Each time people say that they have abandoned religion because of religious violence, and embrace atheism, I assume two things.
- They do not mean it.
- They’ve not looked up the evidence.
I do not want to assume ignorance, that’s too low for anyone bold enough to say they are atheist.
While there has been violence perpetrated in the name of religion, the 20th Century was the first time in history that atheist took over states and had the chance to show the difference. What happened?
The 20th Century was the bloodiest century in all of human history. The cause of death was led primarily by atheistic governments.
Hitler’s Germany that want to purge religion from all the lives of the people led to the death of estimated 85 Million people. In the Soviet Union, where Stalin wanted to make sure there was practice of any form of religion, it is estimated that 15 million people died. In China, Chairman Mao’s regime of terror against religion is responsible for an estimated 35 million deaths.
It is no wonder that as the 21st Century dawned, many states abandoned the policies of purging religion from the lives of the people. The lesson was clear. Mankind will kill in the name of anything. But what, ideas persist even in the face of evidence.
The irony is that it was only in the 20th Century that non violence became mainstream and an important tenet.
Who led such movements? Almost always, it was religious people. From Gandhi to MLK, to fall of communism, to the end of apartheid, to end colonialism, to end slavery, religious people were in the front lines. Far in the front lines. When Gandhi insisted that India will be changed through non violence, he said he was simply living the teachings of Jesus Christ. When MLK advocated for the Civil Rights, he said he was doing God’s will. When William Wilberforce fought against slavery, he said he was following the teachings of the Bible. When Desmond Tutu and Father Trevor Huddleston stood against apartheid, he said he was doing it in the name of God.
There are several ways to look at history, but truth is always one. And in this case, the truth is that violence is a human tendency, not a religious one. Surprisingly, that’s exactly what Christianity says; that mankind left on its own will be like Cain and Abel.