A3. Is religion evil?

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The third in the series on apologetics at Above Bar Church, Southampton. This one considers the challenge that religion is, in the words of Richard Dawkins, 'one of the world's great evils.

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A3. Is religion evil?

  1. 1. Religion is evil!
  2. 2. I think that a case can made that faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  3. 3. How common do you think this objection is? Try and separate out some of the different aspects: what do people say about: •Christians/religious people? ? •The Bible? •God?
  4. 4. what exactly is religion?
  5. 5. religious people are morally inferior
  6. 6. narrow about beliefs
  7. 7. narrow about lifestyles
  8. 8. fanaticism
  9. 9. The OT is morally inferior
  10. 10. harsh OT laws
  11. 11. religious genocide
  12. 12. God is morally inferior
  13. 13. hell
  14. 14. religious people are morally inferior
  15. 15. I was trying to hit a target that deserved hitting, and there's no merit in pulling punches when important issues are at stake. Anyway, every time I thought I was overdoing it, up came another scandal about brutal monks mistreating children in Irish schools, or sadistic nuns tormenting children in Scottish orphanages, to name but two that came up recently. These things do happen. Philip Pullman
  16. 16. Every single religion that has a monotheistic god ends up by persecuting other people and killing them because they don’t accept him. Wherever you look in history, you find that. It’s still going on. Philip Pullman
  17. 17. Dawkins 17
  18. 18. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them – given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by – to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for the future jihads or crusades . . . If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. The God Delusion 18
  19. 19. How would you respond to this? ?
  20. 20. religion suicide bombers
  21. 21. Such is Dawkins’s unruffled scientific impartiality that in a book of almost four hundred pages, he can scarcely bring himself to concede that a single human benefit has flowed from religious faith, a view which is as a priori improbable as it is empirically false. Terry Eagleton
  22. 22. For every one of these grand tragedies there are ten thousand acts of personal kindness and social good that go unreported. . . . Religion, like all social institutions of such historic depth and cultural impact, cannot be reduced to an unambiguous good or evil. Michael Shermer How We Believe: Science, Skepticism and the Search for God
  23. 23. which God?
  24. 24. The God who dies is the God of the burners of heretics, the hangers of witches, the pers- ecutors of Jews, the officials who recently flogged that poor girl in Nigeria who had the misfortune to become pregnant after having been forced to have sex – all these people claim to know with absolute certainty that their God wants them to do these things. Well, I take them at their word, and I say in response that that God deserves to die. Philip Pullman
  25. 25. It comes from the record of the Inquisition, persecuting heretics and torturing Jews and all that sort of stuff; and it comes from the other side, too, from the Protestants burning the Catholics. It comes from the insensate pursuit of innocent and crazy old women, and from the Puritans in America burning and hanging the witches – and it comes not only from the Christian Church but also from the Taliban. . . .
  26. 26. atheist intolerance
  27. 27. I do not believe there is an atheist in the world who would bulldoze Mecca – or Chartres, York Minster or Notre Dame. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  28. 28. Religion may have a tendency towards absolutism, but the same tendency in innate in any human attempt to find or create meaning, especially when it is challenged. The key thing here, it seems, is not the ideas or values, but the dedication, even fanaticism, of those who follow them. Alister McGrath
  29. 29. Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilisation. To this day, we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter. Jürgen Habermas
  30. 30. The OT is morally inferior
  31. 31. harsh OT laws
  32. 32. [The Canaanites] were pitilessly driven out of their homes to make room for the ungrateful and mutinous children of Israel. Christopher Hitchens God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
  33. 33. [The OT contains] a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre . . . Christopher Hitchens God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
  34. 34. How would you respond to this? ?
  35. 35. OT law and OT narratives
  36. 36. protection for the weak . . . justice for the poor; impartiality in the courts; generosity at harvest time and in general economic life; respect for persons and property, even of an enemy; sensitivity to the dignity of the debtor; special care for strangers and immigrants; considerate treatment of the disabled; prompt payment of wages . . . sensitivity over articles taken in pledge; consideration for people in early marriage, or in bereavement; even care for animals, domestic and wild, and for fruit trees. Chris Wright
  37. 37. The informed inhabitant of the ancient Near East would have thought, Quick, get me to Israel! Paul Copan
  38. 38. religious genocide
  39. 39. God can have enough reasons
  40. 40. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. Genesis 15:16
  41. 41. cities or garrisons?
  42. 42. hyperbolic language
  43. 43. Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Leviticus 18:24
  44. 44. God’s promises
  45. 45. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:2–3
  46. 46. God is God
  47. 47. God is morally inferior
  48. 48. What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh – and even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  49. 49. hell
  50. 50. Whatever they believe hell is actually like, all these hell-fire enthusiasts seem to share the gloating Schadenfreude and complacency of those who know they are among the saved, well conveyed by that foremost among theologians, St Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica: ‘That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.’ Nice man. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  51. 51. I defy any of my co-religionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell. Ann Coulter
  52. 52. How would you respond to this? ?
  53. 53. A man can’t be taken to hell, or sent to hell; you can only get there on your own steam. C.S. Lewis, The Dark Tower
  54. 54. Hell is just a freely chosen identity, based on something else besides God, going on for ever. Tim Keller
  55. 55. It’s not a question of God ‘sending’ us to Hell. In each of us there is something growing up which will of itself be Hell unless it is nipped in the bud. The matter is serious: let us put ourselves in His hands at once – this very day, this hour. C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
  56. 56. [Hell] is created when free beings use (more accurately, abuse) the freedom God has given them not to embrace him but to reject him. In so doing, they reject the only possible source of deep and lasting happiness, and thereby consign themselves to frustration, misery and suffering. Jerry L. Walls ‘How Could God Create Hell?’
  57. 57. www.damaris.org www.culturewatch.org www.tonywatkins.org twitter.com/tonywatkins_ facebook.com/tonywatkinspage

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