Religious people must learn to live with historical facts

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The post-modern idea that there is no such thing as historical fact, merely historical interpretations, is wrong, writes Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith in The Catholic Herald.

Did you know that Giuseppe Verdi was an atheist? I was told this by the UK National Secular Society, and it did surprise me. I knew, of course, that Verdi was an anti-clerical, like a lot of his contemporaries, but had always assumed that he was a believer.

The evidence of Verdi’s atheism is provided by his own Catholic wife, and so it is quite credible. Arturo Toscanini also considered Verdi to be an atheist. So, it is not really worth disputing. And it all goes to show that you can like and live with the appearances of Catholic culture, without holding to its substance.

On the whole, this historical fact (Verdi’s atheism) is something I can live with. Which is just as well: because historical facts are just that – facts. You really do not have a choice: you have to accept them. I certainly do not go along with the post-modern idea that there is no such thing as historical fact, merely historical interpretations, and that facts are illusory.

Some religious people would clearly not be happy with this approach. Consider this bunch of Muslims in America, who are claiming that 'Jesus is Muslim.' That assertion, which is backed by no evidence, is absurd. Jesus of Nazareth lived many centuries before the emergence of Islam. Jesus the Risen and Ascended Lord, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is in no sense whatever Muslim as the world is generally intended. The assertion 'Jesus is Muslim' flies in the face of reason and must be a profound embarrassment to many Muslims.

There are many other Muslim beliefs that deny historical reality. The best known is the claim that 'Jesus did not die on the cross' or that the Christian Scriptures are somehow 'corrupted.' Neither of these claims is historically sustainable, and I won’t waste time trying to refute them.

But just in case you think that I am being anti-Muslim here, it is also the case that many Christians hold beliefs that are plainly anti-historical. The Protestant reformers claimed that the Catholic Church had become corrupt at some unidentified point in its history: one would like to ask when and how this happened? 

FULL STORY Religious people must remember that history can’t be bypassed (The Catholic Herald)

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