This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
It seems pretty unlikely that either religion or secularism is the main reason that bad people do bad things.
I guess I missed that part of Roman history when they stopped being cruel, despotic and willing to kill with impunity after adopting Christianity as the official state religion. And I suppose the Tsar's of Russia were cruel, despotic and willing to kill with impunity because they were the wrong sect of Christianity. Also, when the United States of America adopted the Constitution which doesn't even mention God and prohibits an official religion we became cruel, despotic and willing to kill with impunity.
But to get good people to do bad things, that takes religion. Weinberg's silly quote. But I think religion prevents otherwise bad people from doing bad things, or from doing as bad of things as they might have done.
"But I think religion prevents otherwise bad people from doing bad things,..."Perhaps, but even if so, it doesn't do it in any reliable or consistent fashion."...or from doing as bad of things as they might have done."Rather unverifiable, I think.Psychologists have studied what it takes to get good people to do bad things and it isn't religion, per se, but they need a belief that the bad thing they are doing is in support of a greater good or a higher purpose. Religion can provide that need but then so can other beliefs.
It is also important to remember that "bad" people, when they do bad things, believe that they are doing so for justifiable, sometimes even moral, reasons - honor killings are an example.
You start with a greater good and a higher purpose, and then you buy in on the idea that the end justifies the means, and that the means are acceptable to God. With Christianity at least, you have a belief in place that people are supposed to have a choice if their obedience is to be meaningful, and that the future course of the great events of history are ultimately under the control of God, not ourselves. Just to give you an example, you hear a lot of anti-gay preaching from Christians in America, but even when you hear of queerbashings, religious condemnations of homosexuality, in almost all cases, aren't even used as a pretext, much less a motivation. Why? Why were there these mass killings in countries like China, Nazi Germany, and revolutionary France, and Soviet Russia. The French and Russian revolutions started off with what appear to be good motives about overthrowing tyrannical monarchs and fair treatment for workers. The French started with liberty, equality and fraternity and ended up with Madame la Guillotine. The Russian revolution overthrew the Tsar, and put in the Party. Some atheists today think that they have a great purpose of saving the world from religion. I am starting to hear "the end justifies the means" reasoning from some of them. Let's be honest, these people have no qualms about stirring up anti-religious hatred. What other than their lack of power to do so will prevent them from doing the kind of harm these previous revolutionaries did, all in the name of reason and science.
"There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels. It’s not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but out of bad archangels."(C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)
Victor,It's hard to see how that linked site refutes the excellent analysis and conclusions of Matthew White's extensive research on "necrometrics"(see both his website and book). If it makes any difference, I think White is a theist.
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