The God Delusion - Chapter 10

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The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Dawkins states on page 353, "majority of atheists I know disguise their atheism behind a pious facade. They do not believe in anything supernatural themselves, but retain a vague soft spot for irrational beliefs."

From your experience, would you agree with this statement?

McCulloch's question:
Even with all of its flaws, does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?

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Re: benefits of religion

Post #41

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:I don't dispute that it can provide what you list above, but IMHO, the cost is to high. Considering the death toll in the name of religion, despite who committed it, I don't think the benefits have outweighed the risks, nor do I think the future potential benefits outweigh the future potential risks/negative impacts. Think of all who have already died to protect this ideology and those who have died in rejection of it. In the grand name of religion, the death toll is to high.
achilles12604 wrote:Place the blame - Should the blame for the murders associated with Christianity be placed on the people committing the murders, or should they be placed at the feet of the teachings associated with the religion?
achilles12604 is right. We should look at what is causing the harmful acts. Is it because the religious texts command people to do the harmful acts? Or is it because people have gone beyond what the texts say?
How many more must suffer or die because of a myth?
This brings up the fundamental question. Is it a myth or is it the truth? Are Christians delusional or is everybody else delusional? Does a God really exist or is it just a figment of the imagination?

I think these are the main questions that needs answers. And in terms of The God Delusion providing any insight on this, I see it providing none.
I have to seriously disagree here. The cause for the harmful acts is the same cause as it has always been. Religion. Despite what the current banner it is hiding under, the intent or the message being sent hasn't changed.

Tell me, what future does religion have to offer mankind? Does it offer one? No. The only future it currently offers is limited to "judgement day". After that, there is no future. Indeed, up until that point, there isn't really a future either. But we still want to hold on to something greater than ourselves because without that concept life holds little or no meaning for man. But honestly, what meaning does life have under the guise of Christianity? Does any Christian here no the meaning of their life yet? Has any figured out their "purpose" in life. I will have to quote my extremist brothers last few comments to me if any here can say they know the meaning or the purpose of their life. He would say "you think you know the purpose God had planned for you? Keep thinking. But listen closely, for behind the creaks of the rusted wheels turning in your brain, you will hear God laughing. No one knows the purpose God created them for. That is for God alone to know".

My intent isn't to play the blame game. Rather, to point to the reality of life. We can analyze the harmful effects of religion from here until eternity. We can evaluate it for the underlying cause and maybe, even find it. But tell me, what does it change? Will the underlying cause prevent extremists from committing horrible acts against non-believers or believers of a different religion in the future? Will it prevent extremists from committing horrible acts against each other? Has it ever? Of all the underlying evaluations that have been done in the past to warrant such evaluations, have we prevented a recurrence? Or is just the past repeating itself, just in todays world rather than what we call the "ancient, uncivilized" world?

Am I suggesting that Christians are delusional? No. We all have beliefs that defy rationalization for others. I could no more categorize Christians as being mentally ill or delusional than I could myself. However, I have to ask, are my beliefs currently preparing society for a future heinous act? Are my beliefs likely to meet some self-fulfilling prophecy that will harm more than it helps? Are my beliefs currently able to incite a riot that would lead to a repeat of 9-11? Do my beliefs undercut any other humans life under the premise that their life is less worthy than mine because of my or their beliefs?

Is Christianity a myth? Since I have yet to hear anyone give sufficient criteria in a previous thread I started about anything original in Christianity, I have to say, it is the same religion, just given a new name. There is nothing original about it. It has all been lived before.

Ok, that is enough ranting. Still not feeling so great, but better, so bare with me!!!!! O:)
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Re: benefits of religion

Post #42

Post by Confused »

achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Recall, I work in medicine. The benefits must outweigh the risks. Does religion? IMHO it does not. Despite which side is doing the harm, it is still all done under the guise of religious motivation.
And in my opinion, the benefits of religion outweighs the risks. I had only listed some of the major philanthropic organizations, there are many more such religious organizations.

Also, there are many other benefits beyond being philanthropic in nature:
- Provides hope, forgiveness, meaning
- Offers ways to cope with life's trials
- Provides guidance on how to live life
- Fosters community
- Provides a support network
- Instant identification with others and provides a common ground
- Opportunity to fellowship on a regular basis
- Sharing meals together
- Activities for kids, adults, seniors
- Offers regular teachings and encouragement
- Marital and family counseling
- Marriage ceremonies
- Funeral ceremonies
- Birth ceremonies
- Holidays (Christmas, Easter)
- Inspiration for art, music, literature
I don't dispute that it can provide what you list above, but IMHO, the cost is to high. Considering the death toll in the name of religion, despite who committed it, I don't think the benefits have outweighed the risks, nor do I think the future potential benefits outweigh the future potential risks/negative impacts. Think of all who have already died to protect this ideology and those who have died in rejection of it. In the grand name of religion, the death toll is to high.

I look at life and see so many wonderful things in it. If God is required for them, then God has asked for a price that goes beyond what we mere humans are capable of paying. How many more must suffer or die because of a myth? When will mankind stop requiring the same childhood protector they envisioned as a youth to protect them from the world (Freud). Instead of wasting precious time and/or resources on it, why not put that time/resources into finding ways to expand mans lifespan while increasing his quality of life as well? If people stop shooting for this "eternal life" they believe exists based on nothing other than a gut feeling and an outdated/rewritten myth, then perhaps death won't seem as comforting to them and they will not be in such a rush to meet it. Maybe then life will have more value.
Let’s play the blame game once again. People and their desires against what a religion actually teaches. Since we are mostly debating Christianity, lets use Jesus attributed words as the standard for the religious side.
Think of all who have already died to protect this ideology and those who have died in rejection of it.
Place the blame - Should the blame for the murders associated with Christianity be placed on the people committing the murders, or should they be placed at the feet of the teachings associated with the religion?

If it is the people, then there must have been an error somewhere, likely by someone pushing their own racist, bigoted, political or otherwise selfish agendas and then using religion as a tool, like anything I mentioned before which all have the potential to cause great harm.

If the fault is with the religion, then there must clearly be some place in the words attributed to Jesus (or even Paul since he did form much of the early church) which directs followers to commit murder.


Confused - Since you brought this particular topic up, please feel free to be the first to place the blame.

Is the fault for the murders the teachings of the religion?

Is the fault for the murders the fault of people's agendas?
You narrow your scope a bit here. The fault lies with the guilty party as a whole. In other words, the religion is the guilty party. All religion. Any ideology that includes the degradation of man based on a creature that can't even see fit to show His existence, to protect His "flock", to protect the innocent, is a disaster waiting to happen. One can suggest that if it wasn't religion causing strife, it would only be another ideology. Perhaps they are right. I am willing to put it to the test. Tear down religion. Lets see what happens. Until then, the cause of the strife will continue to be layed at the doorstep of those who perpetuate it. If you care to focus on only Christianity, then let me say this......

If the bible wasn't so vague, if God wasn't so visibly absent, if scripture wasn't so contradictory, would Christianity have so many breaks in interpretation? Would there be so many people who view what was written in such a context that they can see man as such a failure and diminish the value of life based on a premise of "eternal life"? Would you have the luxury you now enjoy about saying that the acts committed were done so by man under the name of God but defied the teachings of God? Tell me, is there not places in scripture that not only condones destroying towns of non-believers, but also say that it is your duty to do so? We can sit here and play the blame game, but it doesn't change history. Nor does it in any way show that the present and future will change as a result of it. The only way we will change is if man gets rid of his apparent inadequacy. When man stops requiring some sort of grand design that supersedes the individuals design. When man opens his eyes and no longer requires the "father figure" they once had as a child to protect them in order for them to face the world. Life has enough pitfalls without having the added burden of being cast as a "sinner' from birth. Life has enough glory without having some grand creator. We make life what it is. We can choose. What is your choice?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Re: benefits of religion

Post #43

Post by achilles12604 »

Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Recall, I work in medicine. The benefits must outweigh the risks. Does religion? IMHO it does not. Despite which side is doing the harm, it is still all done under the guise of religious motivation.
And in my opinion, the benefits of religion outweighs the risks. I had only listed some of the major philanthropic organizations, there are many more such religious organizations.

Also, there are many other benefits beyond being philanthropic in nature:
- Provides hope, forgiveness, meaning
- Offers ways to cope with life's trials
- Provides guidance on how to live life
- Fosters community
- Provides a support network
- Instant identification with others and provides a common ground
- Opportunity to fellowship on a regular basis
- Sharing meals together
- Activities for kids, adults, seniors
- Offers regular teachings and encouragement
- Marital and family counseling
- Marriage ceremonies
- Funeral ceremonies
- Birth ceremonies
- Holidays (Christmas, Easter)
- Inspiration for art, music, literature
I don't dispute that it can provide what you list above, but IMHO, the cost is to high. Considering the death toll in the name of religion, despite who committed it, I don't think the benefits have outweighed the risks, nor do I think the future potential benefits outweigh the future potential risks/negative impacts. Think of all who have already died to protect this ideology and those who have died in rejection of it. In the grand name of religion, the death toll is to high.

I look at life and see so many wonderful things in it. If God is required for them, then God has asked for a price that goes beyond what we mere humans are capable of paying. How many more must suffer or die because of a myth? When will mankind stop requiring the same childhood protector they envisioned as a youth to protect them from the world (Freud). Instead of wasting precious time and/or resources on it, why not put that time/resources into finding ways to expand mans lifespan while increasing his quality of life as well? If people stop shooting for this "eternal life" they believe exists based on nothing other than a gut feeling and an outdated/rewritten myth, then perhaps death won't seem as comforting to them and they will not be in such a rush to meet it. Maybe then life will have more value.
Let’s play the blame game once again. People and their desires against what a religion actually teaches. Since we are mostly debating Christianity, lets use Jesus attributed words as the standard for the religious side.
Think of all who have already died to protect this ideology and those who have died in rejection of it.
Place the blame - Should the blame for the murders associated with Christianity be placed on the people committing the murders, or should they be placed at the feet of the teachings associated with the religion?

If it is the people, then there must have been an error somewhere, likely by someone pushing their own racist, bigoted, political or otherwise selfish agendas and then using religion as a tool, like anything I mentioned before which all have the potential to cause great harm.

If the fault is with the religion, then there must clearly be some place in the words attributed to Jesus (or even Paul since he did form much of the early church) which directs followers to commit murder.


Confused - Since you brought this particular topic up, please feel free to be the first to place the blame.

Is the fault for the murders the teachings of the religion?

Is the fault for the murders the fault of people's agendas?
You narrow your scope a bit here. The fault lies with the guilty party as a whole. In other words, the religion is the guilty party. All religion.
Wow.

I don't understand where you are comming from here at all. By your logic, THIS TRAGEDY is the fault of America. After all these men were americans. They were raised American with American ideas, American language, etc. Capitolistic ideas put financial gain at the forefront of American values.

I have no idea why you attribute crimes of people to the religion that they claim, especially when each of these peoples murders directly contradict the peacful and loving verdict of Jesus teachings. If a man as great as Mahatma Ghandi can see the beauty and great value of Jesus and his teachings, I am at a loss as to why you attribute these crimes to these same teachings.

I'm afraid we must agree to disagree completely here.



Any ideology that includes the degradation of man based on a creature that can't even see fit to show His existence, to protect His "flock", to protect the innocent, is a disaster waiting to happen. One can suggest that if it wasn't religion causing strife, it would only be another ideology. Perhaps they are right. I am willing to put it to the test. Tear down religion. Lets see what happens. Until then, the cause of the strife will continue to be layed at the doorstep of those who perpetuate it. If you care to focus on only Christianity, then let me say this......

If the bible wasn't so vague, if God wasn't so visibly absent, if scripture wasn't so contradictory, would Christianity have so many breaks in interpretation?


There is a huge difference between difference of opinion about what is acceptable to eat, and wether or not to bomb an abortion clinic or murder your children. Differences of opinion are not only expected, but in many cases healthy. I would suggest that perhaps some things are vague (and I don't think to many things are) on purpose to allow freedom in how to worship. It's only an idea but it seems to me that there are no "crimes" which are suggested or encouraged by the teachings of Jesus. All of those crimes are additions brought on by human arrogance in feeling that THEIR way is the only right one and that all others should be suppressed by force.
It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice.

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Post #44

Post by Cathar1950 »

otseng wrote:
bernee51 wrote:
otseng wrote: And for me, it was the opposite effect. If this book was one of the best books atheists has to offer, then it shows how weak the atheist arguments are.
As a book I would agree with you...Atheist Manifesto, self described as atheology, is a much better book which systematically deconstructs the Abrahamic monotheisms.
And with that I'll be winding down my debate with the book.

Overall, my take on the book is that it presents a very weak case against theism. There is obviously a disconnect between the strength of the book and the praise given to it by atheists. If it was not written by Dawkins, probably nobody really would've given the book any thought.

As I read through the chapters (often more than once), I found myself constantly asking "what exactly is his point?" The entire book read like 10 chapters of Random Ramblings.

One thing that did surprise me though was that I agreed with Dawkins on several points. Probably the strongest statements that I agreed with are:

"Either he exists or he doesn't. It is a scientific question" (page 48)

"God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." (page 50)

And I was quite surprised that he would take this position. To my knowledge, I don't know of any other atheist who holds to this.

On a related note, I agree with Dawkins that NOMA is not vaid and that there is an overlap between science and religion.

I also agree with Dawkins that scientists should not use the word "God" metaphorically.

"I wish that physicists would refrain from using the word God in their special metaphorical sense. Deliberately to confuse the two is, in my opinion, an act of intellectual high treason." (page 19)

In summary, any critical thinking person will find the book to be extremely weak. Only those that are easily mislead by hand-waving will be converted to atheism by the book.

This will probably be the last book from Dawkins that I'll ever read. I think I've given him a fair chance by reading The God Delusion and also The Blind Watchmaker. Atheists will need to get together and decide what author is superior to Dawkins for a future book debate.
I think you provided a pretty good summary. I was not as pleased with the book as I should have been. :lol:
I read a few of his books and this was by far the less interesting for me.
I don't know how anyone can use the word "God" except metaphoricaly given the influence of Plato on Western culture. I have found many Christians confusing YHWH, El, God and Jesus for that matter but I wouldn't call it "high treason" but it is confusing mixing traditions. Depending how you choose to define or see God it may or may not be a question for science while it seems obvious for philosophy.

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Re: benefits of religion

Post #45

Post by Confused »

achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
You narrow your scope a bit here. The fault lies with the guilty party as a whole. In other words, the religion is the guilty party. All religion.
Wow.

I don't understand where you are comming from here at all. By your logic, THIS TRAGEDY is the fault of America. After all these men were americans. They were raised American with American ideas, American language, etc. Capitolistic ideas put financial gain at the forefront of American values.

I have no idea why you attribute crimes of people to the religion that they claim, especially when each of these peoples murders directly contradict the peacful and loving verdict of Jesus teachings. If a man as great as Mahatma Ghandi can see the beauty and great value of Jesus and his teachings, I am at a loss as to why you attribute these crimes to these same teachings.

I'm afraid we must agree to disagree completely here.
We often have to do this. But at least I learn much from you in the process. :)

But the fault isn't layed at the doorstep of Americans alone. I target no individual country here. The atrocities committed for "religion" existed long before America did.


achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote: Any ideology that includes the degradation of man based on a creature that can't even see fit to show His existence, to protect His "flock", to protect the innocent, is a disaster waiting to happen. One can suggest that if it wasn't religion causing strife, it would only be another ideology. Perhaps they are right. I am willing to put it to the test. Tear down religion. Lets see what happens. Until then, the cause of the strife will continue to be layed at the doorstep of those who perpetuate it. If you care to focus on only Christianity, then let me say this......

If the bible wasn't so vague, if God wasn't so visibly absent, if scripture wasn't so contradictory, would Christianity have so many breaks in interpretation?


There is a huge difference between difference of opinion about what is acceptable to eat, and wether or not to bomb an abortion clinic or murder your children. Differences of opinion are not only expected, but in many cases healthy. I would suggest that perhaps some things are vague (and I don't think to many things are) on purpose to allow freedom in how to worship. It's only an idea but it seems to me that there are no "crimes" which are suggested or encouraged by the teachings of Jesus. All of those crimes are additions brought on by human arrogance in feeling that THEIR way is the only right one and that all others should be suppressed by force.
Why must it be human arrogance? Because man should consider themselves worthwhile? Why must humanity be considered so subservient? Arrogance? I think not. Few of the atrocities we attribute to the "religious" cause can be linked to the uneducated. I would go out on a limb and say that many were committed by highly intelligent beings who thought they had a clear understanding of scripture. But with it being so contradictory, can we say that they were wrong? Or do we attribute them to being wrong simply because we now live in a world of enlightenment? No. I think in reality, we would much rather find the blame in all these underlying causes then with the one common theme in all of them, religion.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Post #46

Post by QED »

otseng wrote: Overall, my take on the book is that it presents a very weak case against theism.
I suspect that this arises for a particular reason that emerges in your following statement...
otseng wrote: One thing that did surprise me though was that I agreed with Dawkins on several points. Probably the strongest statements that I agreed with are:

"Either he exists or he doesn't. It is a scientific question" (page 48)

"God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." (page 50)

And I was quite surprised that he would take this position. To my knowledge, I don't know of any other atheist who holds to this.
I am quite astonished too. The discovery of the non-existence of an entity that is typically defined as existing outside our universe, or is beyond our experience on demand, is something that is quite obviously impossible in principle. And this is why ultimately you will always be able to find any atheistic argument uncompelling. This is, I think, the point that should have been hammered home. His quote of Bertrand Russel on p52 was obviously is included to address this:
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the
business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather
than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a
mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and
Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an
elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my
assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is
too small to be revealed even by our most powerful
telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my
assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption
on the part of human reason to doubt it, I
should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however,
the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in
ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday,
and instilled into the minds of children at school,
hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark
of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of
the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor
in an earlier time.
I wish we could ask Dawkins why he appears to contradict himself in the short space of two pages. I think much hinges on this matter and your agreement with his erroneous statement about the potential for the discovery of the non-existence of certain kinds of entities is what keeps theism afloat.

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Post #47

Post by otseng »

QED wrote:The discovery of the non-existence of an entity that is typically defined as existing outside our universe, or is beyond our experience on demand, is something that is quite obviously impossible in principle.
If this is true, then the position of strong atheism would not be a logical position to hold. If it is impossible in principal to demonstrate that any gods do not exist, then it is not possible to definitively state that a god does not exist.

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Post #48

Post by QED »

otseng wrote:
QED wrote:The discovery of the non-existence of an entity that is typically defined as existing outside our universe, or is beyond our experience on demand, is something that is quite obviously impossible in principle.
If this is true, then the position of strong atheism would not be a logical position to hold. If it is impossible in principal to demonstrate that any gods do not exist, then it is not possible to definitively state that a god does not exist.
I agree entirely. Strong atheism is a limiting case just beyond the asymptote of logically acceptable beliefs pertaining to the non-existence of a deity "that is typically defined as existing outside our universe, or is beyond our experience on demand." This exclusion, you will note, is built into the definition of the subject from the outset -- which is why the subject, like the celestial teapot, has a peculiar status as a proposition. Dawkins certainly seems to be aware of this as evidenced by his choice of title for chapter four "Why there almost certainly is no God".

Equally he could only truthfully have written "Why there almost certainly is no celestial teapot". No wonder he was unable to offer you a cogent argument for the non-existence of God. I would despair if you or anyone else found any triumph in that fact.

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Post #49

Post by otseng »

Well, that's it for me for debating The God Delusion. This will be my final comment and I'll be moving on to the other debates.

I really do like the format of the book debates and I thought the TGD debate went very well. Thanks everyone for your participation. I'd like to do more book debates in the future.

I'll be leaving the threads open for at least several more weeks for others to add their thoughts. And when we start the next book debate all the threads will then be locked.

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Re: benefits of religion

Post #50

Post by achilles12604 »

Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
You narrow your scope a bit here. The fault lies with the guilty party as a whole. In other words, the religion is the guilty party. All religion.
Wow.

I don't understand where you are comming from here at all. By your logic, THIS TRAGEDY is the fault of America. After all these men were americans. They were raised American with American ideas, American language, etc. Capitolistic ideas put financial gain at the forefront of American values.

I have no idea why you attribute crimes of people to the religion that they claim, especially when each of these peoples murders directly contradict the peacful and loving verdict of Jesus teachings. If a man as great as Mahatma Ghandi can see the beauty and great value of Jesus and his teachings, I am at a loss as to why you attribute these crimes to these same teachings.

I'm afraid we must agree to disagree completely here.
We often have to do this. But at least I learn much from you in the process. :)

But the fault isn't layed at the doorstep of Americans alone. I target no individual country here. The atrocities committed for "religion" existed long before America did.
I also learn from our bantering.

I was using America as an example. You could insert "because they were male" or "the were white" or anything else in and my point would still work. It is known as Questionable Cause.


achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote: Any ideology that includes the degradation of man based on a creature that can't even see fit to show His existence, to protect His "flock", to protect the innocent, is a disaster waiting to happen. One can suggest that if it wasn't religion causing strife, it would only be another ideology. Perhaps they are right. I am willing to put it to the test. Tear down religion. Lets see what happens. Until then, the cause of the strife will continue to be layed at the doorstep of those who perpetuate it. If you care to focus on only Christianity, then let me say this......

If the bible wasn't so vague, if God wasn't so visibly absent, if scripture wasn't so contradictory, would Christianity have so many breaks in interpretation?


There is a huge difference between difference of opinion about what is acceptable to eat, and wether or not to bomb an abortion clinic or murder your children. Differences of opinion are not only expected, but in many cases healthy. I would suggest that perhaps some things are vague (and I don't think to many things are) on purpose to allow freedom in how to worship. It's only an idea but it seems to me that there are no "crimes" which are suggested or encouraged by the teachings of Jesus. All of those crimes are additions brought on by human arrogance in feeling that THEIR way is the only right one and that all others should be suppressed by force.
Why must it be human arrogance? Because man should consider themselves worthwhile? Why must humanity be considered so subservient? Arrogance? I think not. Few of the atrocities we attribute to the "religious" cause can be linked to the uneducated. I would go out on a limb and say that many were committed by highly intelligent beings who thought they had a clear understanding of scripture. But with it being so contradictory, can we say that they were wrong? Or do we attribute them to being wrong simply because we now live in a world of enlightenment? No. I think in reality, we would much rather find the blame in all these underlying causes then with the one common theme in all of them, religion.
Again, Questionable Cause.

There has been much more violence attributed to politics and seeking power than to religion. Therefore, all politicians should be locked up and anarchy should be implimented worldwide.
It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice.

Locked