Friday, February 09, 2007

can crimes be motivated by atheism?

Atheists like to claim that religion is behind things like the crusades and 9/11. Theists like to claim that atheism is behind most of the greatest crimes of the 20th century. Here's an article that makes the latter case:
The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth.
It's true that if God doesn't exist then we have to think about ethics for ourselves and people will choose different visions, but what does atheism itself have to do with the particular moral system chosen? Atheism doesn't cause anything and atheists certainly are not trying to displace God. The argument quoted only makes sense to me if you already believe in God, which atheists don't.

Atheism signifies which belief does not exist in the atheist mind. Whatever you say about "true religion" there are bits of paper saying various things, is it really controversial to suggest that the "true" meaning is not immediately obvious to everybody?

Are there other reasons why atheism is the driving force behind evil acts?


cristi said...

ideology is not the driving force behind any violent act, at best it's the excuse.

people, usually oppressed people are responsible, and hide behind some religion or ideology to justify violence

GT said...

I disagree very strongly with the first comment. I think ideology is very often the direct and obvious driving force behind violent acts. An example is the 9/11 attacks. Those people fly planes into the World Trade Centre because they thought they were carrying out God's will and that they would rewarded with everlasting bliss in paradise. The driving force was the ideology of Islam, interpreted literally from the Koran.

stuart said...

I also don't buy Cristi's comment. Oppressed people react to oppression in a number of ways; Gandhi fought oppression very differently to suicide bombers. So the question remains, what causes some people to act one way and others in another. And then to ask why it is so easy to guess the religion of suicide bombers.

I often think that if people took their beliefs more seriously they SHOULD be more inclined to violence. If you REALLY believe abortion is murder, it's pretty weird to be satisfied by voting for the anti-abortion candidates.

GT said...

But I'm claiming that oppression is not even a precondition. People are often driven to violence by nothing more than ideology.

cristi said...

i dissagree. I don't think people commit violence just because their ideolgy says that it's okay to do so. I think you have to want to commit a violent act first. you can always twist the koran/mishna/ bible etc to suit your needs. it's very easy to justify violence if you take a passage out of context or understand it literally.

Anonymous said...

I think that there are probably conditions that encourage the enactment of violence based on ideology. People (especially the male half of the human population) are more prone to becoming violent when growing up in trying, oppressive/disempowered, poor or unstable conditions. This makes them more susceptible to adopting an extreme ideology and carrying it out in a violent manner as it vents their frustration, and gives them a sense of purpose and control which they may lack otherwise.

Men are more likely to adopt an extreme ideology which overrides other values like valuing individual life and "getting along" than women. This means that there are also psychological/genetic predispositions to this type of violence.

Side note: We should know by now that young men are loose canons and potentially very dangerous. I don't know why people don't take this more seriously. I think it's hormonal. If women can take endless tablets to regulate their hormones I don't see why men can't! The consequences of the latter's ranging hormones are generally far more severe!

(Is this sexism in the reverse?! I'm only basing this on what I see on tv)

stuart said...

“it's very easy to justify violence if you take a passage out of context or understand it literally.”

I tried to anticipate this with my “true religion” comment; the problem is that you’re assuming that it’s obvious that texts shouldn’t be interpreted literally while many believers disagree. Frankly it isn’t clear to me at all that texts shouldn’t be interpreted literally.

stuart said...

who is this Anonymous commenter???

cristi said...

thanks annonomous, you said what i was trying to say, but a hell of a lot better.

Swart Donkey said...

Cristi, I assume you were kidding in your congratulations of 'anonymous'. Sexism in reverse is a bizzare description. What pray tell is sexism in the forward direction? Or Racism in reverse?

`I am only basing this on what I see on tv'.... hmmm

As for predisposition to violence, power and abuse... I regularly get upset that I think it is a human condition. I also get upset at how while at their core Islam and Christianity are not violent, the extremes will make them so.

The problem too, is that there is no true Islam or Christianity. There are just a plethora of interpretations... some lending themselves to violence.

I think both arguments are right. A person inclined to violence might be attracted to a violent ideology, and a naturally non-violent person might be attracted to the ideology for other reasons and then become violent.

As for you `anonymous'... your comments are sexist, yes.

stuart said...

Mr Donkey, you claim that there is no true Islam or Christ... yet you also claim definite knowledge of their (true?) "cores".

I'm not sure that they are so peaceful, some of the stuff in the texts is simply too violent.

Swart Donkey said...

I know there are very violent texts. I guess at their core is the wrong way to describe it... but I would venture to say that the majority of Muslims and the Majority of Christians are pretty much non-violent... unless pushed to one side or the other by the extremes.

So no, as you are well aware that is not one of the two things I claim definite knowledge of. I won't make you throw up by reminding you what those two things are.

The sad truth is that there will always be a large number of people inclined to violence.

As for true Christianity or Islam. Unless we could ask Christ or Mohammed ourselves, we will never know. All versions have a context and an intepretation.

But... I do think that smacking someone when they take your toy, or in order to take theirs is naughty.

stuart said...

"but I would venture to say that the majority of Muslims and the Majority of Christians are pretty much non-violent..."

Why Christian and Muslim? This is true of humanity in general.

Swart Donkey said...

because we were talking about these two religions