Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Michael Coren - Debunking Lies about Christianity

Dear Theophilus,

When I first set out on the journey of writing this blog, one of my goals was to comment about the books I’m reading as I finish them. This is something that I realize that I’ve completely dropped the ball on. Much like the chain smoker that lights a new cigarette from the dying ember of the one before it, I usually find myself racing through the end of one book so I can get to the next one. I know this is no way to enjoy the delicate tastes a book has to offer, but there is so much out there to be read that I feel compelled to get through as much as possible. This said, I’ve already gone through a number of books since I started this blog last November and I’ve hardly mentioned any of them.

Today is the first day of changing all that, and I hope to make a habit of sharing the new insights I’ve learned while they are still fresh in my mind. So I want to share my thoughts on Michael Coren’s latest book: Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread about Christianity. I mentioned this book in an earlier post, but feel it deserves the attention of a post all of its own.

Having read Coren’s previous book, Why Catholics are Right, and finding it not only a wonderful insight into Catholic teaching, but also a great defence of the Catholic Church today, I was anxious to read what Coren had to say in the defence of Christianity.

Before going any further, however, one needs to note that Michael Coren makes no bones about being an Orthodox Catholic, and he certainly won’t apologize for it. So, while what he says might seem abrupt to some more liberal minded readers, it needs to be said and leaves the reader with a better understanding of Christian and Catholic teaching.

In his introduction, Coren discusses how Christianity has become the last, great whipping boy in the public arena of modern western society. He notes that if much of what is said about Christianity were to be expressed about other religious groups – Muslim, Jew, Hindu, etc. – there would be much hew and cry for the speaker’s head in today’s politically correct culture; and rightfully so. In Heresy Coren gives the everyday Christian the answers needed to defend the faith against the most common arguments made against it. The following is a list of chapters from the book:

  1. Jesus Didn’t Exist
  2. There is No God: Bad Things Happen to Good People
  3. The Da Vinci Code
  4. All the Clever People are Atheists
  5. Hitler was a Christian
  6. Christians and Christianity Supported Slavery
  7. Christians are Opposed to Science
  8. Christians Oppose Progress and Change
  9. Christians are Obsessed with Abortion
  10. What Else can we Throw at Christianity

To give a sampling of what you’ll find in Coren’s book, I’ll give an extremely brief synopsis of chapters 3 and 7.

Coren does well to debunk the modern myths that have developed from Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. I’ve always held that this novel was a good piece of fiction, but it should always be taken as that – a piece of fiction. According to Coren, this is the greatest problem with what Dan Brown writes; that most people take it as the truth (especially since Brown begins the novel by stating that his story is based completely on actual truth). Coren then goes on to correct most of Dan Brown’s lies, citing authoritative and academic works on subjects such as Opus Dei.

In the chapter concerning Christianity being opposed to science, Coren takes full aim at the perennial argument that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church, must be against science because the Pope had Galileo locked up for claiming the earth revolved around the sun. As a matter of fact Coren points out that this theory was first proposed by Copernicus, a Catholic priest, and championed by another Catholic cleric, Kepler. Galileo’s crime was to use the theory to directly challenge sacred scripture and to infer that the Pope was a simpleton – two ideas that he refused to retract – making it not the scientific idea, but rather the way that Galileo went about his business that landed him under house arrest.

What I like best about Coren’s latest book is that he tackles these questions from a non-denominational Christian perspective. Unlike his previous book, Why Catholics are Right, Coren sets out to defend Christian teaching throughout history – the majority of which just happens to be Catholic. Reading Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread about Christianity will provide any Christian with more than enough ammunition the next time an armchair atheist tries to shout them down at their local pub.

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