The following is an excerpt from his column:
Just a few years ago, it seemed curious that an omniscient, omnipotent God wouldn't smite tormentors like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. They all published best-selling books excoriating religion and practically inviting lightning bolts.
Traditionally, religious wars were fought with swords and sieges; today, they often are fought with books. And in literary circles, these battles have usually been fought at the extremes.
Fundamentalists fired volleys of Left Behind novels, in which Jesus returns to Earth to battle the Anti-Christ (whose day job was secretary general of the United Nations). Meanwhile, devout atheists built mocking Web sites like www.whydoesGodhateamputees.com. That site notes that although believers periodically credit prayer with curing cancer, God never seems to regrow lost limbs. It demands an end to divine discrimination against amputees.
This year is different, with a crop of books that are less combative and more thoughtful. One of these is "The Evolution of God," by Robert Wright, who explores how religions have changed - improved - over the millennia. He notes that God, as perceived by humans, has mellowed from the capricious warlord sometimes depicted in the Old Testament who periodically orders genocides.
(In 1 Samuel 15:3, the Lord orders a mass slaughter of the Amalekite tribe: "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child." These days, that would earn God an indictment before the International Criminal Court.)
In addition to The Evolution of God by Robert Wright, Kristof also briefly reviews The Case for God by Karen Armstrong and The Faith Instinct by Nicholas Wade. Kristof concludes his article by saying:
I’m hoping that the latest crop of books marks an armistice in the religious wars, a move away from both religious intolerance and irreligious intolerance. That would be a sign that perhaps we, along with God, are evolving toward a higher moral order.
Mr. Kristof’s column is not very positive on Judaism and Christianity. In fact, although his column discusses Judaism and Christianity, religion and war, not once he mentioned Islam and how many of the followers of Islam are deeply involved in most of the religious wars being fought today.
I wonder who truly needs an armistice in the wars fought in the name of religion and who needs to move away from religious intolerance.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, War