Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Evil, Bloody Religion

Dinesh d’Souza, a wonderful public thinker in our age, has written a great little article [ -Blogger seems to be tripping over links right now] confronting and dispelling one of the most widely disseminated falsehoods of our day: religion is one of the most violent and bloody things that has happened to humanity. According to such authors as Richard Dawkins, religion needs to be done away with and all will be well (read-Christianity especially needs to be done away with) .

The slogan is that religion has killed more people through the ages than anything else. D’Souza remarks:

The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25....It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness.

These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.

D’Souza goes on to make the observation, made by many, that more people have been killed in the name of atheism in the last 100 years than in all the religious conflicts in the last 2,000.

I am indebted to the CU philosophy grad student email list for this link and for this professors incisive response to D’Souza’s assertions:

The basic argument is that atheism has killed tons more people than religion.
(Okay, holding my tongue about that...)

It is not hard to hold your tongue when there is nothing intelligent to say in response except to repeat the tired old slogans about evil and bloody religion.


Rusty Lopez said...

Of course, the atheist response could be that Stalin, Hitler, et. al., were fanatical extremists - in other words, they followed their atheism too religiously. This would raise the question, though, that if one were to follow a belief system religiously, wouldn't that be enough to qualify the belief system as a religion?

Robin said...

Rusty, you make a good point though I would make a distinction between the larger group of 'religions' and the singular religion called Biblical Christianity. All those in the larger group of 'religions' (for the sake of your argument including religiously pursued atheism) depend on human effort to justify themselves (to God or to the international community).

Christianity, on the other hand, depends entirely on what God has done to justify men (and women). Not that Christians don't have a responsibility to do good works and help the poor, etc. It's just that our good works don't make us right with God. This also means that we do not have to kill infidels or coerce people (via laws prohibiting competing 'religions') into accepting our beliefs since the Bible teaches us that God is the final arbiter. (Why do these militant atheists fight so hard to promote their views? they should borrow some tolerance from the Christians!)

BTW, how would you like a religion that depended on your works to get right with God? It would be like an endless treadmill - never really knowing if what you did was enough to get right with God. What would happen if you worked hard all your life to please God but you just didn't measure up. Or if, on your last week on earth, you messed up and did something bad - all that work for nothing - how discouraging it must be to spend your life never knowing whether you were good enough!

Marta Odum said...

I appreciate this post. I'm a waitress and my job is a den of inequity. My coworkers are so carnal! Lord help me. I witness to them on a near daily basis. We have a lot of those "lofty philosophical types" (read: ignorant) who like to throw around concepts like the witch trials and the Spanish Inquisition in an attempt to discredit religion as a whole. So I really appreciate the point made in your post. Keep up the good work! God Bless.

The Gyrovague said...

IF you have not already, you must read D'Souza's new book The Enemy At Home. It is a great elaboration on some of what this essay has.

D'nesh usually comes to New Life Church here in the springs at least once a year to speak. Obviously we are a little off the usual right now at New Life, but I encourage you to hear him surely will not be disappointed.