does not disguise his sense of superiority in his own intellect (see his nose sticking up in the air?), but obviously he was a damn fool in some ways.    
Schopenhauer hated women because he couldn’t get along with his mother.  Russell wants to abolish fatherhood.  
For those of us who had good fathers, or who love our children, those are fighting words.  

Sigmund Freud Shrinks Women  
See the source image
Maybe its what they put IN those
pipes and cigars?  Sometimes a cigar
is not just a cigar. 
The famous Viennese poseur and pervert, Sigmund Freud, then makes his case that what little boys and girls really want is to hump or be humped by their parents, and that infant sexual frustration determines most their subsequent subconscious woes.  Women, in particular, are traumatized for life by their lack of  a certain piece of male anatomy. 
This bat-crazy theory is too much even for Agonito, who breaks up the Walk of Fame (or infame) by following Freud with a relatively unknown female shrink,  Karen Horney, who says in studiedly polite academic jargon, in effect, “Get your mind out of the gutter, Dr. Freud.  People do have other things to think about.”   Some women buy Freud’s schtick because:

“It is much easier for a patient to think that nature has given her an unfair deal than to realize that she actually makes excessive demands on the environment and is furious whenever they are not complied with.” (330)
In the midst of talking such sense, unfortunately Horney also has to pig-pile on the Christian tradition as well.  “Puritanical influences . . . have contributed toward the debasement of women by giving sexuality the connotation of something sinful and low.”  Christian literature thus “debases” and “soils” women and lowers her in her own self-esteem. 
Yeah, right.  It wouldn’t be Hugh Heffner or Harvey Weinstein or Bill Clinton or J. F. Kennedy who debase women by using them as cheap tricks, then tossing them aside.  It’s the Christians who think men and women should love for a lifetime in the connotation of a faithful mutual relationship who lower women.
And speaking of treating lovers as cheap tricks and tossing them aside, next we come to: 

Simone De Beauvoir  
Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul-Sartre’s love interest (or one of them), is up next, and what an act she turns out to be. 
See the source image
Well she looks sweet!
The general force of Beauvoir’s argument is that women are the very font of vices (“she is contrary, she is prudent and petty, she has no sense of fact or accuracy, she lacks morality . . . false, theatrical, self-seeking . . . “), and their wretched moral character is the fault of men. 
Some of her indictment of women, I mean of men by means of women, shows De Beauvoir’s literary talent to good effect, no doubt:

“She feels that she is surrounded by waves, radiations, mystic fluids; she believes in telepathy, astrology, radiotherapy, mesmerism, theosophy, table-tipping, clairvoyants, faith-healers; her religion is full of primitive superstition; wax candles, answered prayers . . . “ 
“The lot of women is a respectful obedience.  She has no grasp, even in thought, on the reality around her.”
But one gets the feeling that De Beauvoir, like Schopenhauer, was cursing her mother, rather than offering a coherent philosophical analysis of anything in human society.  As a serial manipulator who destroyed the lives of her young students with ruthlessness, as did her "lover" Sartre, De Beauvoir cannot be accused "respectful obedience," nor of being more admirable than the bourgeois women she seemed to despise.  I certainly would never say anything remotely as nasty about women in general as this “feminist philosopher” does, because the image she is painting of women simply does not correspond to my experience as a whole – thank God.
The cause of the horror that is woman is man, or rather, the need to act as a wife and mother in a family:
“A syllogism is of no help in making a successful mayonnaise, nor in quieting a child in tears.”
In an interview late in life, De Beauvoir goes so far as to say women should not be allowed to be housewives, even if they wish: too many would choose that lifestyle if given a choice. 
“Woman has been assigned the role of parasite, and every parasite is an exploiter.”
True enough, De Beauvoir herself was both an exploiter and a parasite: she was fired from teaching for seducing her female students, for instance.  But the women I grew up among, my mother and her friends, were honest, hard-working, kind, full of humor and good fun, in short match De Beauvoir’s self-indictment not a whit. 
Three more lunatics to go, and we are done with the tribe, and can retreat to sanity. 

Ashley Montagu
Montagu then contributes a piece in which he points out, I am not lying, that it is women who are superior to men, not the other way around, because they live longer and are better at Language Arts!
Yes, that is the conversation we find our intellectual superiors engaging in at this point:
“Boyz are better cause we got bigger muscles and can do math good!”
“No, gurlz are better cause we live long and learn languages better!”
“But look at this!  I bet you wish you had one of these!”
“Huh!  Snort!”   
The great conversation seems to really have become that asinine by the late 20th Century – thanks I think to what has been excluded in ignorance and bigotry, the Center which has been marginalized in favor of pre-adolescent extremes, the "Light of Dawn" as Clement of Alexandria (a very sane thinker) put it.  
Even here, Montagu might get stoned today for, like Darwin, basing his silly ideas on actual observations:
“Boys do better in those subjects that depend on numerical reasoning and spatial aptitudes, as well as in certain ‘information’ subjects such as history, geography, and general science.”
None of which prevent girls from being better overall, though.  So there!  

Betty Friedan
See the source image
Not just a second-class housewife. 
Betty Friedan is essentially a reprise of De Beauvoir and all the lunatics who think getting rid of children and the home is the best way to make women happier.  
“For women of ability, in America today, I am convinced there is something about the housewife state itself that is dangerous.”
Indeed, becoming a housewife is like “walking to their own deaths in the concentration camp” of Nazi Germany. 
Just what we needed – an Argument ad Hitlerum to close.

Herbert Marcuse
But the very last individual piece (before the United Nations closes the work) is by an unapologetic Marxist, Herbert Marcuse, who finds fresh forms of delusion to inflict on his readers.  He actually supposes (in 1972, after one hundred million innocent people have been mowed down on five continents) that communist revolution would not only liberate the proletarians, but that model of the proletarians, the lowly housewife.  Being isolated from the brutalizing world of capitalism actually makes women “more human than men,” which will shock De Beauvoir and Friedan and numerous contributors to this anthology who think housewifery makes woman an empty-headed, conniving, immoral nitwit.  (So feminism has to do a double back-flip at this point.)

Here are your “brights,” lucky world.  Here are your leading male and female philosophers, having cast off the crippling constraints of Christian orthodoxy, thinking hard to explain what is wrong between the sexes, and how to fix it.
And they are experimental pioneers!  They make love to their wives' best friends and expect their wives to feel happy about it!  They betray lovers and dump their own flesh-and-blood kids off into institutions where most children die quick and die young!  And then write books telling the world how to raise children!  
We saw that the great religious texts that formed the basis of ancient civilizations, not counting the Bible, were often cruel and oppressive towards women, or at best, neglected them to pursue other interests.  
We see now that having thrown off Christ, western thought did little better.  Some "great thinkers," often those most far from the Gospel, show an exaggerated and disturbed hatred of women.  Others patronize, perhaps for reasons we have come to recognize among so many liberal politicians ("the better to bed you with, my dear!")  Some blame men or marriage or family or Christianity for the low status of women, though in fact it is higher in Christian countries than almost anywhere else.  Others create mad visions of violent revolution that will change everything, or perverted sexual fantasies or morbid nightmares from which they claim they can rescue men and women alike by some psychoanalytical incantation, at a not-so-modest fee, pay the secretary on your way out, please.  
"Where else shall we go?  You have the words of life!"  We return then to Christ, who is the heart of sanity, of kindness and yet also the respect of demanding much, standing up for women, but asking women to stand up for themselves and those they should love.