I received a few comments the other day on my page 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime and I’d like to respond to some of this person’s points. I added the numbers to his paragraphs to more easily reference them in my response.
1) Do you know how cliche this is?
2) Your use of statistics is ridiculous. If a law is controlled by antagonists of religion then many practitioners of religion will be in prison and many who are opposed to religion (atheists) will be free.
3) Your first point shows your argument is weak by the fact that you do not accurately represent your opponent’s viewpoint. It is a straw man you are attacking, not an actual practice. Therefore, your point is empty.
4) The second point shows similar weaknesses in your argument, though you are starting to espouse your worldview at this point. We see that you are a materialist, which in itself is untenable. You must turn off your compassion switch for others to redefine such abstractions and invisibles as Love in materialist terms of chemicals and neurons firing.
5) The third point is a very good point, indeed! There are many, not only religious adherents, who believe this. Atheists have been just as guilty. Consider the Socialist Communist movements that led up to Soviet Communism. Lenin had the same feelings about a grand scheme, related to the flow of inevitable events of the universe. In his case, time proved him right, though temporarily so.
6) In point number four you return to that weakness again. You obviously have not stepped inside a church and listened to your opponent since about the 1960′s have you?
7) Point 5 is more futility based on your straw man. It also reveals your narrow definition of logic. To have prioritized dependencies on the origins of morally causal relationships does not exclude logic, but deepens it to a realistic model of the world. So having a view of a reward and a punishment from a higher being than us actually emulates the society we have built anyway. The metaphorical modeling, whether religion models our society or society models our religion, it works. What doesn’t work is the pressure put on a majority of people when the system they live in tries to ignore their practices as a legitimate expression of life. It always erupts into social upheaval.
8 ) I doubt you will approve my comment and it is probably too long to post. So this is likely a waste of time. Likewise, my experience with atheists and antagonists of religion is that they are too narrow minded to allow opposing views. It is fear that drives them to do it.
9) What do you think?
And my response:
1) I think calling this page cliche is more of an attempt to discourage people from talking about these issues than it is a real rebuttal. Being cliche isn’t relevant to whether or not these theories are true. The image of a beer drinking football fan is cliche too, but that doesn’t mean football fans don’t drink beer.
For me, however, this isn’t cliche. It’s not like I copied my theories from anywhere. I wrote this page long before I had ever read any atheist blogs, articles or books.
I was in my early twenties before I realized these statistics existed. I had always assumed prisons were full of mostly atheists, since I had always been told that religion makes you a better person. It never occurred to me that people would be so irresponsible as to claim something prevents crime without statistical or at the very least, anecdotal evidence.
2) So basically you’re saying that our laws in America are almost entirely controlled by atheists–despite the fact that the majority of the population is Christian–and that we atheists are so biased and hateful toward theists that we can somehow get away with discriminating against them to absurd levels? What about all the judges and police who are Christians? They’re incriminating the same ratios of people. You’re not going to convince me of anything by throwing out a massive, unconfirmed conspiracy theory.
3) So if I understand you, you’re saying that religions don’t teach the idea that hell is where ‘evil’ people or people of the wrong religion go to suffer? People talk about hell all the time. I see signs in front of churches threatening it. I’ve had friends tell me I was going to burn there because of my beliefs. It sounds like your church might not teach this kind of thing, as I know many do not, and I’m glad. I respect that. I’m not attacking those churches in that particular point. I’m not claiming these 22 points apply in an absolute manner to all religions, but you can’t deny that many churches do teach this concept of hell and the religious community as a whole doesn’t do much to try to convince them to stop.
4) Now, with this, I think you took issue with the fact that I mentioned neurons firing in the brain. Being aware that emotions exist as chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain does absolutely nothing to dampen those emotions. If anything it heightens human emotions and the magic of our existence because you realize it’s all born out of millions of years of the beautiful symphony that is evolution, and that it’s so fragile that we can’t afford to take it for granted. I have too much passion and compassion to be willing to dumb down this massive, mind-bogglingly amazing system of our lives, to something as simple as, “This awesome guy up in heaven made it.”
5) I don’t see how a real atheist could get caught up in any kind of great plan, unless it was something admittedly man made like a government plan. Anything “related to the flow of inevitable events of the universe” is not an atheistic belief. Thats one of the things we specifically don’t believe in is “inevitable events of the universe”, at least when it comes to human issues. It’s true that a few atheists have gotten involved in some nasty government related things, but the atheism was not a motivating factor. Just because a few people have done something wrong doesn’t excuse churches from promoting that same wrongdoing, particularly when they are claiming that they prevent said wrongdoing.
6) Again, I’m not talking about all churches here. Many don’t promote the concept of hell, and again, I respect that and this point is not directed at them. However, it’s very common to hear from people of many different religions that hell is necessary for a moral society.
7) So I’m not sure if I follow what you’re saying in this one. In paragraph 3 and 6 of your comments, you seem to be saying that I’m ignorant for thinking that religions teach that hell is a place of punishment for bad people. Then here in #7 you refer to that ignorance again, but then you tell me that a punishment in the afterlife works very well to keep society in order. You’re promoting the very thing you claim religions do not promote… unless I completely misunderstood what you were saying in 3 and 6.
So you’re saying here that the “metaphorical modeling” of heaven and hell, “works”. Unfortunately, I think the statistics at the top of the page kind of fly in the face of that statement. Admittedly, those statistics could be biased, confused, or otherwise incorrect, but you’ve offered no examples, statistics, or even anecdotal evidence to support your assertion that a religious system works. All you seem to be going on is the fact that you believe it intensely and that many others do too. Show me some real-world evidence. The proof is in the pudding.
Then your final comment in this paragraph also caught me: “…the system they live in tries to ignore their practices as a legitimate expression of life…” This reminds me very much of all the times I’ve seen atheists called abominations and the times I’ve been told I would burn in hell for what I believe.
8 ) Of course I approved your post, and thankfully the hamsters on the wheels powering the GoDaddy servers were not too tired that day and the script did not crash when you tried to post. And no, this was not a waste of time. I assure you that I’m very flattered you took so much time and effort in your response, and I do appreciate it.
I’ll also say that it’s not fear that drives me to do all this, but compassion for all the people I’ve known, including myself, who were hurt or even killed by religion. If I was afraid of something, I’d keep my mouth shut and just go with the flow.
9) I think you’re a very intelligent person and I’ve enjoyed this debate session (perhaps another will be coming tomorrow regarding another of your comments.) I think you could greatly benefit from exploring skepticism or agnosticism, perhaps even atheism, on a personal level. Get to know what it actually feels like to be one of us, in the same way that I took a couple years in my early twenties to vehemently believe in God and explore that part of me.
Here are a few more blog posts about my theory that religion promotes crime:
New study raises questions about religion as deterrent against criminal behaviour
Religion vs Methamphetamines
Masturbation, Homosexuality, and Christian Impostors
Atheists Don't Believe in Love?
Religious Criminals are Liars?
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical
About My Page, 22 Ways