Atheism and Evil in the Name of God
by Mikel Del Rosario
Evil in the Name of God
I recently saw an animated short created by an atheist on YouTube. In this video, a bunch of theists were trying to tell an atheist about God. But then the theists began to threaten each other with weapons and argue over whose religion was right! Not surprisingly, the atheist character came out as the level-headed one as he tried to calm everyone down and stop the violence. Although this cartoon caricatured religious people, it did reveal a bit about how some skeptics see religiously-motivated violence and why they so quickly reject a belief in God.
Today, it seems like a lot of the news stories we see tend to include reports of violence that are somehow linked to religion. So it’s no surprise that one of the objections skeptics raise is the evil and suffering that happens because of violent crimes motivated by religion.
In this post, I’ll share a couple of ways to navigate conversations with people who raise this kind of a challenge, but tend to lump Christianity in with every other world religion.
How can we respond when people say that the evils done in the name of God are the reason they say God isn’t real? Can there be a way forward that gets us into open conversations about evil, morality and the existence of God?
Christianity and World Religions
Maybe you’ve encountered an atheist friend or co-worker who says that militants working with ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other groups have very religious motivations for violating human rights. But this seems to presents a false dichotomy which downplays the uniqueness of Christianity.
Don’t go there. Don’t let the conversation be framed as an “atheists vs. theists” kind of thing. Don’t get stuck trying to defend religion in general. As you have the God conversation, it’s important to explain that Christianity isn’t just one of many traditions out there.
While religion itself isn’t evil, false beliefs about God and morality can have devastating consequences. One religious person’s belief that “it’s good to be a terrorist” is way different than another religious person’s belief that “it’s good to be a pacifist.” Do these beliefs produce the same kinds of people?
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