Monday, April 03, 2006

And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.



"Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world."

VOLTAIRE

Comments:
Good thing we captured the guy responsible for picture #2...oh, wait - we haven't yet. Oops.
 
It is undisputed that man in the name of religion has wrought great pains against his fellow man. Yet, the rationalism and reason written of by Voltaire, while necessary to temper all ideologies, secular and sectarian, were used and will continue to be used by man to justify further inhumanity, with no involvement of religion. Voltaire's own countrymen, driven by their distaste of the corrupt clergy and nobility, engaged in a ruthless purge, with no distinction between guilt and innocence, in the name of reason. The Nazis, who shunned religion except for their interest in Norse mythology, took great pains to use science to justify their extermination of 12 million Jews, Slavs, and other unwanteds. The State religion of Stalin purged an additional 20 million. Both the Nazis and Communists acted by their desire to create efficient state machines. Man has been very effective at committing far greater atrocities than those actions taken in the name of religion.

Ragnar, while I believe you possess the unique ability to act with compassion and with concern for your fellow man in the absence of belief, I do not believe that the world and the power hungry men that inhabitat could survive in the absence of God and religion.

Lincoln said "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side." Where man has failed (and is currently failing) is when we have been too concerned with the former and not the later.
 
Though let's not forget the Crusades were an overdue response to 300 or so years of Muslim aggression. The ancient cities of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and the like were cradles of Christianity. And it was the recovery of these cities, in part, which lead Urban II to call for the Crusades.

While Man clearly has, all too often, perverted the message and teaching of Jesus, the more I read about Islam, the more I conclude that at the heart of it, Islam is antithetical to pluralism, democracy and religious tolerance. Have Christians always acted like Boy Scouts? Clearly not. But Christians, by and large, do appear to be hundreds of years ahead of Muslims in terms of tolerance and respecting diversity in thought.
 
How about finding the truth within yourselves, rather than in ancient fables?
 
You're all welcome to your belief systems. I just don't think that the division of the world into hostile sects is a particularly good thing. Intelligent people can often believe crazy things, and I will just have to live with that - hopefully.
 
"How about finding the truth within yourselves, rather than in ancient fables?"

From which self-help book did you get that? I am sure the Nazis, Stalinists, Baathists, etc., (some of whom were very intelligent) believed they had found the "truth" and did just fine, thank you very much, without the help of any "ancient fables." Religion is no more at fault, and I would contend less so on shear numbers of people adversely affected, than any other cause for the suffering and pain heaped on mankind throughout the centuries by other men. Secular tyrants have been much more efficient than sectarian ones at committing atrocities.

One can find the "truth" in oneself and still have plenty of space to figure out how to gas, incinerate, and torture his fellow man. One can also find the "truth" and still have a close relationship with God.

However, if you can find the truth and still be able to treat others with compassion, well then, Godspeed.
 
Religion is no more at fault, and I would contend less so on shear numbers of people adversely affected, than any other cause for the suffering and pain heaped on mankind throughout the centuries by other men.

You didn't answer my question. But to your point, please tell me which wars in history were not the result of religious differences, either directly or indirectly. Tell me which wars were not embarked upon where each side claimed to have their "God" on their side. Then tell me the numbers of those adversely affected by those wars.
 
I presumed your question was rhetorical and meant to make a point. If not, I think my response speaks for itself.

With respect to this new request, are you serious? I'll play along and, now, on to the history lesson. Simply because one side claims that "God" was on their side is completely beside the point and has no bearing on whether Religion was the proximate cause of the war. The point of Ragnar's post and your subsequent post is Religion is the cause of acts of tyrany and human tragedy, and that without Religion, all is just hunky dory. My point is that proposition simply has no bearing with reality. My point is also NOT the contrary position that if everyone embraced Religion (even one Religion) that the world would live in peace. Regardless, here is the list of Religion-free conflict, which is by no means comprehensive.

Peloponnisian War (power conflict between the Athenians and the Spartans)
The French and Indian War/The Seven Years War (power conflict for empire)
The American Revolution (power conflict for independence)
The War of 1812 (power conflict to establish sovereignty)
The War with Mexico (empire building)
The American Civil War (power conflict to maintain the union)
Spanish American War (empire building)
WWI (if anyone can really figure out THE cause for this one, I'll buy them a beer)
WWII (ideological conflict)
Korean War (ideological conflict)
Vietnam War (ideological conflict)
The Persian Gulf War (war of containment)

And on and on and on . . .
This doesn't even count the 20 million killed by Stalin without war, the 800,000 plus in Rwanda resulting from ethnic genocide, or the 300,000 plus murdered by the secular Baathist Hussein.
 
I'm working on my rebuttal - but curiously, you omitted the Thirty Years War in Europe where, by most estimates, roughly 4 million people were killed as a result of religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics.
 
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