Mr. Peterson, it seems that you set out to vindicate religion from any evil
doing. What you actually accomplished is this one liner "Like many things,
religion can play a positive or a negative role."It's true
that many things can be positive or negative. Cake for instance, or secularism,
or mormonism, or bird watching. In my mind this is another example
of how religion is actually a contrivance of man. If religion is divinely
inspired why does it only play a positive or negative role...like many things?
Religion isn't responsible for all the worlds ills, in fact it has done
substantial good. However it is also responsible for a lot of bad. Especially
where and when it was allowed to have more power than it does here and now. It
claims to be representative of a loving God, in too many instances it
hasn't behaved this way.
Unweildy toaster: Regarding, "If religion is divinely inspired why does it
only play a positive or negative role...like many things?" Because Jesus
Christ believed in choice, something that can't be found in the
philosophies of men as embodied in the current struggle to limit government,
which is driven by compulsion, not choice!
Like the Northern Ireland conflict, religion is often simply a mask for or a
marker of a whole host of other, non-religious issues that drive the real
If we were to return to the peaceful and nonconfrontational state of the
cavemen, we'd have to get rid of politics, philosophy, scientific processes
and all forms of educated thought. WE'd have to live like...cavemen.
My personal experience with religion has had its unpleasant episodes but for the
most part has been positive. It provides a community joined in trying to
understand what life is about and what is the right and ethical thing to do.
Religion often provides an inner reserve of strength to see us through the tough
times of bereavement and despair.But religion has its dark side as
well, as we all know. We live in a world where people sometimes kill other
people in the name of religion. It can make people closed-minded and foster
feelings of exclusiveness and group superiority. Like anything else, religion
doesn’t cause all the world’s problems so much as it mirrors them.
"And surely it requires little imagination to think of other things besides
religion that lead to war. (Pride, greed and lust come to mind.)"Some speculate that was Joseph Smith's reason for the Book of Mormon and
building the church. Power, money, and lust (women). He certainly received it
despite what outsiders saw.
Mankind could not and would not invent the commandments on its own; the
commandments came from above. What man would suggest fasting or keeping sabbath
day holy or loving one's enemies or turning the other cheek, or giving a
generous fast offering, if he wasn't commanded to do so? Religion and
sacred books could not have originated from man.
It is not so much about Religion that should be blamed for particular
"evils" and human tragedies. Part of our humanity is that we tend to
blame a particular movement because of the actions of particular individuals
within that movement. This is not to say that some movements do deserve to be
called out. However, in the case of religion, it is individuals that may hold to
a particular belief system and then act out in nefarious actions. It is time
that people stop using religion as the end-all-be-all scapegoat and actually
condemn the actions of people, not what they claim to believe in and adhere to.
I mean, if religion is responsible for all the evils in the world, then atheism
is just as responsible for all human tragedies because of individual atheists.
Country A wants country B's resources, or simply its space. It invokes God
to justify its actions and to motivate its citizens. This isn't a war
motivated by religion. Religion was just the innocent passerby who was grabbed
and forced into the town hall meeting and used as justification for doing
something they wanted to do to begin with. Suppose we outlaw
Religion tomorrow (much the same way Communism did only to regret later). Does
anyone here want me to rely on the goodwill of Man for charity, hospitals, etc?
Man is basically good? All wars will cease? History shows that Man is a
selfless, caring creature who, without the evil influence of religion, would
live in peace with everyone? Please. Religion isn't the be-all
end-all answer to everything; nor the cause of misery the world over.
LValfre,"....Some speculate that was Joseph Smith's reason
for the Book of Mormon and building the church. Power, money, and
lust...."____________________A few years after publication
of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith made the startling confession that he was
warned by Moroni that “Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the
indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the
purpose of getting rich. “That angel not only knew about
Joseph’s poverty but had heard about his failed efforts as a money digger.
Of course, Joseph could have made it all up to make a more credible story if he
was really that unscrupulously cynical. Or maybe an endeavor that began as a get
rich quick scheme brought out something better in him. The creative process
doesn’t always follow a predetermined course.I’m just
speculating, as you are. But to millions of believers, Joseph really did
translate an ancient record by the gift and power of God.
Unwieldy Toaster, how did you manage to read Peterson's column and still
come up with the idea that he "set out to vindicate religion from any evil
doing"? He obviously set out to do nothing of the kind. In fact, he
actually says that ""Like many things, religion can play a positive or a
negative role."Incredibly, you quote that sentence, and then you
suggest that, despite his efforts to argue for a completely different
conclusion, that's all he "actually accomplished."You
seem to have arrived at your view of Peterson's article without paying any
serious attention to what it really says.
What is good about religion is not unique to religion, and what is unique to
religion is not good.You can provide great humanitarian service in a
multitude of ways without religion, but if you're going to kill, oppress or
persecute people because they don't believe in the same system of magic
that you do... that requires religion.Religion by its very nature
seeks to terminate rational, evidece-based inquiry of its foundational beliefs
and its actions. Doubt me? Try opening a conversation on the real-world
evidence pertaining to church history, fincances, prophecy, or
"miracles." Religion demands that it be exempt from critical
examination, it makes willful ignorance into a virtue, and it does it
proudly.No thanks, that's not for me.
I would be more than happy to stop blaming all the ills of the world on religion
if the religious would kindly stop claiming that there is no good in anything
other than religion.
Kalindra,I leave it to Pres. Hinckley: "I see so many good
people everywhere—and there’s so much of good in them. And the world
is good. Wonderful things are happening in this world. This is the greatest age
in the history of the earth."Blue,Please. The most
faithful LDS I know are quite rational and are NOT willfully ignorant. Many are
folks who employ critical examination daily in their professional lives.
Whether you find that their answers are sufficient for you is one thing. But
they clearly find them sufficient for themselves.Surely you know at
least one or two persons of faith who are worthy of your respect as being
insightful and thoughtful folks? I know many such people of faith both LDS and
Mr. Peterson always loyal to his religious agenda regardless of facts or
history, again proves the power of rationalization to promote a non-
To Red Corvette And religion should not be credited for morality either.? I was in NKP Thailand and LAOS in 1969-70. There were Christian
missionaries (Protestant)feeding the starving mountain tribesmen. I
heard of Catholic nuns sharing Christs’ love in orphanages near and in
combat zones. The Salvation army(evangelical Christians) feeding
the hungry and preaching the Gospel in Saigon. There were Paid
Military Chaplains (Christian and Jewish) praying and serving communion
in harms way. Some were killed and some received the Medal of Honor. Our medic was SDA who could have received a deferment. We had some
Buddhist Monks not disclose our position which may have saved lives. I was not a Christian then but I believed in God, I don’t recall any
I have been active in religion all my life. 99% of what I have observed
religion inspire people to do at the local level has been positive. Help your
neighbors, including food bank, yard clean up for widows, give money and
material things to the poor, and more. It encourages love and service to family.
It softens hard edges and encourages us to repent and forgive. It promotes
good choices.However, having said that, I think religion has been
used for evil historically and even currently with tremendous force and impact.
Terrorism is a word that was created to describe and define the behavior of
religious extremists. Religion is used as an excuse to mistreat women and deny
them education, privileges like driving and voting, and even forcing them to
completely hide themselves and never speak to men except their husbands. It has
been used as an excuse to sponsor genocide and conquer countries. Once people
start perceiving themselves as "righteous" or "chosen" or
"appointed to speak for God", they can justify doing just about
anything. So, from a believer, religion is a great force for good,
but it is also used as a great force for evil.
"We live in a world where people sometimes kill other people in the name of
religion."True enough. However, we do many in things in the
"name of (insert whatever you want here--religion, tolerance, equality,
fairness, etc)". That does not mean, by any stretch of the
imagination, that religion teaches killing--quite the opposite. Because man
perverts an idea does not mean that the idea was wrong. Hitler, Pol
Pot, Stalin, Tamerlane, Mao Tse-tung, Idi Amin, etc. The list is endless. These
men were the cause of the death of millions, and none were 'religious'
men. "Religion demands that it be exempt from critical
examination, it makes willful ignorance into a virtue, and it does it
proudly."Really? Where does any religious teaching make this
demand? Where does any religious teaching claim that ignorance is a virtue?
And--where does it teach any of this 'proudly'? Your shibboleth
sounds more like the definition of socialism to me.
At one time, "the Sun never set on the British Empire". The British
Crown essentially and literally dominated the world.And with the
power of the British Crown, which was explicitly and deliberately justified by
"The Divine Right of Kings", religion - and specifically Christianity -
was foisted upon the world.When British/Christian
Colonialism/Imperialism would "take over" an area of the world, it would
immediately start preaching its Christianity and segregating the believers from
the "others".These religio-political lines continue to exist
today, and one has only to look at the bloody, bloody revolutions of the past
300 years to see how that religious oppression, and the throwing off of it by
peoples who should have never been subjected to such illegitimate
"authority", accounts for almost all the bloodshed of the past three
centuries, with very few exceptions!So, I think we must conclude
either that Daniel Peterson is disingenuous, or horribly uneducated about
Mr. Peterson is correct that religion is not the sole cause of war, probably not
even the cause of most wars. But as a sanctioned system of dogma (that is taboo
to criticize), it is inherently divisive. And the fact is the most peaceful and
healthy countries in the world today are those that take religion the least
seriously. Those that take it the most serious contain large numbers of people
who literally believe it is morally justifiable to kill in “defense of the
faith.” I hope he’s right that religion turns out on
balance to be a greater force for good than evil, but given the state of the
world today, it is conceivable that religion will be the prime motivator in
fulfilling its own apocalyptic prophecies.
It is indeed unfortunate that religion seems to be getting a bum rap, and
Christianity seems to be on the top of the rap list. However, I believe that a
study of both Christian and secular history will reveal that over all,
Christianity has been an enormously powerful force for good in the world. Almost
all the major universities in the world were founded by Christian churches.
Missions all over the world have brought medical aid, food, housing, and water
to millions of needy. Major medical advances have been born from Christian
medical missionaries working with such dreaded diseases as leprosy and aids.
Indeed, almost all of modern civilization owes the backbone of its laws and
legal system to Christian ethics, morals, which in turn are found in the Bible.
It is true that some evil has been perpetrated using religion as a backdrop, but
that does not and cannot cancel the great good that religion, espspecially
Christianity, has done and continues to do around the world.
re: A Scientist 3:18 p.m. Oct. 25Its not just the British Empire.
Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century had a "convert or
die" mentality like no other & that includes what swept out of Arabia in
the 7th century.It could be argued that Organized Religion is the
Ultimate Long Con. Bottom line IMO... Org Rel is not a pro or con
but a push.
Kalindra:Off the top of my head I can't think of any religion
"claiming that there is no good in anything other than religion."
Religious people routinely express appreciation for the goods of family,
friends, charitable acts, kindness, natural beauty, inspiring music, justice,
and on and on and on. Can you be a bit more specific?Skeptic:Peterson seems to have been arguing that religious belief isn't the
sole or even primary cause of human evil. Do you really claim that the
"facts of history" prove this to be mere "rationalization" and a
"non-sustainable position." In other words, are you seriously prepared
to argue on the basis of the "facts of history" that religious belief IS
the primary and perhaps the sole cause of human evil? Really?
AGAIN, it does not have to be all or nothing. (why does everything have to be
black or white)Throughout history, Religion has certainly been the
driving force on many tragedies. And it has done much good throughout the
world.It is not inherently BAD or inherently GOOD.It is
a powerful force that can be used by some to control the masses and achieve
power and money.It can also be a vehicle to entice people to be better
world citizens.Some of each exist. The problem is recognizing which
is occurring at the time.
The amazing 35,000 year old cave paintings in France are a tiny example of a
progression along the arc of history of our species. Today's religions
would likely be quite different had the original purveyors been aware of their
age or that humans were living on earth so long ago. Many such works have been
lost forever.Religions have made claims without complete knowledge.
The Bible or the Qur'an certainly don't reflect our best understanding
of our past and so for some aren't the best blueprint for our future.
Whatever is true and good and just within our ethics and morals and spirit is
most certainly discoverable without ancient texts and should not be offensive to
religion which sprang forth from an ignorant past. Yet we can build upon the
knowledge they contain without the belief that they offer the only answers.
In my life, I've met many religious people and many non-religious people.
I've met many moral and ethical people, and many who are not so moral and
ethical. There doesn't seem to be much of a correlation between belief in
God and moral/ethical behavior, as far as I can see. There is a tendency for
religious people to *claim* to have higher moral or ethical standards, but I see
no evidence of this.All in all, I see no evidence that religion is
the source of morality or ethics.
An analogy I like to use with regards to religion is that it's a tool
intended to help people improve and become happier. Like any tool, it can be
used for good or for evil. When used for evil, it is not the tool's fault,
it is the fault of the wielder of the tool, as the tool cannot act on its own.
Based on my own personal experience, religion has played a HUGE role in my life,
helping me to become a happier, more positive, more loving and caring person, a
better husband and father. I can clearly see what I was like before accepting
and trying to live my religion and after. For someone without that experience,
one path is to automatically assume the worst and see only the bad in religion
and blame the tool rather than the wielder of the tool. To me, it is highly
illogical, unscientific, and ignorant to harbor such a negative and pessimistic
"A Scientist":I don't think you should be accusing
PETERSON of being disingenuous or historically ignorant if you're going to
claim that religious believers bear primary or even sole responsibility for the
massive death toll of the revolutions and wars of the past three hundred
years.The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Cambodian
"killing fields," Stalin's Gulag, Hitler's Holocaust, the
Armenian genocide, Vietnamese reeducations camps, ethnic cleaning in the Balkans
. . . Religious believers didn't play a central role in any of these.And you can't plausibly describe the Napoleonic wars, the American
Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, World War One, the Spanish Civil War, World
War Two, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, the Biafran Civil War, or the
Iran-Iraq War as primarily, let alone solely, motivated by religion.
The religious are the problem. The bully pulpit certainly enables the pulpit
bullies. I am a member of humanity. An individual. And I don't for a minute
enable someone to tell me they are superior because they claim to speak for god.
I demand proof. Not 'god says so' or it's in some holy text. You,
or god, has to prove it. God's not talking, and I don't believe you.
Verdad,Go back to History class.Start with something as
simple as "Religion and the Cold War", edited by Dianne Kirby, 2002.When you are done with that, let me know. There are libraries full of
excellent historical analysis and work that directly supports my assertion, and
contradicts yours and Peterson's.
I have read credible estimates that attribute almost a Billion deaths to
religion and religious wars, and less than a hundred million to
"secular" wars.But That debate will continue...After all is said and done, and the death tolls debated ad nauseum, you can
also boil it down to this indisputable FACT:In the official, holy
books, scriptures, and pronouncements of religion there are countless explicit
justifications for killing others.But NOWHERE in the official
pronouncements, documents, and "sacred texts" of ATHEISM can you find
even a SINGLE justification for killing others!Yes, that is because
atheism has NO OFFICIAL SACRED TEXTS, but that just proves the point! Nobody
kills "in the name of atheism" - people don't act motivated by
absence of belief... as if a person would kill another human being because the
killer DOES NOT believe in Leprechauns, or Sasquatch, or Nessy, or whatever.
Wow, "Scientist." You're clearly intending to stick with your
implied claim that Communist religious beliefs created the Gulag, that Hitler
invaded Poland for religious reasons, that the French Revolution was led by its
religious faith to set up the guillotine, that Mao and Stalin and Hitler and Pol
Pot were inspired by their religious beliefs to murder scores of millions of
people, that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated (and the First World
War launched) because of theology, that other countries like Britain and Germany
were then drawn into that conflict not because of treaty obligations but because
of religious zeal, and so on and so forth.And you offer in support
of this a single book that argues that religion was AMONG the variables during
the Cold War -- which, given the fact that the Cold War was a struggle between
an aggressively atheistic movement, on the one hand, and relatively religious
people, on the other, is undeniably obvious, and which, anyway, scarcely proves
that religion and religious people bear the sole blame for it.Your
credibility as a constant critic of Peterson's columns is taking a huge hit
It is important to separate true religious belief from cultural identification
or political justification from true religious belief.For example, I
do not consider it a fault of Islam that extremists, claiming that they
represent Islam, do evil things. That the Taliban is often represented by
ill-educated, disaffected young people (usually men) who are led by political
extremists who distort Islam for political purposes, does not mean that Islam is
at fault.The problem does not reside in the religion, but in the
manipulation of the religious/cultural feelings of the ill-educated and
ill-informed, for political purposes.If the illiterate of
Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example, were taught to read, taught to understand
the the Qu'ran in either Arabic or translation, and were allowed to develop
their own relationships with God according to their educated understanding of
the text, assuming sanity, they would be much less likely to do anything against
what their religious texts teach.All of the faults with religion
cited by critics above are a result of generally illiterate people's
manipulation by political opportunists. Very seldom is religion, faithfully
followed, a problem.
Blue wrote: "if you're going to kill, oppress or persecute people
because they don't believe in the same system of magic that you do... that
requires religion."No. Marxist-Leninist Communism embraces
atheism and the abolition of religion. Under this oppressive banner, Stalin
murdered and imprisoned millions of his own people.All without
religion.The primary purpose of war, terror or tyranny (at any
level) is lust for power and material goods. Religion, when it is used (and it
is not always used) is merely a cover. Some call the communist
belief system "secular religion." Blue may have meant that. But if so,
the logic of his entire argument crumbles under the weight of the implication
that HIS belief system (godless or not), is also: religion.Under his
mean-spirited rubric, any religious person is also "willfully ignorant"
sees the same as a "virtue," and does so "proudly."Blue is tarred by his own brush. Still we should hope for him.
He also says that this sort of behavior is not for him. It is not for any
person of good-will, religious or not. Perhaps we have common ground to build
The lack of religion causes evil. Greed, pride, lust, and hunger for power
masquerade as religion and confuse the weak minded.A science
magazine from England had an issue about religion. The agenda was to debunk
religion and promote atheism. Some of the articles quoted studies showing that
religious people were more charitable, lived longer, and were happier than
non-religious people. Doing away with religion, therefore, was as irrational as
any religion has ever been accused of being. And from the PEW Forum
about Mormons in America we learn that the more educated members are, the more
devout they are in their Mormon faith.Joseph Smith hungry for
wealth? In April, 1844, two months before he was murdered, he spoke to 20,000
people. If he had passed the plate and collected a dime from every person, he
could have fled Nauvoo with a small fortune. Early on Joseph
learned that vision stories weren’t popular, at least for him. If he had
promoted the Book of Mormon as fiction bearing Christian ideals and started a
mega-church, he could have been very wealthy.
Traditional religion indeed is much blamed for much evil. And, often and long it
has been the source of much evil. And not to justify the evil done in the name
of God, but it is important to point out how much evil has been done by
atheists. We often think of Hitler as a mass murderer of millions. And so he and
his regime were. But Lenin and Stalin probably killed 3 times as many of their
own people as Hitler did. And neither believed in God. Mao Zedong, is estimated
to have killed, via his policies, between 80 and 100 million or more of his own
people in China. And Mao's only "god" might have been himself.Supposed science, a secular religion to which many kowtow to, like the
Nazi "scientists" who performed horrific experiments on Jews and others
in Germany, itself sometimes has been a source of unspeakable evil and horror.
As D&C 1 points out, ALL have their own "god", that which they
trust, and "worship". And many of those don't believe in a God in
the sense of traditional religions. But their doctrine is no less dogmatic in
what it requires.
I would also like to comment on the assertion that morality and ethics exist
among atheists.Of course they do. This assertion is a red herring,
distracting people from the real issue, which must begin with this question:
Who has the right to define what is moral or ethical? Among religious
people, morality is defined by religious texts, religious leaders, or
religious/cultural traditions. Ethics are defined by groups through mutual
consent, so atheists, banding together, have the same rights or the same ability
to define what is ethical within the group.Among irreligious or atheistic
people (not including religious atheists like some Buddhists), all definitions
of morality are purely individual. It is this individuality of moral definition
that causes problems. Where atheists' "morality" coincides with
religious morality, there is no cultural problem, but where atheists insist on
individual definitions of morality, there can be nothing but a future of chaos,
anarchy, and/or societal collapse (witness Soviet Marxism).Religion, as
opposed to what Marx suggests, is not the "opiate of the masses," it is
the publicly agreed upon moral source for large cultures, and--true or not--it
is more essential than critics would have us believe.