Sunday, September 22, 2013

Religious Violence as a Zero-sum Game

Derek Flood's recent HuffPo piece, "Does Religion Promote Violence", is actually fairly well written. He does not view the question in the title as if it is really a yes or no answer. Unfortunately it is equally clear that many of his otherwise valid insights are tainted by a variety of myths, assumptions, and false premises. He seems to think that most critics, especially non-believers, of religion that write/talk about religious violence see it in such a simplistic way.

I have come across very few atheists who treat this legitimate criticism as a zero-sum game. No critics I'm aware of insist that Religion automatically or directly leads to violence. That is not the criticism. The problem with religion in regard to violence is that it is so amorphous and subjective that it easily loans itself to justifying all manner of horrendous behavior and faulty thinking. The question should really be treated as a set of inter-related questions. It should be possible to inquire into the specific circumstances and interpretations that have led to violence without being accused of bigotry or narrow mindedness. 

It would also be helpful if the media didn't constantly misrepresent and distort the criticism atheist have actually made. The truth is that religion has led to violence, That does not mean either that Religion automatically leads to violence or that atheist are claiming that it does. 

Despite some of these bogus implications Flood's piece is worth reading since he does bring up a number of legitimate questions and concerns.

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