Is it really accurate, as some intellectuals claim today, to blame belief in God as the cause of war and other human oppression? Is this any more correct than blaming science and education? Isn’t it more honest to instead, blame people who mis-use technology and belief in God for their own nefarious purposes?
Obviously, someone can aim the fickle finger of fate at war waged in the name of religion. But, even before the invention of the wheel leading to ever-improved knife, spear, bow and chariot design, human science and education has been intricately entwined with waging war. Military applications have long been interlaced with government-funded science, education and modern space exploration.
Consider the Manhattan Project, nuclear missiles and space-ray weapons. And, the rise of oppressive imperialism alongside industrial age invention; the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions; WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Incalculable human oppression has been aided by science and technology and, waged in the name of nationalism, democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchism and other intellectual idealism and often, just plain old fashioned human greed and lust for gold.
Arguably because of their belief in God, billions of people have helped the sick, poor and oppressed masses throughout the ages. Consider names like Isaiah, Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and, celebrities like Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis and Martin Sheen. Consider the Union Rescue Mission and LA Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Throughout the European “dark” and Middle Ages, many individuals, including some popes, established public hospitals, housing and bread lines.
Consider modern electricity, medicine, surgery, global travel, computer technology and other marvels of a 21st Century age of science and wonder. And to be fair, weigh this in the historical balances against WMDs, global mass pollution, depletion of fisheries, rain and other forests, fresh water pollution, mountains of garbage and cesspools of toxic waste left in the wake of the “Age of Enlightenment”.
Why is oppression waged in the name of Christianity, Islam and other religions any worse than that waged in the name of manifest destiny, communism and fascism? Is human oppression a result of sincere belief in God? Or, is it rather, a result of human beings wrongly using the sincere beliefs of others for their own devious purposes?
Isn’t it more likely that we all contribute to the negative downside of human history, whenever we fail to treat other people as we ourselves, wish to be treated? Isn’t it more accurate, as Jesus pointed out and as Freud, Jung and modern behavioral science agree, to blame the “seething mass” of irrationality and frustration buried deep within individual human beings, as being the real cause of our problems?
If we are going to rationally and fairly blame something as being the “cause” of our problems, maybe it’s wise to first take a good look in the mirror. Does belief in God cause human oppression? You decide.
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