Unlike in the time of Thomas Jefferson, when “Creator”, “religion” and “church” represented three distinct ideas, “religion” today is a very loaded term. It is entirely inaccurate, as Bill Maher and other atheists often do, to lump belief in God, organized religion and the evil that adherents of a particular religion engage in, together under a common term and then, to place the blame there for humanity’s problems.
For example, Jesus is very clearly not the founder of Christianity or anything remotely like it, nor is it any more fair to blame Jesus for what people do in his name, than it is to blame Copernicus and Isaac Newton for Hiroshima. The same applies in varying degrees to Buddha, Confucius, Zarathustra and certain other so-called “founders” of various religions. There is no greater critic of fundamentalist religion or religious hypocrisy in history than Jesus, nor is there any greater advocate for personal, local and global peace.
Like religion, science and education are historically intimately entwined with war and human oppression on a massive scale, tracing back from ever more effective designs for ancient war chariots, DaVinci’s war-machine inventions and, on up through the Manhattan Project, the modern-day military industrial complex and ever worse weapons of mass destruction. The American, French, Russian and several other revolutions were fomented by so-called “enlightened” intellectuals.
It is correct to say religion is a tool often used to foment war and human oppression and, it’s just as fair to point out science and education are often used for the same purpose. However, it is not accurate to pretend either one is a root “cause” of human aggression. Believers in God and scientists both often leave a positive legacy and, many of history’s most revered individuals demonstrated a profound personal belief in God. Jesus correctly singled out religious hypocrisy, rather than belief in God, as having a significant negative societal impact.
Since the invention of printing, which helped break the societal stranglehold of organized religion, justification for war has more and more been shifted away from religious to other excuses. In a so-called “post-Enlightenment Age”, wars are now often fought in the name of democracy, freedom, communism, socialism, anarchism and even human rights. Those who blame belief in God for war, rather than placing the blame for war where it squarely belongs, on individual human beings making their own poor choices, are plainly liars.
According to Jesus and some New Testament authors and, according to ALL known scientific and historical evidence, the root cause of humanity’s problems is sin, causing individual human frustration, greed and aggression, resulting in negative choices being made by individual human beings. Families, tribes, cities, states, nations, armies, religions, political parties, corporations, unions, educational institutions, professional scientists and all other “groupings” of human beings, are made up of individual people, each making their own individual choices.
It would be refreshing if modern educators and people like Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens could grow up just a little and, begin placing the blame for humanity’s problems where it belongs, squarely on our own self-contradicting shoulders. Perhaps then, a modern species in grave peril of losing it’s own commonly shared global habitat, could begin to have a little more unbiased and accurate understanding of where Jesus and the authors of the Bible are actually coming from.
Were the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions, WWI, WWII, Vietnam and Iraq, among hundreds of other wars from the 20th Century forward, caused more by belief in God, organized religion, intellectual idealism, nationalism or just plain old common human greed, as ALL wars can invariably be traced back to? Does belief in God really cause war? You decide.
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