Thursday, January 12, 2012

Religious Slaughter

I recently heard a lecture that, in part, was discussing the idea that most of the violent problems of the world, historically and presently, are a result of religious differences.

Here are a few of the arguments against that that the lecturer provided and which I found interesting.

For a few moments, lets put aside Islamic radical terrorist Al Quaida types. True, religion has driven them to slaughter countless adherents to other religions, or at least those who are not Islamic, or not Islamic enough.

Let's look instead at slaughter perpetuated because of Christianity, or Christianity in conflict with other religions.

We always talk about the crusades. How many were slaughtered because of religious differences? Ok, I shouldn't have brought that up. I don't know how many people Christians and Muslims slaughtered over 1,000 years ago. Let's look at some more recent infamous examples:

The Inquisition.
Specifically the Spanish Inquisition. About 2,000 were murdered as a result of that. 2,000 is a dreadful number. And while it was certainly evil, wrong and a shameful blight on those who call themselves believers, the numbers equal about 6 people a year during that time.

The Salem Witch Trials
America's own infamous massacre. If you know about it at all, you know that it was induced by ridiculous religious frenzy and superstition, leading to the death of 19 people. Evil and wrong, certainly. A shameful blight? Yes.

the Huguenot Wars
A terrible blight on religion. These wars between "Christian" groups included the infamous St. Barthalomew's Day Massacre, which the slaughter of about 3,000 Huguenots came to be known.

What about some modern examples?

Northern Ireland?
Thousand have died in the fighting between Catholics and Protestants, but a closer look reveals that the conflict has more to do with political control than it does religion.

The Isreali/Palestine conflict?
Putting aside the radical Islam thing, it has more to do with land and political control than religion.

The Hutus and Tutsis in Rawanda
Although many of these people claim to be religious, the fighting and slaughter of upwards of 1/2 a million came from class warfare rather than religion.

So it is difficult to find religious driven violence in modernity, putting aside, once again, the radical Islam thing.

Compare that with violence driven by or perpetuated by atheism or atheists in recent memory.

Consider the over 60 million killed by the atheists Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung.
Some will argue that the holocaust was an atheist thing too, since the many of the philosophies of the Nazi Party were Atheistic, Secular Humanistic, etc. And how many did they do away with? 6 million Jews, millions of others just for being gypsy's, black, homosexuals and others that they considered genetically less desirable. But, The Nazis didn't completely scorn religion, preferring instead to pretend to have it when it suited them and twist it for their own purposes. And many of those they killed were in a desire to run the whole world.

On the other hand:
Some of those that the atheist communists killed were because they held onto religious beliefs. So one could throw that down as an argument that religion cause their deaths too.

It seems to me that all this killing is a result of human nature, which is damaged and twisted. Religion, in my opinion, and whether or not you believe it, does provide a modicum of self control.

But, when the beliefs that provide this restraint are ignored and twisted, it can lead to tragedy,as in the historical twisting of Christian Theology that led to the Inquisition, Salem, etc.

When moral beliefs based on divine law are completely disregarded, it leads to devastating atrocity, as in the holocaust, the murderous regimes of communism, Rwanda, etc.

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