The other day I posted a new page under Atheism called 22 Ways Religion Promotes Crime and wanted to address a couple things that people have been saying about it. Admittedly, the article suffers from a little vagueness on a few points.
First, the terms ‘crime’ and ‘religion’ are loosely defined. For the purposes of this article I consider religion to be a set of religious-style supernatural beliefs, usually stemming directly or indirectly from a religion taught to the person as a child. This doesn’t necessarily involve actually going to church and ‘practicing’ a particular publicly recognized religion. In this case, I’m attacking belief in the supernatural, not the act of going to church or loving God. Some might argue that the statistics at the top of the article are not valid because they don’t represent the percentage of criminals who are actually practicing religion. I don’t believe the practicing of the religion is really the problem. It’s the actual core supernatural beliefs that cause issues, which people learn as children. Many people practice their religion but don’t truly believe, and others truly believe but don’t really practice. In many ways I think the believers who don’t practice are the ones who are the most dangerous because they don’t have that church support group. What’s important are the values and decision-making structure that’s placed on people as children and how easily those concepts can be warped into something that promotes crime and violence. Even people who never went to church and were raised by atheists (such as myself) can be deeply influenced by religion. Too often people forget this when defending religion. I remember I came up with most of the concepts in that article when I was a kid, between the ages of about six and twelve as I was trying to decide if I wanted to be a believer and was exploring what thoughts of God, heaven and hell were doing in my mind. I believe that I have been personally influenced by all 22 points that I listed, though I will admit, some of them were pretty subtle.
Also, the term ‘crime’ is not clearly defined. For this article, I’m saying that a crime is anything that 98% of the world’s population would agree is morally wrong, such as rape, murder, mugging, or burglary. I know this kind of distorts the prison statistics at the top because some of the people in prison are in there for things that are arguably not crimes, like marijuana distribution or even software piracy, both of which are things I think atheists might actually be more likely of doing over theists. However, the prisons are so overwhelmingly filled with people of a religious background that it doesn’t matter how much marijuana crimes throw off the figures. Even if every atheist in prison were a violent murderer, they would still be hopelessly outnumbered by God-believing murderers.
Finally, a couple people have mentioned that many of my points are ‘weak’. To this I must completely agree. However, I prefer to use the term ‘subtle’. I’m not trying to say that there’s a direct and absolute cause and affect relationship between religion and crime, or that these points can instantly turn someone into a criminal. I’m simply theorizing that these points have a broad, very subtle effect, that ever-so-slightly increases the chances of a person with religious training becoming a criminal. However, that very small chance, when spread over the entire population, does a great deal of damage.
One last point I’d like to slip in somehow is the hypothetical situation of taking religious training and replacing it with violent video games. If 99% of prison inmates had played violent video games as children, wouldn’t we be justified, at the absolute least, in writing a few articles attacking the gaming industry?
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?
Response to 22 Ways
Even More Atheist-Theist Debate
More Atheist-Theist Debate
Jeffrey Dahmer Interview Segment
Crime is not Logical