Religion as the Root of All Evil

The subject of this post is hyperbole. This entry is a response to that thread on Flutterby that I mentioned before. topspin, I’m not sure what you want to discuss, since it looks to me like you have a belief that religion is the cause of much evil and nothing I can say will dissuade you from that. As for Paul, you’ve taken a very extreme interpretation of him in order to prove your point. This isn’t that uncommon for people in fundamentalist churches, but I do try to shy away from individualistic interpretation. Sometimes it’s good, but just as often it’s very bad and you listed many of the bad interpretations. I’d ask you to consider those religious movements like the Anabaptists (including Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, etc) who’ve made non-violence one of their core beliefs. Is that religion causing evil? And I won’t claim that the Eastern churches are pure and spotless. One has only to look around the world at some of the politics the Orthodox and Coptic churches play. Orthodoxy is, for many people, very much an ethnic religion subject to the “us versus them” mentality that Larry mentioned. I’ve chosen to be Orthodox despite that. Instead, consider the truth of the statement “White people have cause a lot of slavery.” Its true, but it doesn’t go very far and it doesn’t mean I need to be ashamed of being white. Other races have been involved in slavery. White people have been the victims of slavery. In the same way, “Organized religion has caused a lot of evil” is true, but it doesn’t go very far. If you’re looking for people to be afraid of, you can fear religious people. But being wary of religion won’t protect you (or society) from harm. An exercise: Look over the anti-heros of the 20th century. How many of those people were religious? I’ve not done an exhaustive analysis, but the big names that pop into my head were specifically anti-religious.

7 thoughts on “Religion as the Root of All Evil”

  1. Mark, thanks for providing this forum. If you wrote this, as Dan wrote Flutterby, EXCELLENT……. good for you!

    Dan’s original comment, as I read it, and his later comment talked about trying to understand the perspective of someone who would accept religion KNOWING there is no possible logical challenge to the belief. This is about the psychology of people, like yourself, who would choose to embrace ideas (be they nationalistic, racist, or religious) without having a logical leg to stand on.

    ORIGINALLY, I stated my beef with religion. You gave me some excellent info about the Eastern Church and I thank you for it. There’s little exposure in the southern US to Orthodoxy.

    As the discussion ensued, I began to explore more of Dan’s issue, rather than my own. That issue, which I’ve tried to adopt, is that the psychology of folks like you is hard to wrap my head around. You are, from your resume and posts, an intelligent, highly logical human in most areas of your life, but in the matter of religion you seem to have taken another path.

    Let me try to set an example, but I’m not a programmer (I’ve dabbled, but I KNOW real programmers like Dan and I’m not one) and I sense you are, so this may make little sense:

    You’re writing a project which requires some data coupling to work, but NO TESTING IS POSSIBLE. One chance…. no re-writes…. the code you write originally is your only chance. You, however, don’t have full access to one of the modules involved, but you have some strong feelings about how it will treat data it receives. When coding the project, you’d LIKELY do the expedient thing and attempt to avoid the unknown module as much as possible, and CERTAINLY try to minimize the role it played in the project. You’d adopt that method because it is the route which will MOST LIKELY produce the best code. It is the logical path when dealing with illogical/unknown elements which cannot be avoided….. minimize them, don’t emphasize them.

    Now, I’m not going to insult you by explaining the metaphor above in detail and how it applies to your adoption of religion for your life, but it hopefully explains my point better.

    There’s little to add to that. I’ve probably been verbose earlier and I apologize.

    1. I did use some code I’d written based on the flutterby code for a while, but then I wanted to add some features and, instead, just switched to livejournal’s server code. (I’m in the process of adding email ids so that you’ll be able to post un-screened comments after verifying your email.)

      There’s little exposure in the southern US to Orthodoxy.

      May I suggest OrthoDixie for insight into the southern Orthodox convert? He’s a relatively conservative (politically) Orthodox priest.

      However, I’ve found a lot more Orthodox along the East and West coast. They don’t seem to have the fervor of the southern evangelical.

      I do want to address the “psychology of the believer”, but don’t have time ATM.

      1. Thanks, Mark, for the link to OrthoDixie. Funny writer and VERY on the mark with his Orthodoxy in Dixie piece, I bet.

        Take your time to respond and thank you, again, for this discussion.

  2. The religious leader question is a good mental exercise

    The religious leader question is a good mental exercise because as I started going back through the big genocides that involved primarily self-identified Christian populations in the oppressor group, the most recent two biggies being the situations in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the mid 1990s, I realized that Christianity wasn’t necessarily a central tenet of the leader’s message.

    I haven’t gone through and done an exhaustive point-for-point comparison, it’s hard, for instance, to classify where the crimes of Hitler, who clearly wasn’t Christian, should count because he used the mythology of Christianity as a very powerful lever to move a population that did self-identify as Christian.

    But, yeah, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, we can leave those numbers out of those I’d leave at the feet of Christians.

    So you got me wondering if the apparent correlation is simply a matter of Christanity’s dominance overall. If 50% of people claim to hold a belief then, yeah, 50% of all evil will be done by people holding that belief.


    And interesting lumping the Quakers in with the Mennonites and the Amish. As someone who grew up in a culture that deliberately steered away from the popular culture I was about to lash into the Mennonites and the Amish (and, besides, they don’t have computers so they can’t lash back [grin]), but the Quaker thing brought me up hard. Gonna have to think on this.

  3. ..rooted in your idiology

    …ends to a means. Religion


    the root of All Evil.

    To control through beliefs,attitudes,emotions, and behaviour and constituting
    powers and principles of the universe through a deity. A clearly formulated system of practices adhering to a creed with suspicion and disfavor on all those who are disassociated with the monastic

    In short, Religion is for people who just had a car accident,just got out of prison or are just trying to convince a large group of people into doing something really heinous.

    For example: George Bush, Adolf Hitler, or you.

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