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Monday, March 2, 2009

Religion is dangerous

A man decapitates his son to save his soul from the devil.



Sometimes, people will ask me 'why are you so concerned with religion? They are just nice people trying to do good'. My answer is that religions are so often linked to atrocities, like the above. It is entirely possible for a person to justify pretty much any horrible act through the bible (and I guess that holds true for other religious texts too)

Do I think that the texts were written with this in mind? Of course not. At the time when they were written, and to reasonable people today, the sections describing immoral behaviour are seen as allegory, hypothetical and exaggerations, but having people base their lives on this kind of stuff, then teaching them to take it literally, as the more fundamentalist branches of religion do, is bound to lead to this kind of behaviour.

On the other hand, I accept that atheists have been known to do bad things too, but I cannot think of a case where a person's lack of conviction of religion has led them to harm others. When an atheist does something terrible, it is (as far as I know) never justified through their lack of beliefs. When a religious person does something terrible, it is often justified through their religion.

In either case, I think that the person who did the act was probably suffering from some condition external to their religion/irreligion, but the religious person who justifies their actions is able to hide under their beliefs and is less likely to take responsibility for their actions. In the video above, the father feels like he has done the right thing. He is not taking responsibility for the fact that he killed his son in cold blood for a nonsense reason. Is this man going to lament and repent for what he has done? Much less, as he feels that he has done the right thing!

What's the harm?

THAT's the harm!

1 comment:

  1. "In either case, I think that the person who did the act was probably suffering from some condition external to their religion/irreligion, but the religious person who justifies their actions is able to hide under their beliefs and is less likely to take responsibility for their actions."

    You've missed the whole point. Why? Because if someone commits an atrocity, does it even matter if they admit "responsibility"? Of course not. They'll get arrested and punished for it anyway. The deed is done.

    Someone's hardly going to say "I did this BECAUSE I don't believe in God", but for all intents and purposes, that's irrelevant if their lack of belief in God is having a huge impact on the way they act, which in many cases it so obviously is.

    Just because someone doesn't justify their action by their specific non belief does not mean that their value system isn't affecting their actions. Of COURSE their values affect their actions. People's underlying values (which are strongly influenced by their worldview- eg: atheism and theism etc) impact their actions, so someone's atheism is just as much to blame for their actions as a religion would be, if someone with warped "religious" values does something stupid. You're only capitalising on semantics- person A's warped values (allegedly caused by religion) cause them to do something stupid, then they says "I did this because I believe in this" whereas person B's warped values cause them to do another atrocity, yet because they don't attribute it to the source of those values (which is a negative..or lack of belief) that lack of belief escapes criticism.

    What annoys me is this- political leaders whose regimes have had atheistic goals and agendas have been far, far more violent than their religious counterparts.

    But their atheism escapes criticism, simply because they don't explicitly state that their atheism is causing them to do X or Y. It simply doesn't matter, when every action they're taking is completely in line with atheism and clearly has atheism in mind.

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