It's clear from the slew of historical events of violence, oppression, and other negative things that religious people have been violent in some cases. Our most recent violent religion has been Islam, though I do have my doubts about Afghanistan and Iraq and the idea that America thinks they're fighting a holy war, especially in light of eschatological beliefs surrounding the general area of the middle east. Anyhow. What, if any, correlation between violence and general religion is there? I mean, I had a discussion with a guy for a while and the best I had was the idea that in cases of violence, religion was the explicit cause. While it is a good argument that religion was the cause of violence at a number of instances, it doesn't make religion a violent thing. I also have heard the argument that inherent in exclusive claims to eternal life there is an idea of superiority that can lead to violence or something like that, but it seemed like a bit of a weak argument. But violence such as this still occurs to this day as a direct result of religious beliefs that hold certain people ought to be treated such as this.
Thing is, I've been on a sort of mental sabbatical, after college I was finished with reading things that weren't sci-fi and fun... Now I sorta want to get back into debating, and logic, and other things but I've lost quite a bit. So I'm working my way back into it. I made a mess of the debate with my cousin, so what I'm trying to do is figure out where I went wrong. Thing is, I made such a mess that the best way to get constructive criticism (to post the whole conversation) would make me quite embarrassed so I'm attempting to do so without doing that... I'm hoping this works well enough. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to any interesting responses, and I'm hoping to develop my reasoning and logic here, and learn from you folks. I'm in.
John Teehan's In The Name of God
Hector Avalos' Fighting Words
Bruce Lincoln's Holy Terrors (Second Edition)
Mark Juergensmeyer's Terror in the Mind of God (3rd Edition)
it comes down to in-group/out-group thinking.
a religion's moral code provides a demarcation line between an in-group and an out-group. the moral code exists to promote pro-social behavior by ensuring reciprocation between in-group members. but as it does so it marks anyone not in the in-group for exclusion, as outsiders.
out-group members have no motivation to cooperate with the in-group (and vice-versa) and so may pose a danger to the in-group.
notice that for all of each religion's moral pronouncements there are at least as many warnings regarding outsiders.
here's John Teehan making the point:
Morality develops as a system to promote within - group cohesiveness. This cohesiveness is an advantage to the group in competition with other groups. Morality is a code of how to treat those in my group; it is not
designed to extend, at least not in the same way, to those outside the group. Since these others are not bound by the same moral code they must be treated as potential cheaters; since their reproductive success is not tied to the success of our group they are not invested in our group and so cannot be expected to engage in altruism or reciprocation. Those outside the group are in fact a potential threat to my group ’ s survival. The peoples the Hebrews encountered on their journey were obstacles that needed to be overcome in the interest of group survival. As such the moral injunction “ you shall not murder ” did not apply to them.
so, because the out-group members are a threat- because they have no motivation to cooperate with the in-group they are always to be suspected of cheating- and because the in-group's moral code that exists to promote cohesion within the in-group doesn't apply to the out-group members, including of course proscriptions against murdering in-group members, you have violence against out-group members.
I'm wondering what I can do to do SOMETHING against the ear-piercing child abuse that happens everywhere in India. I mean, everyone does it, every single Hindu family does it to every single girl child. So much so that when you suggest it is abuse, people look at you like you're crazy - and there are no laws to help.
Hell, I'm wondering if I'll be able to protect my own future child (if she's a girl) from this particular form of painful abuse.