MythBusters: Without Religion there would be no War

August 1, 2008 at 2:01 am 68 comments

Christian Commentary

I can’t count the number of times I have heard this ‘argument’ on the internet from amateur atheists. Naturally, the more seasoned of us know that this is simply not true, but it seems to be a staple in atheistland that the newcomers love to recite.

I am not naive to the fact that religion is probably the reason most used to justify conflicts, but I strongly refute the idea that a warless world is only obtainable through the elimination of religion (human nature won’t allow it). I was looking around the internet for different wars that aren’t religiously driven to back my claim and I stumbled upon someones post in a forum. I don’t know who the author is, but it sums out my viewpoints on the matter pretty thoroughly. Enjoy

Much is said, today, on the issue of religious wars. Without question, religion has been (if only superficially) the banner of countless wars throughout history. Lists are often compiled, naming various instances of religious war (as, for example, this list).

One might reasonably ask, however, whether or not there is a corresponding list of non-religious wars. After all, if religion is really good for nothing but “starting wars,” then surely its elimination would do away with, or at least considerably diminish, the perpetuation of warfare across the globe.

Jack Perry has presented one such list of non-religious wars, as follows:

1.) The Seven Years’ War (Britain & France)
2.)The American Revolution
3.)The French Revolution
4.)The Napoleonic Wars (France & Europe)
5.)The Revolutions in the Americas
6.)The Wars to create and preserve the British Empire (Boer War, Irish Revolution, and the Great Game with Russia would all be examples)
7.)The American Civil War
8.)The Crimean War
9.)The Spanish-American War
10.)The Great War, The War to End All Wars, or World War I (whatever you want to call it)
11.)The Italian invasion of Ethiopia
12.)The Spanish Civil War
13.)Stalin’s invasions of Finland, the Baltic states, and Poland
14.)World War II
15.)The Chinese Revolution
16.)The Cold War, including but not limited to the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the American intervention in Grenada, and the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan
17.)The Cultural Revolution in China (If you don’t want to call this a war I’ll concede it)
18.)Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge Revolution
19.)The Falklands War
20.)The Persian Gulf War between Iran & Iraq
21.)The Persian Gulf War between the United Nations and Iraq
The Breakup of Yugoslavia (beginning with Slovenia).

Naturally, some of Perry’s points are debatable. For instance, there are some who hold that Nazism has certain occult roots (see, for example, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s book on the subject, “The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology.” So, in some sense, one might argue that World War II was, in fact, a religious war. The same cannot be said, however, of World War I.

Obviously, the above list could not count very significant the Reign of Terror (French), which followed the French Revolution, as it was not, technically, a war, per se. Still, I think it is a point worth serious consideration.

Of course, there are those who maintain Robespierre (who presided over the Reign of Terror) was actually religious, and an oppressor of atheists. Nevertheless, the fact remains that:

“The French Revolution eradicated the Church root and branch. The Jacobin state was officially atheist, although Robespierre attempted to cover this fact with the fig leaf of ‘the Supreme Being’, which convinced nobody except maybe Robespierre himself. Although the people of France were supposed to be fervent Catholics, religion practically disappeared in France after the Revolution (except in the most backward and reactionary districts like the Vendée).”
( http://www.marxist.com/marxism-religion-liberation-theology220701.htm)

I am NOT, of course, suggesting, as some do, that atheism leads, ever and always, to anarchy, bloodshed, etc. I am merely endeavoring to establish that the religious are no more a danger to humankind than the irreligious. Or, to put it in other words, the irreligious are no less prone to senseless violence than the religious.

Myth: BUSTED!

:)

God Bless,

- Justin

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68 Comments Add your own

  • 1. blueollie  |  August 1, 2008 at 7:26 am

    I am merely endeavoring to establish that the religious are no more a danger to humankind than the irreligious.
    —————–
    Hmmm, follow the Middle East much? Gee, two peoples living close together of roughly equal size.

    But no..there is that ONE HOLY CITY.

    I don’t know; if Dawkins book “The God Delusion” isn’t adopted and read, I am going to fly a plane into a building and get those virgins promised to me by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  • 2. John Morales  |  August 1, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Ahem, blueollie, your point might be more convincing if the holy city had less of a history of war, conquest and internecine conflict.

  • 3. John Morales  |  August 1, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Wait a minute – d’oh.
    I really shouldn’t come straight here from Pharyngula. ;(

  • 4. Obi  |  August 1, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Indeed, religion hasn’t caused all of the wars throughout history, but I must say that they have caused a lot of grief for the human race through motiviation for conflict. The Christian mass conquests/conversions that swept across the Americas and Africa killing all of those who wouldn’t convert makes me shudder.

    The only greater evil in terms of war and loss of human life is nationalism (and its related ideologies), so even if we discarded religion, that reason would still be there.

    But both…?

  • 5. Brad Feaker  |  August 1, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Justin,

    I would abstract this a little further and say that dogma itself fuels war – be it religious or secular. Another thing I read once (from Robert Heinlein) was that all wars could be shown to arise from 2 factors – population pressure and/or competition for resources. The absence of religion will not end war – but it may well reduce the amount of conflict in the world considerably. And I must say – that is a pretty lame apologetic for religion (Gee – we’re not all bad, atheists start wars too!). But I like the MythBusters shout out :-)

  • 6. Griffin  |  August 1, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Is anybody else having trouble getting posts accepted?

  • 7. Griffin  |  August 1, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I have some html (a link) in the comment, if I screwed it up would that cause the failure to post?

  • 8. Obi  |  August 1, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Take the link out and see if it posts. If it does, toss the link in after it.

  • 9. Griffin  |  August 1, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Thanks for your piece, Justin, but I have one question for you: Have you ever actually heard an atheist make this argument?

    In my experience, this ‘without religion war would cease to exist’ meme is a strawman used by theists to make atheists look naive or ridiculous.

    For example, Professor Martin E. Marty, a panelist for the Washington Post’s “
    On Faith
    ” section says this when asked about the inherent contradictions of a society where three in ten admit racial prejudices but nine in ten profess Christian belief:

    When Americans profess religious faith AND are racially prejudiced, they are acting in traditions much older than America itself. Through most of human history and most of American history it would not have occurred to anyone to see a conflict between racial prejudice and being religious. Most religion has roots or ties to tribalism, nationalism, group self-worship, and claims for the superiority of the believers’ group over all others. Most lines in most scrolls, most pages in most holy books gave reasons and inspiration for being prejudiced in all sorts of ways.

    That paragraph might sound as if I want to do public relations for “the New Atheists,” who ask us to kill nothing but religion since, with religion gone, other killing would stop. Not so: non-religion has killed more than religion in the century past. And hyper-nationalism and idolatry of one’s own group–race, nation, class, etc.–has been more lethal than much religious warfare.”

    Emphasis mine.

    I am an atheist and I have never claimed that a world without religion would be a world without war. Equally, a world with only one religion, lets use Christianity, would not be a world without war either.

    Brad Feaker makes a very useful point. Dogma is one of the prime causes of war be it religious dogma, economic dogma, racial dogma or nationalistic dogma. I’d venture that most wars in history are either rooted in dogma or over resources. Every atheist I’ve met realizes that removing religion wouldn’t remove resource scarcity as a point of conflict. Removing religion wouldn’t remove dogma either. I don’t think that anybody is honestly arguing that it is.

  • 10. LeoPardus  |  August 1, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Good article Justin. I’ve looked at the numbers a bit and come away with the conclusion that wars come from all sorts of causes. Removing religion might eliminate some wars, but certainly not all. Frankly as long as we have people and weapons (even down to clubs and rocks), we’ll have wars.

    The idea, held by some atheists, that religion is the root of all evil, and a world without it would be Shagrai-la, is just egotistical idealism. “I believe ‘x’ therefore ‘x’ is the greatest.” I’ve seen this sort of attitude in former Protestants, former Catholics, former liberals, former Muslims, etc. There’s this sick tendency in humans to turn on their former beliefs and demonize them. It’s silly, it’s dishonest, and it’s completely unbalanced.

    Want a world without war? Find a way to destroy the human race. Then you’ll have it. Leave any humans and they’ll find something to fight about.

  • 11. Larry T  |  August 1, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I heard once that the first war occurred when the first fence was put up.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  August 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I though the first war was a battle for berry bushes between the Og clan and the Grog clan.

  • 13. blueollie  |  August 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    The idea, held by some atheists, that religion is the root of all evil, and a world without it would be Shagrai-la,
    ——————

    I know of no atheist who thinks this way.

    It is something like this: I am glad that smallpox has been all but eliminated; we (humans) are better off having gotten rid of it.

    But of course, other diseases remain.

    The claim that many atheists make is that we’d be better off without religion, NOT that things would be perfect without it.

  • 14. Jim J  |  August 1, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Good points here. I’d only add that, from the Christian perspective, war is caused by sin. Christianity could not be culpable of war any more than a gunman can say he was inspired to kill people by Martin Luther King. For example, It was the corruption of Christians combined with unchecked political power that caused the Reformation wars and the Inquisition. It was NOT inspired by the gospel.

    An atheist has more of an argument saying that the gospel is too profound for humans to understand; that we’d be better off not confusing ourselves with it. But then we’d find something else to fight about…because war comes from corruption, not Christ.

    I think the atheist should step back and weigh the pros and cons of Christianity through the ages. There have been wars and there have been persecutions by corrupt Christians, but our literature is founded on the Bible, our motivation for tolerance is strengthened by the lessons of Jesus, and all majority-Christian nations have kept up with modernity. Only a dogmatic, anti-intellectual atheist or other religionist would say the world would be better off without Christianity.

  • 15. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 1, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Jim J-

    I’d only add that, from the Christian perspective-

    I stopped reading here. You don’t need to add anything from “the Christian perspective” at this blog. If you’re going to talk like this, go find a blog full of life-long atheists who might actually be unfamiliar with “the Christian perspective.”

  • 16. Griffin  |  August 1, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Jim J:

    Nobody said Christianity was culpable for starting any wars.

  • 17. Larry T  |  August 1, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Actually I heard the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys started during a discussion of whether Christianity was culpable for starting any wars.

  • 18. arensb  |  August 1, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Without Religion there would be no War

    I am not naive to the fact that religion is probably the reason most used to justify conflicts, but I strongly refute the idea that a warless world is only obtainable through the elimination of religion

    I think you’ve committed a logic error, somewhere between the title and your second paragraph. Consider:

    Gasoline can cause a fire, or exacerbate an existing fire. If there were no gasoline, there would be fewer fires, and the remaining ones would be less severe. Also, if you’re looking at a world where there are no fires, then you’re looking at a world with no gasoline, or where gasoline is 100% contained so that it can’t start a fire.

    Likewise, religion can start a war, or exacerbate an existing one. If there were no religion, there would still be wars started for other reasons. Also, if we ever achieve a world without war, we would be living in a world with no religion, or where religion is contained to the point where it can’t start any wars.

  • 19. Donovan  |  August 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Jim J,
    I will say that the world would be better off without Christianity. I would also add that the world would be better off without all of the other countless religions as well. What makes your religion better than another? The problem is that you can only believe in one of them.
    Religions cannot all be right because they have too many contradictions (including contradictions within their own literatures) between them. Religion is just another method of supposedly saying who is correct and who is not without any sound facts. If there were enough facts in any given religion then that one would win all followers – they are all based on faith purchased by a promise of eternal bliss in the afterlife. It seems that some people need a promise of something later to make sure that they continue to do the ‘right’ thing now. However, if you do not do the right things then just repent, find the particular religions god as your savior and all will be forgotten and forgiven. This seems a little too easy and far fetched for me. Get out of your fantasy land and face reality. No great being is going to provide you all that you need and the things that go wrong are not a test of your faith. They are just the things in life that we all have to deal with. Some people just choose to rely on something of faith to correct a situation and some of us choose to engage and change the things around us.
    What makes you think you have it right this time? How many different gods have existed over time that have been forgotten or disregarded? Again, how are you so sure that your religion is better than another that exists today? Also, if you are saying that you accept or tolerate all religions then you are directly going against your Bible. Tolerance of other religions/gods? Where is this in the bible? You should be ashamed.

  • 20. dog  |  August 1, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I’m an “orbiting teapot-ist” myself.

    “some of us just go one god further…”

  • 21. Jim J  |  August 1, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Donavan,
    Wow, that was convoluted. You scold me for “knowing” I’m right than say you “know” you’re right. You could’ve saved a lot of verbage by simply saying, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

  • 22. jfatz  |  August 1, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Actually, very few that I’ve noticed have ever stated “without religion there would be no war,” as that is completely illogical. (Now lacking religion and coupling it with an abundance of resources…? ;-) )

    They are certainly apt to name religious conflicts and highlight the religious backing of war, conflicts, and terrorist actions alike, but the point is not “NO WAR LOLZ!” That’s a South Park-level strawman.

    It is hard to not see how excising religion would not affect the process and support of such endeavors on all levels, however. It is easy to drum people to war when you have an “us versus them” mentality to spur the public on with, if you can turn it into a “noble conflict,” and if you tell people pursuing such goals will grant them access to eternal rewards.

    Greed and desperation will certainly drive a people to war, but unless the base population (those that do the actual fighting) are TRULY destitute and desperate, the greed of a nation’s leaders will have a much tougher time rousing the public to fight for them. This is MUCH harder to do if you don’t already have a overriding, religiously-fuelled clutch on their hearts and minds. At the same time, it’s also much harder to drive a rich nation to “war-without-reason” or expansionist conflict without extreme nationalism, and such extremes–as the US is a perfect example of–rarely exist without zealous, religious confidence in “we’re doing what is right!”

    Don’t ignore the larger whole while attacking a strawman.

  • 23. The Apostate  |  August 1, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Justin

    Naturally, the more seasoned of us know that this is simply not true, but it seems to be a staple in atheistland that the newcomers love to recite

    Where?

    The critique that religion is so often at the root of many wars is often placed because of the claims that various religions themselves place. Atheism is not a systematic philosophical system that can say whether war is or is not to be supported. Theistic religions, on the other hand, often present themselves as pacifiers and holders of absolute truth. It is then a disturbing commentary when people of equally superstitious belief systems kills over often petty superstitious issues (although hardly petty to them – I mean, if I thought a witch was responsible for the death of my child, I would definitely consider retribution of some horrific sort).

    I come from a Mennonite background, a group of very religious people, as you may well know, who abhor war to the point of martyrdom. So much so that, traditionally, they would protest on the same side of Muslims and other religionists so that they too may have freedom from religious warfare. When I critique religionists, this is the people I chose to critique.

    I have never heard an atheist say “without religion there would be no war.” Ever. Nor have I ever seen it implied – not even when I was a conservative Mennonite evangelical Christian and would have loved to been in that debate. It never happened.

    I’m sorry Justin, but this is a colossal straw man.

  • 24. The Apostate  |  August 1, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Jim J, comment 14,

    Good points here. I’d only add that, from the Christian perspective, war is caused by sin. Christianity could not be culpable of war any more than a gunman can say he was inspired to kill people by Martin Luther King.

    Right, I am so glad that God changed his mind about that during the inter-testamental period. I’m glad we can just place all those Yahweh-commanded wars on the Jewish God, not the Christian God.

  • 25. Donovan  |  August 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Maybe, but it would have lacked any commitment.

    JimJ said: “You scold me for “knowing” I’m right than say you “know” you’re right.” I don’t understand this sentence – what are you saying here? Is the ‘than’ supposed to be ‘then’?

    If so – I don’t know 100% for sure that I am right but I am not going to waste time trying to appease a being that I have no evidence exists. You’re sure your right? What do you think the odds are that due to the location you were born (which generally determines your religious base) it happens to be in the area of the ‘right’ or the correct religion? Wow – what luck would that be? If I am dammed for my logical conclusion that there is too much contradiction and not enough evidence within any given religion then so be it. Or, maybe I will wait until my health starts to deteriorate and then find religion. That’s ok right?

  • 26. Leonard  |  August 1, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    The culprit of all war, all kind of wars, is because man wants to grab more: More money, more believers, more power, more more more. War is rooted in conflicting desires of men between men, group between group, nations between nations, interest between interest. There are wars, even very cruel war in atheist countries and religious countries alike. It’s not in the teaching of religions’ but in human’s desire to grab more and more and more. The root is in human’s natural behavior or “Human nature”.

  • 27. Stephen P  |  August 1, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Like other commentators I do wonder where you’ve found all these claims that “Without Religion there would be no War”. I’ve frequently seen it claimed that the majority of wars are caused by religion, but I have never yet seen anyone claim that all wars are called by religion. Sources please?

    The greatest cause of wars is dogma, whether it be religious dogma or racist, nationalist or communist dogma (these are not of course mutually exclusive categories). Of these, religious dogma is the most insidious, being the only one that claims to reach beyond the grave.

    Competition for resources is also a significant cause of course, but I would venture to suggest that without dogma such wars tend to be more limited in scope, with people preferring to bring them to an end quickly.

    Without religion – or at least without the sort of religion that makes adherents claim to be superior to non-adherents – the world would be a somewhat more peaceful place, but I know no-one that expects an end to war.

  • 28. Nathaniel  |  August 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    “I have never yet seen anyone claim that all wars are called[caused] by religion.”

    This discussion has been reduced to an argument over symantics. I agree, I have never heard anyone claim that all wars are caused by religion, either. But, what I have heard, on a number of occasions, is that the world would be better off without religion. If people couldn’t use “God” as an excuse or reason to go to war there would be less of them. George Carlin, Bill Mahar and my brother are a few people I can think of who have made these arguments.

    I think they have a valid argument; there have been numerous injustices done in the name of God. There have been many wars that have started because of religious ideologies. However, there argument is also impossible to satisfy because religion is part of our human nature. It is in our DNA, somewhere, to question our existence, to explain our universe, to question where we come from, to seek something greater than ourselves, to worship. These questions have been asked by people from every region of the globe and since the beginning of recorded history. Religion has organically developed in numerous tribes, cultures and civilizations; it is their explination of their existence. Religion isn’t something that can be easily jettisoned, or ignored. A purely atheistic society would not stand the test of time because inevitably someone within that society would begin to question, begin to seek something greater than themselves.

    Its within our nature to do so.

  • 29. Donovan  |  August 1, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Nathaniel,

    I hear your point but as we begin to understand from a scientific sense more about the world around us it becomes harder to just make stuff up to fill in the unknown. Therefore, if before today we did not have religion but we still had the same level of science, in my opinion, trying to sell the same story from the Bible again would be considerably more difficult than it was about 1500 years ago. The reason is because we were not able to prove as much as we can today (i.e. – the world is not flat, it was not created a little over 6000 years ago, there are not 4 corners of the world, we can correctly calculate PI, etc.)

  • 30. The Apostate  |  August 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Nathaniel,

    This discussion has been reduced to an argument over symantics. I agree, I have never heard anyone claim that all wars are caused by religion, either. But, what I have heard, on a number of occasions, is that the world would be better off without religion.

    Since when is an argument of semantics a reduction of any sort? Semantics is the study of linguistics based upon the logistics of meaning. Semantics is not reduction.
    Regardless of your ironic and inaccurate use of the word “semantics,” the point stands. The author claimed that he had, on a regular occasion, heard it stated, by atheists of an immature sort, that all wars would end if religion did not exist. I call this bluff. End of story.
    The discussion about whether the world would be a better place was non-existent in this expose and is a different, albeit related, discussion altogether. On that case, there is qualified opinions on both sides with equally great arguments. Personally, I believe the world would be more or less as it is, with religion or without. We would find different expressions of compassion and varying reasons for hatred.

  • 31. Larry T  |  August 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Main Entry: se·man·tics
    Pronunciation: \si-ˈman-tiks\
    Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
    Date: 1893
    1: the study of meanings: a: the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development b (1): semiotic (2): a branch of semiotic dealing with the relations between signs and what they refer to and including theories of denotation, extension, naming, and truth
    2: general semantics
    3 a: the meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs; especially : connotative meaning b: the language used (as in advertising or political propaganda) to achieve a desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings

  • 32. Larry T  |  August 1, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Alternate:

    The Semantics: an Irish punk rock band known for drunken revellings on stage and rampant drug use. Lead Singer Billy “pipemaster” Stevenson is known to have fathered 14 children from 7 different women. Now defunct. 1982-1987

  • 33. Brad Feaker  |  August 2, 2008 at 11:51 am

    The Apostate,

    Personally, I believe the world would be more or less as it is, with religion or without. We would find different expressions of compassion and varying reasons for hatred.

    I tend to agree with you here with 1 exception – I think we would see a reduction in terrorist violence (i.e. suicide bombings of innocents) were religion to fade away.

  • 34. CheezChoc  |  August 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Leonard, I think you nailed it. Put it this way: without human beings, there would be no war.

  • 35. The Apostate  |  August 2, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Brad Feaker,

    I tend to agree with you here with 1 exception – I think we would see a reduction in terrorist violence (i.e. suicide bombings of innocents) were religion to fade away.

    While I do not believe there would be as many “suicide bombings,” I do not believe that there would be a reduction in terrorist violence. Terrorism, by definition, is the instillation of fear in order to make the victims submit. There is no difference between terrorism and war, except that the people who engage the latter are in office, whether democratically elected, appointed, or not.

    An additional thought – Japanese “kamikaze” fighters during the Second World War were not overtly religious (not in the same way radical religionists today are). They were not promised a straight path to paradise or praise in God’s kingdom. While there was certainly a Shinto influence, much of what they did was for an almost “atheistic” sense of honour and duty to one’s country and family. They saw themselves as carrying on the traditions of the Bushido warriors. I don’t agree with it, but that was the case.

    I think violence would be situated differently without religion, but it would certainly be just as prevalent. The so-called Communist dictatorships of the 20th century have only been a witness to that which cannot be ignored.

  • 36. Obi  |  August 2, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    The Apostate –

    An “atheistic” sense of honour? So anything that isn’t explicitly religious is associated with atheism outright, especially when negative? That’s news to me. So any murder, theft, or case of abuse that doesn’t involve the criminal using a cross as a weapon while wrapped in rosary beads and saying the Lord’s Prayer is automatically “atheistic” because there are a lack of overt and obvious religious motives…

    I know you meant little harm by it, but saying something like that only serves to reinforce bias against atheists.

  • 37. john t.  |  August 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    “I think we would see a reduction in terrorist violence (i.e. suicide bombings of innocents) were religion to fade away.”(Brad)

    Hate is hate, the violence would just morph into some other form of expression.

  • 38. john t.  |  August 2, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Positive and Negative, isnt our world based on the interaction of both?

  • 39. The Apostate  |  August 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Obi,

    An “atheistic” sense of honour? So anything that isn’t explicitly religious is associated with atheism outright, especially when negative?

    Obi, what is “atheism” to you?
    Furthermore, what do you think I might be implying if I surround the word “atheism” with quotation marks?
    Atheism is nothing but simply the lack of a belief in one or more gods. Whether there is “honour” or “duty” or a “materialist worldview” is up to the person who does not believe in a god.
    So to answer your question, would you prefer “non-theistic”? That seems like somewhat a shallow play on words since the preface “a” does mean “without” and hence insinuates a “non” concept. So yes, when something is not religious, it is, by definition, “without god” – for better or worse. The fact that you stated “especially negative” merely means that you are getting defensive when there is no need to. I was expressing the negative because of the person I was speaking to. Remember, I did say that people would find reasons for hate AND compassion, no matter their religious or non-religious stance.

    I know you meant little harm by it, but saying something like that only serves to reinforce bias against atheists.

    It doesn’t really matter does it? We can sit here, as non-believers, and live in a dream world like our religious counterparts, or we could face the reality of what our terms mean. Atheists need to realize that they are, by necessity, not a coherent unit and that this is a good thing, albeit its difficulty in a world where labels and self-identification is crucial. Being a atheist does not make you a humanist, and being a humanist does not mean you are necessarily an atheist.

    Atheism does not make you who you are. It is a denial of one thing. Move on. Create a better world. Don’t sit around and obsess about defending a label that barely needs a defense – a label that is a philosophical negative that implies no affirmative about who you are and what you believe. It only states what you don’t believe.

  • 40. Obi  |  August 2, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    The Apostate —

    With all due respect mate, I really don’t need a lecture regarding atheism here. My main point in even pointing out the usage of the word was because I think we’re both aware of the bias that exists towards atheists in the U.S. and the world in general. It’s a non-issue here, since this is a de-conversion blog; but elsewhere, saying something like that would give theists (especially American theists) even more sources for bias. I mean, Japanese kamikaze pilots aren’t exactly looked upon with fond memories, and pairing atheism with that does nothing good for anyone. Not only that, but calling something “atheistic” because it isn’t explicitly religious seems somewhat unnecessary either way.

    This wasn’t meant to be an “argument”, just a statement pointing something out. Peace.

  • 41. john t.  |  August 2, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Japanese “kamikaze” fighters during the Second World War were not overtly religious (Apostate)

    Wasnt Hirohito considered God on earth? That would make Kamikaze pilots dedication to him fairly Religious, dont you think?

  • 42. Rover  |  August 2, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    useless fact – did you know that there was a squandrant of chrisitian kamikaze pilots?

  • 43. The Apostate  |  August 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Obi,

    ith all due respect mate, I really don’t need a lecture regarding atheism here.

    Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t realize you could lecture me and than not expect a response.

    My main point in even pointing out the usage of the word was because I think we’re both aware of the bias that exists towards atheists in the U.S. and the world in general.

    Yes, and that is an American problem that won’t be solved by screaming “Atheist Pride.”

    It’s a non-issue here, since this is a de-conversion blog; but elsewhere, saying something like that would give theists (especially American theists) even more sources for bias.

    And I did post it as a response on the de-conversion blog, to someone who was trying to make the atheist world sound a bit chipper than reality would probably allow.

    I mean, Japanese kamikaze pilots aren’t exactly looked upon with fond memories, and pairing atheism with that does nothing good for anyone.

    So you accuse me, for some reason, of only looking at the negative (which I didn’t) and then turn around and say we should essentially ignore the that and concentrate on the positive. Sure, if your atheism is going to lack integrity, market it.

    Not only that, but calling something “atheistic” because it isn’t explicitly religious seems somewhat unnecessary either way.

    Did you simply chose to ignore my response in comment 39 because you didn’t want to be “lectured” to? It can seem whatever it wants to you, but if you want to argue the point, than argue the damn point, don’t give me unsubstantiated claims that are merely your opinion.

    This wasn’t meant to be an “argument”, just a statement pointing something out.

    An argument is an exchange of people of diverting opinions. So unless you don’t want to engage in a conversation with someone of a differing opinion, which you did, than you are arguing. It isn’t a scary thing.

    john t.

    Wasnt Hirohito considered God on earth? That would make Kamikaze pilots dedication to him fairly Religious, dont you think?

    Hirohito did consider himself, and demanded that others consider him, a deity of some sort. I doubt he actually believed this and scholars have shown, according to later surveys, that even the most devout Shintoists did not believe it. From my understanding in my studies of contemporary eastern religions, religion barely came into play in imperialist Japan during the 1940s. Of course, this depends on whether one regards the Shintoism of the time as a “religion” or not. It certainly is polytheistic in a sense, but its form of polytheism is closer to the Buddhist sort than that of classical Rome or something akin to “western” polytheism. My point is that there is nothing really “theistic” or even “polytheistic” about the motives of the kamikazes. What they did was entirely conceivable for a person with atheistic beliefs – that is dying for one’s family, tradition, and possibly even State (*shudder*).

    I have to say one thing to everyone here. Whenever atheists try to allude to a coherent uniformity, possibly in fighting the “biases” of American prejudice, they are only entrenching the problem. Instead of saying “that isn’t really atheism” – an atheist should say, “yea, they didn’t believe in a god and then went ahead and did bad stuff, just like people who do believe in a god go ahead and do really bad stuff: we all have our reasons for doing bad stuff.” You aren’t going to change a theist’s mind about atheism by making excuses for it. Ex-Christians, especially ex-evangelicals, should know this. They think they have won the argument regardless and they are sort of right. They have – until you admit the bad stuff we are all capable of committing. Stop marketing an idealistic secular society that does not exist. Just be. Just live it. Eventually the prejudices will come to an end in the United States as it has in Europe and, more or less, in Canada.

  • 44. john t.  |  August 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Apostate

    “Just be. Just live it. Eventually the prejudices will come to an end in the United States as it has in Europe and, more or less, in Canada.”

    In this world of duality I dont think any of our prejudices will leave us any time soon. They will just move to another form. After all………..We is what we is.

  • 45. The Apostate  |  August 2, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    John T.,
    Sure, we will always have prejudices – but certain prejudices do diminish. At one time Canada, my native country, was considered much more religious than its southern neighbour. And that was only several generations ago.

  • 46. Finn  |  August 3, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Most atheists assert that there’d be NO war without religion? Huh. Good job attacking that straw man, you beat him right off his straw horse!

    I mean, you basically *say* only extremely *uneducated* “amateur” atheists go about making this claim, so what’s the point? In my experience, uneducated atheists try to force others to live according to their beliefs far less than uneducated Christians, whose claims about the world tend to have far more dangerous implications. (Also, if making ridiculous claims based on total misunderstanding and ignorance of the subject are what earn you the “amateur” label, I sure know a lot of “amateur” Christians who’ve never bothered to pick up their own Holy Book or learn the core tenets of their faith.)

    I don’t think Adam or Jamie would appreciated your using the MythBusters angle, seeing as they’re both happy atheists and in fact have joked about how much they’d love to do a special debunking creationism. Unless you’re trying to deliberately mock them, in which case perhaps you should start with a myth which is actually widespread.

  • 47. John Morales  |  August 3, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Oh, how I wish I could address John T.

  • 48. Quester  |  August 3, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Restrain yourself, Morales. If you’ve decided John T is a troll, referring to him is no better than responding to him. If you haven’t decided he’s a troll, then just respond to him. Either way, comments like #47 are unhelpful, unnecessary, and unwanted. If you really can’t resist typing things like that, use Notepad, not the Internet, and keep it to yourself.

  • 49. John Morales  |  August 3, 2008 at 7:26 am

    Quester, quite so. I don’t belong here.

  • 50. john t.  |  August 3, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Quester

    I think John M. has decided to not like anything I have to say. which is ok. He just reaffirms my belief about the duality of the world.

  • 51. john t.  |  August 3, 2008 at 8:42 am

    I am curious if the originators of this site notice that sometimes hardcore atheists sound very similar to hardcore christians. Do you think that maybe that is a personality trait that has nothing to do with their actual belief?

  • 52. Chan  |  June 17, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    WW2 was over jews, thats a religion

  • 53. Blue  |  June 17, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    @52

    WW2 was not over the Jews by a long shot. They were a tragic, horrific byproduct of that war, but by no means were any of the allies fighting for them.

  • 54. Anonymous  |  December 31, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    You left in many wars that still had religion as a major part of the wars. Hitler wanted the perfect race since his beliefs in the occult ( his religion ) and the only way to achieve this was to kill off anyone that was not pure to his race and believed what he did

  • 55. LeoPardus  |  December 31, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Anonymous:

    Why don’t you read the post first before you comment? Fargin idjit.

  • 56. leroy brown  |  January 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    im not an athist but i do belive that reglion does or is the cause of most wars

  • 57. Dan  |  January 23, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Well im not a big fan of religion, but aren’t some of the reasons that people came to America were because of religious intolerance in their home country? Therefore, without religion, the American continent could look a lot different.

  • 58. Ubi Dubium  |  January 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Yes, the Puritans came here so that, instead of being the persecuted minority, they could be be the majority and be free to be intolerant themselves. The American continent might look different without religion. In this case, “different” might mean “better”.

  • 59. Joe  |  January 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    (#58)

    A lot more than Puritans came to America due to religious persecution in their home countries. The reason America is so great is because of beliefs such as “man is endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights..” Some of those rights have taken many years to come to fruition because of man’s prejudices, etc.–but the basic concept comes from the belief in a Creator. I do not think America would be “better” without religon—it might look more like North Korea as a result.

  • 60. Jordan Yo  |  April 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Well THE most important error in this I noticed is that the mention of World War 2 in this topic as a non-religious war is absolutely ridiculous. The entire war started out as Adolf Hitlers conquest to eradicate the Jewish people from the world. He did this BECAUSE of their religion, not because of anything else. He even called it the “Final Solution”, saying that getting rid of them would solve all of the worlds problems. Saying that it was a non-religious war is absolutely ignorant and moronic. Learn historical facts before you say something so stupid like that.

  • 61. Junior Cheltenham  |  January 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Anything that creates the idea that you and me are different is WRONG.
    Blood transfusions dont care what religion you are.
    God does NOT EXIST.
    Nationalism and Religion are what the people with ALL THE GOLD want you to believe are important so that you dont mind killing another man to fund the “war machine”.
    Wake up… War = More military budget = more money borrowed from the BANKS = more tax paid = Richer rich people and dead poor people.
    “God” is a 100dollar bill with a nice 10% profit for the guys that print them.

  • 62. Junior Cheltenham  |  January 20, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Oh the solution to our world is “ACTUAL democracy”
    where one mans vote actually counts AS ONE VOTE, whether he be the guy that declares the decisions made (prime minister) or a guy working in McDonalds.
    I dont understand if a higher percentage of people have the internet then turned up for the last election, why dont we all just get to vote online on ALL matters?
    Isnt that what democracy is?
    Slavery never dissapeared, it just worked out that rather than get black people, it could get ALL people under the guise of “Democracy and taxation” 6billion people not realising 100 people are in control, loll, ridiculous.

  • 63. Anonymous  |  December 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    World War II wasn’t motivated by religion?! Hilarious!

  • 64. Anonymous  |  May 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

    how was wwII not started by religion your a fucking dumb ass

  • 65. CMA  |  September 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Um, World War II was about the economic sanctions against Germany and the absolute humiliation they suffered at the end of World War I, which fed into an uber-nationalist society that was determined to climb back to the top of Europe. “Third Reich” was a reference to recreating the Roman Empire. It was economics and imperialism. Religion was just a convenient scapegoat.

  • 66. J.A.Beowulf.T  |  May 29, 2013 at 4:19 am

    Carm.org has extremely good explanations for perceived contradictions within the Bible.
    “The four corners of the world” is “the four extremities of the world” there are about 8 words in hebrew that translate as “corner”.
    Besides, we have four corners on our maps, and the major landmasses can be given a square border (imaginary one any way) so there are no problems there.
    “Who can see the mountains under the seas, who can travel the valleys of the oceans” (God’s address to Job). Only a century or two ago scientists discovered the ocean was not bowl shaped and smooth, and yet the bible (in the incomplete form of the documents back then, of course) said this 3000 years ago.

  • 67. cag  |  June 5, 2013 at 1:05 am

    J.A.Beowulf.T, please give us a reference for your quoted words, especially the mountains under the sea part.

    Daniel 4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:

    Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

    Luke 4:5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

  • 68. David Dena Wiseman  |  July 31, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Ghengis Khan

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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