Thursday, May 31, 2012
Is God Just a Human Invention - Chapter 10 Is Religion Dangerous?
As mentioned previously, I am following a book club type format for this book over on another blog. I was going to just participate over there but I have a lot more to say than I want to shove into their comments, so I figured I'd do a normal long form post over here and then just talk about 1 or 2 main points over there. I'm sticking to my normal format of bold for section heading, regular text for summary, and italics for my commentary.
The New Atheists claim that religion is dangerous and produces violence. The authors of the book ask whether the world would be without violence if religion was removed.
Obviously the question is no. We are violent with or without religion. I think the main point is that with religion the violence has a righteous to it. If people think God is on their side it gives them one more reason not to back down. One more reason not to negotiate or consider the other side's position.
Details Matter When Examining Religion
Lumping all religion together doesn't really work as there are a lot of differences and those differences matter. A statement such as "All religions are bad for society" is not very meaningful unless you have a specific religion in mind or if you have some aspect of those religions in mind.
I think I basically agree with this. I am aware that there are a lot of religions in the world and I don't know much about them. I do make the claim that religion is bad for society, and when I do I am mostly referring to Christianity and religions similar to it.
Anything with people in it can be manipulated and religion is no exception.
Is there anything Jesus taught that necessarily leads to violence?
This is pretty close. But this one is right on the money.
Religion is Not the Problem - People Are
It's not religion that is the problem, but people. People are in power and no matter what they believe there will be violence. Atheism also leads to violence.
The difference is, Christianity is the cause of violence sometimes. Atheism isn't. There is nothing that would make me kill someone which stems from my atheism. Christianity simply can't make the same claim.
Is Atheism Really the Absence of Belief?
Before I read this section I will answer. NO!!! It is the absence of belief IN A GOD
Communism was an atheist ideology. Atheism was a central part of the doctrine and churches were systematically closed down and priests and religious believers were murdered.
Not believing in a God does not make you want to force churches to close down and murder believers. Being an asshole might make you want to kill people and being an atheist might direct that drive, but one doesn't lead to another. I do want churches to shut down, but I would never want it done by force, I want people to decide to stop going and them shut down naturally.
A Universal Problem
Atheists think that if we just educate people more that they will be good. Christians think that people are inherently bad and they need to have god renovate their heart.
Sounds like a pretty accurate summary to me.
Making the Case for Civility
Some people say we should be tolerant and accept anyone's belief. This way of thinking implies that all beliefs are equally valid or true. We don't like this.
I love it when we agree. I hate that crap.
The New Atheists say bad things about Christians. What if someone took what they wrote and ran with it and killed a bunch of Christians?
That would be really bad. I'm honestly not sure how to respond to that. Almost anything you write that is controversial could be taken by some nutjob as a reason to go kill people. At least the Atheists don't say that there is a reward for it. In fact, I have heard many prominent atheists say that violence against religious people is wrong explicitly.
We want freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
Agreed. People should be able to exercise any religion they want. But it shouldn't come up in any official capacity in government as that inherently limits people of other religions (or no religion)
Disagreement is Here to Stay
We are going to disagree, we should do so without starting with the assumption that everyone's view is equally valid or by demonizing those who disagree with us.
Could not agree more.
Note: I am out of town for about a week. There will not be a disruption is posts as I have front-loaded enough content to fill the void while I am gone, however, I will most likely not be responding to any comments until I get back. If any comments do come from me this week please excuse typos as it means I am posting from my phone.