Five Horrific Tragedies Caused by Religion

Hi all—as my life continues to be quite busy, blogging has continuously had to take a lower priority for me.  I am looking for “guest posters” and perhaps people interested in doing some regular contributions.  If you are interested in that, please email me at: reasonbeingblog@gmail.com

Today’s Guest Post By: Nina. Please heck out her blog at: LadyFreethinker.com

Pic credit: http://badatheist.wordpress.com/tag/religious-wars/

Pic credit: http://badatheist.wordpress.com/tag/religious-wars/

I had tears in my eyes while creating this list, and I wish I could spy an end to the torture, murder and persecution that often comes hand-in-hand with blind faith. Religion can be perilous in the wrong hands, and we shouldn’t ignore the damage that stems from trying to forcibly convert people who don’t believe in a particular mythology.  In some cases, people who probably did believe were punished because they didn’t conform to the standards set by the religious powers of the day.

The scary part is that millions of people still think they can justify their actions or beliefs with a passage from the Bible or Quran without first questioning the reasoning or moral implication. Whether that means discriminating against homosexuals, torturing animals or starting a holy war, the logic (or lack thereof) is the same.

Surely, other travesties belong on this list; but these make up some of the most atrocious horrors that religion has helped spawn throughout human history.

1. The Crusades

The Roman Catholic Church launched the Crusades in 1095 to gain Christian control of Muslim-occupied Jerusalem. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Pope Urban II started the first of the string of bloody holy wars, calling to ““exterminate this vile race from our lands.” Eventually, Christian armies also attempted to overtake the Moors, Slavs and Pagans until the Crusades finally ended in 1291. There was even a Childrens Crusade at one point, when a twelve-year old preacher claimed that Christ himself had instructed him to convert the Muslims. He reportedly led an army of about 30,000 adults and children in his zealous but short-lived campaign.

Human toll: Approximately 200,000 deaths, though accounts vary

 2. The Spanish Inquisition

After forcing baptism on the Jews, the Catholic Church set out to find and prosecute those secretly practicing their chosen religion. Muslims, homosexuals and other “heretics” were vulnerable as well, and victims were subject to one-sided trials and torture as they were pressed to confess their sins. To fund the massive endeavor, officials seized the accuseds’ properties—although the Crown backed the Inquisitions, they did not pay for it themselves. The Inquisition began in 1480, and dragged on until 1834 (with a short break under liberal Napoleonic rule). 

Human toll: 150,000 people accused of heresy, 3,000 executed

3. The European Witch Hunts

Talk about a war on women. From about 1450 to 1750 in Europe, Christians rounded up suspected witches, who were thought to have supernatural powers bestowed by the devil himself, and brutally tortured them to the point of confession. About half of the accused were hanged or burned at the stake, and a whopping 75 to 80 percent of these victims were female—those who didn’t conform to the patriarchy were most likely to be persecuted.

 Human toll: 60,000 deaths, approximately

4. 9/11

We know this one all too well. On September 11,  2001, al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four commercial planes in the United States. The terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center in New York, and another into the Pentagon; the fourth plane crashed when brave passengers overtook their assailants, potentially saving thousands of lives. The act was a declaration of holy war against the US by Muslim extremist Osama bin Laden, and spawned two controversial wars that remain unresolved.

Human toll: 2,996 deaths, including the 19 hijackers

 5. The Salem Witch Trials

 What this episode lacks in scope it makes up for in pure idiocy. In a mind-boggling display of stupidity in 1692, leaders of the Puritan town of Salem allowed a couple of moaning, convulsing pre-teenage girls to convince them that devil-worshipping witches were in their midst. The girls’ tantrums and thoughtless accusations led to a local witch-hunting craze that ended only after the governor’s own wife was accused.

 Human toll: 19 hangings, one 71-year-old man crushed with stone.

———-Thank you Nina for taking the time to write this up.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

     —-John

If you have a blog please feel free to promote it on my “Promote Your Blog” page above.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @logicalbeing

If you would like to share your story of how you became an atheist, please do that on my “Share your Atheism Story” forum.  Our stories may help to encourage others with similar feelings to know that life is more than just okay without god(s).

If you have not yet checked out Alltop.com’s Atheism Blogs….what are you waiting for?

God Didn’t Want Robots

Today I am featuring a Guest Post by Scott Lolmaugh.  He regularly blogs at: http://dontbeliveit.blogspot.com
 Enjoy!

220px-Shadow_Hand_Bulb_largeWhy would God create people who were capable of sinning, if he knew sin would send them to Hell?  Why would he create people he knew would reject him?

I have heard from many Christians that, “God didn’t want robots.”

This is a very interesting answer, but comes with its share of problems.  Why didn’t he want robots?  Well, because he wanted people who would choose to love him of their own free will.  But, according to the Bible, is the choice really ours?

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  John 6:44

“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”  Romans 9:16

From what I have read, The Bible teaches that without divine intervention, we would all choose the path to Hell.  We are incapable of being good enough to escape judgement, and incapable of choosing His salvation.  However, even if we could choose God, problems still arise from this argument

Would it really be a choice of free will, when the alternative is Hell?  If someone puts a gun to your head and says, “Give me your wallet,” are you really free to make a decision? And while we may have the option of choosing heaven or hell, did we choose to be born?  did we choose to come into existence?  If the choice is ours, it seems God is forcing us into a decision that we might not want to make

If I had the option to create free beings, knowing that they would use their freedom to destroy themselves and each other, and eventually be tortured at my hand, or to create robots, I would like to think that I would choose robots.  However, unlike God, I am not all powerful, and all knowing, so maybe that would affect my decision.

Thanks Scott!

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

     —-John

If you have a blog please feel free to promote it on my “Promote Your Blog” page above.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @logicalbeing

If you would like to share your story of how you became an atheist, please do that on my “Share your Atheism Story” forum.  Our stories may help to encourage others with similar feelings to know that life is more than just okay without god(s).

If you have not yet checked out Alltop.com’s Atheism Blogs….what are you waiting for?

Why do Atheists “pick on” Christianity?

Christianity: A discussion of Geography

No-Criticism-of-Religion-e

Pic Credit: http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousright/ig/Christian-Propaganda-Posters/Criticize-Religion-Free-Speech.htm

The other day I was asked, “Why do you atheists only attack Christianity?  Why don’t you attack Islam or other religions?”  I want to address this question today, as it is something that I see in different forms fairly often.

As a starting point, I think that is the wrong question to ask.  Most of us who are vocal with our criticisms of religion do criticize religions other than Christianity.  A simple Google search will suggest numerous blogs dedicated to just that purpose.  However, I do understand where the question originates.  It does seem like Christianity takes the majority of atheists’ criticism online.  Why is that?  The answer, at least to me, appears to be quite simple.

The majority of people who will read this blog, follow me on Twitter, add me to their circles on Google+, etc. will be in the West.  In fact, the majority of people that I interact with online (for any format, not just religious discussions) are located in the West.  Christianity has, without a doubt, been the dominant religion of Western culture for the majority of the last 2,000 years.  Most of us who identify as atheists came from one of the various Christian denominations. It is what we know.  It is what surrounds us.  As far as religions go, it is the one that affects us the most. 

It is Christianity that posits misogynistic (or at a minimum-sexist) views in the United States and Europe more than any other religion.  It is Christianity that is used to deny science in the United States and Europe more than any other religion.  It is Christianity that seeks to mandate that homosexuals not be seen as equal human beings under the law in the United States (and parts of Europe) more than any other religion.  It is Christianity that is seeking to have a privileged place in society in the United States and Europe more than any other religion.  I could go on here, but I think you get the point…(if not, see the picture below).

Photo Credit: http://www.religiouscriticism.com/beliefs/why-is-religion-bad/

Photo Credit: http://www.religiouscriticism.com/beliefs/why-is-religion-bad/

That is why, to be terse, we write so much about Christianity.

Further, as so many of us were raised as Christians, we understand Christianity.  Often times, and not to sound arrogant, we understand Christianity better than many Christians.  I can say with absolute confidence that I know more about Christianity—its dogma, doctrine, history, the bible, etc. than any of my Christian friends, family, and most strangers I encounter online.  It is folly for the Christian to assume that we atheists are simply unfamiliar with Christianity.  To be sure, some of us certainly are, but many of us, perhaps most of us, in the West are quite educated on this religion. 

I think the core of this answer is an idea that never occurs to many Christians I know and talk with.  That idea is one of geography.  What religion are you?  Likely, your religion is the same as your parents, grandparents, and on down the line.  It is likely the same as most of your neighbors.  You are what you are, largely because of an accident of where you were born.  If you were born in the U.S., you are likely Christian.  If you were born in Egypt, you are likely Muslim.  If you were born in India, you may be Hindu.  Your religion is likely nothing more than a result of where and when you were born.  The same applies to us atheists.  Why does it seem like we criticize Christianity more?  The simple answer is that you likely read the internet in an area where Christianity is the dominant religion. 

In conclusion, it is not that atheists do not criticize other religions.  Rather, it is that we criticize the religions that a) we know best and b) affect us the most.  It appears as though Christianity takes the lion’s share of this criticism for no other reason than Christianity is the dominant religion in the places where atheists are most vocal.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

     —-John

If you have a blog please feel free to promote it on my “Promote Your Blog” page above.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @logicalbeing

If you would like to share your story of how you became an atheist, please do that on my “Share your Atheism Story” forum.  Our stories may help to encourage others with similar feelings to know that life is more than just okay without god(s).

If you have not yet checked out Alltop.com’s Atheism Blogs….what are you waiting for?

Religious Horror Show

Child Witchcraft…yeah that still happens

Photo Credit: http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/saving-africas-witch-children/index.html

Photo Credit: http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/saving-africas-witch-children/index.html

My distaste for the many negative results of religious belief is no secret to my regular readers.  Most people in the West are familiar with the interplay between religion and witchcraft.  Often, we think of it as something that ended sometime in the 17th century, and in most parts of the West, it did.  However, in many parts of the developing world, Christianity (and Islam) are still used to hunt “witches”.  Often these witches are women and children.  These women and kids are usually disabled, and are often put to death.  Why?  Well, you see, it is “god’s will”.  There really is not place for this type of ignorant thought in today’s world, yet, thanks to religion, we still have it hanging around.  Below you will find a link to a new video by video blogger Daniel Corbett.  I very much recommend that you check it out:

Children Accused of Witchcraft by Daniel Corbett

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

     —-John

If you have a blog please feel free to promote it on my “Promote Your Blog” page above.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @logicalbeing

If you would like to share your story of how you became an atheist, please do that on my “Share your Atheism Story” forum.  Our stories may help to encourage others with similar feelings to know that life is more than just okay without god(s).

If you have not yet checked out Alltop.com’s Atheism Blogs….what are you waiting for?

A Religious Toxin

Religion: It can be Toxic to Your Well Being

Photo Credit: http://danielionascu.blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: http://danielionascu.blogspot.com/

I was scrolling through the dial on the radio in my car this morning and came up on one of the Christian stations.  I have never actually stopped to listen to what they talk about.  Today, I thought, what the heck, why not?  I made it one through less than a minute before I changed the channel.  Here is what I heard:

“I know that I need god in my life, to help me, to help me with everything.  I know that I need to pray daily asking god for the strength to deal with the realities of life.  People who reject prayer, they are saying that they do not need god.  They are saying that they can do it all themselves.  That!  That right there is height of arrogance and of, and of self-efficiency!  They think they do not need god, but could not be more wrong, nor more arrogant.”

 

I don’t really want to get into a discussion on the efficacy (or foolishness) of prayer.  I want to focus on the preachers statement, “That right there is height of arrogance and of, and of self-efficiency!”  This statement, and others like it, are one reason why I find religion to be so toxic.

 

I want to tackle the last part of the statement first.  The preacher was correct, thinking that we can solve our problems through natural means, without any interference from (a very implausible) god is an example of “self-efficiency”.  The problem I have, is why does this preacher think this is a bad thing?  Don’t we want people to have the inner strength, confidence, or whatever to try and make their lives and those around them better?  How is being self-reliable a bad thing?  The only answer is that it is not…unless we look at the question from a certain religious perspective.  If we look at the question from the common Christian point of view that we are all worthless sinners, in desperate need of a savior, who can’t possibly get things right on our own, then self-efficiency and self-reliability are positive attributes to have.  Religion, in this case, the Christian religion, has the ability to grossly confuse this issue.  I find that toxic.

 

The first part of the preacher’s statement deals with arrogance.  In his view, the person who does not pray and thinks that they can solve their problems without god is arrogant.  I must confess…I find that statement to miss the mark entirely.  There is nothing arrogant about trying to work your way through a problem…whatever that problem may be.  In fact, that is how most of us get things done.

 

Second, the arrogance, at least to me, falls on the Christian in this case.  I find it incredible arrogant to assume that a deity (if one exists) that is responsible for creating the entire universe actually cares about you personally.  One thing really does seem clear, and I think an accurate reading of history would reflect this, if there is a god, he/she/it doesn’t concern himself/herself/itself with the welfare of human beings.  To take things a bit further, why would this god choose to intervene in your life, with your likely common and minor “western world” problems, when there are people starving by the millions around the globe, who are also praying?  Do you not see the arrogance in that?  Most of my Christian friends who pray are middle class people, with middle class problems.  How could a deity possible answer their prayers for those “kinds of problems” and just ignore all of the rampant suffering in the world of people who are praying just as hard?  This makes no sense, and, at least in my opinion, is far more arrogant than me thinking I can solve all of my problems through natural means either on my own or with the help of other humans.

 

In closing, that one sentence, by this one preacher highlights one of my biggest problems with religion.  That one sentence promotes self-loathing and, in a sense, mental slavery (as Christopher Hitchens often put it).  It encourages people to not help themselves.  Perhaps most importantly, it fails to teach individuals how strong they really are.  It fails to teach, in my opinion, some of most virtuous attributes that a person can have: tenacity, self-reliance, determination, self-worth, etc.

 

The next time someone asks me, “what is your problem with religion?” I may point them to this blog post.  To be sure, I have many answers to that question.  However, this post highlights one of the more important “toxicities” of religion that I can think of.