In these secular times, religion regularly gets a bad rap. And anti-Christian bigotry especially accelerates, with most of the world’s ills, from burnt toast to global warming, somehow pinned on the Christian faith.
Of course Christianity has made its fair share of mistakes over the years, but according to the atheist militants, it can do no right. Indeed, the secular jihad takes no prisoners, finding all religious folk guilty of every conceivable villainy and vice.
The secularists are especially happy to lay the blame for the wars of the world on the shoulders of religion. They argue that if we just get rid of religion, most conflict would cease, and we could all live together in peace and harmony.
Historical fact, however, will not allow for such a distorted view of things. Writing in the November 21, 2006 Christian Science Monitor, Dinesh D’Souza argues that “Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history”.
He begins by citing a number of atheist authors, from Sam Harris to Richard Dawkins, all of whom take cheap potshots at religion, seeking to attribute mass murder to religious belief. “The problem with this critique,” says D’Souza, “is that it exaggerates the crimes attributed to religion, while ignoring the greater crimes of secular fanaticism. The best example of religious persecution in America is the Salem witch trials. How many people were killed in those trials? Thousands? Hundreds? Actually, fewer than 25. Yet the event still haunts the liberal imagination.”
He continues, “It is strange to witness the passion with which some secular figures rail against the misdeeds of the Crusaders and Inquisitors more than 500 years ago. The number sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition appears to be about 10,000. Some historians contend that an additional 100,000 died in jail due to malnutrition or illness. These figures are tragic, and of course population levels were much lower at the time. But even so, they are minuscule compared with the death tolls produced by the atheist despotisms of the 20th century. In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.”
Moreover, many of these so-called “religious wars” were not really about religion at all, but about territory and power claims. “Can the wars between England and France be called religious wars because the English were Protestants and the French were Catholics? Hardly. The same is true today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not, at its core, a religious one. It arises out of a dispute over self-determination and land. Hamas and the extreme orthodox parties in Israel may advance theological claims – ‘God gave us this land’ and so forth – but the conflict would remain essentially the same even without these religious motives. Ethnic rivalry, not religion, is the source of the tension in Northern Ireland and the Balkans.”
Yet the secularists not only blame religion, they seek to whitewash the crimes of secularism. Indeed, a common trick is to claim that Hitler, et. al., were somehow actually religious! The atheists speak of ‘political religion’ and the like, attempting to defuse the secularism of last century’s great mass murderers. “Dawkins and Harris are employing a transparent sleight of hand that holds Christianity responsible for the crimes committed in its name, while exonerating secularism and atheism for the greater crimes committed in their name.”
He continues, “Religious fanatics have done things that are impossible to defend, and some of them, mostly in the Muslim world, are still performing horrors in the name of their creed. But if religion sometimes disposes people to self-righteousness and absolutism, it also provides a moral code that condemns the slaughter of innocents. In particular, the moral teachings of Jesus provide no support for – indeed they stand as a stern rebuke to – the historical injustices perpetrated in the name of Christianity.”
The secular attempt to create a ‘new man’ as in Marxism has time and again resulted in coercive utopianism. Whether the bloodlust of the French Revolution, or the ideological terror of the Russian Revolution, these secular crusades have been the real source of misery in the world. “The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people – the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped – have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s dictum, ‘If God is not, everything is permitted’.”
Concludes D’Souza, “Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades. It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.”
Perspective, in other words, is needed here. Religion has certainly been responsible for much grief and bloodshed. And militant Islam certainly needs to be mentioned here. But the secular holy wars have been the chief culprit in human history, and it is time religious folk call the secularists’ bluff in this regard.