Is Religion Evil?
- Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Yet the pejorative and hostile spin relentlessly placed upon religion by the New Atheism asserts that it is a universal, unambiguous evil, which is a dangerous threat to civilization. Yet just where is the balanced and judicious analysis that Shermer rightly demands? Why is it so conspicuously absent? I fear the answer is simple: because it doesn't make for the slick and simple soundbites that will reassure the godless faithful at a time of religious resurgence. Sure, religion can lead to violence and evil. But so can politics, race, and ethnicity . . . and an atheist worldview.
All of us who are concerned for the creation and preservation of a human civil society want to put an end to violence and oppression. Yet the New Atheist attempt to demonstrate that religion is intrinsically and necessarily evil has proved to be a damp squib, simply leading its critics to conclude that it is capable of resorting to the kind of intellectual somersaults and doublespeak that most had hitherto associated only with the worst forms of scholastic theology. It's time to stop this implausible discriminatory stereotyping and deal with the real problems faced by the world.
Taken from God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.
For Further Reading
Atran, Scott. In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Atran, Scott. "The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism." The Washington Quarterly 29, no. 2 (2006): 127-47.
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
Dickinson, Anna. "Quantifying Religious Oppression: Russian Orthodox Church Closures and Repression of Priests 1917-41." Religion, State & Society 28 (2000): 327-35.
Eagleton, Terry. Holy Terror. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Eagleton, Terry. Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Fitzgerald, Timothy. The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Gambetta, Diego, ed. Making Sense of Suicide Missions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Harris, Sam. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004.
Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve, 2007.
Kakar, Sudhir. The Colors of Violence: Cultural Identities, Religion, and Conflict. Chicag University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Martin, David. Does Christianity Cause War? Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.
Marty, Martin, with Jonathan Moore. Politics, Religion, and the Common Good: Advancing a Distinctly American Conversation About Religion's Role in Our Shared Life. San Francisc Jossey-Bass, 2000.
Marvin, Carolyn, with David W. Ingle. Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
McGrath, Alister E. Dawkins's God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Midgley, Mary. Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2002.
Pape, Robert A. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. New York: Random House, 2005.
Popescu, Alexandru D. Petre Tutea: Between Sacrifice and Suicide. Williston, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.
Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil. New York: Random House, 1998.
Shermer, Michael. How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God. New York: Freeman, 2000.
Stark, Rodney. For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witchhunts, and the End of Slavery. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003.
Ward, Keith. Is Religion Dangerous? Oxford: Lion, 2006.
Wentz, Richard E. Why People Do Bad Things in the Name of Religion. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1993.
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