Thursday, 20 March 2014

Would The World Be Better Without Religion?

Would the world be a better place without religion?  The well-known atheist Sam Harris thinks so; in his book The End of Faith he writes that religion is “the most prolific source of violence in our history.”  But is he correct? 

Whilst it is undeniable that religion has and sadly continues to be used to justify terrible acts, it is wrong to assert that religion has been the primary cause of war and violence. 

Philip and Axelrod’s Encyclopedia of Wars chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged in the course of human history.  Of these wars, the authors categorise only 123 (or 6.98%) as being religious in nature.   
It is non-religious motivations that bear the blame for nearly all of humankind’s wars.  Furthermore religion has not played any motivating role in the major wars that have led to the greatest loss of life.  Lives lost during religious conflict pale in comparison to those experienced during the regimes who wanted nothing to do with the idea of God, such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, etc. 
If religion can’t be blamed for most wars and violence, then what is the primary cause? The same thing that triggers all crime, cruelty, loss of life, and other such things. Jesus provides the answer very clearly: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21–23)
In the end, the evidence shows that the #1 cause of wars and violence in the world is not religion, but human pride and sin of which we are all guilty.  
If we are the problem we can also be the solution, as the Bible instructs ‘Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.’ (Psalm 34:14)  John F Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Through small acts of kindness and love, we can be the ones who help transform the world.  

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is doubt, faith; 
where there is despair, hope; 
where there is darkness, light; 
where there is sadness, joy.  

O Divine Master, 
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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