War, Terrorism, Religious conflict, and the people it affects.

Hello.  I'm Dave and fairly new to TA.  I want to have an open discussion where we talk about 'War, Terrorism, Religious conflict, and the people it affects.' I would love to hear the views on anyone on this topic, though, particularly those who have been affected directly or in directly by conflict or those who are afraid of divisions growing in their community.

I, myself, am from Northern Ireland.  at the age of 28, I am to young to remember the troubles at their worst, but have lived in a broken community all my life.  Recently there has been a number of outbreaks of the old more violent acts including riots and bombs.  I am a youth worker here, and deal with the affects this has on the mental health and in some cases the physical health of many of the young people in my community. This is a  country where in 'mixed religion' schools, often the first question asked by other pupils is 'are you protestant or catholic'. This question often decides who you are allowed to socialise with in that school for the rest of your time there. I have personally even been asked  'are you a protestant or catholic atheist?' On reflection, A question that both amuses and saddens me.

There are many people across the world that live in war torn country's or community's that can relate to these kinds of issues, people who know all to well that what you can and cant do or the people you socialise with are decided by which religion you are / perceived to be, the colour of your skin, your gender, your political world views, or even what side of the street you were born on.  I would love to hear any storys on this topic, how this may have affected you or the people you care about and create a discussion where advice and support can be shared and ideas on how to help heal these types of divisions can be formed.  I really cant think of anywhere better than Think Atheist in which to have such a discussion and hope that it will provide an opportunity for both learning and growth in anyone that takes part.

This is a very touchy subject for a lot of people, I would like to request that anyone commenting here to be sympathetic to the views of others.  Even the most violent views and actions are often done because people believe they must for the greater good, this can only be tackled through discussion and not ridicule and argument. 

Thanks for the time taken to read this, I can't wait to hear your points :)

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I think that many people in the world are evil, regardless of their belief.  So yes, you get evil atheists.  I don't think that atheism can be as effectively used to promote violence as religion though.  Its not that I don't understand the point, just that I don't think its a valid one.

I think Steven Weinberg made this point better than I ever could -"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Love that Weinberg quote. 

I think most of the genocidal dictators have either been atheistic, nonreligious, or into the occult. Hitler may have been raised a Catholic, but I never read any indication that he was a practicing Christian in his adult life. Stalin and Pol Pot, as Communists, were officially atheistic, though it can be argued that Communism is, in fact, a religion surrogate.

Evil is as evil does. Being atheistic in no way prevents people from being or doing evil. Ditto for being religious. Many religious people lead admirable lives from an ethical perspective.

Yes, I think that's the second time I have borrowed that quote on this site.  I'l be having to pay royalties soon.  But, as I say, if you cant put it any better yourself, quote.

What does "evil" mean in an atheist context, @David.   Does the word even have meaning?

It seems like you are adopting a religious notion of good and evil while rejecting religion, just as Weinberg did (though Weinberg was being tongue-in-cheek).

I use the words 'good' and 'evil' as they are probably the most commonly accepted words for their meaning.  I think in the use of words, effect and understanding are more important than what the words evolved from.

Now, we done talking semantics? because when a conversation goes in the direction of the meanings of words as opposed to subject matter I get a little nauseous.

And yes, the words have meaning.  As does any word in the dictionary, because we give them meaning.

Welcome Dave.

As a New Yorker, I have witnessed terrorism first hand on 9/11. Although I was not affected by it directly, however as a member of the community in which the terrorism took place, I was greatly affected by it. I grew up in Post 9/11 where there is a lot of hatred toward brown skinned / middle eastern type looking people. Being that my family is Muslim and I lived in an all white rich neighborhood, wasn't a help either. School was about the same as well because as usual with teenagers, certain level of learned hatred exists from societal brainwashing, so I have been called just about every type of derogatory racial slur there could be. 

Unfortunately these are all social hatred brought up from xenophobic fears of different groups and cultures. Religion plays a big part of it, however it is not the only cause of it. It's people's inability to rationally deduce a situation rather than just taking the easy way out and responding to a social stimuli. People respond with fear and in that fear they tend to group themselves with familiarity. Anything elese that do not seem familiar to them, they subconsciously associate it with foreign and non familiar objects. This is where the "us" vs "them" mentality comes from and once that is established the hatred begins.

Interesting while I typed this to you, Russia just got blasted by terrorism, second day in a row. It never ends.

Yes, I was half a world away and remember that day as if it was yesterday.  The American people never deserved that, and notice I said American people and not white, or Christian.  People of all races and religions died that day in what was an unforgivable act.

I would never in a million years try to undermine the effect that had directly on New York, America and the world.  I honestly believe though, that just as detrimental was the after effect, the people blaming each other and the closest person that looks a little different.  People didn't come together to stand strong in the aftermath but divided further.

Still, today, there is the affects of vengeance driven people, aiming their hatred in all the wrong directions. People who slip un-noticed into the ranks of hero's that are driven by a desire for peace and pay daily with their lives because of the actions of the few.

I know this to be true, I have seen it, Muslim women being attacked on the streets of Belfast by soldiers on leave.  Not understanding that they are not the same Muslims that just a week ago were shooting RPG's at them, by all rights, they may have been here as protection after helping the British armed forces. I don't know, but the point is neither did they.

9/11 was an awful act, but it needs to not become a cycle of hate.  Justice on the guilty, not revenge on everyone, or the cycle will continuously hit innocents again and again.

This is not pro/anti war propaganda, just a will for thought before action.

 Hi David. By chance I was born in South Africa, and still are residing here.The only conflict I was ever involved in was when we fought against the forces of Apartheid. Other than that I can be an athiest and a free thinker a million times, I have realised that most 'believing masses' here at home associate any unbelief with satanism, when you expalin to them that satanism is as good/bad as any belif system that embraces the concept/s of the unseen they do not understand and will emotionally ask that the topic must be stopped and they will promise to pray for you to see the light. This is a free country indeed, I am very convinced David, that SA will be the first country in the Continent of Afrika to make religion illrelevant.

Yes, I have long since thought of South Africa as the country that will grow to save its continent.  Foreign aid from further afield often gets miss directed, intercepted or diminished by other means in the rest of Africa.  But South Africa is growing in strength and freedoms, and I really hope in the future they will have the internal leadership and external backing needed to spread those strengths and freedoms across the African continent making the changes needed.  I think when that happens we will all be proud to be human.

As far as the restraints on religion goes, its to obvious and un effective to tackle religious issues head on.  That will happen naturally over time.  I'm to distant from the issues there to know the exact way to make the changes needed, but time and time again across the world, it has started with education.  

In my mind, Education should be a freedom, which is encouraged for all peoples to partake in.  It shouldn't matter how rich your family is, what gender you are or where in the world you are from.  It should be against the law to stop someone getting the education they have the right to.  Without education there is no future for the human race, but with education there is no end to what can be accomplished.

Revolution can be had without loss of life, and I feel knowledge is a key part of this type of revolution.  Good luck Africa, you are strong, make the world proud!


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