Monday, November 16, 2015

Religion leads to violence, or thinking ideas are important leads to violence?

When people find that certain ideas are really important, they may be tempted to kill people for them. These ideas can be religious, but they can also be economic, or racial, or even anti-religious. Whenever you think an idea is important, it is always tempting to think, under certain circumstances, that "the end justifies the means" and that you have a right to harm, or even kill, people who disagree. But it does seem to be true that ideas are important, so one cure for idea-based violence, rejecting the idea that ideas are important, has some bad side effects.

15 comments:

John Moore said...

Ideas are certainly important, but the problem is when people think certain ideas are of supreme importance. That's the essence of religion.

There's a huge difference between "important ideas" and infallible gospel. Important ideas still allow negotiation and practical compromise for the good of the community. Infallible gospel admits no compromise. Violence is the only answer when two "infallible" gospels collide.

Victor Reppert said...

For New Atheism, the religion of atheism is of supreme importance.

jdhuey said...

Victor,
The only place that "the religion of atheism" exists is in the minds of theists.

There is no atheist creed. There is no atheist dogma. The idea of "the religion of atheism" makes even less sense than "the religion of theism".

Heuristics said...

There is always the communists as an example offcourse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Militant_Atheists

Legion of Logic said...

Antitheistic beliefs are actual assertive beliefs that new atheists cling to, even in the face of contradictory evidence. The same can be said of scientism, philosophical naturalism, humanism, or any other philosophical commitment that an atheist holds.

While it is technically true that a "lack of belief" has no defined "creed", it is equally true that atheists who attack religion are not driven by their "lack of belief". It is what they DO believe that motivates them.

I can claim to "lack belief" on whether Chevy or Ford has higher quality vehicles, but that would be completely undercut if I had "pee on Ford" on the window of my Chevy. My lack of belief on the quality of Ford would not motivate me to insult Ford.

Legion of Logic said...

Antitheistic beliefs are actual assertive beliefs that new atheists cling to, even in the face of contradictory evidence. The same can be said of scientism, philosophical naturalism, humanism, or any other philosophical commitment that an atheist holds.

While it is technically true that a "lack of belief" has no defined "creed", it is equally true that atheists who attack religion are not driven by their "lack of belief". It is what they DO believe that motivates them.

I can claim to "lack belief" on whether Chevy or Ford has higher quality vehicles, but that would be completely undercut if I had "pee on Ford" on the window of my Chevy. My lack of belief on the quality of Ford would not motivate me to insult Ford.

Steve Lovell said...

@John Moore,

On the "huge difference" between "important ideas" and "infallible gospel" ... This contrast seems initially compelling and to do some work, but on reflection I'm not sure it really stands up to scrutiny. What if I make the contrast simply between "important ideas" and "the Truth"? Everyone believes in the latter even if they don't captitalise the "T".

Even if we believe in an "infallible gospel" (though I'm not entirely sure what that means), very few people (any?) will claim to have an infallible grasp of that gospel.


jdhuey said...

LoL,
I don't disagree at all. If you think that religion is just a quaint superstition that is harmless then it is hard to see someone getting motivated to actively appose it. People do get motivated because they see that religion is not harmless. That, I think, is the key difference between the arm chair atheist and the anti-theist.

Legion of Logic said...

Religion is no more harmful than any other extremely broad category of ideas that encompasses a huge variety of unrelated ideas. Political, for example. Shall we abolish political beliefs because some are harmful?

That's why I find anti-theism to be such a colossal joke. To listen to idiots like Richard Dawkins, you would think that ISIS has more in common with my Bible study than it does with violent communism, simply because "religion". I've never heard of anyone in my Bible study killing in order to advance their belief system, nor is there even a remote chance that any of them will. A radical communist, on the other hand? There's no telling what they might do, just like ISIS.

Desire for one's beliefs to be dominant, and an intolerance of other beliefs, are what cause individuals or groups to be dangerous. The Dawkins crowd already displays the latter. Mix the former in, and you get the Reign of Terror.

jdhuey said...


A relevant quote:

“Religion, by its very nature as an untestable belief in undetectable beings and an unknowable afterlife, disables our reality checks. It ends the conversation. It cuts off inquiry: not only factual inquiry, but moral inquiry. Because God's law trumps human law, people who think they're obeying God can easily get cut off from their own moral instincts.

And these moral contortions don't always lie in the realm of theological game-playing. They can have real-world consequences: from genocide to infanticide, from honor killings to abandoned gay children, from burned witches to battered wives to blown-up buildings.”
― Greta Christina

IlĂ­on said...

"But it does seem to be true that ideas are important, so one cure for idea-based violence, rejecting the idea that ideas are important, has some bad side effects."

And also a self-refutation: for the idea that ideas are not important is, itself, an Important Idea.

Legion of Logic said...

Greta has a pretty quote there, but it's only impressive to atheists I'd imagine. I'm not exactly overwhelmed by what her "inquiry" has produced, nor do I agree that "religion", whatever that is, has a negative impact on morality. I would have to see a lot of direct, or at least compelling, evidence, and that can only be produced when a precise definition of "religion" is submitted for analysis. Until then, Greta is just using rhetorical flourishes.

B. Prokop said...

"“Religion, by its very nature as an untestable belief"

That may hold true for (some) other religions, but certainly not for Christianity - an historical faith, grounded and based on historical events, which can be verified or disproven. Disprove the Resurrection, and you've disproven Christianity. Make a case for the historicity of the Resurrection, and you've made a case for Christianity.

There are a handful of other religions that are testable by the same measure: Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and Scientology come to mind. It is possible to thoroughly discredit the last three by historical argument alone. Not so for Christianity or Judaism, both of which pass the historical test.

Hinduism, Daoism, and (to a lesser extent) Buddhism (and perhaps other Eastern religions I am not so familiar with) have no historical component, and therefore might qualify as "untestable".

Jezu ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

OK, suppose you think that religion really does harm, and we really have to do what we can to stamp it out. Most of us don't have the opportunity to help establish or eliminate religion by the use of violence. But suppose an opportunity arises. Through a violent act, we can, as we see it, greatly decrease the influence of religion on the world. Now what do you do? Do you say "No, violence is wrong, we have to let the God delusion die of other causes. The end does not justify the means." or do we say "OK, yeah, we're doing violence, but this is how we vastly decrease the influence of religion on the world. The end does justify the means."

The Grand Inquisitors, the prosecutors at the Salem Witch Trials, the Crusaders, etc. all thought that they were doing good and promoting the kingdom of God.

In Tolkien's writings, the moral fate of many of the characters depends upon their willingness or unwillingness to use power (such as the power of the Ring) to do what they perceive to be good. What possible reason do we have for believing that atheists, especially of the Dawkins variety, would resist the use of power and even violence to promote atheism if the opportunity would arise? I can't think of a single one.

grodrigues said...

@B. Propkop:

"That may hold true for (some) other religions, but certainly not for Christianity - an historical faith, grounded and based on historical events, which can be verified or disproven."

Maybe you should have also added: "because atheism (or naturalism or) is a testable belief, right? So where is the peer-reviewed paper?"