Harris used September 11 as an example that “religious faith is the single greatest threat to the survival of the human species today.” He even maintains that killing people who believe in God just for that belief is ethical. “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.” (See page 52-3) People like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens continue to maintain that religion is the cause of all the world’s ills.
The fact is that religion has no monopoly on violence. Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler all promoted a religion free utopia and murdered over 100 million people in their attempts to produce it - far beyond the religious killing done in the crusades, inquisition and Salem witch trials. More importantly as Harris demonstrates in his own statement given above; when you have no higher power to answer to, ethics become a function of the beliefs of the human powers that be. The biblical teachings of Jesus condemn the inquisitions, the crusades and the Salem witch trials. These horrific acts were done in opposition to what Jesus Christ taught.
In fact only Christianity of all political and religious systems on the planet has given us the teachings that universally bring peace, if followed. Jesus Christ taught that man is to serve his fellow man in the same way that Jesus served - washing the feet of his disciples and telling them to do likewise. Jesus Christ admonished us to love our enemies, to do good to those who do evil to us, to turn the other cheek, and to live at peace with all men. (See Matthew 5-7)
Modern atheist attacks give sweeping generalities that are unfortunate distortions of what is true and what will work. For more on this subject, see the July/August issue of “Does God Exist? on our web site doesgodexist.org.
- John N. Clayton