On Faith and Killing in the Name of Faith

I wonder sometimes, if there was no religion, would the hairless apes of Planet Earth simply latch onto some other ideal or philosophy that they would be willing to kill for? Someone once told me that faith was the culprit in clashes like this one rather than belief in a god or a religion.

Faith can be placed in anything I suppose, whether it is a person, place, thing, idea, or philosophy. However, it seems to me that those who consider faith a moral virtue also attach the qualifier that it's only virtuous if it is in agreement with their own values. As long as the majority of hairless apes on this planet hold to this way of thinking, I doubt seriously that any peace we might enjoy would ever last longer than a fleeting instant in our brief, tumultuous time here.

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Tags: belief, faith, religion


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Comment by Daniel W on September 3, 2011 at 11:21am
Loren, I agree with you that atheism is not the cause of those atrocities.  What I am saying is it does not prevent them.  Religious fervor has been a cause for war and genocide, but lack of religion does not keep people from being evil.  Ideologies, competition for resources, and just plain megalomania are all involved, I agree with you on that as well.
Comment by Loren Miller on September 3, 2011 at 10:24am
The USSR, China under Mao and the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot were also totalitarian regimes which fed on power, control, and the exercise thereof.  Each had its own dogma to follow and supposedly perfect ideals to pursue.  THAT was the basis for the loss of life in each of those situations.  Even religion indulges in such exercises less for the sake of religion than for the reasons listed above: power and control.  In no case has atheism as a cause in and of itself been the motivation, reason or justification for murder that I am aware of, though I am willing to be proved wrong.
Comment by Daniel W on September 3, 2011 at 10:12am

USSR was officially atheistic and killed millions.  The Chinese cultural revolution was officially atheistic and killed millions.  I think the Khmer Rhouge was officially atheistic and killed millions.   Nontheism does not assure us of peace.  Theism has historically been a bloody mess.  I don't believe in arguments like "theism kills more than atheism" or vice versa, it's impossible to define.


If I understand correctly, the early homo sapiens are thought to have killed off the Neanderthals, after doing some interbreeding with them and bringing some genes into our gene pool...  ever since homo sapiens could wield a rock or club, we have been killing.  Or maybe they just met and fell in love and intermarried and Homo sapiens just subsumed Neanderthals peacefully into their communities.  Nahhhh.


Damn, now I'm more depressed.  Damn.

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