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September 18, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Does religion cause violence? Is Christianity to blame for war?

I find the premise that “religion” led to wars a poor premise to base lack of faith on. Its a blatant over generalization (aka logical fallacy). And it could at least be backed by comparative statistical data to be a real argument. This really is a criticism of
1. institutions and bureuracracy
2. the human lust for power/greed
3. ideology (every ideology on the planet has been abused)

First, no one is a member of all religions–but rather of one. Second, “members” of a group who directly contravene its premises can hardly be said to be “members.” No one who takes the writings of Jesus seriously can consistently say he was for violence against innocents. In fact, Christians rightly hold these people up as what not to do. (lets exclude Bush II–because that was rationalization based on oil, WMDs, terrorism, democracy, etc..and there were people of multiple faith traditions who took issue, Christians, Muslims, and Jews) Third, atheist governments aren’t exactly innocent in this regard. You check out Rummel for statistical data (Death By Government or Power Kills).

The very premises of atheism leaves no standard and the ideology include people who don’t believe in the need for ethics and morality–which is the basis for normative values including justice, fairness, and accountability. Contrarily, even moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia admits humans have 5 buckets for ethics which help us make decisions (see below).

By its nature, faith is about relationship and skepticism and reason aren’t (fully) equipped to deal with the supernatural or spiritual…or even purpose and morality. You can’t test those things in the lab. And even if you could–and they suggest things in spiritual realms–the very premises of materialism serve to create blinders–which cover over the non-material realities of life.

Jonathan Haidts moral foundationalism:

1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulate the theory in 2010 based on new data, we are likely to include several forms of fairness, and to emphasize proportionality, which is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundation underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

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