Hello Friendly Atheist!
I am a big fan of yours and was wondering if you might tackle a question I myself haven’t been able to answer. I don’t have a tumblr so I’m emailing it — feel free to post the question and answer on your blog if you have a good response (or don’t, whatever :) )
Anyway. I’ve often heard a quote that goes something like “without religion, good people would do good things and bad people would do bad things. However, only religion makes good people do bad things.”
Can’t say I disagree that religion makes otherwise good people do bad things; my strained relationship with my Christian parents after I came out as gay is certainly testament to this.
However, a religious friend presented me with two criticisms of this saying.
The first is this: that religion can also pressure people into doing good things, such as mission trips, donating to homeless shelters, what have you. Can we overlook the possibility that religion could be responsible for otherwise BAD people doing GOOD things? In other words, might religiously inspired morals act as a check on society’s psychopaths? Is there any way to weigh the good things religion causes against the bad things? My friend suggests that at best, it is a draw, and the number of good people and bad people freed to follow their impulses would even out if religion were to disappear.
The second criticism is that various political and cultural beliefs can also persuade good people to do bad things, and so the attention to religion specifically is undue. An example might be an average WWIII era German citizen who is brainwashed into hating Jews because of the ubiquitous propaganda.
My impulse is to argue that there’s a strong rational basis for many morals, and so provided that religion is replaced with reason, moral behaviour would thrive if religion was eradicated. But I find this difficult to explain and so am wondering if you have any insight on this issue (I didn’t see anything on your FAQ that quite answered the question).
I don’t credit religion for “forcing people” to do good things. The fact that prisons are filled with the religious tells me that is not the case. Where is this “forcing” he speaks off? I don’t see it. Do you? Actually if you look at the history of religion what you will find is the total contrary. From the crusades to Islamic sectarian violence, for any good deed religion claims credit for, there are 20,000 evil deeds whose only and direct source it religious beliefs and dogma. To claim it is a “draw” is truly inane.
There is no way that your friend can prove religion prevents evil people for doing otherwise. How would you know someone is evil if they never do evil things? He just assumes that the good he sees in the religious has to come from religion. That is not true. The fact that atheists also do good shows that is not the case. He assumes people are evil by default (typical christian dogmatic assumption) and that religion is a tamer of such natural “sin”. Actually, since we are a social species that is not the case. The fact that we can live next to each other by the millions is a testament to that biological, not religious, fact. But that is another topic for another question.
Ask your friend, would he go murder someone tomorrow if he lost his faith. Would he? Of course not. Religion does not force anyone to do good. Religion just claims credit for something it had nothing to do with in the first place. Remember, religion is just hereditary myth and superstition (hence why religious beliefs are geographically dependent).
On the other hand I have seen what religious dogma does to people who are nice and caring otherwise. Historically religion has taken evil and redefined it as good (misogyny, slavery, killing of witches, genocide, suicide bombs, gay hate, hate of science, etc..etc…) . It takes secular societal progress and advancements in science and moral theory to drag religion towards modernity and equality. And still it is a fight religion resists.
In regards to WW2 Germans, history shows that Martin Luther was one of the biggest antisemites in history. Why? BECAUSE THE JEWS KILLED CHRIST per religious non-sensical dogma. The catholic church fueled antisemitism in Europe for a thousand years. The fact of the matter is that if Christianity had not developed and promoted Jew hate, the Holocaust would have never happened. If there was any brainwashing, it had religious origin paired with a nationalistic catalyst.
Sam Harris said the following:
People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.
Reason, empathy and a sense of our shared humanity are the only way forward. Religious myth and superstition are not. History has shown as much, sadly, for too long.
atheism religion god jesus christianity
Via: What An Atheist Cunt
Sure. I bet there is some explanation “in context” to explain away how the bible agrees with and supports slavery, the murder of gays, and the treatment of women as property. Fact is the bible is the big book of multiple choice. People will interpret and/or take away from it whatever they want. The fact that there are so many christian denominations is plain evidence of the inherent contradictory nature of the bible.
Fact is that the bible contradicts it self so much that it is hard to keep track of how many times, but it has been done. See a visual representation of all the contradictions here.
slavery bible atheism gay homophobia islam quran christianity judaism jews
Via: Fuck Yeah! Religion Pigeon
creationism atheism religion christianity islam allah
Via: Atheist Jack