"Religion is a lovely garden, maybe of the mind, maybe anchored to actual
historical events."The whole problem with religion is its anchor
to actual historical events.A partial list would include:Mountain
Meadows massacreThe InquisitionSalem Witch huntsAztec
sacrificesIslamic jihadsI can't think of any atrocities
committed as a result of people being fired-up by Robert Frost's poems. So
calling religion a song or dance or poem seems beyond absurd to me.
1aggie,Doubtless religion has its low points. But political
extremism has it beat hands down (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler just to name a
few).Can you think of nothing good that has come of religion? Has
it inspired no good practices, laws, or customs? Has it provided no services to
the poor or downtrodden? Has it brought to those in difficult circumstances no
comfort? Have its principles found no greater resonance in any society?I do not ask you to embrace a particular religion. Simply to see that
there have been good influences.
Twin Lights,I did not say that religion is all bad (nice straw man).
I also did not say it is the most destructive thing ever (i.e, worse than evil
dictators like Stalin and Hitler), so your response is as misguided as the
writer comparing religion to poetry. That said, I believe you have
evil dictators confused with political extremists. Political extremists, by
themselves, are no more harmful than religious extremists. But when an
extremely evil person gains control of a government (as was the case in all of
your examples) then great harm can ensue; even more harm than can be caused by
an evil or ignorant religious leader. However, on the other side of the coin,
good governments get a lot more accomplished than good religions do. How many
services do religions provide to the poor or downtrodden versus good
governments? How many schools, roads, hospitals, and jobs are provided by
religions versus good government? Of course comparing religion to government
(good or harmful) is almost as silly as comparing religion to poetry.
Nicely written, Mr. Johnston. Reminiscent of the famous and popular New York
Times Editorial of Sept. 21, 1897:"Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a
Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist...
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! ...Nobody
sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus....Did you
ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof
that they are not there."Glad to know Mr. Johnston and I share
these sentiments. Religion, gods, Santa and Fairies now are joined by toads to
Twin Lights,I did not claim that religion is the worst thing ever,
so your argument is a bit of a strawman. However, pointing out that there is
something worse than the thing you are trying to defend is a fairly poor defense
of that thing (and pretty much concedes that the thing you are trying it defend
is bad). For example, if the author were to compare the Chevy
Corvair to a great painting and I were to point out that no painting has killed
anybody, you could argue that many owners were happy with their Corvairs, they
were very useful in getting from point A to point B cheaply, and the Ford Pinto
(with its tendency to combust when hit from behind) was way more dangerous.
Your argument would not improve my view of Corvairs one bit and a reasonable
person with a grasp of their history would still stay away from Corvairs.
1aggie -- I can, however, think of atrocities committed by people fired up by
Aggie, over the past century, ideologies that proposed to serve as substitutes
for religion have objectively and indisputably killed far fewer people than
religion. "Imagine there's no religion." Stalin did.
And Lenin and Mao and Pol Pot and Hitler (when he wasn't trying to fool
people). It's easy if you try. And easy for an honest man to see the
1aggieNo you did not say religion was all bad. And no, you did not
say that it is the most destructive thing ever. But your comments indicated it
was pretty lousy.Evil dictators are born of the political extremes.
No argument that good govt. can do good things.In many cases, it was
religion that pushed govt. to do some of those good things in the first place.
When govt. was doing nothing in these areas in generations past, it was religion
that provided many of the schools and hospitals.