So this morning I was woken up by my radio, and decided to listen to CBC for about a half an hour. They were talking about the Algerian hostage crisis at first, but soon the discussion turned to gun control as someone they were interviewing discussed his own thoughts on it. The pundit seemed to have a rather centrist position on the issue – he hates the NRA, but also seemed to oppose gun control as well, so it’s not like he had an actual concrete opinion/solution on the matter to put forward.
However, the interviewer’s final prompt to the pundit was something I found incredibly odd. They said that the man is an atheist, and wants religion to be done away with, but guns to be unrestricted as well. The pundit said that he believes that guns can be used constructively, but religion has been used to restrict scientific progress, among other things. Understandably, it was at this point that he lost me completely.
I hear often the argument that religion is an outdated institution, the people who practice are stupid and it needs to be eradicated. I believe this is an extremely intolerant and ignorant thing to espouse. Religion has been at the root of many violent conflicts leading into the present day, but it also has done far more good on an individual and global scale. Most of the violent consequences arise from human evil, not the evils of religion itself. To call for the destruction of religion is not only unrealistic, but misguided (not to mention that it could be the root of future violence if the next generations take it to heart and go radical with it).
Furthermore, violence, intolerance and hatred are hardly religiously-exclusive. The Thirty Years War, probably the most destructive religiously-based war, saw only 1/5 of the casualties of the First World War, a distinctly non-religious war (although estimates vary to as much as 1/2 of that number). Similarly, the bloodiest conflict the world has ever seen, World War II, was non-religiously motivated. I can’t back this up with exact numbers, but based on my research, there has been more non-religiously motivated killing in the past century than there has been in the name of religion throughout all of history.
I will say that I believe that religion should be separate from state (and that the Republican party should divorce itself from Protestantism immediately, because it gives it a bad name), but that alone would cover the pundit’s desire… so why call for the eradication of religion entirely? I’ll leave it at that.