Name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.
The second challenge. Can anyone think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?
The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first awaits a convincing reply.
– Christopher Hitchens
I often see people argue that we shouldn’t oppose and fight so hard against religion because throughout our history there has been good done by the religious and in the name of religions. And this is true, it’s an undeniable fact that religion has done some good in the past, and in fact it still prompts people to do good even now. Many people volunteer to help the elderly, the ill and the homeless. Indeed people work with many at risk groups through religious means, they volunteer with groups run by churches or other religious organisations. And this is a wonderful thing.
But religion is far from the only thing that prompts people to do good deeds and help those who are in need. Most people do good deeds, not because they are religious, but simply because they have basic human empathy. They help, not because they want the rewards or because they are trying to avoid the punishments promised by most religions, but because they want to make the lives of others easier. Some help because they get a good feeling from doing so, others help because they’d like to think they would get help if they needed it and some help others for no reason other than to help.
It’s undeniable that religious belief has prompted many people to dedicate their time to helping their fellow man, and anyone who tries to deny it is simply lying(either to themselves or you). But it is also an undeniable fact that religious belief and religious organisations have caused an incalculable amount of harm in the past, and still do so today. Even when you try to employ the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, you must still accept that Hitler believed he was doing god’s work or that Boko Haram believe they are being guided by Allah and thus they can justify their actions, if only to themselves. For many people the thought of systematically executing millions of people or kidnapping and selling young girls into slavery is unjustifiable in any context, yet both these actions have been justified by those committing them as the work of their god.
Yes the good done by, and in the name of, religion exists but the damage done is incalculable and far outweighs the good. Just because something has facilitated a degree of good actions does not mean it can’t, or shouldn’t, be condemned for the evil it has caused.
So for me, anytime someone utters the all too familiar words “But what about the good stuff?” I have but one response. “The good stuff is far outweighed by the evil”.