Sunday, January 07, 2007

Counterpoint debunked

Point: More people have been killed in the name of religion than any other cause.
Counterpoint: The killers would have found a reason to kill them anyways.

No. No! NO!

I hate this argument. It is logically weak in so many ways, but its apparent simplicity captures too many people.

You see, it suggests that murders in the name of religion aren't so atrocious, because they could have been for any reason. This disgusts me. The Holocaust was such a horrible thing because - among other reasons - millions of people were killed solely because of their religion. Saying "Oh, Hitler would have found another reason" detracts from the severity of the crime.

And it's just a stupid thing to say - if six million Jews had actually been six million Christians, the Third Reich would not have brutally slaughtered them all. If Israel was an Islamic nation, there would be no conflict with the Palestinians. If America was a Muslim nation, the terrorist threat would be nonexistent. If 15th Century Spain had Buddhist monarchs, the Inquisition would not have occurred.

Period.

11 Comments:

At 1/29/2007 3:03 AM, Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Religion acts as a motivator for political agendas. So it has always been an effective tool to get people to kill each other. Especially if people equate their religion with their way of life, and that they have to kill others to preserve their religion and their worldview.

 
At 1/31/2007 11:51 PM, Anonymous Ali said...

I think this is relevant here:

We do not fight a man to uphold a certainty, but only to force him to accept our belief, our conviction, of the truth. No one's life is endagered because he will not accept the fact that two plus two makes four -- that is a truth that requires no champion. No, it is only for our beliefs -- that is, for those things that are not provable -- that we either kill or are willing to be killed. Fanatacism rests not on fact but on psychological projection. It is the correlate of doubt, not of certainty. This illusion is particularly apparent in the religious sphere, where every man is convinced that God is as he sees him and not otherwise -- a conviction so strong, so invincible, that one would die for it, as many have actually done. For the conviction of the persecutor is just as strong as that of the martyr, and he feels himself compelled either to convince one who holds a different opinion or to eliminate him.

- M Esther Harding, The I and the Not-I

 
At 2/12/2007 8:52 PM, Anonymous Alby said...

religion can be the reason for some atrocities, but it can also be used as a scapegoat, like just to give a group a reason to fight, when that may not be the entire reason

also there have been plenty of wars and deaths not motivated by religion, but by resources, politics, imperialism, etc.

im not disagreeing im just kinda playing the devil's advocated (which is kinda ironic)

 
At 2/19/2007 9:41 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

"If America was a Muslim nation, the terrorist threat would be nonexistent. If 15th Century Spain had Buddhist monarchs, the Inquisition would not have occurred."

Hey, I like this game. If Stalin had been a baker, he would have killed 7 million of his own people with cholesterol. If Torquemada had been gay, he would have killed all those people with bad show tunes. If Cotton Mather had been an atheist, he would have hanged those people for poor hygene.... I see how this works.... If George W. had the common sense of an amoeba....

 
At 3/14/2007 4:44 PM, Blogger angelsdepart said...

This blog brings up some interesting points. While I tend to agree that the world would be better without religion, sometimes I have to wonder if that would only work for the intelligent people. Maybe the "Normies" of the world actually needed religion to keep thier lives in check. I think perhaps Karl Marx was on to something. I blogged on a similar topic back in Janurary. I hope you don't mind the shameless plug. http://angelsdepart.blogspot.com/2007/01/on-complications-of-moral-absolutes-why.html
I am also adding you to my blogroll. Nice to meet you.

 
At 3/20/2007 8:05 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

"Maybe the "Normies" of the world actually needed religion to keep thier lives in check."

That's the "Lord of the Flies" argument. It would be total bullcrap if religious indoctrination had not laid the seeds for such a reaction in the first place.

 
At 3/23/2007 11:44 AM, Anonymous alby said...

religion in itself is a good thing, but usually only when one keeps it to himself or his immediate family and makes it a private thing

people have the uncanny ability of turning good things into bad things because they suck

 
At 4/02/2007 1:01 PM, Blogger St said...

I think the logic of the post is that it is difference that leads people to violence not religion. You seem to be saying that if we all had the same religion there would be no wars - ergo nothing wrong with religion.

 
At 4/02/2007 3:39 PM, Anonymous Kullervo said...

While I agree that those specific deaths would not have occured without religion, I don't believe that there would actually be less murder and killing total without religion.

People will always find a reason to kill. Without religion, you'd just have different people getting killed for different reasons.

 
At 12/15/2008 8:10 AM, Blogger Joey said...

This is deeply upsetting.

Your argument is nothing more than wordplay and dramatic effect.

The holocaust had VERY little to do with religious violence. It had almost everything to do with a race and people being picked out/scapegoated/and otherwise misunderstood and mistreated to the point of inhumanity. At no point for anything but perhaps the most inane of argument was the content of Jewish religion attacked.

You have taken a deep, powerful, and terrible point in human history, and not taken the time or care to understand or reflect on it well enough to realize that it has no connection with the argument you wish to make.

Religious violence is when one's own (there's the emphasis) religion pushes one to commit violence.

Your response to this topic, although, is aimed towards the right destination: there is indeed, and have been, violence and killings that are the result of religious beliefs.

The question remains whether these deaths have been the direct and sole reason for such violence.

Religious violence occurs in two major phenomenon.

The first is when an individual or group, following from their belief in a said religion, develops and carries out an act of violence.

The second is when a demagogue or leader motivates a people through religion to carry out an act of violence.

Now, I think we can safely throw out the second. In this case, it is not true that the violence is formulated by the group that carries out the violence. Moreover, it is easy, in this case, for religion to merely be a shared banner under which to unite a group and get the demagogue or leader's will accomplished. Instead, it is the demagogue or leader that is participating in a circumstance of the first example.

Now, the first example is where you get your proof. It is also where your opponents get their counterpoint.

It can generally be argued that a great majority of the people who formulate and enact plans of violence solely in the name of religion are quite mentally imbalanced. This is an idea that is reflected in our law; a moral statement of the United States of America that it is not a morally correct nor a justifiable act to kill or cause violence in the name of religion alone.

Those who choose to believe in certain passages of religions that promote violence and remain deaf to the many that prohibit it, and then go on to so fully invest themselves in this belief as to end the life of another human being are in no way your typical man or woman, no way your typical practitioner of faith, and I think we can all fairly safely say that these people are misguided, if not insane.

Your argument now lies on the men and women that, seemingly, are reasonable. They live normal, happy lives, and then, without following a crowd, leader, or any other motivation than the scripture or words of their basic and fundamental belief system, feel themselves compelled to commit violence in it's name.

These are very few people. The fact is, they must be good people. Your argument relies on it. They must be good in every way, and corrupted to their path of violence based solely on the words written in their faith. Their crimes must not be of hate, greed, or any other of the more traditional emotions.

It is this hard to define, hard to picture group which the burden is yours to give a definition and face. It is not a simple act. It is quite hard. And so, the counterpoint you so quickly dismissed is actually quite difficult to disprove.

It is however possible, through the use of this one group. However this does not lend to the great and dramatic imagery you raised in your post, and it does not help, particularly, to demonize religion so much as cast a depressing shadow over the human psyche.

In your endeavor to fight religious dogmatism and its general lack of self-doubt in a wide selection of religious followers, I hope you the best of luck and a few words of advice; religion is not what you seek to attack, it is not the ethics you should blame, but rather the human reluctance towards ideas opposite of their own. You yourself, and many of the people posting replies, begged the question in your arguments, never really choosing to walk in the other man's shoes. People are people wherever you go. Understand the people, and more importantly understand yourself, and the your arguments might mean more.

 
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