Recently, I had an internet altercation with members of my family. The ones that tried to engage with me in argument are all very religious. For some strange reason, after a while, all my responses were not published by Facebook. Hopefully we are dealing on this forum with a more tolerant editor.
One of my young antagonists said a very telling thing that made me re-think my position. He assumed that my anti-theist stance was due to the actions of some Christians who somehow antagonised me. He then said "I hate Christians like that!"
I kindly did not retort that hating was not very Christian, but it encouraged me to do some research on the effect of religious hatred throughout history.What I found was so horrifying, that I decided there and then that I'm not an atheist, agnostic, nor am I an anti-theist, I am unequivicably an anti-religionist. If that qualifies me as any of the above, then so be it.
Let's start with the atrocities described in the bible:
(A selection from "Bible Atrocities by Donald Morgan)
"GEN 6:11-17, 7:11-24 God is unhappy with the wickedness of man and decides to do something about it. He kills every living thing on the face of the earth other than Noah's family and thereby makes himself the greatest mass murderer in history."
"EX 12:29 The Lord kills all the first-born in the land of Egypt."
"EX 21:20-21 With the Lord's approval, a slave may be beaten to death with no punishment for the perpetrator as long as the slave doesn't die too quickly." (My emphasis)
"NU 31:17-18 Moses, following the Lord's command, orders the Israelites to kill all the Midianite male children and "... every woman who has known man ...." (Note: How would it be determined which women had known men? One can only speculate.)"
"DT 20:13-14 "When the Lord delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the males .... As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves."
And the list goes on... Read for yourself,
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/atrocity.html but beware: you may puke.
Now we come to the atrocities not attributable directly to God, but certainly perpetrated in his, or in some religion's name:
(For further reading see: James A Haught: Holy Horrors)
The Crusades are often romanticised by the religious, in fact the Crucades can be regarded as some of the cruellest and degrading acts perpetrated by religious fanatics. In 1095, starting in the Rhine Valley, the maniacal Crusaders killed thousands of Jews by dragging them from their places of hiding by hacking or burning them to death. "Then the religious legions plundered their way 2,000 miles to Jerusalem, where they killed virtually every inhabitant, "purifying" the symbolic city. Cleric Raymond of Aguilers wrote: "In the temple of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses' bridles, by the just and marvelous judgment of God." (My emphasis)
"Human sacrifice blossomed in the Mayan theocracy of Central America between the 11th and 16th centuries. To appease a feathered-serpent god, maidens were drowned in sacred wells and other victims either had their hearts cut out, were shot with arrows, or were beheaded. Elsewhere, sacrifice was sporadic. In Peru, pre-Inca tribes killed children in temples called "houses of the moon." In Tibet, Bon shamans performed ritual killings. In Borneo builders of pile houses drove the first pile through the body of a maiden to pacify the earth goddess. In India, Dravidian people offered lives to village goddesses, and followers of Kali sacrificed a male child every Friday evening."
"-- In the 1400s, the Inquisition shifted its focus to witchcraft. Priests tortured untold thousands of women into confessing that they were witches who flew through the sky and engaged in sex with the devil -- then they were burned or hanged for their confessions. Witch hysteria raged for three centuries in a dozen nations. Estimates of the number executed vary from 100,000 to 2 million. Whole villages were exterminated. In the first half of the 17th century, about 5,000 "witches" were put to death in the French province of Alsace, and 900 were burned in the Bavarian city of Bamberg. The witch craze was religious madness at its worst."
So you think that the Inquisition was exclusively a Roman Catholic affair? Think again: "-- The 'Protestant Inquisition' is a term applied to the severities of John Calvin in Geneva and Queen Elizabeth I in England during the 1500s. Calvin's followers burned 58 'heretics,' including theologian Michael Servetus, who doubted the Trinity. Elizabeth I outlawed Catholicism and executed about 200 Catholics."
The atrocities commited in the name of Islam and Islamitic sects are well known and I need not go into details here.
I will only give one example of what religionists can do in Northern Ireland: "In 1983 in Darkley, Northern Ireland, Catholic terrorists with automatic weapons burst into a Protestant church on a Sunday morning and opened fire, killing three worshipers and wounding seven. It was just one of hundreds of Catholic-Protestant ambushes that have taken 2,600 lives in Ulster since age-old religious hostility turned violent again in 1969."
My own Huguenot ancestors were massacred. "On Saint Bartholomew's Day in 1572, Catherine de Medicis secretly authorized Catholic dukes to send their soldiers into Huguenot neighborhoods and slaughter families. This massacre touched off a six-week bloodbath in which Catholics murdered about 10,000 Huguenots."
To list all the atrocities committed in the name of religion would fill a whole book, but I think you get my drift.If you have the stomach for it, read the whole article by James A Haught here: http://www.skeptically.org/enlightenment/id7.html
I will end with a small human tragedy that finally turned me against religion: As a student of biology and veterinary science I was increasingly skeptical about the stories told to me by my parents and dominees of talking snakes and coy naked people who suddenly realised that they were naked after eating an apple. I also could not reconcile my growing knowledge of evolution and the marvellous mechanism of natural selection with a story that an all-powerful God created all this complexity in six days. I could not fathom how a "loving" God could condemn billions of people simply because they heard about him, but did not believe in him.
So in all innocence at a so-called debating religious gathering in my erstwhile church, I got up and said something about natural selection or biology, I can't remember exactly. The dominee said, to great guffaws from the congregation, "Oh that is what those people who believe we come from apes are saying". This was said by a person I always looked up to as a fount of knowledge and guidance.It dawned on me that the bloke was actually a fool.
The final straw came when I returned from Varsity to my home in Durban. I dutifully went to church and saw two friends of mine whom I knew were very much in love, standing forlornly at a distance from the rest of the congregation while we were waiting to enter the church. I walked up to them, greeting them effusively. They immediately looked akward and said, "You are not supposed to talk to us!"
I said, "Why on earth not?"
"Because we are under sensure and nobody is supposed to talk to us"
Incredulously I asked: "So what have you done to deserve this?"
Sheepishly, my friend confessed:"You see Annie (Not her real name) here is pregnant and of course we are not married yet!"
I made a point of staying in close conversation with them for the rest of the evening. The rest of the congregation gave me black looks.
That is when I finally decided that religion was not for me. Ever since then I have found many reasons to eschew religion. Throughout history, as I outlined above, and to this day religion of all kinds (yes even Buddhism and Hinduism) caused the death of billions of people. So for the benefit of my family and religious friends, I'm not on an anti-religious crusade. That would lower me to the level of the religious nuts surrounding me and their ilk throughout history. I'm simply not interested anymore. So get used to it: I AM AN ANTI-RELIGIONIST.
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