The problem: New atheists claim that religion is the main reason for violence, and creating a culturally submissive society.
First let me note, that I am a christian, who does not favor the new atheist movement. I am already aware of this, it is not a bias.
A recurring argument in recent best-selling books (i.e. Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins) in defense of atheism is that Christianity is directly responsible for causing its followers to become violent and using their faith as a justification.
As Steven Pinker writes,
“the Judeo-Christian God once commanded his people to massacre Midianites, stone prostitutes, execute homosexuals, slay heretics and infidels, throw Protestants out of windows, withhold medicine from dying children, and crash airplanes into skyscrapers.”
As well as other prolific atheist such as Richard Dawkins, a very opinionated critic of Christian theism, points out:
“…The human psyche has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations. And the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. Abrahamic religion gives strong sanction to both. Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities in the world today.”
The clarification: Now this new Atheistic movement is not arguing that violence results when Christians engage in war because the right conditions are in place for a defensive strategy to justify political ends, but that the teachings of monotheism, or otherwise, are responsible for steering what are otherwise well-meaning persons down the path of violence.
Why I’m not creating a straw man here.
Steven Weinberg, another vociferous atheist, “Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things—that takes religion.”
Evangelization: Is it the problem?
Let’s first address that the recent events in enculturation, and various critiques have made it easy for Christians to lose their confidence when explaining their faith.
Christian evangelism has been proceeded by horrible events.
Regina Schwartz in her words
“Monotheism has inevitably brought a violent legacy to the west”
Evangelization and Atheisism: What needs to be kept in mind.
Undoubtedly many Christians have done horrible thing.
Critics must demonstrate that a healthy relationship with faith is responsible for causing violence, not just showing a mere corelation.
Evangenlization: Defense I
- The historical amount of good nature of christian activity cannot be denied.
Atheist Michael Shermer in his own words
“for every one of these grand tragedies there are ten thousand acts of personal kindness and social good that go unreported…Religion, like all social institutions of such historical depth and cultural impact, cannot be reduced to an unambiguous evil.”
- In other words it’s unfair to give credit to an idea ,based on exceptions not rules, to new atheist simply attributing that the Christian faith causes violence
Evangenlization: Defense II
These horrific events are open to a mix of historical interpretations. Aside from the problem of identifying who is spiritually a christian and who is not, is it very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of warfare due to the multifaceted nature of warfare. War is usually explained in terms of social, politcal, and economic factors, not religious ones.
Evangenlization: Defense III (Apologetics)
Without God, what is Good? Without an overarching moral superiority is their anyone who actually does wrong? It would be like grading a paper without a grading scale.
Continuing with this idea: Who is right and who is wrong.
Mother Theresa was thought to be someone who did a lot of good, but others say she was having a poor effect on India’s political system. the same people thought her resources could have been used for other “more important” issues.
New Atheism: Why just religion?
“The atheistic argument from history is no more effective than responding that atheism has been directly responsible for causing violence. Indeed, some atheists, such as Lenin, demanded that protracted forms of violence needed be to be used in the name of atheist philosophies to eliminate all religions off the face of the earth. The same could be said about politics. In Latin America, millions of people supposedly “disappeared” in the words of extreme rightwing politicians. In Cambodia, Pol Pot was responsible for killing millions of innocent persons in the name of socialism. But no political atheist would argue that politics is intrinsically evil and ought to be done away with. The same could be said about science. No scientifically informed atheist would claim that science is intrinsically evil just because a few scientists were responsible for creating weapons of mass destruction and other torture tactics—like napalm.Through it all, the lesson to be learned is that every single human institution, including Christianity, can be utilized for evil ends when it is abused. As theologian Alister McGrath has observed,
“All ideals—divine, transcendent, human or invented—are capable of being abused. That’s just the way human nature is. And knowing this, we need to work out what to do about it rather than lashing out uncritically at religion.””
Evangenlization: Defense IV
Many of traditional stereotypes of about christian causes violence are unjustifiable: the amount of people killed during the Spanish inquisition, Salem, and the relationship of slaves and Christianity was wrong. Looking at the last example historians now know that
- The Christian faith originated in a time and place
- And later developed in a world that was already teeming with slavery. Indeed, the entire history of humanity is a history of slavery
- Certain christian groups opposed to slavery (i.e St. Justin Martyr and St. Patrick)
Historian Paul Johnson writes
- “Christianity was the only organized religion in the world that declared the diminution, if not the final elimination, of slavery to be meritorious.”