SOURCE: Vision Media

November 29, 2007 03:00 ET

About Religion & Ethical Issues: Can We Blame Religion for Terror?

Vision Media Asks if Violence in Society & Culture Comes Only From Conflict Between Muslims, Jews & Christians

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - November 29, 2007) - The September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists made plain the fact that violence can now be quickly perpetrated on a previously unknown scale, and that no nation is immune. It has become an ethical issue that religion has become the favorite scapegoat for such atrocities. Has the prevailing concept of religion in our society and culture become that of the Crusades, of extremism and terror?

Authors such as Sam Harris ("Letter to a Christian Nation") imply that the world would be free of dogmatism if religions of all kinds were eradicated. But is religion the real culprit behind violence? And is religion the only dogma capable of inspiring lunatics? Such a stance is hard to justify, especially since the Finnish school shooting only weeks ago, where seven high school students and their principal were killed "in the name" of social Darwinism and natural selection.

Though it has been a potential threat throughout history, terrorism has now become one of the twenty-first century's most fearsome scourges. Vision writer Donald Winchester examines these questions in his latest article, "Terror: Can We Blame Religion?"

"The evidence seems to be stacked against religion;" says Winchester, "It's said that secularism offers all the explanations religion once did, without any of the unreasonable violence and hatred." But is it really religion itself that presents the problem? Have equal atrocities not been perpetrated by agnostics or even atheists?

Indeed, Winchester points out, "avid followers and enemies of religion alike have acted throughout history in similarly destructive ways. For every Spanish Inquisition -- two and a half centuries of appalling ethnic cleansing -- there's a Sir Francis Galton, the half cousin and follower of Charles Darwin who recommended weeding out the weakest of society through eugenics. It's easy to see the influence Sir Francis's theory had on confessed admirer Adolf Hitler."

Clearly, neither atheism nor religion is responsible for all evil in society and culture. Then again, neither dogma has proven itself wholly blameless. In fact the failing is one of human nature, not of religion. Insofar as humans find themselves able to follow the peaceful teachings they claim to believe, society reaps the benefits. It is when they fail to do so that their all-too-human competitive nature takes over and society suffers.

According to Winchester, the real ethical issue is not that religion fails humans. It is that humans fail religion and fall prey to the selfish desire to impose their own will -- whatever that may be -- on others.

Contact Information

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    Vision Media Productions
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