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Paris attacks inspire anti-religious sentiment

A street performance of ‘Imagine’ says it all


Published: 20 November 2015 (GMT+10)

In the wake of the recent tragic terrorist attacks, a popular video on YouTube with nearly a million views shows an unnamed pianist before a crowd on the street in Paris playing a piano with a giant ‘peace sign’ painted on it.1 He’s playing John Lennon’s song, “Imagine”—a song with a strongly secular humanist, antireligious message. In the lyrics, Lennon writes,

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today …

… Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace …2

Lennon’s point with this song is clearly to blame all religion for why this world isn’t a better place, and to blame religion for the many wars that are continually fought in human history. France, along with most of the world, has bought into the deception of secular humanism and evolution, and now, in the face of this tragedy, it appears that at least some Parisians are blaming the concept of God itself for the attacks, rather than attributing them to the evil choices made by these radical cult members.

Unfortunately, Lennon was apparently blind to the implications of this humanistic worldview he was promoting. If there is no heaven or hell, that means there is no ultimate reward or punishment for anything you do while living on this earth. This was what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Corinthians 15:32)

What does a world look like with no moral constraints from God? Far from the peaceful paradise that Lennon ‘imagines’, the history of the 20th century bore out the results, as the Marxist, atheistic communist regimes took over and committed murder and genocide on a mass scale never before seen in history. The simple fact is, the true morality of the Bible looks absolutely nothing like the actions taken by militant Islamists. To associate all religion, including Christianity, with such heinous acts is nothing more than a dishonest smear and a straw man. Jesus taught people to love even their enemies, and bless them (Matthew 5:43–48). Would a consistent application of that biblical morality have yielded these attacks? Certainly not! See also What about bad things done by the Church?

commons.wikimedia.org, CitronParis-attack-tribute
Aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks

Actually, even the leading atheopath Richard Dawkins (b. 1941) had a rare moment of clarity about this:

There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.3

In reality, God is the basis for absolute morality. When you throw out God (that is, God as revealed in the Bible), you throw out the things that God gives us, including an objective right and wrong. If materialistic evolution is true, then our actions are determined entirely by our environment and physical brains, ruled by the laws of physics, as even the leading evolutionist, William Provine (1942–2015) has admitted.

Dawkins, in one of his more typical moods, said that we inhabit a universe which has “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”4 Where, in this worldview, is there any room to say that what these Muslim terrorists have done is ‘wrong’? And how were the atheistic mass-murdering dictators of the last century ‘wrong’ for that matter—they were being consistent with a worldview that lacks ultimate right and wrong.

When terrible things like this happen, people always are moved to ask why a good God would allow such evil things to take place; but what people sometimes fail to realize is the very idea of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ that they are using to judge the situation comes only from God in the first place. Take this as an opportunity to share the Good News with those who are looking for answers!

References and notes

  1. Pianist performs John Lennon’s Imagine after Paris attacks, youtube.com, 14 November 2015. Return to text.
  2. “Imagine”, azlyrics.com, accessed 18 November 2015. Return to text.
  3. Cited in: Gledhill, R., Scandal and schism leave Christians praying for a ‘new Reformation’, The Times (UK), 2 April 2010. Return to text.
  4. Dawkins, C.R., River out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolswi, Chapter 4, 1995. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Roy D.
On the contrary, the ills of this world perpetrated by humans prove that there must be a heaven and this isn't it. If this was heaven we would not need a saviour or a hereafter.
Mrs Dominqiue G.
Having some family living in Paris the messages of positive reaction after the event in Paris were much more than what this video is showing. This only represents a very small fraction of the population — one should realize that the human spirit is strong in the face of harsh reality and this is the time to spread the good news of Jesus and not make too much of the negative. After all, this should be a call to prayers for us all as Christians to ask God to reveal Himself to those who don't know Him.
D. C.
Most of John Lennon’s admirers are possibly more likely to campaign against military retaliation and to hint that John Lennon’s lyrics have somehow nurtured an increase in global armed conflict is cacophonic.

A brutal regime on a 15th century crusade has branded itself a Religion and this has tarnished 'Religion'. Not really convinced though that the pianist is deliberately setting out to blame Christianity, although I am not sure that Christianity really has a clean sheet.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies: a certain President, according to the media, asked for God’s advice on expanding conflict in the Middle East. What do you think God’s reply may have been?

YouTube: Just out of interest what song would you have preferred the mourners to sing?
Paul Price

"...to hint that John Lennon’s lyrics have somehow nurtured an increase in global armed conflict is cacophonic."

I didn't say, nor did I intend to imply, that Lennon's lyrics had a direct effect on global conflict. Indeed, his lyrics were written after most of the atheistic regimes had committed their atrocities. The point was to show how inconsistent and unrealistic Lennon's worldview, as promoted by his lyrics, really was.

"... although I am not sure that Christianity really has a clean sheet."

And what would you be basing that on? Jesus' and the apostles' own statements, or the actions of fallible and fallen human beings who claimed to be following them? If you don't see the massive difference between the two, then meaningful dialogue is not going to be possible.

"...a certain President, according to the media, asked for God’s advice on expanding conflict in the Middle East."

Again, what we are discussing is Christianity as a worldview, not the actions of fallible human beings who may or may not be genuine Christians themselves. I am not familiar with the particular instance you're referencing, but in any case it's not relevant here.

"...what song would you have preferred the mourners to sing?"

Please don't be willingly blind to the obvious. My article is not, as you imply here, about nitpicking the mourners' choice of music! The choice to play that particular song at that particular place and time was obviously meant to make an ideological statement. If you understand what Lennon's song means, you'll understand that the statement they intended to make is this: religion (in general) is to blame for these attacks. Not 'Islam'— Lennon's song attacks general religious concepts like 'heaven' and 'hell', making it clear that he was trying to promote a Godless, materialistic worldview.
A M.
Of course the French were world leaders in persecution of Christians and in trying to eradicate religion — going to the extent of attempting to remove the God-given seven day week. Anyone who thinks that secularism is something progressive and desirable is ignorant in the extreme — it has been tried and tested and its horrific fruits have been shown time and again.
Gian Carlo B.
As Paul Price correctly states, secularists today make over-simplistic statements regarding religion and naïvely lump them together without any background knowledge of applied theology and contextual studies of the religions in question, it is really intellectually pathetic and ignorant on their part.
John P.
John Lennon probably knows differently now. A world without God would not even exist as He is the Creator of the universe, but indeed Hitler, Stalin , Pol Pot and others like them aimed for the same "principle"- not nice.We need the opposite of what Lennon was promoting. The world is reaping what it has sown. Only a true understanding of God's Word will stop these jihadists. They follow a false religion which instructs them to do what they do.
Chandrasekaran M.
Imagine no heaven and no hell and imagine Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot and their killing of millions of unfit homo-sapiens. The reality is that there is no hope or joy in this fallen world except in Jesus the Lord.
Antonio F.
What's more amazing is that humanism doesn't shy away from paganism. There is a sense that pagan practices are ok even if it is traced to satanic origins and yet they balk at Christians that instil a moral code for a more peaceful society. They want to keep the morals of Christianity but condemn them, and claim those morals as part of more sinister belief systems without realising where those systems are taking them.
Dwight F.
I thought it interesting that this same song was showcased in Britain during the London Olympic games as well. I wonder if anyone even thinks what a slap in the face insult this song is to anyone who believes in any god, yet it was played in front of many nations and many athletes who no doubt did not share the same wish to have a godless, humanist, hopeless world. I don't think they intentionally set out to insult these other nations, but I do think it exposes how many people have become blind, to even something as simple as listening to song lyrics and seeing what they say and how they might offend the very guests they intended to host for the games.
Ronald W.
The way I see it, John Lennon's 'Imagined' world already occurred in his lifetime though I don't know if he was aware of it. It was Pol Pot's terrifying and murderous Khmer Rouge regime. Here are a selection of quotes from John Lennon's song along with some Khmer Rouge facts:

"And no religion too"
The Khmer Rouge sought to eliminate all religions within its domain, including the traditional Buddhism and the Catholic and Muslim minorities.

"No hell below us"
In a manner of speaking. They brought hell on earth instead.

"Imagine there's no countries"
In a manner of speaking. The Khmer Rouge attempted to attack Vietnam, most likely with the intent of expanding its system there, only to discover Vietnam was militarily stronger.

"Above us only sky"
In a very real sense. The Khmer Rouge transformed the entire country into a primitive agrarian utopia, where people had to work for hours under the blazing sun.

"Nothing to kill or die for"
The Khmer Rouge's motto was reportedly 'To keep you alive is no gain, to kill you is no loss'.

"Imagine no possessions"
The Khmer Rouge banned private property except for a few items of clothing. By the way, isn't it a tad bit hypocritical for John Lennon to extol 'no possessions' when he had a vast personal fortune? And if 'no possessions' is such a virtue, does that mean destitute people are in the best situation and that aid relief is wrong?

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