Eichenwald, Newsweek, the Bible, and the Wrong Target

By Robin Schumacher

Originally posted at The Christian Post
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If you've been following the news, you have no doubt seen or heard about Newsweek's (perhaps the magazine should be more aptly titled Newsweak) Christmas-timed article "The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin", written by Kurt Eichenwald. As Christians, we should be used to demeaning works like this each Christmas and Easter, but I'll admit, it's still tiring to read more of the same from those who look to misrepresent God and His Word.

My purpose here is not to correct the legion of historical inaccuracies, poor logic, bad stereotypes, misinterpretations and misrepresentations in Eichenwald's article. Dr. Michael Kruger has already decisively accomplished that in Part 1 and Part 2 of his refutation, as has Al Mohler in his rebuttal piece. Instead, what I'd like to address is the overarching thesis that Eichenwald puts forward, which I believe is every bit as flawed as the explicit arguments he makes against the Bible.

Eichenwald provides the primary reason for his writing when he says:
When the illiteracy of self-proclaimed Biblical literalists leads parents to banish children from their homes, when it sets neighbor against neighbor, when it engenders hate and condemnation, when it impedes science and undermines intellectual advancement, the topic has become too important for Americans to ignore, whether they are deeply devout or tepidly faithful, believers or atheists.
In other words, there are bad things happening in the world because people are interpreting /using the Bible incorrectly and that, says Eichenwald, needs to stop. Now on the surface, that sounds like a fair request, until you actually read Eichenwald's views on the Bible and then understand what little certainty you have left of Scripture and what remains on the cutting room floor from Eichenwald's shears.

Bumping it up a level, behind all of Eichenwald's attacks on the Bible is a claim that he and most atheists, skeptics, etc., state in one form or another: "If we could only get rid of this religious belief then [fill in the blank with a supposed problem or woe] would disappear." This is the target Eichenwald and others like him aim at with their artillery, but they miss their mark by a country mile.

Let's take a look at three of the most common claims in this vein and see how they match up with the truth.

War and Violence

Atheist Sam Harris says that religion is "the most prolific source of violence in our history."

If we could only eliminate religion then war, bloodshed, etc., would almost be a thing of the past.

The only problem with Harris' claim is that it's completely false.

Now let's be clear — monstrous atrocities like those currently being committed by ISIS are fueled by religion (Islam) as were events such as the Thirty Years' War and others like them. There's no denying that.

However, wiping out religion isn't going to come close to removing war and violence from our world. Historians Philip and Axelrod have demonstrated in their three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars (which covers 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history) that only 123 wars have been religious in nature. That amounts to an amazingly low 6.98% of all wars. Further, when you subtract out wars carried out in the name of Islam, the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%.

The conclusion is that all religions combined — minus Islam — have lit the fire behind less than 4% of all of humanity's wars and violent conflicts. (Slide presentation on religion and wars.)

So if Eichenwald and others like him want to target the proper religion where war and violence are concerned, they should aim their literary canons at Islam and not Christianity. Even then, the real target of their ire should be the secular causes and naturalistic philosophies behind the 90+ percent of all wars and atrocities that have stained our world.

Continue to Page Two

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Published 1-7-15