Is Atheism the True Path to Peace?
© 2011 By Tom King
|Examining the elephant of religion!|
There's a video on Youtube that my liberal and atheist friends like to send me on occasion when I get too “religious” on them. It's an intellectual argument in favor of being disrespectful to the idiots that practice religion. The snippy little Englishman who delivers this pithy little diatribe has earned a devoted following among snippy little liberals who love to show off how smart they are for rejecting the faith of their fathers and how stupid you are for falling for the whole fraud.
According to the gentleman* in the video (and yes I watched it to the bitter end), faith is the cause of all the troubles in the world. He also suggests that a proper acceptance of atheism would end all the troubles of the world. Let's examine that.
Okay, I will give him that religious symbols ahave been pasted on the shields and bucklers of countless armies throughout history. So what? People stick up eagles on poles and seals and flags as symbols of all sorts of evil empires. Does that mean that eagles are inherantly evil, merely because people use them as symbols of their evil enterprises?
Religious motives have been claimed by despots and despoilers time and again throughout history. Claiming a religious purpose does not make that purpose religious, any more than claiming to be a representative of “true Islam” while blowing yourself up means that you were doing it on behalf of all your fellow Muslims. Terrorists seldom ask for a vote from their fellow faithful before blasting themselves and some farmer's market to smithereens. Claiming you represent something means little or nothing. Madmen do it all the time.
I find the claim that atheism induces peace to be a bit far-fetched. For instance, can anyone remember what was the official religion of the guys who had nukes pointed at every civilized country in the world and whose leader once pounded his shoe on a desk at the UN and threatened to "bury" us all. A little hint. He was an atheist! No believer in religion him. In fact, the USSR was “officially” atheist. They were also not shy about funding terrorism, revolution and murder – officially. Their leaders murdered tens of millions of their own citizens. Stalin and Mao alone were responsible for a 20th century communist death toll exceeding 100 million human beings. That doesn't even include the peripheral slaughter in communist inspired revolutions worldwide.
And does anyone remember the religion of the folks who held that “peaceful” atheist power in check for 4 decades and finally induced it to stand down its hair-trigger missiles and tear down "that wall"? I'll just tell you. It was Christians living in a country that allows for the free exercise of all religions including atheism, led by a devoutly religious president. That faith was behind our firm resolve not to attack and conquer an enemy, even one that had openly promised to destroy us as the Soviet Union did.
And isn't it strange that Christianity tolerates atheism, while atheism does not tolerate Christianity – a least not in officially 'atheist' countries.
And read your history. The despots that led virtually every tyrannical nation in history never bothered to actually practice the religion they espoused. It was used as a means to an end. Folk like France's Cardinal Richelieu never believed in God for a moment or they would have never behaved the way they did. Richelieu plundered France, plotted intrigue, assassinations and took bribes. He had mistresses (he was supposed to be celibate), his own private goon squad and his own private castle. He dripped gold and he was no more a Christian than Beelzebub.
And lest you think atheism or "nonreligion" is inherantly good, please remember what happened in France when they tossed off the shackles of "religion". The guillotine spilled rivers of blood in the streets. So much for the whole "peaceful atheism" theory. Oh, and by the way, France wasn't throwing off a faith in scripture or the Judeo-Christian God. The church at the time didn't allow the faithful to look at scripture for themselves anyway. What the French were “throwing off” was an impossibly corrupt brand of Roman Catholicism whose leaders in France were practicing atheists for all intents and purposes with no real fear of God whatsoever.
And if you are going to protest that Communism or the French Revolution was a misuse or corruption of atheism, I would ask you to remember that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Christianity gets misused all the time.
Despite its occasional misuse, Christianity's influence, I maintain, is a positive influence in the world. After all, it was Christian people who induced their governments to be merciful to the vanquished when we conquered Japan, Germany and Italy, despite the horrors they had inflicted on the world. And time after time, it has been Christians at large, horrified by what governments have done in their name, who come in afterward to clean up the mess, bind up the wounds and heal the injured.
The golden rule as taught by Jesus and by someone in virtually every corner of the globe in some form or other, has reduced the level of violence and evil in this world. The guiding principle behind all faith, stands like a great dike holding back the flood waters of evil. Does it get swamped sometimes? Yup! Does it spring leaks? Man is fallable. But faith struggles unrelentingly against evil, even evil that springs up within its own ranks
That's why Christians react with horror to the David Koreshes**, the Jim Joneses and other phony, power-mad lunatics that seek to use religion as a tool to lord over their fellow man. But I tell you this. Those whose relationship is not with "religion", but with God Himself are not fooled. Those who look for a human being to follow are inevitably led to destruction - often literally.
So, I politely disagree with the guy in the “Your Faith Is a Joke” video. I've heard it all before and it doesn't wash. He knows nothing of faith. He is like one of the blind men and the elephant in the Kipling poem. He has formed his whole opinion from the fact that as far as the religious elephant is concerned, this snippy little blind man has managed to position himself so that his hand is shoved up what the Church Lady would call the elephant's "naughty parts". And from this one aspect of the religious elephant, he forms his whole opinion of faith. And faith is not even the elephant at all, but what the elephant of religion seeks to discover. Faith is what feeds religion; what gives religion its reason to exist. Religion, like the elephant, without the nourishment of faith is dead! And that food is only available directly from the hand of God and not from any human being or human power.
There's a fine distinction between religion and God. I know God and have a relationship with Him. I practice religion***. Religion is an organizational structure that like-minded believers create for themselves - a government if you will, that helps the faithful manage their shared business. To say that "religion" is bad is to say that "government" is bad. They are one and the same thing, just organized for different purposes. I maintain that big religion is every bit as unhealthy as big government or big corporations or any too-large, power-wielding entity. The temptation to corruption is too great for those who run the show as history tirelessly demonstrates.
Just one man's opinion.
* I do not use this man's name here because I don't think he deserves the publicity and I refuse to contribute to his self-marketing campaign or attempt to establish himself as a credible spokesman for any philosophy.
** The members of the church I attend every week recognized the evil purpose within Vernon Howell, the man who later took the name David Koresh. We cast him out of the church and warned others about him. We got bomb threats during the Waco standoff simply because he had once been among us. He did not represent us. We did not teach him to be as he was. He simply passed through our midst and attempted to use us to gather followers. We flatly rejected him and the evil work he was doing, but even so, later, some people still attempted to tar us with the same brush they used to condemn Koresh.
*** A lot of folk do it backward. They know religion and practice God, an entirely ineffective method for making you a better man or woman.