Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Evils of Religion

I grow weary of the charge that religion is a cause of much evil in the world.

Yes, much evil has been done in the name of religion. But what really is the root cause here? Would the human tendency to evil have found another outlet even if religion had not been near to hand?

If the evil would have been done even even if religion was not present to justify it, religion cannot be the root cause. Indeed, if all one does is note the many circumstances in which evil has been done in the name of religion, it is quite possible that religion tends to mitigate the evil people do.

To speak like a logician, if all one does is note how often evil is done in the name of religion, only correlation, not cause and effect, has been discovered; and even if one grants that religion is a cause of evil done, one certainly not identified the root cause. The human propensity evil might lie behind the existence of religion (I would say the perversion of religion) and serve as the final explanation of evil done. In such a case, religion has been exonerated.

It is extraordinarily difficult to tease out root causes, and a casual perusal of history cannot do it. Prove to me that the evil attributed to religious belief would not have occurred without religion and I will accept your conclusion. But until you do this, I will dismiss your accusation out of hand.

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