“Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace”
“Image, with John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, not persecution of Jew as ‘Christ-killers’, no ‘honour killings’, no shinny-suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money (‘God want you to give till it hurts’). Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin of the crime of showing an inch of it.”
The above is a quote from Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. I think is it a very good example of the consequences of blind faith. Most of us are familiar with the phrase, ‘more people have been killed in the name of religion than by any other single cause’, but, I think a more important point to be made is that more people have been killed because of religion than for any other reason.
You might be thinking, what’s the difference between the two phrases. Well, the difference is huge, actually. Killing in the name of religion implies something along the lines of The Crusades, or a Jihad, where people are extolled to fight, kill, and die (with a reward in heaven) in the name of their religion. While this sort of thing has definitely be the cause of millions upon millions of deaths and terrible hardships, it is nothing compared to the numbers that have been killed because of religion.
It isn’t just death that is caused by religion, all sorts of other ills can be attributed to religion. One of the most insidious is marginalizing an entire group of people. Examples are anti-semitism, slavery in the early history of the U.S., and the current attempts to deprive homosexuals of their rights. All of these evils have been justified on religious grounds by various religions. Christianity has used the Christ Killer moniker for almost 2000 years to justify persecution of the Jews, despite the fact that Jesus and his followers were all devout Jews. Southern Christians in the U.S. quoted from the bible to justify slavery. And today, many christians and muslims, among others, use their religious teachings to persecute homosexuals.
I’m not just talking about the Westboro Baptist Church crazy types here. There are some very mainstream Christian organizations who are trying to deny homosexuals their basic human rights. Here is an example from USA Today:
“Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association added to the outlaw idea during the Thursday edition of Focal Point, the AFA talk show he hosts. Restoring anti-sodomy laws, he says, would solve the “problems” of gay marriage, gay rights in the workplace and other issues. He said,
Laws not only curb dangerous and risky behavior, they keep such behavior from being normalized, sanctioned and endorsed by the rest of society, and as such render an enormous benefit to a healthy culture.
Christianity Today said Fischer rested his view on 1 Timothy 1:8-11, that,
… those ‘who practice homosexuality’ should come under the purview of the law just as much as those who take people captive in order to sell them into slavery.””
This is what I mean by insidious. It creeps in quietly under the radar. And what is really scary about these types of examples is that they convince people who are basically good and decent to allow themselves to treat other groups of people as if they were somehow less than human.
And this is the greatest evil of religion. Religion can make honest, good people do terrible things, not because they are evil or bad people, but because the so sincerely believe in their religion that they can justify anything, up to and including, the killing other human begins. There are plenty examples of this in the Bible and the Qu’ran. In the Bible, God orders the Israelites to not just defeat their enemies, but to kill them all, including their women, children and livestock. There is more intolerance in Bible than in just about any other well known book except for, perhaps, Mein Kampf, and yet most Christians hold up the Bible as beautiful book that is the actual word of God.
As long as people believe blindly and make leaps of faith that are counter to common sense and reason, evil and suffering will continue to dominate the human race. Don’t we have enough naturally occurring hardships such as famine, natural disasters, and illness to deal with without having to add the manmade disasters of hate and intolerance on top of them?